Heartbreak over victims killed but never found

 

These nine Queenslanders had their lives taken away from them. Some of their killers have already been jailed, but their families may never get the closure they deserve.

It was the last time anyone in Shae's family would set eyes on her.

Shae didn't keep in regular contact with her family and it was not until March this year that they finally went to police to report her missing. Their efforts to track her down had been unsuccessful and they were very concerned for her welfare.

In recent days, police went to them with terrible news: they believed Shae had been murdered.

Jason Cooper, a 44-year-old Victorian man and Shae's former partner, has now been charged with manslaughter, misconduct with a corpse and stealing.

Police have no idea where Shae's body is. So is it unusual to lay charges over someone's death without a body? Not entirely.

Gail Lynch

WARWICK grandmother Gail Lynch met Ian Hannaford through an online dating site and for a while things seemed fine.

But soon his behaviour turned controlling and he was angry at her reticence to leave the unit she called home and move in with him.

When she broke things off, he refused to accept it, calling her repeatedly and telling a friend he planned to park near her home and spy on her.

Warwick woman Gail Lynch.
Warwick woman Gail Lynch.


A letter later found in Hannaford's Rockville home was an angry and delusional tirade at Ms Lynch.

"Gail, you're a selfish, nasty bitch," it began. "Whatever happens to you, you deserve it, so no other bloke cops it. The world would be better off without you."

The 55-year-old grandmother was last seen on July 3, 2012. In the days that followed, police arrived at Hannaford's place to ask what he knew of her whereabouts. Soon after, he also disappeared.

More than a week later, he was found in a toilet block. He'd been living rough without blankets or warm clothing and was suffering from dehydration.

Police searched for Ms Lynch's body - as did her grieving friends and family - but found nothing.

Police relied on forensic evidence to prove Hannaford had murdered his former girlfriend - finding drops of blood in her bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and her carport by the back door.

Spots of blood on shopping bags in the boot of Hannaford's car were found to belong to Ms Lynch and police also found bedding from her unit that Hannaford had tried to burn at his Rockville home.

More of Ms Lynch's DNA was found on an axe he bought the day she disappeared.

A jury found the 61-year-old guilty of murder. He has never revealed where he hid her body.

"You see, it's the only power he's got left," Ms Lynch's sister Lyn McMillan told media after the trial.

"And, the power of not telling anybody … he can reminisce where she is without anybody else knowing.

"At least we know that he can never, ever, ever do this to anybody else again. He'll be locked away for a very long time."

Jay Brogden

TWELVE years after a 21-year-old Jay Brodgen walked away from Reefo's Resort in Cannonvale into the night, homicide detectives made the first arrest over his murder.

Mr Brogden had been receiving death threats in the lead up to his disappearance over his violent treatment of his then-girlfriend.

"Mum, you don't understand, these people mean business - people go missing up there and are never found," Mr Brodgen's mother, Gina Merritt, said her worried son told her.

On the day he disappeared, he had had a violent altercation with his partner.

Two people have been charged with the murder of Jay Brogden.
Two people have been charged with the murder of Jay Brogden.


An inquest into his disappearance was held in 2015 and in January, new witnesses came forward with information that helped the case turn a corner.

Homicide detectives travelled to North Queensland and a billboard was erected showing a photograph of Mr Brogden with the words: "Jay Anthony Brogden - murdered, 21 April 2007."

The billboard also advertised a $250,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the killing.

"He is missed all the time - there's not a day goes by that we don't think about what's happened with Jay," Ms Merritt told The Courier-Mail.

Earlier this year, police charged 33-year-old Braddon Butler with Mr Brogden's murder.

His lawyer said he would fight the charge.

A 32-year-old Coffs Harbour man has also been charged with murder. Homicide Detective Inspector Damien Hansen said it was possible more people could face charges in connection to Mr Brogden's death. Mr Brogden's body has never been found.

Bruce Schuler

In July 2012, Mareeba builder and father Bruce Schuler set off with some friends for the Palmer River Crossing, a popular gold fossicking area.

The crossing was on Palmerville Station, a 1360km2 cattle property 200km northwest of Cairns.

They had decided to keep a low profile - the station owners, Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber, did not like fossickers coming onto their property and had reacted aggressively to strangers in the past.

The friends parked their cars and set up their camp out of sight, in a dry creek bed. They split up and Mr Schuler, 48, with his Bose headphones, gold detector, GPS and his dog Red, began walking along a dry gully.

Bruce Schuler disappeared at Palmerville Station.
Bruce Schuler disappeared at Palmerville Station.


It was the morning of July 9 and they hadn't been prospecting long when Mr Schuler's three friends spotted the Struber vehicle, a tan coloured Toyota ute, driving along a track adjacent the gully where their friend was walking.

The ute stopped and Wilson-Struber got out, a long, black object in her hands. They heard gunshots, first one, and then, 15 minutes later, a second.

The friends fled back to the campsite, where they found Red, but no trace of Mr Schuler. They left a note on the windscreen of his locked vehicle and went for help.

Mr Schuler was formally reported missing that evening. The following day, highly trained officers from the Special Emergency Response Team arrived to search the property.

The Strubers were arrested and charged with murder in October and were eventually convicted. Traces of Mr Schuler's blood and evidence of recent fires were found on the property and several firearms were never recovered.

Mr Schuler's body has never been found and his family campaigned passionately for No Body No Parole laws - now in place.

"Where is he? Why isn't he here? They are never-ending questions," Mr Schuler's wife, Fiona Splitt said.

"I know in my head what has happened but in my heart, because there's been no closure, I'm still half-expecting him to walk through the door."

Priscilla Brooten

SIX years ago, Priscilla Brooten, a former beauty queen and Zumba instructor, left her home in the US to start a new life in Australia.

She settled in Queensland, where she met fellow Zumba instructor Mark Sheriden Waden.

Priscilla Brooten’s former boyfriend has been charged over her murder.
Priscilla Brooten’s former boyfriend has been charged over her murder.


Ms Brooten, 46, was last seen in July 2018, but was not formally reported missing until December, when friends raised the alarm.

Earlier this month, police began excavating the yard at Waden's Bracken Ridge home after cadaver dogs picked up a scent.

"We share the fear of Ms Brooten's family and friends and have reason to believe she may have met with foul play," Redcliffe Senior Sergeant Michael Hogan said.

Nothing was found but Waden was later arrested and charged with her murder.

Ms Brooten's California based daughter said: "She was a very loving and funny person, and loved taking samba classes.

"She was also a very nerdy person and loved anime."

Timothy Pullen

FOR the Pullen family, it was the most heartbreaking decision they'd ever have to make: push on with a murder trial or accept a lesser plea and find your son's body.

"I was actually never interested in revenge," Timothy Pullen's mother Leanne said. "I wasn't even interested in justice. I just wanted to know where Tim was."

They took the deal and for several people charged over Timothy's death, murder charges were dropped to make way for manslaughter pleas. Others would face accessory charges.

Mackay man Timothy Pullen was killed in 2012 over a $7000 drug debt.
Mackay man Timothy Pullen was killed in 2012 over a $7000 drug debt.

The agreement was: accept the lesser charge and we'll take you to your son's body.

"It felt like we had made a deal with the devil," Leanne said.

Timothy was killed in 2012 over a $7000 drug debt when a group of men attempted to abduct him to claim a $30,000 bounty from a local motorcycle gang chapter.

When the deal was done, police were taken on a three-hour drive into bushland where his body was said to have been dumped.

It would be one of two attempts by one of the killers to show police where Timothy's body was left. But nothing was found.

Police were told Timothy's body had been covered in diesel and burnt until there was nothing left.

"The tragic fact is that is the body has been reduced to such a state of microscopic levels that it can't be seen by the naked eye," a lawyer said.

The Pullens also fought for No Body No Parole laws - laws that affected those charged over Timothy's death.

"Our real hope is that somebody accidentally finds him," Leanne said.

"That will be my dying wish. That I could say goodbye to him respectfully."

Baden Bond

BADEN Bond was just two years old when his drug-addicted father led him down to the Logan River, told him he was sorry, and walked away.

It was 2007, and Shane Arthur Simpson had planned it that way because he no longer wanted to look after the little boy.

Baden Bond was left to drown by his father.
Baden Bond was left to drown by his father.


Baden's body would never be found and as the years went on, the little boy's father and mother, Dina Colleen Bond, would make up various stories when authorities asked after the child's whereabouts.

"I gave him to someone, it's none of your business. I don't have to tell you, to who," Simpson said when police came calling after they packed up and moved to NSW.

The 51-year-old was charged with murder but in March this year pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Bond, 45, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact because she had lied to authorities.

"Even abandoning him beside the main street of Beenleigh would have given him a better chance of survival," Justice Peter Applegarth said in sentencing Simpson.

"He would, at least, have stood a chance at being spotted and made safe by a passing citizen."

Baden's body was never found and court hearings heard it was assumed the little boy had fallen into the river and drowned.

Gregory Armstrong

NEITHER of Gregory Armstrong's parents lived to see a man charged with the murder of their son.

The 30-year-old was a hardworking painter but his family believes his mild intellectual impairment made him vulnerable to Maryborough's drug underworld.

Police believe it was his trusting nature that led to him racking up a large drug debt - he was easily tricked into giving away drugs for free.

Greg Armstrong was last seen in Maryborough.
Greg Armstrong was last seen in Maryborough.


Gregory was last seen at a Commonwealth Bank ATM in Adelaide St, Maryborough, on the morning of May 7, 1997. He was reported missing by his landlord.

His body has never been found.

"It had a huge impact on (our parents) and I don't doubt it sort of prematurely aged them or prematurely ended their lives," Gregory's brother Mark said last year.

In March this year, detectives charged 45-year-old Tony Boyd Carmichael with murder.

Homicide Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Knight said police still wanted people to come forward with information on Gregory's disappearance.

"Detectives believe that there may more people who possess information about the murder of Greg Armstrong. There may also be people who are more willing to provide further information following today's arrest. The door is never shut on new information and we still want people to contact police," he said.

"I hope that today's arrest reinforces our strong belief that the passage of time is no comfort to people who commit violent crime."

Greg Dufty

WHEN Greg Dufty's criminal associates discovered he had stolen $17,000 worth of cannabis from a crop they were running, their retribution was swift and violent.

In 2015, Mr Dufty was confronted by the men, who hit him in the head with a shifting spanner before kicking him to death. The 37-year-old had run up a drug debt and had stolen the drugs in order to pay what he owed.

The body of Greg Dufty could have been burnt by his killers.
The body of Greg Dufty could have been burnt by his killers.


Brothers Lionel and Nelson Patea were among those charged over Mr Dufty's death, with Lionel convicted of murder and Nelson sentenced to eight years on a charge of manslaughter.

Lionel, who also beat his former partner Tara Brown to death in the street, will not be eligible for release until 2048.

Patea's cousin, Aaron Crawford, who claimed to be Mr Dufty's best friend, also pleaded guilty to murder and confessed to having helped dispose of the body.

Several other people were also charged over the killing.

Mr Dufty's body has never been found and it is believed his killers burnt his remains at the site of the drug crop in northern NSW.

Tiffany Taylor

Tiffany Taylor was just 16 - and pregnant - when she agreed to meet a much older man she'd met online.

Rodney Wayne Williams was 60 in 2015 when he allegedly collected the teenager from a Logan motel where she was living with her 41-year-old boyfriend.

Tiffany Taylor’s body is still missing despite extensive searches.
Tiffany Taylor’s body is still missing despite extensive searches.


Court hearings have heard Williams agreed to pay Tiffany for sex but is alleged to have killed her rather than pay.

Lawyers for Williams have said he had nothing to do with her disappearance and had dropped her off after their meeting.

Police claim they have found Tiffany's blood in Williams' car and cameras captured her in the passenger seat.

Tiffany's body has not been found despite extensive searches by police.