Trou­bled teen mi­grant sim­ply van­ished

Sunday Mail - - NEWS -

FOR the past 35 years, Emmi Go­dau has been cling­ing to the hope that miss­ing daugh­ter Michaela is still alive. Even now, her mind of­ten drifts back and she re­mem­bers the smil­ing face of the 15-yearold who sim­ply van­ished from their home.

“She was cer­tainly chal­leng­ing as a teenager, she was head­strong. She liked her sport and mu­sic, but she didn’t like go­ing to school,’’ Mrs Go­dau said.

When Michaela dis­ap­peared just be­fore Christ­mas in 1982, her step­fa­ther, Her­warth Go­dau, told po­lice she had sim­ply run away and taken some cash, toi­letries and her pass­port.

But what he didn’t tell po­lice was that child-wel­fare au­thor­i­ties had in­ter­vened sev­eral months prior to this amid con­cerns about Her­warth’s re­la­tion­ship with his 15-year-old step­daugh­ter.

Ini­tially co-op­er­a­tive with de­tect- ives in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mys­tery, Mr Go­dau hired a lawyer when they started to dig deeper into his ac­tiv­i­ties fol­low­ing her dis­ap­pear­ance.

While Ma­jor Crime de­tec­tives be­lieve Michaela is no longer alive, Mrs Go­dau, 70, be­lieves oth­er­wise.

“I am a pos­i­tive per­son and un­til I’m shown proof, I will al­ways hope she is alive, that she ran away be­cause she did not want to move back to Ger­many with the fam­ily,’’ she said.

“Maybe she ar­ranged some­how that she could stay in Aus­tralia. It’s pos­si­ble she has run away or she could have met with foul play. There is noth­ing – un­til some­thing is found, I don’t know this way or that way.

“Maybe I will never get res­o­lu­tion, maybe I will but that’s some­thing I’m still hop­ing for.’’

Mrs Go­dau, who has worked as a nurse in Victoria since 1988, said Michaela had a good re­la­tion­ship with her step­fa­ther.

“They got on quite well. When she wanted some­thing, she would al­ways go to him in­stead of me. She knew she would get her way,’’ she said.

She said her two sons, Axel, who works in In­done­sia, and Jack, who lives in Ber­lin, re­mem­bered Michaela fondly.

Ma­jor Crime case of­fi­cer De­tec­tive Sergeant Paul Ward said he sus­pects the cir­cum­stances of Michaela’s dis­ap­pear­ance may have been “con­cocted’’ to try and fool po­lice.

The Go­dau fam­ily had been liv­ing in Walpole St at Elizabeth Field, now Da­voren Park, when Michaela van­ished on Sun­day, De­cem­ber 19, 1982. She and el­der brother Axel had been at­tend­ing Fre­mont High School af­ter the fam­ily em­i­grated to Ade­laide in late 1981. Younger brother Jack was not yet at­tend­ing school.

When Michaela van­ished, Mrs Go­dau was in Ger­many af­ter hav­ing left Ade­laide in July that year be­cause she strug­gled to find work as a nurse. Be­cause of this sit­u­a­tion, the fam­ily had been plan­ning to re­turn to Ger­many.

Det-Sgt Ward said it ap­peared that Mr Go­dau was not cop­ing well with look­ing af­ter the three chil­dren and he also had dif­fi­culty ob­tain­ing work.

He said Michaela was a quiet girl with few friends. Con­cerns had been raised by one of her friend’s that there “may have been some is­sues at home’’ and al­though not en­tirely clear what they were, there was some sug­ges­tion of fric­tion be­tween her and her step­fa­ther.

“The con­cerns started at school with her friends. Michaela ap­peared to be with­drawn at that time and had spo­ken about is­sues,’’ Det-Sgt Ward said.

“There were some re­la­tion­ship dif­fi­cul­ties be­tween them. The Depart­ment of Child Wel­fare be­came in­volved.’’

Det-Sgt Ward said while Mrs Go­dau was in Ger­many a de­ci­sion had been made to sell the fam­ily home and a con­tract had been signed. In early De­cem­ber 1982, the prospec­tive buyer had come to the house to ne­go­ti­ate the pur­chase of some fur­ni­ture.

“When that per­son ar­rived at the prop­erty he had a con­ver­sa­tion with Michaela and noticed she had an in­jury to her eye. It is un­clear how that oc­curred,’’ Det-Sgt Ward said.

“On the night of the 19th, Michaela re­port­edly went to bed about 10pm and when the fam­ily woke the fol­low­ing morn­ing she was gone.’’

Mr Go­dau re­ported her miss­ing on De­cem­ber 20, claim­ing that she had taken $460 in cash, some toi­letries,

KEY: Her­warth Go­dau’s Land Rover was sold be­fore it could be checked by foren­sic ex­perts.

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