Missing Persons - Cherie Westell
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Missing Aust teen's family still have hope
Melbourne teenager Cherie Westell's family still wonders how she vanished 14 years ago,
and holds out hope that someone knows what happened to her.
Cherie disappeared after a dentist appointment in Wantirna on December 12, 2000, just days
before her 16th birthday.
"My sister literally vanished into thin air," her sister Tanya said on Friday, International
Missing Children's Day.
"Shock, disbelief takes hold of you as you question why.
"To anyone with information that may solve our case, please come forward because you may just
be the missing link to solving the mystery."
Cherie's foster mother, Frances Schulz, believes Cherie did not leave of her own accord.
"There are at least two people who know what happened to Cherie. One is Cherie herself and the
other is the person or persons involved in her disappearance," she said.
At the time she disappeared, Cherie was a ward of the state.
A failure in the system resulted in a six-day lapse before she was reported missing, Ms Schulz said.
"When a child goes missing, there is no time to waste - a missing-person report must be made as soon as possible."
Ms Schulz says the people affected when a child goes missing experience anger, guilt, grief and nightmares.
Actor Noni Hazlehurst, who hosted an event in Melbourne marking International Missing Children's Day, hopes to spread a message of hope to the families of missing people.
"Unless you've experienced the devastating impact of having a child go missing, it's almost impossible to imagine ... wondering where they are, whether they're safe," she said.
A smartphone app, Police Child ID, was launched at the event to help parents and guardians track down missing children.
Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin said 17,500 children were reported missing each year and the first 12 to 24 hours were critical.
"If we have accurate, good information straight away - photographs, dates of birth, habits of these children, friends, places they like to frequent - that gives police a good spot to start their investigation."
Family's plea to find missing sister (23-5-2014)
15yr old Cherie Westell vanish 14 years ago and sister Tanya talks with Rebecca Kotz
from the Australian Federal Police about a new app to help find missing persons.
Homicide squad digs into our most baffling missing persons cases
A revamped homicide squad is investigating our most baffling missing persons and cold cases.
Two new units of 10 detectives in two missing-persons crews and a cold-case unit with four investigators will probe the mysteries.
The reintroduction of the missing persons unit, which is reviewing cases as long ago as the mid 1970s, comes after it was disbanded in 2005 following a review.
In that time potential murder cases investigated by regional detectives have been hampered because of the number of people reported missing.
In 2011-12, 8036 people were reported missing in Victoria - more than 4500 under the age of 17.
On average, the force investigates 6000 of these cases, finding 95 per cent within a week.
The unit will focus on a relatively small number of cases, listed as "long term and suspicious".
The force says suspicious disappearances must be identified early and investigated quickly.
Veteran detective Ron Iddles and his investigators have identified more than 70 suspicious missing person cases to review.
Det Sen-Sgt Iddles said the unit would provide a point of contact.
He said killers inevitably told someone of their crimes.
"Carl Williams told people. Everyone has a set of values and beliefs.
"Ultimately, when you take a life, I think it is against your human nature.
"Therefore it causes some inner turmoil ... and you've got to tell someone."
Crime department Det-Supt Brett Guerin said police chosen for the unit had to be analytical and patient.
"A suspicious missing person investigation is often more complex than a murder investigation as there is usually no body, no crime scene and potentially no evidence at all," he said.
"We have chosen detectives with extensive investigative experience from within the homicide squad."
Missing Persons Week starts today.
A person is reported missing every 18 minutes on average in Australia. If you know the whereabouts of a missing person or have other information about them, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
MISSING PERSONS CASES
ROSS WHITE -
In 1984, Ross White was on his way to work in Nunawading and was last seen leaving Mitcham station.
The 28-year-old father is thought to have been killed. Mr White, who had reported being bashed
twice and approached outside his Heathmont home in the months before his suspected murder, was
finalising a divorce when he vanished. A report on the circumstances he faced concluded that
three incidents coincided with claims on a family business and his rejection of $5000 as settlement for the matrimonial home.
EDWARD JOHN FAULKNER -
On June 18, 1995, Edward John Faulkner, 35, left his Sydney home to drive to
Victoria. On June 19 he was involved in an accident about 7.30am on the Hume Hwy
near Craigieburn. For some unknown reason he stripped off his clothing and walked
through a nearby paddock. He has not been seen since. He had tattoos on both arms.
On December 12, 2000, Cherie, 16, had been to see the dentist at Knox Dental Group
in Wantirna South about midday. She left 30 minutes later. At 1.58pm Cherie called
her Mooroolbark home from a public telephone box at the corner of Selkirk Ave and
Wantirna Rd, about 5km from the dentist, as she tried to make her way home. It was
the last time anyone heard from her.
Missing girl had plans for a party
The last time Cherie Westell spoke to her family, she was brimming with excitement about plans for
her 16th birthday party.
But that was more than three weeks ago and now her family, and the police, hold grave fears for the
safety of the Mooroolbark girl. Cherie has not been seen since she went to the dentist at the Knox
Towerpoint shopping centre about 1.30pm on Tuesday, December 12.
Pleading for information yesterday, her sister Tanya, 22, said she had spoken to Cherie a few days
before her disappearance when she had been excited about her birthday and starting year 11 at
TAFE next year.
"She was really happy. She couldn't wait to see us for her birthday shopping," Ms Westell said, adding
that Cherie's disappearance was out of character. "She's very quiet, very shy at first (but) she likes
to be around people. She doesn't like being out on the streets. She's not the type of person to just
go out and not say a word."
Police said yesterday they held grave fears for Cherie's safety as she had not made any contact,
used her bank accounts or taken clothes with her.
Detective Senior Constable Bruce Rowe of Boronia police said: "It was her birthday party on the 19th
of December, she was having people over to her house, the invitations had gone out and she'd
organised the party herself. She'd made arrangements for Christmas where she'd organised presents
"We have no idea whether she's met with foul play. There's no indication at this stage that she's
gone of her own accord because why wouldn't she take clothes or access her bank account?"
Senior Constable Rowe said records showed that Cherie had visited the dentist on December 12 and
was supposed to have made her own way home.
Cherie's brother Pierre, 17, said his family was desperate for information about his sister. "It's very
distressing because you don't know what's happened to her," he said. You don't know if you're going
to see her again."
Cherie is 167 centimetres tall, of medium build, fair complexion with shoulder-length brown hair and
was last seen wearing a grey windcheater and dark blue jeans. She has a pierced tongue and a gap
between her front teeth.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Boronia police on 9760 6600.
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