'It gives us hope': Investigators to re-examine unsolved death of Mandurah teenager Annette Deverell

The files of one of the most baffling cold cases from Western Australia will be dusted off by detectives and reviewed almost 40 years on.

The Mandurah Mail's true-crime podcast Annette: Cold Case Unlocked, written and presented by former Mandurah Mail journalist Carla Hildebrandt and released in September 2019, examined the suspicions and secrets surrounding Annette Deverell's death almost 40 years after she went missing.

WA Police Cold Case Squad investigators will re-examine the unsolved death of the 'bubbly and popular' 19-year-old girl who went into town to buy smokes one Saturday night in September 1980, and never returned home.

Annette's body was found in bushland nearly two years later, with one newspaper naming her, 'The Skeleton in the Forest'.

Annette was a typical teenager from the small coastal town of Mandurah.

To have fun, Annette and her friends would hang out at the pub, go to house parties and do bog laps of the town.

Everyone knew everyone.

And Annette's family and friends believe she knew the person or people responsible for her death.


In December, the WA government attached a $250,000 reward for information that could lead to solving the case.

They also offered immunity from prosecution if the informant was not directly responsible for Annette's death.

WA Police Cold Case Squad Detective Sergeant Steve Maybury said the detailed review would be a two-pronged approach.

"I've spent the last month going through files," he said.

"We have commenced preparation into the review where we'll go through all of the police actions to date.

"We'll check if there are any further inquiries related to those actions. Anything we would do today that we would expect to have been done back then."

Detective Sergeant Maybury said the review phase would take three to six months, followed by a new police investigation.

"You can imagine in this particular case there are a lot of people involved," he said.

"A lot of potential suspects. We encourage people to get in touch if they have any information."

He said the first stage of the review would begin later this year.


Annette's mother Margaret Carver said she was "over the moon".

"It's great news," she said. "It gives us hope that we might finally get answers now. It's been a long time, not knowing what happened to my daughter. She was my best friend.

"I want to know what happened before I die."

Mrs Carver still lives in the town her daughter died, and keeps her ashes close by in her home.

The case still baffles investigators with key events remaining a mystery.

Police say Annette was last seen with a young "surfy-type blonde" near the local post office on the night she disappeared. This man has never been identified.

And Annette's handbag was found in Pinjarra bushland a few months after her remains were found.

Mrs Carver said the bag was in perfect condition, despite being in the bush for almost two years, and said it could have been dumped by the killer.

  • Written and presented by former Mandurah Mail journalist Carla Hildebrandt, Annette: Cold Case Unlocked is available. Search "Annette: Cold Case Unlocked" in Apple Podcast, Spotify, PodBean, TuneIn and SoundCloud.

If you have information that could help police solve this case, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.