Mandurah Mail 2019 year in review: Cold case podcast launched in September

Answers sought: In September, our first podcast Annette: Cold Case Unlocked was launched, on a local unsolved murder that has haunted a Mandurah family for decades.

Answers sought: In September, our first podcast Annette: Cold Case Unlocked was launched, on a local unsolved murder that has haunted a Mandurah family for decades.

Over the New Year's break the Mandurah Mail will be taking a look back at the year that was 2019.

Our annual Year in Review will recount the biggest story from each of the past 12 months.

September was the month we launched our first podcast on a Mandurah murder from almost 40 years ago, that has never been solved.

Annette: Cold Case Unlocked explores the mysterious circumstances surrounding Annette Deverell's disappearance in 1980 from outside a Mandurah post office.

To her friends at Pinjarra High School in the late 1970s, Annette was the "cool chick". Popular and pretty, she was a bit of a rebel. She had a kind heart but Annette acted tough - a "rough diamond" who seemed "a bit indestructible".

In a time before social media and smartphones, Annette and her teen-aged friends made their own fun in the sleepy seaside town they called home. They did "bog laps" around the streets in their cars. Beers down on the foreshore. Mischief at the midnight drive-ins. Dancing to live bands at the pubs on Saturday night.

Then, one Saturday night, 19-year-old Annette partied with her friends at the pub, went out to buy a packet of smokes and vanished.

Initially, police treated Annette's disappearance as a missing persons case. But her friends and family had no reason to think she would run away. Two years later, their worst fears were realised when her skull and a few bone fragments were found in bushland about 20 kilometres from the Pinjarra townsite. "Skeleton in the forest," screamed a newspaper headline following the gruesome discovery.

When she disappeared and again after the remains were identified by dental records in 1982, police interviewed Annette's friends and family, and others who knew her and who saw her laughing and dancing at the pub on the night she vanished.

But almost four decades later, no one knows what happened to Annette Deverell. An inquest into her death has never been held. A reward for information had never been offered.

But someone somewhere knows something. Was Annette the victim of serial killers with links to the region where she lived? Or is someone who knew Annette and who maybe still lives in her home town hiding a grim, brutal secret?

Written and presented by journalist Carla Hildebrandt, and published across the Australian Community Media network, the Annette investigation featured interviews and recollections from Annette's mother Margaret Carver and her former school friends.

We also hear from the retired Mandurah police detective Jeff Beaman who examined the case. Mrs Carver calls on those responsible for her daughter's death to give themselves up, and for a coronial inquest to be held. Annette's friends, some of whom were with her on the night she disappeared, are now in their late 50s and early 60s. Some have already passed away.

Mrs Carver said this may be the last chance for police to speak with people who know what happened to her daughter.

"Somebody must know something out there. I don't want to go to my grave not knowing it was never solved."

Annette's friend Barbara Calleja said the case had a long-lasting impact on people living within the town.

"You just look at everyone and think, 'do I really know you?'" she said. "You see all the other ones on TV, all the cold cases and they are finding the murderers. And I think 'come on somebody, get Annette's out'."

  • Written and presented by journalist Carla Hildebrandt, Annette: Cold Case Unlocked is available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, PodBean, TuneIn and SoundCloud.