Australia’s most baffling missing person cases

These Australians come from different walks of life but they all share one thing in common.  

Their photographs hang in the homes of devastated loved ones who cling to hope they will one day walk through the door. 

More than 38,000 people go missing in Australia each year, but 95 per cent are found within a month. 

This Christmas, there will be 2,600 families whose loved ones are unlikely to be joining them at the table.

More than 38,000 people going missing in Australia each year. While the majority are found, there are currently around 2600 people who are considered permanently missing

More than 38,000 people going missing in Australia each year. While the majority are found, there are currently around 2600 people who are considered permanently missing

There is a name for the torture they endure daily – ambiguous loss – a grief defined by the lack of closure or understanding of the fate that befell their missing loved one.  

Their search for answers continues – and they forever hope someone out there who may have information will come forward. 

Here are some of Australia’s most baffling cases – sons, daughters, brothers and sisters who vanished without a trace – and won’t be spending Christmas with their families this year.  

1. Revelle  Balmain: Missing since November 5, 1994, from Kingsford, Sydney 

Revelle Balmain

Revelle Balmain

Revelle Balmain (pictured) was a model, dancer and escort who was going to quit prostitution after her appointment with Gavin Samer at his home in Sydney’s south-eastern suburbs

Revelle Sabine Balmain, a model and dancer, was preparing to embark on a six-month dance contract in Japan and had planned to meet a girlfriend on the night of the 5 November, 1994, for a drink. She never showed up.  

Two days later, one of her cork high heels, make-up bag, diary and the keys to her Bellevue Hill unit were found scattered along four Kingsford streets in Sydney’s south-east. 

The striking blonde beauty had been secretly working as a high-end escort for two agencies and had gone to see a client, Gavin Samer, at his home in McNair Avenue, in Kingsford, on the night she disappeared. 

Two days later, one of her cork high heels, cane make-up bag (pictured), diary and the keys to her Bellevue Hill unit, were found scattered along four nearby streets

Two days later, one of her cork high heels, cane make-up bag (pictured), diary and the keys to her Bellevue Hill unit, were found scattered along four nearby streets

The 22-year-old, who had recently started dating a new boyfriend, had told friends she planned to quit prostitution after that shift.  

Mr Samer, the last person to see her alive, has always maintained to police that he then drove Revelle to the nearby Red Tomato Inn at 7pm that evening, but no one from the Inn ever saw her.    

He was named the main person of interest during a coronial inquiry in 1998 and 1999 but no charges against him were ever laid. Mr Samer has always denied being involved in her disappearance. 

2. Zac Barnes: Missing since November 13, 2016, from Thornton on the NSW Central Coast

Zac Barnes (pictured) vanished without a trace from his hometown in the New South Wales Hunter Valley region on a Sunday evening on November 13, 2016

Zac Barnes (pictured) vanished without a trace from his hometown in the New South Wales Hunter Valley region on a Sunday evening on November 13, 2016

Zac Barnes was travelling in car through his hometown Thorton, NSW, with two men on Sunday November 13, 2016 when he became panicked, jumped out of the vehicle and ran into bushland. That was the last time anyone has seen him.

The then-18-year-old bricklayer had plans to spend the weekend with mates after work on Friday, but the events leading up to his disappearance remain unclear. 

His friends said he fled from the vehicle at about 8pm at the intersection of Haussman Drive and Tripp Close, but his mother Karen Gudeli has never believed their story.

The two men who were the last to see Zac said he suddenly became distressed and jumped from the car at about 8pm at the intersection of Haussman Drive and Tripp Close (pictured)

The two men who were the last to see Zac said he suddenly became distressed and jumped from the car at about 8pm at the intersection of Haussman Drive and Tripp Close (pictured)

Zac was last seen wearing a faded blue singlet, dark blue board shorts and work boots and his bank accounts, social media, Medicare card or phone since have remained untouched since the day he went missing.

The heartbroken family were struck by tragedy again in October this year, when Zac’s younger brother Liam, 19, took his own life. 

The NSW coroner last month announced an inquest would be held into Zac’s disappearance, with a date yet to be set.

3. Andrea Wharton: Missing since February 19, 1984, from the Gold Coast/Byron Bay area 

Andrea Wharton (pictured) was last seen on February 19, 1984, when she left her family's Gold Coast home after an argument

Andrea Wharton (pictured) was last seen on February 19, 1984, when she left her family’s Gold Coast home after an argument

Andrea Wharton left her Gold Coast home to visit friends at Byron Bay, NSW, on February 19, 1984, after having a heated argument with her family. 

The 23-year-old contacted them by phone and forwarded a letter days later telling them she was confused and was staying away for a month.    

It has now been more than 36 years since she stormed out of her home, never to be seen again. 

Andrea's boyfriend Anthony 'Tony' Yalavich (pictured) went missing a year later, with both disappearances believed to be connected

Andrea’s boyfriend Anthony ‘Tony’ Yalavich (pictured) went missing a year later, with both disappearances believed to be connected

Andrea started using heroin at 16, sparking an addiction that took control of her life.

Police believe she may have met foul play in Sydney’s underbelly scene in the 1980s. 

A year after she went missing, her boyfriend Antony Yalavich, with whom she used to frequent Kings Cross, also vanished.

Police suspect the couple fell victim to foul play in Sydney’s 1980s underbelly scene. Pictured: Kings Cross

NSW Detective Chief Inspector John Lehmann told the Gold Coast Bulletin in 2011 police believe the couple’s disappearance was connected and related to their involvement with drugs. 

He said information suggested she had headed straight for Sydney, rather than Byron Bay as she told her family. 

But a 2007 coronial report was unable to determine whether she was dead or alive. 

4. Chad and Melony Sutton: Missing since November 23, 1992 from Inala, in south-west Brisbane

Chad Sutton

Melony

Chad Sutton (left) was 16 when he disappeared with his sister Melony (right) from their home in Inala, on November 23, 1992

Chad, 16, and Melony, 14, were last seen by their mother leaving their Jabiru St home, in Inala, on the morning of November 23, 1992, to walk to school.

They dropped their younger brother George off, but it was later learned they did not attend and instead had plans to hitchhike to Perth to be with their father.  

In April 1993, a friend claimed Chad called him several times between November and December from Sydney and Adelaide, but police were unable verify the calls through phone records or find anyone who had picked the teenagers up.

The siblings were last seen by their mother leaving their home on Jabiru Street (pictured)

The siblings were last seen by their mother leaving their home on Jabiru Street (pictured)

Police have long feared the siblings were kidnapped and killed, and were not runaways as was initially believed.

In 2017, a former class mate spoke out saying she suspects the children may have been killed by bullies, who had long been tormenting them. 

Later that year, detectives revealed they had investigated whether they may have been the victims of serial killer Ivan Milat. 

However, police are yet to determine what happened to the brother and sister.

5. Cathelyn ‘Kath’ Bergamin: Missing since August 18, 2002, from Wangaratta, Victoria

Mother-of-three Kath Bergamin (pictured) disappeared from her Melbourne home on August 18, 2002

Mother-of-three Kath Bergamin (pictured) disappeared from her Melbourne home on August 18, 2002

Mother-of-three Kath Bergamin disappeared from her Brien Crescent home in Wangaratta, north of Melbourne, during the evening of Sunday August 18, 2002. 

Investigators later discovered a figure eight piece of duct tape in her backyard, with red fibres from a pair of Nike socks the 37-year-old was last seen wearing, suggesting her legs had been bound.

A coroner found she was murdered and her body dumped in a secret location, but could not identify her killer. 

There is a $1million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for her death.

A coroner found the she was kidnapped from her Brien Crescent home (pictured) in Wangaratta

A coroner found the she was kidnapped from her Brien Crescent home (pictured) in Wangaratta 

Her estranged husband John quickly became the prime suspect after she was reported missing but a 2006 murder case against him was dropped due to lack of evidence.

No other suspects have been charged in the decade since.

John had told detectives he was 50km away, at his Chestnut home, the night she disappeared, but his phone bounced off a tower near Wangaratta. 

His car was found destroyed by fire the next day.

There is no suggestion he was involved in Ms Bergamin’s disappearance.   

In October, police revealed they had received an anonymous letter containing ‘intimate details’ about the case, suggesting more than one person was involved in her disappearance.  

6. Jake Lyons: Missing since August 24, 2014, from Springvale, in Melbourne’s south east

Jake Lyons (pictured) has been missing since August 25, 2014, from Dandenong North, in Melbourne's south east

Jake Lyons (pictured) has been missing since August 25, 2014, from Dandenong North, in Melbourne’s south east

Rick Lyon said goodbye to his son Jake before leaving his Scullion Street home, in Dandenong North, for work on August 25, 2014. 

It was the last time he would see him.

When he returned home at about 5pm he found the house unlocked, vacant, and the stove gas left on.

Police believe Jake left home at some point during the day and bought a drink, some snacks, and withdrew $50 from a supermarket on Springvale Road, in neighbouring suburb Springvale.

The car the 20-year-old was driving was found parked in Warner Reserve (pictured), Springvale, and was locked with the keys underneath the vehicle

The car the 20-year-old was driving was found parked in Warner Reserve (pictured), Springvale, and was locked with the keys underneath the vehicle

Five days later police found the Holden Astra the young video gamer had been driving, locked with the keys underneath it, in the car park in Springvale’s Warner Reserve.  

‘Nothing within the car suggests that he left in a rush,’ Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana said previously.

‘However, Jake has not made any contact with family or friends, and his bank account has not been accessed since this date.’ 

Over the past six years, police have looked into whether Jake met with foul play, took his own life or was living off grid as a recluse.

There are so far no answers.

7. Megan Mulquiney: Missing since July 28, 1984, from Woden, Canberra

Megan Mulquiney vanished from Woden Shopping Centre on July 28, 1984, after finishing

Megan Mulquiney vanished from Woden Shopping Centre on July 28, 1984, after finishing

Eighteen-year-old Megan Mulquiney had just finished her shift at Big W in Woden Shopping Centre on July 28, 1984, and was about to meet a friend when she vanished without a trace.

She told colleagues she was going to catch the bus home but she never arrived. 

The teenager was last seen at about 12.15pm, ten minutes after leaving work, standing outside the western entrance of Woden Plaza waiting for a bus. 

The Woden Westfield, which was formally Woden Shopping Centre, where Megan was last seen 36 years ago

The Woden Westfield, which was formally Woden Shopping Centre, where Megan was last seen 36 years ago

Megan was described by relatives ‘as a responsible person who would always contact her family if her plans changed’. 

A 2009 coronial inquest determined it was most likely she had been murdered.

Serial sex offender Paul Vincent Phillips, who was considered the prime suspect, died in April 2018. 

Police revealed after his death new information had come to light that suggested   he may have not acted alone.

8. Anthony Fahey: Missing since July 3, 2013, from Belconnen, Canberra

Anthony 'Tony' Fahey (pictured) had just moved back to his parents Murrumbateman home from Western Australia when he vanished in July, 2013

Anthony ‘Tony’ Fahey (pictured) had just moved back to his parents Murrumbateman home from Western Australia when he vanished in July, 2013

Anthony Fahey was 29 when he boarded a bus from Canberra’s from Jolimont Centre bound for Sydney about 7pm on Wednesday July 3, 2013.

He has never been seen or heard from since.

A former construction worker, Tony, as he was known by families and friends, had just relocated to his parents Murrumbateman, near the ACT border, after breaking up with his girlfriend who he had been living with in Perth. 

He boarded a bus from Canberra's Jolimont Centre (pictured) bound for Sydney about 7pm. That was the last time he was seen.

He boarded a bus from Canberra’s Jolimont Centre (pictured) bound for Sydney about 7pm. That was the last time he was seen.

‘He told [his girlfriend] that he needed to go home and sort himself out before he could actually stay and be with her. So he was a bit unsettled,’ his mother Eileen Fahey previously told Mamamia.

His aunt Margaret told a 2017 coronial inquest he went to her home earlier that day and seemed ‘depressed, preoccupied, and wanted answers’.

He told her he was going to catch a bus to Sydney that evening, before vanishing without a trace, and has not used his phone, bank accounts, email or taken any flights since.

9. Julie Cutler: Missing since June 20, 1988, from Perth’s CBD

Julie Cutler  (pictured) was 22-years-old when she went missing in Perth CBD on June 20, 1988

Julie Cutler  (pictured) was 22-years-old when she went missing in Perth CBD on June 20, 1988

Julie Cutler was 22 when she was last seen leaving the Parmelia Hilton Hotel WA at 12.30am on June 20, 1988, after a staff function. 

Two days later her car was found in the ocean off Cottesloe Beach. 

Nothing of significance, except several champagne flutes from the hotel, were found in the car and the back seat had washed up on the beach.

Former WA Police detective Ron Carey said the back door of the vehicle did not lock, and had her body or belongings been in the car they would have washed up on the beach based on the currents that evening. 

Her car was found two days later in the sea off Cottesloe Beach (pictured) and police believe she

Her car was found two days later in the sea off Cottesloe Beach (pictured) and police believe she  

A shoulder bag she was known to carry was also never found and Mr Carey believes she met with foul play in the five hours from 12.30am until dawn, with someone else later disposing of her car. 

‘In the months following Julie’s disappearance, we spoke to numerous people in the hope we might have been able to establish what had happened to her. Despite our best efforts, we were not able to solve this mystery,’ he previously told WA Today

‘I would have liked to have been able to tell Julie’s father and family what had happened to his daughter, so they could have at least had closure.’

10. The Doomsday cult – Gary Felton, Chantelle McDougall, Leela Felton, and Anthony Popic

Self-style spiritual leader Gary Felton (back ,centre) his 27-year-old girlfriend Chantelle McDougall (left), their daughter Leela, 5, and friend Tony Popic (right), left their Nannup property in July 2007

Self-style spiritual leader Gary Felton (back ,centre) his 27-year-old girlfriend Chantelle McDougall (left), their daughter Leela, 5, and friend Tony Popic (right), left their Nannup property in July 2007

Gary Felton, 45, who went by the alias Simon Kadwell, his girlfriend Chantelle McDougall, 27, their daughter Leela, five, and friend Tony Popic, 40, left their Nannup property in July 2007 and family have not heard from them since.

Their rented house, 260km south of Perth, was spotless, valuable furnishings had been left behind and a note written by Chantelle claimed they had gone to Brazil. 

The group also gave away their animals and sold their cars before vanishing.

The police investigation failed to find any trace of the four, whose passports and bank accounts have not been used since, leading to the belief they were dead.

The cults rented house (pictured), 260km south of Perth, was spotless, valuable furnishings had been left behind and a note written by Chantelle claimed they had gone to Brazil

The cults rented house (pictured), 260km south of Perth, was spotless, valuable furnishings had been left behind and a note written by Chantelle claimed they had gone to Brazil

Cult leader Felton travelled extensively in the 1990s under his stolen identity on a spiritual pilgrimage, then published books devoted to his ‘bizarre’ beliefs, amassing a group of followers, a inquest heard in December 2017. 

Leading up to his disappearance, he wrote online about planning a suicide pact with Chantelle, Leela, and Tony, however, he had also told friends he wanted to move to Brazil because an electromagnetic field around the property was making him sick.

In 2018, a coroner found he could not determine whether the group were dead or alive.

11. Anna Liva: Missing since November 28, 1991, from Coober Pedy

Anna Rosa Liva, then aged 30 years, was an Italian national who was travelling in Australia

Anna Rosa Liva, then aged 30 years, was an Italian national who was travelling in Australia

Anna Rosa was an Italian national travelling around Australia when she disappeared, aged 30, on Thursday November 28, 1991. 

She was last seen walking north along Hutchinson Street, Coober Pedy, around midday, having just visited the Council Office. 

She was supposed to attend an appointment for a tour at 2pm but never arrived. Her disappearance was out of character and police suspect she has been murdered.

She was last seen walking north along Hutchinson Street (pictured), Coober Pedy, after leaving the Council Office

In 2018, Detective Sergeant Paul Ward said police had found links between the case and that of missing 16-year-old Karen Michelle Williams, who vanished from the same road on August 4, 1990.   

‘We cannot rule out that they’re connected,’ Detective Sergeant Paul Ward told 9News.

It was revealed Anna Rosa had gone missing close to where one of the suspects in the Williams murder lived at the time. Both cases remain unsolved.

12. Dan Sheppard: Missing since January 1, 1994, from Port Adelaide 

Daniel Sheppard  (pictured) went missing after leaving Port Adelaide Train station to walk home in the early hours of January 1, 1994,

Daniel Sheppard  (pictured) went missing after leaving Port Adelaide Train station to walk home in the early hours of January 1, 1994, 

Daniel Sheppard, then aged 19 years, attended New Year’s Eve celebrations with his brother and friends at Lennies Tavern Glenelg on 31 December, 1994, before catching a tram into the city to continue celebrations in Hindley Street, Adelaide.

In the early hours of New Year’s Day 1995, Daniel walked alone to the Adelaide Railway Station and boarded the 4.13am train to Outer Harbor to go home. 

There were around 30 other commuters on the train, including three girls he knew from school.

Daniel walked alone to the Adelaide Railway Station (pictured) and boarded the 4.13am train to Outer Harbor to go home

Daniel walked alone to the Adelaide Railway Station (pictured) and boarded the 4.13am train to Outer Harbor to go home

Daniel, who was described as being moderately intoxicated, told two of the girls: ‘I’m partied out … I’m going home to crash.’ 

At 4.35am Daniel got off the train at the Port Adelaide Train Station and was seen on the southern pedestrian ramp walking towards Baynes Place. The walk home should have taken 10 minutes but Daniel was never seen again. 

A coroner found in 2005 Daniel was dead, after all efforts to find him had been exhausted. 

Although his cause of death could not be determined, police suspect he was murdered. 

13. Rebecca Hayward: Missing since January 2, 2017, from Alice Springs

Rebecca Hayward (pictured)  left for a walk from her aunty's Alice Springs home about 8pm on January 1, 2017. She never came home

Rebecca Hayward (pictured)  left for a walk from her aunty’s Alice Springs home about 8pm on January 1, 2017. She never came home

Mother-of-three Rebecca Hayward flew into Alice Springs from Perth on January 1, 2017, to visit her family.

At about 8pm, the 35-year-old, who is described by her family as an avid walker, told them she was going for a walk and left the house on foot. 

The next morning about 8.30am a car full of doctors drove past her on Stuart Highway. They stopped and gave her water, but she did not seemed distressed and she turned down their offer for a lift. 

That was the last time anyone saw her.

It was the first time Rebecca had been in Alice Springs and it remains a mystery to her family and police why she decided to embark on a long trek through the outback on a hot summer’s night. 

Police scoured through CCTV footage and conducted thorough land searches of the area but were unable to find a trace of her in the bush or sightings from local businesses. 

14. Brett McGillivray: Missing since April 22, 2006, from Tennant Creek

Brett McGillivray has been missing since April 10, 2006, when he left for work at about 6.40am from Perth

Brett McGillivray has been missing since April 10, 2006, when he left for work at about 6.40am from Perth 

Brett McGillivray has been missing since April 10, 2006, when he left for work at about 6.40am from Perth. He was last sighted near Hermannsburg on April 14 before travelling to Alice Springs the following day. 

On April 26, his vehicle was located abandoned in a truck bay on the Stuart Highway, about 80km north of Tennant Creek.  

The keys were still in the ignition and the vehicle had an ample supply of fuel, with all of his personal possessions still in the car. It is believed he may have had a small black backpack with him. 

Brett’s car was found abandoned in a truck bay on the Stuart Highway (pictured), about 80 kilometres north of Tennant Creek

Brett is one of three men who mysteriously vanished from the area within the space of nine months. 

New Zealander Jamie Herdman, 26, was last seen on November 26, 2006, in Daly Waters. His car was later found abandoned with his possessions inside at the Hi-Way Inn, 400km north of Tennant Creek.

Queenslander Oswald Orman, 37, was last seen trying to hitchhike on the Barkly Highway, 200km east of Tennant Creek, on January 22, 2007. His car was later found abandoned at Barkly Homestead with his possessions inside.

15. Helen Munnings: Missing since July 23, 2008, from Burnie, on the north-west coast

Helen Munnings (pictured) vanished from Burnie, in the state's northwest, on July 23, 2008

Helen Munnings (pictured) vanished from Burnie, in the state’s northwest, on July 23, 2008

Helen Munnings was last seen alive shortly after 4pm on July 23, 2008 near  Centrelink on Marine Terrace, Burnie, in the state’s northwest.

The 20-year-old mother-of-one, who was pregnant with her second child, told her mother she was going to the doctor, leaving her keys on the table then departing the unit.

Instead, she had arranged to meet the father of her two-year-son, Adam Taylor, who said he picked her up and they drove around before he dropped her off on southern side of the Bass Highway near the old pulp mill around 6pm. 

Helen was 20 when she was last seen alive shortly after 4pm in the vicinity of Centrelink (pictured), in Burnie

Helen was 20 when she was last seen alive shortly after 4pm in the vicinity of Centrelink (pictured), in Burnie

Adam, who was also believed to be the father of her second child, was the last person to see her.  

He was identified as a person of interest in her disappearance in a 2012 coronial inquest, which found Helen had most likely died, however the circumstances could not be determined. 

There is no suggestion he was involved in her disappearance.  

The inquest heard the pair had a tumultuous relationship and he did not want her to keep the baby. The investigation into her death remains open.

16. Christopher Watkin: Missing since August 7, 2013, from Mayfield, northern Launceston

Christopher Watkins (pictured) vanished aged 28 on the evening of August 7, 2013 from Mayfield, in nothern Lauceston

Christopher Watkins (pictured) vanished aged 28 on the evening of August 7, 2013 from Mayfield, in nothern Lauceston

Christopher Dean Watkins was 28 years old when he was last seen on the evening of Wednesday August 7,  2013, at a Box Street unit in Mayfield, northern Launceston. 

Shortly before his disappearance, Christopher made a panicked phone call to a family member after two men he had a troubled history with visited the home he shared with four other men.    

Police strongly suspect he was murdered. 

Tasmania Police Detective Inspector John King said in July 2015 all six men at the home that night were persons of interest. 

There is a $50,000 reward offered for information leading to prosecution in the case.

Anyone with information that could help with any of these investigations should contact Police Link on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

For confidential support call Lifeline 24-hour crisis support on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Chris was last seen at a Box Street (pictured) unit in Mayfield, which he shared with four other men

Chris was last seen at a Box Street (pictured) unit in Mayfield, which he shared with four other men

Source

Related posts