SA Police offer $1 million rewards for 13 child murder cases
Police will offer $1 million rewards in a bid to solve 13 of the state’s highest profile cold case child murders.
The rewards will be paid for information leading to an arrest or conviction, or recovery of a body, in the murders
of 18 children dating back to 1966.
It is the first time police have agreed to pay rewards for information which leads to the discovery of victims’ bodies.
Police assistant commissioner Paul Dickson said recent cold case murder arrests proved that cases were never closed until they were solved.
“Over time, relationships and loyalties between people break down and we know that in some cases in these matters there is
a small group of people with vital information that can be provided to the police to assist with those matters being solved,” he said.
“When you are talking about people who may be involved in a criminal group or with people who have
committed the most serious crimes, often they need a bit of inducement to (come forward)
and that’s why the reward of $1 million is a fair inducement.”
The 13 unsolved murder cases are:
THE BEAUMONT CHILDREN - Jane, 9, Arnna, 7, and Grant, 4, disappeared from Glenelg on January 26, 1966.
PATRICIA SCHMIDT - the 16-year-old’s body was found off a dirt track at Hallett Cove on December 18, 1971.
JOANNE RATCLIFFE AND KIRSTE GORDON - Joanne, 11, and Kirste, 4, disappeared from Adelaide Oval on August 25, 1973.
MARILYN QUALMANN - the 14-year-old disappeared from her Moorook home on September 21, 1975.
ALAN BARNES - the 17-year-old’s body was found under the South Para Bridge near Williamstown on June 24, 1979.
PETER STOGNEFF - the 14-year-old’s remains were found at a Two Wells property on June 23, 1982, almost 10
months after he disappeared.
MICHAELA GODAU - the 15-year-old disappeared from her Elizabeth Field (now Davoren Park) home overnight on December 19, 1982.
RICHARD KELVIN - the 15-year-old’s body was found near an airstrip at Kersbrook on July 24, 1983, 19 days after he was abducted
from a North Adelaide laneway. Bevan Spencer von Einem was convicted of his murder, but police believe others were involved.
THE PEARCE FAMILY - the bodies of Meredith Pearce and her three children, Adam, 11, Travis, 9, and Kerry 2, were found in
burnt-out remains of their Parafield Gardens home on January 6, 1991. Police have been searching for the children’s father Stuart Pearce since.
JUAN MORGAN - the 15-year-old disappeared in 1992 and, although he was not reported missing at the time, police
in 1999 identified him as a potential murder victim.
RHIANNA BARREAU - the 12-year-old was last seen at her Morphett Vale home on October 7, 1992.
HEATHER TURNER - the 16-year-old’s body was found partly submerged in a Port Gawler creek on
January 31, 1998, about two weeks after he was last seen.
MELISSA BROWN (aka TRUSSELL) - the 15-year-old was last seen leaving a Blair Athol
address with her mother Rosemary Brown on May 13, 2000. Rosemary Brown’s body was found at Garden Island on July 2, 2000.
Suzie Ratcliffe, whose sister Joanne Ratcliffe disappeared from Adelaide Oval in August 1973, said the rewards were a major incentive.
“If this helps the vital to bringing our girls home or other children then that is all that matters,” she said.
“Living day by day not knowing where our children are is incomprehensible. It is a pain no one should have to endure.
“My family have missed out on seeing my sister grow up, go to school ... getting married and having children of her own.
“Not having a body to bury and actually grieve for her properly ... this reward could mean the answers my family and
so many other families have been waiting for for so long.
“Please find it within your heart to ring Crime Stoppers and put an end to our pain.”
Premier Jay Weatherill said the rewards were designed to attract people with any information to come forward and reveal what they knew.
“Even the smallest piece of information can lead to a chain of inquiry, which can lead to an arrest of the perpetrator or indeed
crucial information that might allow us to understand the final resting place of these children,” he said.
Mr Weatherill pleaded for anyone with information to help “allow us to bring closure” to the families of missing children.
“They deserve justice and they have been deprived of that all of these years,’’ he said.
“If we can do anything that can allow us to bring closure for them or to allow them to at least
understand the final resting place for their children after all these years, that would be an enormous relief for these families.
“I think it would not only be an important relief for the family, but an important sense of relief for the whole South
Australian community if these people could be brought to justice or if we could know just a little more about the final
resting places of these victims.’’
Mr Weatherill said as a father, he could not understand what the parents of the five missing children had endured since they were taken.
“It would have the cruellest and most painful thing imaginable to have your child taken and never quite know
what has happened to them,’’ he said.
“Never really being able to fully grieve for them because you really just don’t know, and as unlikely
as it seems, whether they are still alive. There must be an awful dilemma about just letting go of the idea of them still being alive.’’
The new move also has been welcomed by Kirste’s parents, Greg and Christine, who said they had never given up hope there would one day
be a breakthrough in the case.
“You can’t give up hope. They have got to be somewhere, whether they are
alive or whether they are not, they are somewhere,’’ Mrs Gordon said.
“You can’t give up hope that someday there is going to be an answer.’’
Mr Gordon, 72, said he hoped increasing the reward and extending it to
recovering the remains of the missing children “does have the desired effect’’ while Mrs Gordon,
69, said she wanted to know where Kirste now was.
“I think any parent in the situation we are in, or any parent that doesn’t know
where their loved ones are want that answer,’’ she said.
Mr Gordon said they had dealt with the loss of Kirste by not regarding themselves as victims.
“Right at the very start of things we made our personal decision that we were going to be survivors and not victims,’’ he said.
“We have always adopted that attitude, that we will live our life as survivors. That’s what we have done and we
have got on with things and made sure our family is well supported.’’
Mr Gordon said the family also believed “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.’’
He said he “frequently’’ thought about Kirste and it was always “just underneath the surface.’’
“For me, it’s often just listening to music at some time. Music is all about emotion and that
can trigger things quite quickly and easily,’’ he said.
Major Crime detectives will be available to take Crime Stoppers calls on these matters today
and tomorrow from 11am to 10pm.
Anyone with any information on the two cases is urged to contact Crimestoppers on 1800333000 or at www.sa.crimestoppers.com.au.
Morning Walk Into Oblivion
Rosemary and Melissa Brown went for a walk in the early hours of
Saturday, May 13, 2000- they were never seen alive again.
Seven weeks later, the decomposing body of Rosemary, 33, was found in the
Garden Island mangroves. Despite several unconfirmed sightings, her daughter Melissa has never been found.
Detective Senior Constable Jeff Brown said the case had been "frustrating" with virtually no leads since 2003.
"It is bewildering, somebody has to know something about the case." Sen-const Brown said. "We have
exhausted all lines of inquiry since the case was reviewed in 2003, but it stills remains open.
"Rosemary mixed with a lot of people so if we can re-jog someone's memory it may help us (solve) it."
The Brown family had been living at the Windsor Gardens caravan park just weeks before they
vanished. Rosemary and Melissa, then 15, had moved into a caravan in a friend's backyard at Blair Athol
a short time befor they had disappeared.
Rosemary's son, Nathan Davidson, then 11, was staying with friends at Windsor Gardens.
Where Rosemary and Melissa were going when they left their caravan
at 2:30am remains unclear.
Police investigated whether they hed been going to meet Nathan- but evidence had them
headed in a different direction.
Rosemary's yellow bag was found at Northfield, about noon
on the day of they went missing.
A few weeks later Police interviewed a former South Australian man living in
Victoria in relation to the disappearance.
Then Rosemary's body was found in the North Arm of Port River, close to
a jetty off Grand Trunkway, on July 2, 2000.
The Victorian man was interviewed again in April, 2003, but the case remains unresolved.
Melissa is described as being 162cm tall, of thin build, with dark shoulder-length hair and brown eyes.
Sen-const Brown urged anyone with information to contact Crimestoppers.
"Callers can remain anonymous but if anyone knows something about the case please contact police," he said..Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.
Adelaide Advertiser (19-10-2005)