One person missing each day
MORE than 300 people are reported to police as missing within the Richmond Local Area Command each year.
“We get one a day, roughly,” investigation manager Detective Sergeant Matt Kehoe said.
However, most of the people reported as missing are found safe and well within one day, with about 50 per cent being runaways.
Others are mentally ill, visa over-stayers, people with dementia and travellers who have not phoned home for a while.
But occasionally a person does go missing without a trace, Det Sgt Kehoe said.
Like Lismore Heights woman Lucy McDonald, who was last since in April 2002. Her family now believes she has met with foul play.
There’s also Lennox Head woman Bronwyn Winfield, who disappeared 17 years ago. A 2002 coronial inquest into Mrs Winfield’s disappearance found that she had died on or about May 16, 1993, and that a ‘known person’ should be charged with her death.
Her husband, Jonathan Winfield, was named by police during the inquest as the person they believed was most likely responsible.
Her body has never been found.
In March this year, a $100,000 reward was put up for information on her disappearance.
Det Sgt Kehoe said investigating missing person cases was emotionally taxing work.
“You are dealing with the families of the missing people,” he said. “It’s emotional.”
The first 24 to 48 hours are crucial in a missing person investigation.
“Especially with crimes like abduction and murder,” he said.
“It’s important to get the evidence while it’s still fresh.”
This week is National Missing Persons Week and police are using it as an opportunity to alert the public to people who are still missing.
Police are concerned about 13-year-old Nikita McMahon. She was reported missing by her grandmother and was last seen in Zadoc Street, Lismore, on Wednesday, July 14, at 3.30pm.
Sarah Cooper, 15 years old, was also reported as missing to police last month. She was last seen on Thursday, July 15, about 8.30am at the Casino railway station.
Also still missing are Alan Fox and Anneke Adriaansen, last seen in Byron Bay in 1979; and Stacy De Sielvie, who disappeared in 1994.
His last banking transaction took place in Lismore.
Photographs and information on people who have been reported as missing can be found at: www.missingpersons.gov.au.
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.