Cold case of missing 15-year-old now a murder investigation
Cold case of missing 15-year-old now a murder investigation

Cold case of missing 15-year-old now a murder investigation

Police have begun a murder investigation into the disappearance of Sydney schoolgirl Rista Chanthavixay - more than 10 years after she was last seen.

The 15-year-old vanished after having an argument with her boyfriend in 2009.

Rista Chanthavixay, 15, went missing after having an argument with her boyfriend in 2012. Picture: NSW Police
Rista Chanthavixay, 15, went missing after having an argument with her boyfriend in 2012. Picture: NSW Police

She was reported missing by him and his family after she failed to turn up at Ashcroft High School or for her part-time job at McDonald's.

Rista was last seen in the Liverpool area on March 24, 2009.

NSW Police confirmed the cold case had been reopened and was being investigated by a new strike force after a review by the Unsolved Homicide Squad found the teenager was probably murdered.

Detectives from Liverpool police recently contacted Rista's family to tell them the youngster's disappearance was now the subject of a full investigation.

She has a Cambodian-Laos background and, while she grew up with her family in Heckenberg, she was living with her boyfriend at Mt Pritchard after problems at home when she vanished.

"At the time of her disappearance, she had just broken up with her boyfriend, who she'd been living with at Mt Pritchard," a police spokesman said.

"He and his family reported her missing after she failed to attend school and work or make contact with any friends.''

Rista’s siblings Andy and Alfa Chanthavixay look at a taxi ad aiming to help find out what happened to her.
Rista’s siblings Andy and Alfa Chanthavixay look at a taxi ad aiming to help find out what happened to her.

Rista was initially treated as a possible runaway after a claimed sighting of her at Campbelltown about a month after she disappeared.

There were also reports she may have headed to Melbourne.

But investigations revealed Rista had not accessed the more than $200 in her bank account or made contact with anyone.

No trace of her was found and in 2012 a coroner declared her dead. He then referred her case to the Unsolved Homicide Squad.

"Rista Chanthavixay died on or about March 24, 2009. As to the place of her death and the manner and cause thereof, the evidence does not enable me to make a finding,'' deputy state coroner Paul McMahon said.

At the time, police cleared her boyfriend of any involvement in her disappearance and took DNA from her mother.

Her boyfriend, family and friends will be re-interviewed as part of the new investigation.

 

HOPE AND ANGUISH ALWAYS PRESENT

When the bodies of two women were found on the Central Coast in separate incidents recently, Malcolm Goodall was once again "on the edge of my seat".

Just as he has for the past 40 years since his sister Leanne Goodall, 21, went missing, he wondered if this time it was her body.

"You want it to be her so you can say goodbye but then when it isn't you are ­relieved because there is still the hope she is still alive," Mr Goodall said.

Leanne Goodall, 20, who disappeared from Newcastle in 1978.
Leanne Goodall, 20, who disappeared from Newcastle in 1978.

His relief was heartbreak for two other families.

A body found wrapped in plastic in a Central Coast creek was identified as Danielle Easey, 29. The body found near the Terrigal Haven boat ramp was Dev­ora Howard, 56, who had been walking her dog along the beach.

"Every time a body is found, our family goes through it again. It's horrible," Mr Goodall said.

Leanne was last seen at the Star Hotel in Newcastle on December 30, 1978, and her disappearance has been linked to serial ­killer Ivan Milat, who stayed there around that time while working on local roads.

Detectives who reinvestigated her death told Mr Goodall of the thousands of people who go missing every year.

"The police said they found almost every one of them apart from a few and my sister was among the few," he said.

Valerie Eastwell (centre) with sister Elvie and brother Ernie only months before the eight-year-old disappeared.
Valerie Eastwell (centre) with sister Elvie and brother Ernie only months before the eight-year-old disappeared.

The nieces of Valerie Eastwell have been waiting more than 70 years for news of the schoolgirl who has not been seen since going missing in the town of Gol Gol in 1945.

Hers is the oldest case on the national Missing Persons Register.

Senior team member Emila Hall said there are around 38,000 missing persons reports around the country every year with 90 per cent of people found in a week.

But there are 2600 on the long-term missing persons list - meaning they have been missing for three months or longer.


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