IT MAY be five years since Simone Strobel disappeared, but the Lismore community hasn’t forgotten.
A green banner emblazoned with ‘Simone RIP’ and a large heart marked the anniversary of an event our community wishes never happened.
Organiser of the memorial service, Chibo Mertineit of Lillian Rock, was once a German backpacker himself who fell in love with the Northern Rivers and decided to stay.
Ms Strobel was never given that chance.
“It was just bliss to know her and know how she felt about the Northern Rivers, and especially the Nimbin area,” Mr Mertineit said.
When Mr Mertineit hadn’t heard of any memorial service planned to mark the event, he decided to organise one himself.
“I just wanted to honour her,” he said, a little teary.
“Maybe even this little event can bring someone forward with information.”
Mr Mertineit was introduced to Ms Strobel in Nimbin by a friend from soccer, and had an instant connection with her.
“She was very level-headed, intelligent and compassionate,” he said.
“She was a kindergarten teacher, and in some way I like people who work with kids and youth, because they are the future.”
Just two other residents, Nathan Apps and Erin Moore from Lismore, came to pay their respects.
“She’s always talked about in Lismore, especially at night and if you’re a girl,” Ms Moore said.
“It’s nice someone did something.”
Mr Apps said he hadn’t realised five years had passed since Ms Strobel disappeared.
“I just wanted to come and pay my respects,” he said.
“The case is still open, leaving a lack of closure not only for Simone’s family, who would still be hurting very much, but for the community as well.”
Mr Apps and Ms Moore both agreed the event left an element of fear in the psyche of Lismore.
“The streets are no safer, there are still sexual assaults and violence against women, and I don’t think we’ve tried hard enough as a community to address this,” Mr Apps said.
“I came to the town a few years after it happened, but in the first week of uni they tell us not to walk around Lismore at night, because this is what could happen. It lets you know you can’t always be safe,” Ms Moore said.