In pur­suit of jus­tice

Townsville Bulletin - - Weekend Extra - By LEONIE JOHN­SON

IT’S been eight years since Bowen teenager Rachel An­to­nio went miss­ing, but her dis­ap­pear­ance still haunts Bowen de­tec­tives.

Rachel’s is one of 14 un­solved mur­der cases dat­ing back as far as the 1970s that still plague the minds of the de­tec­tives who were un­able to ap­pre­hend the cul­prits.

Long-re­tired po­lice­men still re­mem­ber the grief of fam­i­lies torn apart and the unan­swered ques­tions left still lin­ger­ing.

The years 1997-98 are ones Bowen CIB chief De­tec­tive Sergeant Mark In­mon would rather for­get.

He was part of a team that in­ves­ti­gated three mur­ders, all within six months.

Though it’s been al­most 10 years since the three un­solved killings, Det-Sgt In­mon can still re­call the cases in vivid de­tail.

In 1997 the sleepy town of Bowen was shocked by two mur­ders a mere month apart.

On Novem­ber 12, 1997, the body of Her­bert Ed­ward Murray, was found at his home, Penns­field Sta­tion, on East Euri Creek Road, with a sin­gle gun­shot wound to the fore­head.

His ve­hi­cle was stolen and was later found dumped in Townsville.

Po­lice searched fruit­lessly for the killer.

Less than a month later, on De­cem­ber 2, Diane Mary Ang­win was found stabbed to death at a Le­ich­hardt St res­i­dence.

Po­lice be­lieve she was killed by an un­known male as­sailant but have not dis­cov­ered whom.

Det-Sgt In­mon thinks about Rachel An­to­nio most days.

The teenager dis­ap­peared on Anzac Day, 1998.

Her mother Ch­eryl dropped her off at the cin­ema and never saw her again.

Bowen man Robert Hytch was found guilty of Rachel’s man­slaugh­ter but was re­leased on ap­peal in Novem­ber, 1999 and ac­quit­ted in a new trial.

‘‘It’s very dif­fi­cult know­ing that you’ve got a fam­ily that didn’t ask any­one to take their child away and would give prob­a­bly their own life to have them back,’’ Det-Sgt In­mon said.

‘‘It’s a hor­ri­ble feel­ing to think you dropy­our child some­where and you never see them again and eight years later you still haven’t seen them.

‘‘How do they de­cide to ever stop look­ing?

‘‘How the hell do those par­ents sleepat night?’’

Det-Sgt In­mon said it was frus­trat­ing not know­ing what had hap­pened to the 16-year-old.

‘‘There’s no in­for­ma­tion that we have re­ceived to as­sist us iden­ti­fy­ing any new leads or iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of new sus­pects,’’ he said. ‘‘We even got some in­for­ma­tion this year of some clothes and items that were found buried near Bowen but they were not re­lated to the An­to­nio case.

‘‘Over the last six months we’ve had an­other three ca­daver dogs look­ing for Rachel’s body but we haven’t found any trace.

‘‘The An­to­nio case now is about clo­sure and find­ing a body.

‘‘We’ve had no in­for­ma­tion leads in the last five years to sug­gest that Rachel is alive and her par­ents have re­signed them­selves to the fact that their girl is not com­ing home.’’

Det-Sgt In­mon keeps in con­stant con­tact with the fam­i­lies of the three mur­der vic­tims, still hop­ing to one day find an­swers.

Re­wards of $250,000 have been is­sued by the State Gov­ern­ment for in­for­ma­tion which leads to the ap­pre­hen­sion and con­vic­tion of the per­son/per­sons re­spon­si­ble for a num­ber of un­solved mur­ders in the North, in­clud­ing the three Bowen killings.

On March 7, 1996, about 6.30pm the body of Dorothy was found at her Tim­ber­lands Rd, Ju­bilee Pocket, home at Air­lie Beach.

She was shot in the head and the gun was never re­cov­ered. Po­lice have no leads on the case. In 1985 the body of Mile Maruna was found at the Bur­dekin Dam in what was a bizarre case that left po­lice baf­fled. The killer has not been found.

Three years ear­lier Perth man An­thony John Jones was last heard from when he phoned his fam­ily from Townsville on Novem­ber 3 and said he was head­ing to Mount Isa.

He has not been seen since and is pre­sumed dead.

On Oc­to­ber 24, 1978, the bod­ies of Ti­mothy James Thom­son, Gor­don Stu­art Twad­dle and Karen Les­lie Ed­wards were found near a bush track 12km west of Mount Isa. All three were shot in the head. On Au­gust 1, 1975, the body of Catherine Pamela Gra­ham was found at Oak Val­ley, 18km from Townsville along the Flin­ders High­way. She had been re­peat­edly bashed about the head with a heavy stone.

Three years ear­lier Robin Jeanne Hoinville-Bartram and Anita Cun­ning­ham left Melbourne on a hitch-hik­ing hol­i­day to visit her mother in Bowen.

On Novem­ber 15, 1972, HoinvilleBar­tram’s re­mains were lo­cated in Sen­si­ble Creek un­der a bridge on the Flin­ders High­way, about 80km west of Char­ters Tow­ers. She had been shot twice in the head.

No trace of Anita Cun­ning­ham was ever found.

Though th­ese mur­ders have re­mained un­solved for decades the po­lice de­tec­tives con­tinue to search for an­swers.

And they never for­get.

Gor­don Stu­art Twad­dle

Karen Les­lie Ed­wards

Ti­mothy James Thom­son

Catherine Pamela Gra­ham

Anita Cun­ning­ham

BAF­FLING . . . the mur­ders of Rachel An­to­nio and Herb Murray still plague Bowen de­tec­tive Mark In­mon

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