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