$2.4m On Offer To Solve These Crimes
For Christine Gordon, the
memory of her daughter's abduction 31 years ago is as vivid
as the day it happened.
As is the pain.
"It's like living with an open grave," Mrs
Gordon said, recalling August 25, 1973,
when four-year-old Kirste and Joanne
Ratcliffe, 11, were snatched from Adelaide
Oval, never to be seen again.
Their disappearance remains one of the
nation's most baffling crimes.
It also is among 34 crimes in South
Australia - including murders and disappearances - for which there are rewards
totalling more than $2.47 million.
Like others who have lost loved ones in
such circumstances, Mrs Gordon and husband Greg live in hope some day someone
will provide information to give them closure to their grief.
"I honestly do not believe that two children could just go missing, or that any
person could just go missing without somebody being aware," she said.
"And I don't understand the whole concept of people saying that they don't want
to get involved.
"I think when a crime is committed,
especially against children, whether we like
it or not, the community is involved."
It is a sentiment shared by Pat Sheppard,
the mother of teenager Daniel, who went
missing on New Year's Day in 1995.
"(The reward) hasn't pricked anyone's
memory so far, but we are hopeful," she
Detectives say the rewards ultimately will
yield results - and convictions - in some
of the cases.
To further stimulate Interest, police are
reviewing a number of crimes and will
consider asking the State Government for
more money to increase rewards for some
of them - especially where the amounts
offered decades ago now seem small.
An example is the disappearance of the
Beaumont children - Jane, Arnna and
Grant - from Glenelg beach on Australia
Day, 1966. The reward is just $1000.
Just $4000 more is offered for information
which might lead to a breakthrough in the
disappearances of Kirste and Joanne.
Police Minister Kevin Foley has promised
to look into the matter if it is presented
to him, saying: "If the State Government
was approached by the Police Commissioner, we would consider it."
Victim Support Service's Michael
Dawson said using rewards as a means of
getting information to help solve a case
would help provide much-needed closure
for victims' families.
"Anything which helps solve a crime does
assist in the victim's family being able to
deal with reality and move on," he said.
"So from that perspective, if the rewards
are successful in bringing about information, that seems to be OK."
Police say every major crime is continually investigated.
"We have in place a dedicated review
team of six investigators who look at the
old cases, ensuring we don't allow any
stones to go unturned," Detective Superintendent Peter Woite, of the Major Crime
Investigation Branch, said.
Yet, in each of these cases, dating from
1966 to 1998, there has come a point in the
investigation where police have exhausted
lines of inquiry.
It is then, often as a last resort, they
consider offering reward money in return
"It's really another avenue of seeking
assistance from the public, with the hope
that someone will come forward as a result
of the rewards being posted," Supt Woite
Yet, in respect of some of the State's more
mystifying crimes, rewards were being
posted early in the police investigation.
Just 48 hours after the Beaumonts vanished, a reward of £850 was offered for
information leading to their whereabouts.
Today that reward is $1000.
A week after 10-year-old Louise Bell was
snatched from her Hackham West home on
January 3, 1983, by an intruder who is
believed to have cut through a window flyscreen, $5000 was put up for information.
A week later, the state government increased that by $10,000. About the same
time, a group of Adelaide business leaders
put forward up to $15,000 of their own
money as added incentive.
More than 21 years later, the case remains
It's a similar story with the October 7,
1992, disappearance of Rhianna Barreau.
The 12-year-old left her Morphett Vale
home and walked to the nearby Reynella
shopping centre and was seen later that
day near the David Tee and Acre Ave
intersection at Morphett Vale. Police believe she was abducted and murdered,
although her body has never been found.
It was a month later that a $l00,000
reward was posted and today it still remains unclaimed.
Supt Woite says no reward - which is
posted at the discretion of the Police
Commissioner with funds allocated from
the SA Police budget - is ever withdrawn,
unless the case is solved.
"And as far as we're concerned, all cases
are of equal importance," he said.
"However, we are reviewing several historical cases ... to request those reward
amounts are increased to reflect the current situation."
But even the offer of $500,000 has not
given police information to enable them to
record a conviction for the 1994 National
Crime Authority bombing which killed Detective Sergeant Geoffrey Bowen and seriously
injured lawyer Peter Wallis.
Det-Sgt Bowen was killed when he
opened a parcel bomb sent directly to him.
The $500,000 reward was posted two days
after the March 2 blast in Waymouth St,
It remains the highest reward offered in
South Australia and the second highest in
In Victoria, rewards of $1 million are on
offer for the separate murders of two
mothers - Vicki Jacobs in 1999 and Jane
Thurgood-Dove in 1997.
"(The NCA bombing) was an exceptional
case, where a law enforcement officer was
killed and another seriously injured. It was
really an attach on law enforcement in this
country," Supt Woite said.
Even though hundreds of thousands of
dollars in reward payments have been
made in the past, Supt Woite says police
realise "rewards dont necessarily solve
"Not a lot of people take up the option
of providing information for a reward," he
"No doubt a lot of people have information which could be useful to us, but for
various reasons are not prepared to provide
In recent years, a reward of $100,000 was
paid to a police informant in relation to the
1993 murder of German nurse Anne
Neumann at Coober Pedy.
Also on the public record is a payment
of reward money after a 17-year-old missing
person/ murder case was solved.
On March 17, 1980, Whyalla mother-of-
two Renee Frodsham disappeared from a
shopping centre car park and a $10,000
reward was posted.
It was not until March, 1997, that a
woman came forward with information
about her business partner's involvement
in Frodsham's disappearance, which led to
him being arrested by police.
"We can't really say how many rewards
have been paid out for confidentiality
reasons, but in some cases rewards have
assisted in solving the crime," Supt Woite
AMONG crimes for which $100,000 rewards have been posted are the January 6, 1991, murders
Pearce and her children Adam, 11, Travis,
9, and Kerry, 2.
Their bodies were found in their Parafield
Gardens home after it was set on fire.
Husband and father Stuart was considered
a suspect after his apparent disappearance
the same day.
In 1996, the money was put up as a
reward for information leading to his arrest.
Supt Woite said where police were still
actively investigating lines of inquiry in
relation to other major crimes, rewards had
not been posted.
An example is the October, 2002, murder
of 46-year-old Bernadette Listen in her
Victor Harbor home.
"There are still lines of inquiry being
undertaken in relation to that matter,"
Supt Woite said.
However, he urged anyone with information on any of the unsolved cases to
"I think that any way we can highlight
these cases, which then might jog someone's memory or encourage someone to
come forward with further information, is
very worthwhile," he said.
"And if we do gather any further information in relation to any of those cases,
we certainly ensure that the victims' families or friends are kept informed about the
progress of the investigation."
Calls can be made to the confidential
BankSA Crime Stoppers hotline.
Sunday Mail (24-10-2005)