that's life (Australia)
43-year Aussie mystery – She vanished on a night out
Trudie Adams vanished 43 years ago, but only now are dark secrets coming to light Ruby Jones, 31, Melbourne, Vic
Looking at the photo of the blonde-haired, sun-kissed 18-yearold, she seemed like a typical teenager.
Trudie Adams, a business college student from Sydney’s picturesque Northern Beaches, had twinkling eyes and a smile on her face.
‘She disappeared on June 25, 1978, and her body’s never been found,’ a colleague at the ABC, where I worked as an investigative reporter, told me. ‘We want someone to look into her case.’
So I moved to Sydney from Adelaide.
And my early discoveries shocked me into wanting to nd out more.
Trudie was last seen by her then boyfriend, Steven Norris, getting into a beige van. She was hitchhiking home after a dance party at the Newport Surf Lifesaving Club, but her mother, Connie, and father, Charles, raised the alarm when she never arrived.
Trudie had vanished on a night out. Her disappearance was terrible enough, but the revelations kept coming.
After Trudie disappeared, 14 women came forward with reports of sexual assault and attempted abductions in the same area since 1971.
Most hadn’t reported the crimes. They spoke of being blindfolded, handcuffed and held at gunpoint, and police quickly connected these cases with Trudie’s.
How was it possible nobody knew this was going on? I thought.
There was clearly a deep mistrust of the authorities at the time.
Months turned into years, and then decades, and still Trudie’s family had no answers.
In 2011, an inquest found that Trudie had probably died of ‘homicide’ or ‘misadventure followed by a cover-up’.
The main suspect was Neville Tween, then 70, who was already in jail on drugs charges. More than 30 years earlier, girls had picked out his photo, identifying him as their attacker.
In 2009, he was questioned about some of those attacks – and for the rst time, Trudie’s disappearance.
‘I can’t understand how it took so long for him to even be questioned,’ I told my colleague, Neil Mercer, who was now working on the story, too.
Two years after the inquest, Tween died in jail.
His secrets died with him, but we still wanted answers for the victims.
It felt like Neil and I were sitting in the middle of an enormous jigsaw with the pieces scattered around us.
Gradually, we started to put it together. A major lead was when a former police of cer spoke to us about an alleged friendly relationship between Neville Tween and former top