5 Aug 2020

Missing Persons Week: South Australia

It's National Missing Persons Week in Australia, so every day this week (work, postgrad study and single parenting permitting) I'll be featuring a few cases from each state. Today: South Australia.

Maxwell Bryant

Missing Since: March 1, 2013
Missing From: Yalata, South Australia
Year of Birth: 1961
Age when last seen: 52
Age Now: 59
Sex: Male 
Hair Color: Grey 
Eye Color: Brown

Maxwell Byrant was last seen at the Aboriginal community of Yalata, west of Ceduna along the Great Australian Bight, on Wednesday 1 March 2013. Maxwell frequently traveled between Yalata and Port Augusta, and was believed to be heading to Port Augusta when he was last seen. Police inquiries with transportation services, Aboriginal communities and interstate police failed to find any trace of him. Family members are particularly concerned that he hasn't been in contact since his disappearance, as he was in poor health and had recently been released from hospital. 

Rhianna Barreau

Missing Since: October 7, 1992
Missing From: Morphett Vale, South Australia
Year of Birth: 1980
Age when last seen: 12
Age Now: 40
Sex: Female
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Hazel

Rhianna Barreau was last seen leaving her home at Morphett Vale at 10:30am on Wednesday October 7, 1992, to go shopping, as it was the school holidays. Her brother and mother were away from home at the time of her disappearance. She walked to a newsagent in Reynella, about 1 kilometre from her home, to buy a Christmas card for her American pen pal. She apparently returned to the house, as when Rhianna's mother returned to the house at 4pm that day, she found the Christmas card still in its bag, along with all Rhianna's belongings, but there was no sign of her daughter. There were extensive searches for Rhianna, including media appeals and a mannequin dressed in clothes similar to the ones she wore the day she vanished displayed in the local shopping centre, but no solid leads. 

A white Torana with Victorian number plates was spotted in the area on the day Rhianna disappeared but this was never fully investigated due to lack of police resources. The Victorian connection led to speculation that Rhianna was a victim of child rapist and murderer "Mr Cruel", a case I'll be exploring in a future post. There is a reward of up to $1,000,000 to anyone who either provides information leading to the recovery of her remains or information leading to a conviction in the case.

Stella Farrugia

Missing Since: October 17, 1984
Missing From: Henley Beach, South Australia
Year of Birth: 1966
Age when last seen: 18
Age Now: 54
Sex: Female 
Hair Color: Golden Brown
Eye Color: Brown

Stella Farrugia was last seen on Wednesday 17 October 1984 at her home in Henley Beach by her boyfriend, who had moved in with her a few weeks before. He reported her missing to police the next day; her boyfriend had a history of violence towards her. Stella left all of her belongings and pet dog behind. Her bank accounts have not been touched and she has not been in contact with her family since her disappearance; however, her family received a series of hang up calls in the years following her disappearance. Police reopened the investigation in 2019, stating that it was most likely she had been murdered. The boyfriend who reported her missing died in 2010.

Melissa Brown

Missing Since: May 13, 2000
Missing From: Port Adelaide, South Australia
Year of Birth: 1984
Age when last seen: 16
Age Now: 36
Sex: Female 
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown

Melissa Brown was last seen on Saturday 13 May 2000 at Blair Athol in South Australia. Melissa had been living with her mother, Rosemary, and brother at Windsor Gardens Caravan Park. They were evicted on 3 May 2000 for unpaid rent and complaint of noise and visitors. They moved into the caravan of another resident at the park, Mark Nicholls but on 7 May 2000 the Browns and Mark Nicholls were all evicted from the caravan park. The Browns and Mr Nicholls then slept in Mr Nicholl's van in the yard of a house at Blair Athol. Mark Nicolls was the last person to see Rosemary and Melissa, when they left the van at 1:30am on Saturday 13 May 2000 to search for Rosemary's son. Her son, who was 11 at the time, was staying the night at a friend's house, but Rosemary and Melissa were never seen again. 

Rosemary Brown's handbag was found on a street in Northfield, around 3km from where she went missing, on 14 May although it was not handed to police until 23 May following a police appeal for information. Rosemary's body was found in mangroves at Garden Island, at the entrance to the Port Adelaide River, on July 2. If the police know the cause of death and how long she had been deceased for, that information has never been released to the public. Melissa Brown has never been found.  There is a reward of up to $1,000,000 to anyone who provides information and assistance that leads to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the suspected murder of Melissa Brown and/or leading to finding her body. There is also a $200,000 reward to anyone who provides information and assistance that leads to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the suspected murder of Rosemary Brown.

Quyen Au

Missing Since: August, 2000
Missing From: Port Adelaide, South Australia
Year of Birth: 1966
Age when last seen: 34
Age Now: 54
Sex: Male 
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown

Quyen Au was last seen in August 2000, but his disappearance wasn't discovered until 2002, when officers of the Major Fraud Squad were unable to locate him whilst investigating his involvement in an ATM card theft ring. Au is believed to have stolen an ATM card from a Hong Kong exchange student in May 2000, using it to make withdrawals of up to $400,000. He was last seen on CCTV making a withdrawal using the card at a National Australia Bank ATM in Port Adelaide at 12:21pm on 15 August 2000. At 12:54pm that day, his phone was used to call a friend. There has been no trace of Au since this date. However since his disappearance, the ATM card he stole continued to be used for further withdrawals totaling over $6 million. 

Police investigating the thefts eventually found $4 million of the stolen cash at a property belonging to an associate of Au, be he himself was nowhere to be found.  Au was born in Vietnam, moving to Australia aged 14. He was last known to be living in Rosewater, but police have learned that he may have been living at the Kilburn property where the cash was found. Police believe he may have been murdered by people who wanted access to his stolen ATM card. A $250,000 reward is offered for information on the case.

Steven Williams

Missing Since: June 14, 2005
Missing From: Gepps Cross, South Australia
Year of Birth: 1966
Age when last seen: 38
Age Now: 54
Sex: Male 
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Blue
Steven Williams was last seen at 2:30pm on 14 June 2005, when his employer dropped him near the Gepps Cross Hotel. He never returned home and his partner reported him missing on 16 June. His car was found abandoned in the hotel parking lot; it's not known how it got there, as Steven didn't drive himself to the hotel. (For overseas readers, in Australia a "hotel" in this context means a pub that may or may not offer accommodation). Steven was working as a debt collector and may have been planning to collect money from a nearby trucking company owned by a member of the Finks Motorcycle Club.

Steven was the former president of the Gypsy Jokers biker club, standing down the year before his disappearance. The week before he vanished, he spoke to the media, criticisng the South Australian Police's bikie unit, Avatar. It is believed several bikers were angered by his comments and the publicity. Steven was known as a devoted father, planning to spend his upcoming birthday celebrating with his daughter.  

A reward of up to $200,000 is on offer for information that leads to a conviction in this case and/or the recovery of the victim’s remains.


Australian Missing Persons Register http://www.australianmissingpersonsregister.com/

Australian Federal Police Missing Persons https://missingpersons.gov.au/ 

If you have any information on this or any other unsolved case, please contact Crimestoppers

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