From the baffling disappearance of two campers to a baby found dead on a beach, these are the 2020 crime cases that remain unsolved.
From the baffling disappearance of two campers to a baby found dead on a beach, these are the 2020 crime cases that remain unsolved.

The unsolved crimes of 2020

The High Country disappearance of Russell Hill and Carol Clay started as a low-profile missing persons case.

The High Country disappearance of Russell Hill and Carol Clay started as a low-profile missing persons case.

Within weeks, it was the most talked-about police investigation of the year as initial hope gave way to more sinister possibilities.

It seems just about everyone has a theory on what happened after March 20 when they arrived at Dry River Creek, but, as 2020 draws to a close, speculation has not translated to answers.

Investigators have been able to almost totally dismiss any idea Mr Hill and Ms Clay vanished in a staged disappearance.

An extensive operation by specialist searchers which found no trace of the pair has led police to believe it unlikely there was some kind of accident.

It is a mystery with numerous intriguing elements, not the least of which is an unexplained fire at their Wonnangatta Valley campsite.

 

Carol Clay.
Carol Clay.

 

Russell Hill.
Russell Hill.

 

The fact the pair's tent was torched has opened the prospect they were attacked inside and it was set alight to destroy evidence.

Mr Hill's prized drone was never recovered but his Toyota four-wheel-drive, scorched by the fire, remained where he had parked it.

It is an extremely challenging investigation in a remote part of the state with no bodies, a crime scene compromised by weather and zero apparent motive for anyone wanting to harm two friends aged in their 70s.

"We've essentially started with nothing. It's like building a jigsaw puzzle without the box lid," missing persons squad head Insp. Andrew Stamper said in September.

"It was an absolute mystery but slowly, methodically, we are building a picture."

 

SHANE BOWDEN SHOOTING

It is unclear whether the unsolved July shooting of Shane Bowden was a warning to get out of Melbourne or an attempted murder.

The violent bikie decided it was best to leave town after that ambush but was killed anyway three months later on the Gold Coast.

Bowden was released from Loddon prison at Castlemaine on June 19 and brought back to Melbourne in a stretch limousine escorted by his Mongol mates on their bikes.

Fifteen days later he was standing in the driveway of an Epping house when a BMW pulled up and a passenger opened fire.

Echo task force detectives subsequently released CCTV of a vehicle leaving the scene but no charges have been laid yet.

Shane Bowden
Shane Bowden

Things just got worse for Bowden after the Epping attack.

He contracted coronavirus while being treated in hospital for his injuries and became the centre of a political storm as he was accused of lying on his incoming passenger card when he took off to Queensland.

On October 12, the 48-year-old was murdered in an execution-style shooting on the Gold Coast.

Queensland investigators have teamed up with Victoria's Echo Taskforce to hunt up to four people they believe are responsible for his death.

Bowden had arrived home from the gym about midnight when as many as 12 shots were pumped into him in a Pimpama driveway.

Detectives have seized two burnt out cars they believe may be linked to the violent ambush.

 

SEAFORD BABY DEATH

Police have not been able to identify the mother of a baby girl found dumped on the beach in Seaford.

Passers-by found the dead newborn alongside her placenta and umbilical cord on the beach walking track opposite Nepean Highway about 4.30pm on April 8.

The grim discovery was called into police and triggered a huge search to find clues surrounding the death.

Initially it was estimated the girl died three to 10 days prior to being found but further tests found she likely laid dead on the beach for two days before she was discovered.

Forensic testing suggests it was likely she had been dumped at the beach between 7am and 5pm on Monday April 6.

What led to the tragedy remains unknown, as does the cause of her death.

Homicide detectives are investigating the possibility the baby's death was the result of an unwanted pregnancy and are yet to rule out foul play.

The physical and mental wellbeing of the mother has been a source of serious concern for police.

On numerous occasions detectives have urged her to come forward, stressing her wellbeing is "the primary focus of the investigation".

The investigation remains ongoing.

 

David Crouch.
David Crouch.

 

DEATH OF DAVID CROUCH

Police continue to investigate the death of Springvale man David "Chook" Crouch, 49, in Noojee, north of Warragul, on June 21.

Detectives believe the deadly dispute may have erupted over Mr Crouch's pet dog at the Toorongo Falls camping ground where around 25 people were staying at the time.

Mr Crouch struck up a friendship with a Langwarrin man and the pair were drinking together on June 19 when he was violently set upon by other campers.

At 9pm, the duo drove to the Noojee Hotel and purchased bagged ice.

Mr Crouch refused to accept medical treatment despite having blood dripping from his ears and a black eye.

His health deteriorated in the following 24 hours and died in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

Police said it was "possible" those who attacked him may not have known he had later died from his injuries.

In June, homicide squad boss Tim Day said the assault appeared to be unprovoked but they did not know what had precipitated.

The investigation remains ongoing.

 

Kobie Parfitt. Source: Victoria Police
Kobie Parfitt. Source: Victoria Police

 

 

KOBIE PARFITT DISAPPEARANCE

Ballarat mother-of-four Kobie Parfitt has not been seen since April and police have recently declared she is the suspected victim of murder.

This week, human remains believed to belong to Ms Parfitt were found dumped in a mineshaft near Ballarat. The remains had yet to be formally identified.

The discovery in bushland in Snake Valley, southwest of Ballarat, followed an extensive search for Ms Parfitt, 43.

Missing persons squad detectives have been working on the case for some time and are said to be making significant headway in the troubling case.

Part of that progress has been to narrow down the date of the 43-year-old's death and the last place she was seen alive.

Investigators say she is likely to have died on April 28 and that she was last seen at a home in Ballarat.

Her bank account and mobile phone have not been used in the seven months since.

Insp. Andrew Stamper said last week there were people in the Ballarat community with answers about what had happened.

"Our investigation has gained significant momentum," Insp. Stamper said.

 

Kerry Giakoumis.
Kerry Giakoumis.

 

KERRY GIAKOUMIS MURDER

On June 5, two Hells Angels bikies and a trusted associate arrived in Melbourne from Adelaide.

Only two returned.

Kerry Giakoumis, who was not a patched Angel but was regarded well enough to make the trip, was the one who never made it back to the City of Churches.

Homicide squad detectives were later to reveal that the 29-year-old concreter had five days later visited a Richmond residence.

He then travelled to the infamous Lipton Drive, Thomastown, clubhouse of the feared OMCG and, most likely, never made it out alive.

It is there that violence erupted, probably linked to some kind of internal gang conflict.

Forensic searches of the clubhouse and the Richmond apartment have been made but, at this point, no charges have been laid.

Detective Senior Sergeant Jason Poulton of the homicide squad later said there would be people within the missing man's circles who would be disapproving of whatever happened.

"The circumstances are concerning in so far as he is associating with members of the Hells Angels, he goes to the clubhouse and shortly thereafter he disappears," Sen-Sgt Poulton said.

Originally published as The unsolved crimes of 2020

Police at the scene of Shane Bowden’s death. Picture: Glenn Hampson.
Police at the scene of Shane Bowden’s death. Picture: Glenn Hampson.
Kerry Giakoumis was spotted on CCTV before his death.
Kerry Giakoumis was spotted on CCTV before his death.


STILL MISSING: Elizabeth was last seen five months ago

Premium Content STILL MISSING: Elizabeth was last seen five months ago

Elizabeth Forman was last seen walking near her Brooklet property

Son who is willing to auction off his eyebrows for charity

Premium Content Son who is willing to auction off his eyebrows for charity

Siblings are giving back to the Leukaemia Foundation.

Tapping into nostalgic memories on Tap Pack tour

Premium Content Tapping into nostalgic memories on Tap Pack tour

Smooth, suave, sophisticated members of The Tap Pack set to tour Lismore and Byron...