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Sunday Mail - - NEWS -

AC­CORD­ING to her hus­band, Colleen Adams walked out of the door of their mod­est Yorke Penin­sula home mo­ments af­ter telling him their mar­riage was over.

Car­ry­ing two suit­cases con­tain­ing her be­long­ings, she got into a ve­hi­cle driven by an­other woman and they drove off, he has told de­tec­tives.

That was just af­ter 7am on Novem­ber 22, 1973. Ms Adams, 24, has never been seen again.

While Ge­of­frey Adams has re­peated the same ac­count to de­tec­tives each time he has been in­ter­viewed, it ap­pears at odds with the in­for­ma­tion they have gath­ered.

While it ap­pears the cou­ple were hav­ing mar­i­tal is­sues, a plethora of in­di­ca­tors sug­gests Ms Adams was not plan­ning to leave their Mait­land home.

She had been plan­ning for Christ­mas, even telling her younger sis­ter, Heather John­cock, in a let­ter writ­ten shortly be­fore she van­ished that she had bought a “spe­cial” gift for her hus­band.

But even more tellingly, Ms Adams loved her two chil­dren dearly. Her life re­volved around her girls, Marie and Kaye, and, ac­cord­ing to her fam­ily, she would never aban­don them. Kaye was just 18 months old and Marie, 3.

Ma­jor Crime case of­fi­cer De­tec­tive Brevet Sergeant Michael New­bury is con­duct­ing fresh in­quiries in the case fol­low­ing a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of the file.

“We have an open mind as to what has hap­pened and how it has hap­pened, but we are of the opin­ion Colleen has been mur­dered,’’ he said.

“We do not hold out hope she is just miss­ing and will turn up.’’

While the case is com­plex and has pre­sented de­tec­tives with many con­tra­dic­tions, there is sig­nif­i­cant in­for­ma­tion that she did not leave vol­un­tar­ily.

While on his ac­count Mr Adams was the last per­son to see Colleen, he never re­ported her miss­ing. On De­cem­ber 19 – 27 days af­ter she van­ished – her mother, Vera Mil­bank, lodged a miss­ing per­son re­port with po­lice.

Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions have dis­cov­ered in­for­ma­tion which sug­gests the cou­ple’s mar­riage may have been un­der strain in the months lead­ing up to her dis­ap­pear­ance.

Neigh­bours re­ported loud ar­gu­ments and Ms Adams had spo­ken of such is­sues in let­ters to rel­a­tives.

The pair mar­ried in late 1969 when Ms Adams was aged 20. They had met just a year ear­lier. He was a Mait­land lo­cal while she grew up at Bute, in Mid North.

Mr Adams was em­ployed by a lo­cal painter and his so­cial cir­cle in­volved the lo­cal Lodge group, while Ms Adams had no friends out­side of the Yorke Penin­sula com­mu­nity. Her life re­volved around her two daugh­ters and ex­tended fam­ily.

Det Bvt Sgt New­bury said Mr Adams had con­sis­tently main­tained each time he was in­ter­viewed that his wife left their Bag­nall Ave house vol­un­tar­ily.

“Ge­of­frey has told us he was out the night be­fore at a Lodge meet­ing and she was at home with the chil­dren,’’ he said.

“He said he went to bed about mid­night, woke at 7 the next morn­ing to find her dressed, packed with two suit­cases and ready to leave.

“He said it took him by sur­prise. He said at that point she told him she wanted noth­ing more to do with him or the chil­dren.

“He said she made dis­parag­ing re­marks to­wards the chil­dren, she walked out, and there was a woman aged about 40 in a ve­hi­cle. He said he had never seen her or the ve­hi­cle be­fore.

“He said she got in and left and he never saw her again and has no idea how to track her down.’’

NOT sur­pris­ingly, Ms Adams’ mother had im­me­di­ate con­cerns about her daugh­ter’s wel­fare. When she lodged the miss­ing per­son re­port on De­cem­ber 19, she told po­lice Ms Adams hadn’t told any­one she was leav­ing and her be­hav­ior was com­pletely out of char­ac­ter.

In 1974, de­tec­tives made some fol­low-up in­quiries in Mait­land and Ade­laide but could not lo­cate Ms Adams. The file re­mained an open miss­ing per­son re­port un­til 1979 when the case was de­clared a ma­jor crime be­cause there was no trace of her and she had made no con­tact with any fam­ily.

At that time, Ma­jor Crime de­tec­tives spent sev­eral months in Mait­land and Wal­la­roo, where Mr Adams was liv­ing, in­ter­view­ing peo­ple over Ms Adams’ dis­ap­pear­ance.

It was dur­ing these in­quiries some light was shed on the mys­tery as peo­ple spo­ken to by po­lice voiced their con­cerns about the Adams’ re­la­tion­ship.“They said the re­la­tion­ship was dys­func­tional,’’ Det Bvt Sgt New­bury said.

“The mar­riage ap­peared happy at first, but pos­si­bly around the birth of the first child it started to fall apart.

“Cer­tainly Vera no­ticed this along with the other peo­ple. When po­lice in­ter­viewed peo­ple they all said the same thing, some­thing was wrong with the mar­riage.’’

Neigh­bors had also re­ported “yelling and scream­ing’’ com­ing from the house with many of the wit­nesses stat­ing “there was sig­nif­i­cant un­rest in the re­la­tion­ship’’.

De­tec­tives dis­cov­ered Ms Adams had told sev­eral friends she was un­der the im­pres­sion she had to be out of the mar­i­tal house by Novem­ber 1973. Mr Adams had also men­tioned this to his friends.

“It’s quite clear from the dif­fer­ent re­ports that came in that Novem­ber was the dead­line,” Det Bvt Sgt New­bury said. “She has told peo­ple this but to this day we do not know why.’’

In­ves­ti­ga­tions also re­vealed Ms Adams went to a wel­fare of­fi­cer on Novem­ber 1, 1973, and said Mr Adams was “try­ing to kick her out of the house’’.

“She was con­cerned about that; she had two chil­dren she couldn’t sup­port and she had no in­come,’’ Det Bvt Sgt New­bury said.

“That was the ex­tent of her con­cern, like ‘What do I do and what are my rights?’ be­cause she did not know where this was head­ing.

“She rang back on Novem­ber 5 and said things were all right. She es­sen­tially told them ‘Thanks for your help, I’m OK now’.’’

Cu­ri­ously, on Novem­ber 14, Ms Adams at­tended her lo­cal bank and with­drew her sav­ings – $41.14 – and closed the ac­count.

“To this day we don’t know why. It could be a com­plete co­in­ci­dence. She at­tended in per­son, her sig­na­ture was ver­i­fied by the clerk,’’ Det Bvt Sgt New­bury said.

“But it does fit into the con­cern we had that in Novem­ber she clearly had these con­cerns about leav­ing that place.’’

PERHAPS the last clue came the week be­fore she van­ished. In her last let­ter to her sis­ter, Heather, Ms Adams gave an in­sight into the in­sta-

STRAINED MAR­RIAGE: Colleen Adams with hus­band Ge­of­frey and daugh­ter Marie, left; the miss­ing per­son re­port lodged just be­fore Christ­mas 1973; their fam­ily home in Mait­land, right; and part of the let­ter she wrote to sis­ter Heather just be­fore she dis­ap­peared.

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