Daniel Morcombe will never be forgotten
The murdered schoolboy left a huge hole in the nation’s heart
With his big eyes shining with excitement and $150 earned from fruit picking in his pocket, 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe set off from home to catch a bus into town to get a haircut and buy Christmas presents for his family.
He never got to buy those gifts because he was killed that day. It was December 7, 2003, 12 days before his 14th birthday.
His twin brother Bradley regrets not going with him. His heartbroken mum Denise admits it destroyed their family. His dad Bruce never stops campaigning to protect other parents’ vulnerable children. And not a day goes by when they all don’t remember and miss Daniel, who would have turned 29 in three weeks time.
The 15 years since Daniel was snatched by serial child rapist and father-of-three Brett Peter Cowan have been a torment for the Morcombe family, with their devastating loss marking even the happiest of family occasions with sadness and regret.
When Daniel’s big brother Dean married his partner Alice in September, it was a joyous moment, yet Daniel’s loss was felt. Denise posted a beautiful shot of Dean, Daniel and Bradley playing in the snow as children.
“My boys are now grown up or gone. Enjoy time with them,” Denise tweeted in a touching tribute.
When Bradley and his wife Anna announced the birth of their first child in 2016, they called their son Winston Daniel George Morcombe, and Denise felt her loss even more.
‘Nobody will ever know the love I felt for Daniel’
“There’s always so much hope and promise around the birth of a baby,” she said at the time.
From the moment Daniel vanished, in what has to be any parent’s worst nightmare, the Morcombes’ plight touched people around the world.
The nation prayed when Denise broke down, saying, “I just want him to come home – we want Daniel back”. back .
But that was not to be, and after what became the biggest investigation in Queensland’s history, with the posting of an unprecedented $1 million reward and a coronial inquest, the family’s heartbreaking search came to a tragic end. Cowan confessed to undercover detectives to strangling Daniel after kidnapping and sexually assaulting him.
Denise told just how destructive “evil, evil, inhuman thing” Cowan’s murder of Daniel had been.
“You are a perverted soul and didn’t realise that his mother would never give up searching for answers and how much I loved him,” Denise explained in her victim impact statement to the court after Cowan was found guilty of murdering Daniel.
The family were finally able to bury the son who was so cruelly taken after two shoes belonging to Daniel and 17 of his bones, including a rib, hip, leg, arm and vertebrae, were found at Glass House Mountains in August 2011.
More than 2000 people attended Daniel’s funeral at Siena Catholic College on December 7, 2012 – nine years after his disappearance.
AN INNOCENT LIFE
“Nobody will ever know the love I felt for Daniel,” Denise said in the impact statement. “He was an innocent boy, starting to grow up and learn about life. He was gentle, he loved animals and wanted to be a vet. He would never hurt a soul. He was scared of the dark and often slept on the floor next to me.”
Bruce told the court Cowan “ripped our family apart”.
Cowan is serving a life sentence in Brisbane’s Wolston Correctional Centre, where he has been the subject of attacks from fellow prisoners.
Daniel’s family established the Daniel Morcombe Foundation in 2005 to educate children about personal safety and to raise awareness about the dangers of predatory criminals. They are dedicated to inspiring communities around the country to keep children safe.