Rachel Antonio’s parents waited two decades for this TIP SEARCH DIGS UP FAINT HOPES
FORENSIC police officers are expected to tell detectives in the coming days if they have found rubbish from 1998 at the Bowen dump in the search for Rachel Antonio. The scientific officers spent yesterday digging a trench in a section of the tip they were directed to by former site manager Hugh Smith, who kept detailed maps of where rubbish was placed in the days after the Bowen schoolgirl went missing. Police are calling it an exploratory dig in a section of “interest” to gain insight into what the waste of the time now looks like. It has been nearly two decades since Rachel, a 16- yearold lifesaver, vanished on Anzac Day 1998 after she was dropped off by her mother at a local cinema. Rachel is believed to have been murdered and her disappearance is one of Queensland’s highest profile investigations. Ian and Cheryl Antonio have long believed their daughter had been dumped at the site and campaigned for years to have the tip searched by police. While Rachel’s parents are glad police are investigating, they aren’t raising their hopes too high. “We haven’t got our hopes up high at all, we are well and truly prep pared that it is a long sh shot but, as one bloke sa said, if the body is th there, they’ll find it,” M Mr Antonio said. “We can only h hope, it’s a long shot. W With the forensic sci- entists that are around today and the technology, they’ve been digging up old clothing and old things they’re going to get the barcodes off … to try and date it. That’s where they’re at, at the moment.
“Originally we thought if her body was at the dump it would have been very deep, like 60 metres deep, but then when Hughie ( Hugh Smith, the former tip manager in 1998) looked at his diaries, he found out that it wasn’t as deep as he thought it was.
“We felt pretty good that there was a chance we might find something. That’s the last place we’ve got to look.
“We’ve looked everywhere else. There’s not a place we haven’t looked in Bowen, we have spent years and years and years, searching every square inch of Bowen.”
Mackay Detective Inspector Nikki Colfs steered clear of saying the forensic officers were searching for Rachel’s remains.
“We’re not actually looking for anything at this stage. It’s an exploratory examination around the age of the refuse during that time that Rachel Antonio went missing,” she said.
“We have a scientific officer here that is gauging the age of the actual rubbish and that will be done through a whole heap of different scientific examinations. ( Further digs) will depend on what they find, how long the refuse has been here, whether the refuse ( has) decontaminated through the last years.”
Mr Antonio said the couple wants to find out what happened to their daughter to give her the burial she deserves and try to move on with their lives. “We need to put it behind us and we can’t put it behind us at the moment,” he said.
A $ 250,000 reward for information which leads to the recovery of Rachel’s remains has been offered. Phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 with any information.