Parents across Australia hoping for their lost children to come home

Quanne Diec disappeared on a short walk to school. Photo / News Corp Australia
Quanne Diec disappeared on a short walk to school. Photo / News Corp Australia

The parents of Sydney schoolgirl Quanne Diec have finally got the news they had been dreading for 18 years. It was also the news they had been longing for.

Quanne was just 12 years old when she disappeared on July 27, 1998, on her way to Strathfield Girls' High during a short walk to the train station she did each day. Except that day she didn't make it to the train.

Since then, Ann and Sam Diec have spent thousands of dollars carrying out their own search for their little girl, and they never moved out of the family home in Granville for fear she wouldn't know where they'd gone if they did return.

Like many parents devastated by the loss of their children, they wanted the truth. This week Vinzent Tarantino, 49, walked into Surry Hills police station and spoke to detectives about Quanne's case. He was later charged with her murder.

Vinzent Tarantino, far right, told police he could help them find the body of missing schoolgirl Quanne Diec. Photo / News Corp Australia
Vinzent Tarantino, far right, told police he could help them find the body of missing schoolgirl Quanne Diec. Photo / News Corp Australia

On Wednesday, Tarantino led detectives into heavy bushland as police confirmed they were searching for Quanne's remains.

So far, she hasn't been found, leaving her family achingly close to getting the closure they have been waiting almost two decades for.

Tragically, they are by no means the only Australian family wanting this kind of closure.

There are similar cases of young people vanishing from their ordinary lives across Australia. Each year 35,000 people go missing in Australia, as many as three-quarters of them under 18. Most are found. But some are not.

Western Australia - Sophie Woodman

Sophie Woodman was 13 when she vanished. Photo / News Limited
Sophie Woodman was 13 when she vanished. Photo / News Limited

Sophie Woodman would be have been 50 this year. But it has been decades since she was seen alive, after she disappeared when she was just 13 years old.

Sophie had been with a friend who she planned to leave home and travel to the eastern states with. They made their plans but the two become separated in Victoria after they decided to meet up again in Queensland.

That was on March 21, 1980. The friend made it north to Queensland; Sophie was never seen again.

Her friend was eventually located and told them what she knew but Sophie was never seen again, despite extensive publicity and a massive search.

WA police hoped they were close to a breakthrough through the sadistic killer Valmae Beck, who was on her deathbed.

Beck and her child rapist former husband Barrie Watts had moved from WA to Queensland when they abducted, tortured, raped and murdered Noosa schoolgirl Sian Kingi, 12.

Police always had fears there were more victims, and wanted to speak to her about Sophie's disappearance.

But Beck never spoke about the theory and died in 2008.

South Australia - Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirste Gordon

August 25, 1973 was the day that one of Australia's biggest missing children cases began.

That was the day Joanne Ratcliffe, 11, and Kirste Gordon, 4, vanished from the Adelaide Oval.

There were witness reports the young girls were seen in the company of a man - sparking fears and memories of the Beaumont children mystery several years earlier.

A $1 million reward was offered for information but despite that, and the passage of time, no one has been arrested - and the girls' families are still in the dark about what happened that day.

Kirste's sister Suzie Ratcliffe spoke this year of the terrible toll it had on her family.

"As a young child there were nights I'd sneak out of my bedroom so I could talk to my sister in her picture frame after everyone else had gone to bed," she said.

There was no escaping the pain her parents were experiencing.

"On those nights sitting in the lounge room, I would often hear crying coming from my parents' bedroom. This is the vivid memory I'll never forget, nor the memory of my father," she told the ABC.

"Those who've dealt with children going missing go through a rollercoaster of emotions and different ways of dealing with it."

Greg Gordon, the father of Kirste, told The Advertiser his family had never given up on their quest for justice.
But they were determined the abduction wouldn't define who they were.

"At the core of our thinking was that the perpetrator had claimed Kirste as a victim but that he should be denied any further collateral victims," he said.

"We would do this by maintaining strength in our conviction that we are survivors and that blame lies entirely with the perpetrator."

Victoria - Eloise Worledge


Eloise Worledge has been missing since 1976. Photo / News Corp Australia
Eloise Worledge has been missing since 1976. Photo / News Corp Australia

The case of Eloise Worledge haunted Melbourne families for generations. And still her family wait for answers.

On January 13, 1976, Eloise, 8, was put to bed, in what should have been the safety of her own home. It wasn't.

The next morning her brother Blake discovered she was gone.

A hole had been cut in the flyscreen on her window but it was thought to be too small to get someone through without making too much noise. That led police to believe whoever the abductor was somehow lured Eloise out.

Neighbours thought they heard a car speeding away during the night but the trail quickly went cold. Her body has never been found and no one ever been charged.

Tasmania - Craig Ewen Taylor

Craig Taylor was on holiday with his family when he disappeared. As he had a history of running away, a major search wasn't initially started when he failed to come home to the family holiday home at Coningham.

The 9-year-old couldn't swim and there was a strong suspicion at the time he could have drowned. First an object was seen in the water around Coningham and then a resident who lived close to the family holiday home reported their kayak had been stolen, possibly the afternoon Craig went missing. It was later found partially submerged and slightly damaged.

But an inquest into his death couldn't rule out abduction. A witness reported seeing a young boy hitchhiking towards Hobart about the time Craig vanished. They watched a car pull up, but couldn't be sure if the boy got in.

Was it Craig?

In 2014, Coroner Stephen Carey said he was satisfied the most probable explanation for Craig's disappearance was he took the kayak and fell into the water, reported the Mercury.

"It is probable the kayak overturned and Craig either drowned or subsequently perished due to hyperthermia," Carey said.

But the possibility he got into a car remained open and the exact cause of death couldn't be determined.

Carey said it was unlikely Craig could "run away and establish himself somewhere else" and was satisfied he died soon after his disappearance.

New South Wales - Helen Karipidis

The case of Helen Karipidis has been referred to the unsolved homicide unit. Photo / News Corp Australia
The case of Helen Karipidis has been referred to the unsolved homicide unit. Photo / News Corp Australia

Ten-year-old Helen was last seen playing with other children in a housing estate near Marrickville just before Christmas in 1988.

Her family had its troubles; her parents split and an inquest into her death heard in 2012 that she may have been planning to run away.

Whatever happened to Helen that day it was quick. When she was called inside for dinner, she was gone.

Maria, who was 12 at the time her sister vanished, insisted Helen was "preparing to run away and had wrapped her Christmas presents early", a teacher told the inquest.

"[Maria] felt responsible because she said she should have gone with her that night."

Deputy state coroner Paul MacMahon could only find Helen died on that day or soon after.

The case was referred to the NSW Police Force's unsolved homicide unit.

ACT - Megan Louise Mulquiney

Megan Louise Mulquiney was 17 when she was last seen at a Canberra shopping centre on July 28, 1984.

That afternoon, once her shopping was done, she was supposed to catch a bus home. But she never arrived. Her family said she was a responsible person and would always contact them if her plans changed.

So what happened to Megan?

Once again a coroner attempted to piece the mystery together. At an inquest in 2011 Coroner Peter Dingwall could only reach the conclusion that it was "extremely" likely she was murdered.

Convicted rapist Paul Vincent Phillips was brought to Canberra in 2009 for questioning but denied any involvement in the case.

When he delivered his findings Dingwall said he couldn't take the matter further without anymore evidence, and called on the public to help to finally answer what happened to Megan.

Her mother, Dorothy Mulquiney, echoed his call.

"Just really and truly somebody out there did know something. If they could just come forward no matter what it is, anything that could throw some light onto the situation would be wonderful," she said. "As a mum, I really really need to know what happened to Megan."

Queensland - Marilyn Wallman

Marilyn Wallman's killer has never been found. Photo / News Limited
Marilyn Wallman's killer has never been found. Photo / News Limited

For more than 40 years the family of Marilyn Wallman has wanted answers. They have some and, unlike other families of lost children, even have conclusive proof that she is dead.

But they have not got her whole body back and they are still in the dark as to what happened to her.

It was March 14, 1972, when Marilyn disappeared while riding to school in Mackay, Queensland. She was 10 minutes ahead of her brothers, who found her bike beside the road near a cane field. But there was no sign of Marilyn.

Police, her family, and Mackay locals all feared the worst - that she had been abducted and killed.

For two-and-a-half years the Wallman family were in the dark about the fate of Marilyn.

Then came a breakthrough. Part of a skull was found near a creek about 40km away, but it was only in 2015 that skull fragment was confirmed as belonging to Marilyn.

But her killer has never been caught and the rest of her remains not found. The not knowing what happened is never far from her loved ones.

Her brother, Rex Wallman, told the Courier Mail this year the family were pleading for anyone with information to contact police.

"It's 44 years today and we would have liked an answer 44 years ago," he said.

In a separate interview Wallman told the ABC it was a relief at least to have her back.

"That's one of the reasons we've been searching for so long," he said.

"The other is to find out what happened. We'll be searching and trying to find the answers until we do," he said.

- news.com.au

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