Each year more than 38,000 people are reported missing. While most people are found within a short period of time, there are around 2600 long-term missing persons, police say.
There are a number of missing persons in this region and their families are still searching for answers. Police say no piece of information from the public is insignificant when it comes to trying to solve these cold cases.
WHEN a small fragment of bone turned up in a paddock in Gooloogong, it was a godsend for detectives who had carriage of one of the longest running missing persons cases in the Central West.
Detective Inspector Denise Godden, now attached to Orana Mid Western Police District, as Crime Manager, was based in Orange, part of Canobolas Local Area Command, when the remains of missing Bathurst woman Judith Bartlett were found back in 2009.
She said the case was an example of how police never give up investigating, and illustrates the importance of the community speaking up if they know or find something which they think is relevant, no matter how insignificant they think that information may be.
She said being part of the team that helped solve the Judith Bartlett missing persons case is one the highlights of her policing career.
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"It is very satisfying as an investigator that my team kept asking questions and finally came through with a result and provided those answers. I applaud the hard work and persistence of my team. It was a tremendous effort, assisted by many other agencies."
Reflecting on the case a decade on, Inspector Godden said it was still something she was very proud of.
"I think that case in particular shows that police will always keep going, no matter how old the case is.
Judith Bartlett's case shows how incredibly important it is to contact us if they see or know something, no matter how old the case.Detective Inspector Denise Godden
"It always remains an open case, and we will always keep investigating.
"Judith Bartlett's case shows how incredibly important it is for anyone in the community to contact us if they see or know something, no matter how old the case."
Judith Bartlett was last seen in March 1964, aged 28 on her way to the Old Royal Hotel, Bathurst.
Her remains were found by a bushwalker on a Gooloogong property in 2009 almost 50 years after she was last seen.
As part of the investigation, the bone was sent to New Zealand for advanced technology, and samples were sent to Texas in the USA for DNA analysis.
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Detective Inspector Godden said she recalls Ms Bartlett's daughter, Frances Ryan's relief, when she finally realised her mum "just didn't walk out on her."
"It was a good ending to a very sad story."
"We did a lot of media on it at the time, and Frances (who has since passed away) spoke about how she and the family thought their mum had abandoned them."
At the time, Frances said to journalists that thanks to the dedication of police, and information from the public, the family found out the truth.
"She didn't stop loving us. She was taken by a thief in the night," Mrs Ryan said.
Inspector Godden said homicide investigations into Judith's death remain ongoing, and urged anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.
She said police will never stop trying to find out what happened not only to Judith, but to all missing persons.
Missing persons cases in the Central West
Across the Central West there remains many long term missing persons cases.
While some have been declared deceased at inquest, their bodies have never been found.
Many have rewards, of up to one million dollars, for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for their death.
If you know anything about these, or any other missing persons, please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Missing - Paula Denton
Paula Denton, missing from Mudgee since October 4, 2017. Ms Denton was 42 when she went missing.
There is no photo available of Ms Denton.
Missing - Robert Dickie
Robert Dickie, 73, from Elong Elong was last seen on June 14, 2016 in Elong Elong, around 44 kilometres east of Dubbo.
He was last seen after leaving his home on Wattle Road, Elong Elong but did not return as planned.
He has not been seen since.
Missing - Harry Youl
Harry Youl has been missing from Dubbo since 1990.
Harry was last seen leaving his place of work for a lunch break on August 2. He failed to return and left behind personal belongings.
Harry had recently moved with his family to Dubbo from Victoria, however he has not been seen or in contact with family since this time.
Missing - Mary Quy
Mary Quy has been missing from Dubbo since February 1991.
Mary Quy was 69 years old when she vanished from her home at 29 Cobra Street in the early hours of February 11.
There was no sign of a struggle or disturbance. She did not take her shoes, reading glasses or purse.
Missing - Marjorie Taylor
Marjorie Taylor has been missing from Warren since September 7, 1978.
She was 50 years old at the time she disappeared.
No trace of her was ever found despite extensive searches of the local area and prolonged investigations by police. No photo available.
Missing - Lawrence Salak
Lawrence Salak has been missing from Dubbo since 1981. He was 82 years old.
There is no photo available of Mr Salak.
Missing - Ryan McMillan
Sixteen year old Ryan McMillan was last seen in Lithgow, NSW in 1997.
At 6.50am on November 19, 1997, Ryan's mum Brenda checked her son was in bed and left for work at the local hospital. Later that morning she discovered that Ryan had left home without any warning or note.
Bathurst Detective Sergeant Laura Thurtell who lead the investigation into Ryan's disappearance believes the teenager had no reason to leave home.
Missing - Jessica Small
Jessica Small, 15, was last seen in the early hours of Sunday, October 26, 1997 after attending the Amuse Me amusement centre on Russell Street, Bathurst, with a female friend.
The girls were attempting to hitchhike home and entered a white-coloured sedan driven by an unknown man.
Police were told the man stopped the car on Hereford Street in Bathurst and assaulted both girls, attempting to detain them in the vehicle.
Jessica's friend was able to escape but the car drove off with Jessica still inside.
Investigators believe the last sighting of the vehicle was near Duramana Road and Willott Close in Eglinton.
A $1 million dollar reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person/s responsible for Jessica's disappearance and murder still stands.
Missing - Andrew Russell
Andrew Russell, 23, was last seen alive on Tuesday June 2, 2009.
Detectives from Chifley Police District established Strike Force Renshaw to investigate Andrew's disappearance and quickly established he met with foul play.
Despite extensive investigations and searches over the years, Andrew's body has never been located, and no one has been convicted in connection to his death.
A $750,000 reward still stands for information leading to the recovery of Andrew Russell's remains.
Missing - Janine Vaughan
Janine Vaughan, 31, left a nightclub and was last seen getting into a red car on Keppel Street in Bathurst, about 3.50am on Friday, December 7, 2001.
Police commenced an investigation into her disappearance before the case was referred to the State Crime Command's Homicide Squad.
A coronial inquest conducted in 2009 found Ms Vaughan had died but her cause of death remained undetermined.
A $1 million reward remains in place.
Visit the Australian Federal Police's dedicated Missing Persons website.
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