Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

The Long Road to Goodbye: A Family's Hope for the Truth; Committed to Finding Answers

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

The Long Road to Goodbye: A Family's Hope for the Truth; Committed to Finding Answers

Article excerpt


Senior Reporter

THE disappearance of schoolgirl Marilyn Wallman has resonated with Mackay families for nearly 43 years.

And the tireless effort of her family to find out the truth has touched us all.

It's Queensland longest-running child abduction case, but now her family can at least finally lay her to rest.

The 14-year-old was abducted near Eimeo Rd on March 21, 1972.

It was the same year that Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister of Australia and it became compulsory for Australian cigarette packets to include the health warning: Smoking is a Health Hazard.

But for many in Mackay, this mystery would always be at the forefront of their mind.

Marilyn had been riding her bike to the bus stop to catch the bus to school.

Just moments behind her were her brothers Rex and David, who found her bike and school bag on the side of the road.

As David ran home for mum, Rex heard muffled screams, voices and noises from the canefield as he waited by her bike.

Frantic searches were conducted throughout the region, by family and the wider community, but there was no sign of Marilyn.

Initially the case was treated as a disappearance, but it looked more sinister the longer she remained missing and police began treating it as a murder investigation.

Where is Marilyn?

It wasn't until October 1974 that the first major breakthrough in the case appeared to come to light.

Railway worker Greven Breadsell came forward to police after he found a skull fragment on private property near Mirani.

Then just 25 years old, he'd been collecting palm fronds for his mother when he, and a woman, came across the piece of bone sitting on top the grass about 50 metres from McGregor Creek.

Mr Breadsell didn't initially realise the significance of his find and it was a number of weeks before he handed the piece over to police.

But it would be 41 years before Mackay would know how important that piece was to the puzzle behind the teen's disappearance.

Backyard Excavation

Marilyn's family was given renewed hope in February 2014 when police began to excavate a backyard in Bassett St, North Mackay, in the hope of finding "items of interest" in relation to the murder.

Brothers Rex and David had, in recent years, ramped up their push for answers and used both social and mainstream media to draw attention to the case and make a public appeal for information.

It is believed police were led to this particular backyard through information received from Crime Stoppers.

The family had hoped this dig would uncover those final missing pieces necessary for closing the 42-year-old mystery and reveal the location of Marilyn's remains.

However, that hope was left cold when the dig was wrapped up only days later and police left the scene empty-handed. …

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