Missing Persons - Renee Aitkins
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Missing – Renee Aitken
D.O.B - 4-5-1978
Renee went missing from her home in Narooma on the 17-2-1984.
She was last seen in her bed at 11:15 pm the previous evening.
Noticed missing in the morning at 4:45am by her Mum.
Renee has not been seen since.
A coronial inquest was told police were convinced Brian James "Spider" Fitzpatrick
kidnapped Renee, but the convicted sex offender died in a car accident.
Read more below.
Did Samantha's killer draw portrait of Renee?
The killer of Bondi schoolgirl Samantha Knight made a sketch of a girl who resembles Renee Aitken,
the five-year-old who vanished from her South Coast home two decades ago.
The drawing by
Michael Guider captured the attention of the detective at the heart of the Aitken case,
and senior NSW police know of its existence.
But despite fears that it links the pedophile with Renee's abduction and probable death, he has never
been questioned about it.
The publication of the sketch comes as the NSW Ombudsman considers intervening on behalf of Denise Hofman,
a Sydney teacher who spent years convincing senior police of Guider's involvement in the Knight case but has
failed to persuade them he may be linked to the Aitken mystery too.
Mrs Hofman - a 58-year-old mother of five - received poems, letters and etchings from the pedophile in the
mid-1990s when he was serving time in Lithgow jail for child sex offences.
Scrapbooks once kept by Guider contain newspaper cuttings about Renee's abduction and probable murder, The
Sun-Herald reported last month. Guider's police mug shot was privately identified by a key witness in the case,
while other evidence pointed to him having worked in Canberra, just two hours from Renee's Narooma home.
Police say they are unable to take their inquiries any further without more specific evidence, nor will they
allow Mrs Hofman access to the scrapbooks or discuss their contents with her.
In 2002 Guider was sentenced to 12 years' jail for the manslaughter of Samantha in 1986 after Mrs Hofman
exposed her former friend as a suspect, then went undercover to help police gather evidence against him.
The pair met in 1993 through a mutual interest in Aboriginal art and history.
But later, when she heard of Guider's incarceration for molesting children, Mrs Hofman made a connection
between Guider's obsession with Samantha's disappearance and began visiting him in prison.
While advised by senior police to walk away from her campaign because Guider was not a suspect, she pressed
on and was vindicated.
After Guider was convicted, Mrs Hofman contacted Batemans Bay detective Ted Freeman and told him about the
sketch, which she believed was of Renee. He travelled to Sydney to collect it and began reviewing the case,
but has since retired.
The Ombudsman last week asked Mrs Hofman for a written account of her concerns about the Aitken case,
including the responses she had recently received from police headquarters.
The law enforcement watchdog will then determine whether it should request that police conduct a formal
NSW Police declined to comment. But yesterday Mrs Hofman said she had received a promise on behalf of
Deputy Commissioner Andrew Scipione to reconsider her concerns.
"They called me on Friday and said they may not have been fully aware of certain historical aspects of the
Aitken case," she said. "As a result, they've asked that I write to them again and, while offering no promises,
they say they're prepared to have another look at what I've raised."
The Sun-Herald (17-12-2006)
My life without Renee
Almost 20 years after Renee Aitken disappeared from her own bed, her grief-stricken mother has
broken her silence to plead for information about the Narooma five-year-old's fate.
Morna Aitken has accepted a recent coroner's finding that Renee was probably murdered soon after her
disappearance in February 1984 but is finding it almost impossible to move on with her own life.
"The hardest hit for me is not being able to put her to rest," Morna said. "I'll never
have a proper grave for her."
"I can't ever get close to her again, tell her how I love her and miss her.
"I don't want to live the rest of my life not knowing where she is."
It's said time heals but that hasn't been the case for Morna, who is literally being eaten up by grief.
Some days she barely eats, others she can't leave her bedroom and always she feels a knot in
her stomach that just won't go away.
"Living is hard, waking up every day . . .it just seems to get worse," she said.
"There's not one second when I'm awake that my heart is not aching - it is just breaking.
"I feel life is such a punishment. I just want to be with Renee."
Morna still carries Renee's favourite teddy bear, Little Ted, and believes it is only her love
for her sons, Brad, 27, and Orisi, 8, that sustains her.
Brad was Orisi's age when Renee was snatched by an intruder from the bedroom the children
shared at their Narooma home.
Despite three massive land searches, no trace of the little girl was ever found.
There were numerous reported sightings over the years, even a claim from an American woman
that she was Renee Aitken. All were eventually disproved.
The mystery of Renee's disappearance looked as though it would never be solved until Batemans
Bay detectives Ted Freeman and Todd Clayton took up the case in 1998.
The men were passionate in their pursuit of the truth and left no stone unturned in the hunt for
evidence to put before a coroner - and under one they found the man they believe held the answers.
Brian James "Spider" Fitzpatrick was on a fishing holiday in Narooma at the time Renee disappeared
and was later convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old cousin of Renee's.
Police were convinced he was involved in Renee's disappearance and, after his refusal to be
reinterviewed, were looking forward to getting him into the witness box at the inquest
in Albury last August.
But even that small consolation was denied the Aitken family - Fitzpatrick died in a car accident
just weeks before the inquest was due to begin.
"That destroyed me," Morna said. "I thought, how could he do that? That's the end. I was so angry,
I had been hoping to get her back."
But Morna is now clinging to the hope that Fitzpatrick's death will allow others to come forward.
"I can't see how he can have lived that long and not told somebody something," Morna said.
"I'm sure that there is someone out there who knows something. Now he's gone, they don't have to
be scared any more. Please, for my life, come forward. I know I can't live all of my life not knowing."
In the meantime, Morna is taking steps to try and put her life back on track through the creation
of a memorial to Renee.
Morna and her sisters returned to Narooma last week to find a special spot for a plaque.
"I left Narooma very shortly after (Renee's disappearance)," Morna said. "It was just too painful,
I couldn't stay.
"I could never talk about it, it was easier to supress things.
"Renee was so beautiful with her big blue eyes and blonde hair, she had an aura about her. She
shone, she was just so full of life, she was life itself.
"I'm hoping this plaque will do something. I hope it will give me somewhere to go, to be close to her."
Inquest hears missing child probably murdered
A coronial inquest into the disappearance of Renee Aitken from Narooma, in south-east NSW, has heard
that the five-year-old was probably murdered 19 years ago.
After three days of evidence in Albury courthouse, the coroner returned an open finding yesterday
However, he said on the balance of probability, Renee was dead and was probably murdered on or after
February 16, 1984.
Earlier in the day, there was hardly a dry eye in the courtroom as Renee's mother Morna, and her
brother Brad, gave evidence.
Brad was just eight years old when Renee was snatched by an intruder from the bedroom the children
shared in their Narooma home.
On Tuesday, the coronial inquest was told police were convinced Brian James "Spider" Fitzpatrick
kidnapped Renee, but the convicted sex offender died in a car accident last month - just weeks
before the inquest was due to start.
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