NSW’s top 10 most chilling cold cases

Murders. Hate crimes. Kidnappings. Mysterious disappearances.

These have been some of the most difficult cases for detectives to solve in NSW's history.

With so few leads left to investigate, they've turned to the public for help, deeming any new information worthy of a whopping $1 million-dollar reward, in the hopes that someone, somewhere, may know something.

While for most, the offer is a life-changing amount of money, and although the announcement may guarantee headlines, is it enough for witnesses to come forward?

From cold-blooded murders to shocking hate crimes, unexplained disappearances and frightening kidnappings, The Daily Telegraph takes you inside 10 of the most chilling NSW cold cases with a $1 million reward offering for information.

 

Abduction of William Tyrrell, 2014

Taken just minutes before his disappearance, the last known photo of three-year-old William Tyrell - dressed in his now-infamous Spider-Man suit - is one image that most Australians are unlikely to ever forget.

Perhaps the most publicised abduction case in NSW history, William has been missing since September 12, 2014, when it is believed he was taken from his foster grandmother's yard in Kendall.

Three-year-old William Tyrrell has last seen in September 2014 at his foster grandmother’s home, from where he is believed to have been abducted.
Three-year-old William Tyrrell has last seen in September 2014 at his foster grandmother’s home, from where he is believed to have been abducted.

 

Despite extensive investigations, William has never been found, nor his abductor(s) identified. On the two-year anniversary of his disappearance, a reward of $1 million was offered for his recovery and does not require the arrest, charging or conviction of any person.

 

Suspected murder of Raphael Joseph, 2014

Raphael Joseph, also known as ‘Huss’ or ‘Hussany’ to his family and friends, was last seen getting into the back seat of a late-model, silver sedan.
Raphael Joseph, also known as ‘Huss’ or ‘Hussany’ to his family and friends, was last seen getting into the back seat of a late-model, silver sedan.

 

A well-known drug kingpin and gangster, the 37-year-old was last seen getting into the back seat of a silver Holden Commodore in Auburn, about 11.20pm on March 20, 2014.

With connections to Sydney's DLASTHR Middle Eastern criminal organisation, many were surprised with police's decision to offer a $1 million reward, given the likelihood that the money could end up in the hands of criminals.

Police believe Mr Joseph was executed gangland style at a property in Auburn, when his body was then put into a 44-gallon drum and transferred to another property to be disposed of. Investigators don't expect to find Mr Joseph's remains; however, they do remain hopeful of convicting multiple suspects involved in the execution.

 

Murder of Gary Allibon, 2010

Just months before his retirement and on his 60th birthday, Mr Allibon was fatally shot in cold blood while working as a security guard on Sussex St, in Sydney's CBD.

Guarding a cash-in-transit van, Mr Allibon was approached by three men just after 6am on June 7, 2010.

Murdered security guard Gary Allibon with his wife Monica on holiday in Greece in 2008.
Murdered security guard Gary Allibon with his wife Monica on holiday in Greece in 2008.

 

The men threatened the guards before shooting Mr Allibon, stealing the cash and Mr Allibon's work-issued firearm. Mr Allibon died a short time later at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

After an extensive decade-long investigation failed to provide answers, police offered a $1 million reward just last week, in April 2020.

 

Suspected murder of Janine Vaughan, 2001

Janine Vaughan who went missing from Bathurst in 2001.
Janine Vaughan who went missing from Bathurst in 2001.

 

Ms Vaughan was last seen nearly two decades ago leaving a nightclub and getting into a "little red car" on Keppel St, Bathurst, in the early hours of December 7, 2001.

Friends of Ms Vaughan's allege they saw her enter a small red sedan outside Bathurst's Metro Tavern about 3.50am.

Police believe the same red car stalked another woman just 10 minutes prior, less than one kilometre away from where Janine was picked up.

No trace of the 31-year-old sales assistant has ever been found despite extensive inquiries, leading police to offer a $1 million reward in March 2019.

 

Suspected murder of Jessica Small, 1997

Jessica Small was last seen in 1997 in the Bathurst CBD.
Jessica Small was last seen in 1997 in the Bathurst CBD.

 

Just 15-years-old at the time of her disappearance, Jessica was last seen in the early hours of October 26, 1997 after attending an amusement centre on Russell St, Bathurst, with a female friend.

The girls attempted to hitchhike home and entered a white-coloured sedan driven by an unknown man.

It is alleged the man stopped the car on Hereford St, Bathurst, turned off the headlights, assaulted both girls and attempted to detain them in the vehicle.

Jessica's friend was able to escape and alert nearby residents but the car drove off with Jessica still inside. She was never seen again.

On the 21st anniversary of the kidnapping a $1 million reward was announced.

 

Murder of Lee Ellen Stace, 1997

Brooms Head teenager Lee Ellen Stace was last seen after finishing work at a Yamba supermarket store on September 2, 1997. She was just 16 years old.

After her family alerted authorities, a large-scale police and community search operation went underway and her remains were discovered six week later in the Yuraygir National Park in a shallow grave.

During a 2009 coronial inquest into her suspected murder, a number of suspects were named, and the coroner recommended the investigation be referred to the Homicide Squad.

Her abductor has never been found and in June 2019 a $1 million reward was offered for information pertaining to an arrest.

Teenager Lee Ellen Stace disappeared in 1997 after work. Her body was found at Red Cliff Beach in the Yuraygir National Park.
Teenager Lee Ellen Stace disappeared in 1997 after work. Her body was found at Red Cliff Beach in the Yuraygir National Park.

 

 

Bowraville murders, 1990-1991

 

In February 2020, police announced that the reward for information over the murders of three children from Bowraville had been increased to $1 million.

Colleen Walker-Craig was 16 when she was last seen at a party on September 13, 1990 before she went missing. Her weighted down clothes were later found in the Nambucca River, but her body was never recovered.

Colleen's four-year-old cousin, Evelyn Greenup, disappeared a short time later after being put to bed at her grandmother's home on October 4, 1990.

Bowraville victims from left to right: Colleen Walker-Craig, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux.
Bowraville victims from left to right: Colleen Walker-Craig, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux.

 

Her remains were later found in bushland near Congarinni Road on April 21, 1991.

Clinton Speedy-Duroux, 16, disappeared after a party in Bowraville on January 31, 1991.

His remains were located in the same bushland near Congarinni Road on February 18, 1991.

To date, no one has successfully been charged with the murders.

 

Death of Scott Johnson, 1988

The 27-year-old American born mathematician is believed to be the victim of a vicious gay hate crime that resulted in him either falling or being pushed off Blue Fish Point in Manly. Mr Johnson's body was found naked at the base of the cliff in December 1988.

A coronial inquest in 1989 found Mr Johnson had committed suicide, with a second inquest in June 2012 returning an open finding.

The matter was referred for a third inquest in 2017 when the then-NSW Coroner, Michael Barnes, found that Mr Johnson fell from the cliff top as a result of actual or threatened violence by the person who attacked him, because they believed him to be gay.

In March 2020, Mr Johnson's brother offered to double the police reward to $2 million for information.

Scott Johnson climbing Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire just before his death in 1988. Johnson was found dead at the bottom of a cliff in Manly on Sydney's Northern Beaches in December 1988.
Scott Johnson climbing Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire just before his death in 1988. Johnson was found dead at the bottom of a cliff in Manly on Sydney's Northern Beaches in December 1988.

 

 

Murder of Bronwynne Richardson, 1972

 

Then aged 17, Ms Richardson was abducted in Albury, shortly after 7pm on October 12, 1973. She was dramatically seen being dragged into a vehicle, described as a pale green and white 1961 FB Holden station wagon.

Her body was recovered from a nearby Lagoon, off the Murray River, two days later on October 14, 1973.

Ms Richardson had been physically and sexually assaulted before her body was dumped.

Four men have been charged in connection with her murder; however, none have resulted in a conviction. A $1 million reward for information was offered in June 2019.

The body of 17-year-old Bronwynne Richardson was recovered from a lagoon off the Murray River on Sunday 14 October 1973, after she was abducted two days prior on Smollett Street, Albury.
The body of 17-year-old Bronwynne Richardson was recovered from a lagoon off the Murray River on Sunday 14 October 1973, after she was abducted two days prior on Smollett Street, Albury.

Disappearance of Cheryl Grimmer

Aged just three at the time of her disappearance and the youngest on this list, Cheryl Grimmer was last seen five decades ago on January 12, 1970.

It is believed Cheryl was kidnapped outside the change sheds at Wollongong's Fairy Meadow Beach, where she had spent the day with her mother and three brothers.

Despite extensive searches at the time and over the years, she has never been found.

A coronial inquest conducted in 2011 found Cheryl had died but her cause and manner of death were undetermined. No trace of her remains has ever been found.

John Grimmer with his daughter Cheryl Grimmer before she went missing in 1970, vanishing without a trace from Fairy Meadow Beach, NSW.
John Grimmer with his daughter Cheryl Grimmer before she went missing in 1970, vanishing without a trace from Fairy Meadow Beach, NSW.

 

 

Originally published as NSW's top 10 most chilling cold cases


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