National Missing Persons Week, 2018

EVERY passing moment just adds to the heartbreak for five families across the region who are waiting on a loved one to return home.

This week marks the 30th anniversary of National Missing Persons Week and the Australian Federal Police has launched a short film about the effects of a missing loved one on the family left behind.

Across the region, five people are on the National Missing Person register.

One was a schoolgirl when she disappeared, another a man in his mid 20s. A woman who was in her early 30s is also on the list, so too is a man who was in his 50s and another in his 70s.

Sadly for the Bathurst region, three of the missing people are from that city.

Schoolgirl Jessica Small, who was born in 1982, was last seen early in the morning of October 26, 1997.

The previous night, Jessica and a friend were at an amusement centre. After leaving the centre, they walked around town for a short while before accepting a lift from an unknown male person.

The driver stopped the vehicle a short while later and attempted to grab at both girls who managed to escape from the vehicle and run for help at nearby houses; however, Jessica did not make it to safety.

The Coroner has since found Jessica was abducted against her will and died on or after October 26, 1997.

Bathurst man Andrew Russell, who was born in 1985, was last seen on June 2, 2009. Police hold serious concerns for his safety and welfare.

While Bathurst woman Janine Vaughn, born in 1970, was last seen December 7, 2001.

At this time she was seen to enter the front passenger seat of a bright red four door medium size sedan similar to a Mitsubishi Magna or a Toyota Camry. Janine has not been seen or heard from since and fears are held for her safety and welfare.

How each person deals with the disappearance of a missing loved one is truly unique.

Mark Jones's brother Tony is on the missing person register

Missing Peak Hill man Max William Day, who was born in 1963, was last seen in Parkes in early 2017 and police have serious concerns for his welfare.

Robert Dickie, 71, was last seen on June 14, 2016 in Elong Elong, around 44 kilometres east of Dubbo.

They are all someone’s brother, sister, son, daughter or friend.

The Australian Federal Police’s recently released National Missing Persons Co-ordination Centre video features an interview with Mark Jones whose brother Tony is on the missing person register.

Anthony (Tony) Jones, then aged 20, went missing while hitchhiking around Australia.

“How each person deals with the disappearance of a missing loved one is truly unique,” Mark said.

“We are a large family of seven siblings and we have all dealt with the loss of Tony in different ways.

“There is a mind-numbing ‘unreality’ about having a missing loved one that somehow pushes the grief to one side. But decades on it is all too easy to see the pain that lurks beneath the surface of bewildered people trying to make sense of a family or friend simply vanishing in a country seemingly as safe as Australia. 

If you have any information on a missing person call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.