Missing Persons Week: Endless fight takes its toll on Pinjarra mother Margaret Dodd

Margaret Dodd says her long fight for answers after her daughter disappeared 20 years ago, and was later found to have been murdered, has taken its toll on her personal life.

Mandurah teenager Hayley Dodd, 17, disappeared on July 29, 1999, near the Wheatbelt town of Badgingarra.

Francis John Wark was sentenced to a minimum of 21 years in prison last year after being convicted of the 17-year-old's abduction and murder.

Wark has refused to reveal the location of Hayley's body.

Pinjarra resident Margaret Dodd said she was "exhausted and stressed" having fought to be heard for the last 20 years, which has resulted in the breakdown of her marriage.

Hayley Dodd.

Hayley Dodd.

"We had to fight every step of the way," she said.

"We had to fight for a reward and for a coronial inquest.

"Then all the pressure having to deal with the media to get the police to act, it just added so much extra pressure and it's taken its toll.

"It's put tremendous stress on our marriage. After 36 years we're now getting a divorce. It's down to the traumatic events of what has happened."

Ms Dodd said she put pressure on current police minister Michelle Roberts, attorney general John Quigley and former police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan to offer a reward for Hayley's case, which was eventually set at $250,000.

'I am surprised it hasn't put me in my grave sooner'

Ms Dodd said she had fought for nine years for a coronial inquest, before it was approved.

"I had letters from Karl O'Callaghan saying 'we will not do this'," she said.

"That's all I've ever had from them. It has been a constant fight.

"I am surprised it hasn't put me in my grave sooner."

The inquest was set to go ahead in 2014, before investigators reviewed the case and tested the evidence with new DNA technology.

They know they didn't do the right things by Hayley and I think they should have apologised and they didn't.

Margaret Dodd

A breakthrough was discovered when Hayley's earring was found lodged in the fabric of the ute Wark had been driving that day.

Ms Dodd said not enough resources were put into Hayley's case.

"Information was coming in and they weren't investigating it," she said.

"They wouldn't put the resources in and that was basically it. Out of sight, out of mind. I had to do all of these things myself because they weren't doing it."

Twenty years on

Ms Dodd said she wished she approached the media earlier.

"At first they told us not to speak to the media, so we didn't," she said.

"If I had spoken to the media earlier, the fact that she was missing would have been out there earlier, and it would have been bigger.

"Instead it was on page 6 about two inches long in the West Australian - that does not get people found."

Twenty years on and Ms Dodd would like an apology from WA Police.

"They know they didn't do the right things by Hayley and I think they should have apologised and they didn't," she said.

"Not the officers, but the people making the decisions - the hierarchy."

Ms Dodd also hoped to one day be able to give her daughter a proper burial.

"When a child is sick and dies, or an accident, or even murder and their body is found, you know what's happened," she said.

"The fact, is, with people in our cases where you haven't got a body, yes they say she has been murdered but we don't know what's happened.

"It leaves your mind open to all sorts of thoughts. We've got nothing. Total, utter unanswered questions. She isn't coming home, that's all we know."

Ms Dodd remembered Hayley as a happy girl who "just wanted to travel".

WA police declined to comment on Ms Dodd's statements.

Important week 

There are about 1600 people across Australia who have been missing for more than three months, according to the Australian Federal Police.

Long-term local missing person Neville Archer was last seen leaving his wife's Mandurah home on August 9, 1991.

Police allege Mr Archer, who would now be 88 years old, withdrew a large amount of cash the day he went missing.

Mr Archer's car was found burnt out two months later at Bullfinch, north of Southern Cross.

Police believe Mr Archer's disappearance was suspicious and are still asking for information on his whereabouts.

Mandurah Police Senior Sergeant Darren Hart said police relied heavily on community assistance in missing person's cases.

"Missing Person's Week is critical in raising awareness and keeping the issue in the public consciousness," he said.

"That awareness provides an opportunity for police to receive vital information, but more importantly, it gives the families of missing people some small comfort that the rest of us care and want to help."

Senior Sergeant Hart said the reasons for people becoming missing were diverse.

"That variation means significant differences in the complexity of the investigation to locate the person," he said.

"If you speak to the family of a missing person you'll know they never give up hope and nor should they.

"Police are always keen to be passed any information anyone might have on a missing person.

"We're always looking to resolve these cases, hopefully with a positive outcome for the missing person and their family."

Local service 

Ms Dodd will be attending the Mandurah Missing Persons Week service at 10am on Friday, August 2 at the Missing Person's Memorial.

She said WA Premier Mark McGowan would be attending the Peel Zonta event, the first state leader to attend the service, which started in 2006.

Community members are welcome to attend and pay their respects.

Zonta member Margaret Wyatt said the event was important for families grieving a missing loved one.

"Those with loved ones missing can have a plaque placed at the memorial," she said.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to those who have a family member or friend missing."

This year, National Missing Persons Week runs from August 4 to 10.