It was only just 1995 when 19 year old Daniel Sheppard was last seen. He had been out celebrating New Year in Adelaide, South Australia. Then he vanished. However, a nurse reported alarming circumstances that night. The police have been treating Mr Sheppard’s case as one of unsolved murder. If they are correct this young man was bundled into a car and abducted from a suburban street. Should we be warning our lads about such dangers?
I recall being out to parties and drinking up a good time. Then when it came to the time to go I’d wander back home through darkened Liverpool streets. At points in my early years I was living in Surrey. I used to do the same thing there. I never gave abduction a thought. If a car had slowed, with one or two guys in it offering me a lift, I would have registered some danger, but I would have simply refused and tried to walk away.
It is only now, almost four decades later, that I realise just how vulnerable I was. I look back on my adult life and it was peppered with violence. I adapted and became good at defending myself, I trained others in defensive techniques because their roles required it. I realised just how easy it would be to subdue a person, especially one who had been drinking on a night out.
The Brief Circumstances of The Disappearance Of Daniel Sheppard
In the evening of 31st December 1994 he was with his twin brother and friends at the a pub in Glenelg. Then he separated from the group to move on to a party in Hindley Street, Adelaide. A short walk around the corner is Adelaide Railway Station. At about 4.20 am this slim young man, with long light coloured hair, got on a train to travel a short distance north. He saw some girls he had been to school with and chatted to them. They are clear he said he was done partying and just wanted to go home to sleep.
He got off the train at a stop that was exactly right for him to walk home. There is little doubt he should have been with his family as the New Year started in earnest. He wasn’t, he has not been seen since. Witnesses watched him walk away on a ramp adjoining the station platform.
Meanwhile a nurse was waking in Jane Flaxman Court. Her little daughter had been ill and the cries had her up and about. At a time that would fit Mr Sheppard’s usual journey she heard an altercation out in the street.
‘I’d heard someone screaming along the lines of ‘I don’t need a lift’ and ‘f … off, f … off’ and it sounded distressed, but then there was nothing but a bit of a muffled noise,’ she told Perth Now in 2018.
Her evidence was not delayed for years in the telling. She had told the police of the incident by midmorning that day. Years later she contacted the family directly. The police back in 1995 had reassured her that what had been heard was just one of thousands of shouting incidents that the celebrations had cause. However, she never felt comfortable with that explanation. As knowledge of Daniel Sheppard’s disappearance became local knowledge she grew more convinced it had been him in her street that night.
When she heard the shouting she went outside and sat on a stool on the porch. She saw a large square car with a driver in darkness and a small figure in the back that she took to be a woman. Only later she realised that Mr Sheppard, who is said to have looked young for his age, may have been that figure.
It was many years later that a detective contacted her to review what she had reported from that night. After she had done so the detective said he believed she was right. It had been Daniel Sheppard in that car. The terrible fact is that Jane Flaxman Court is only a few minutes walk from the Sheppard house and safety.
Loose Ends And Loose Thoughts
All the later investigations pointed to this young man having been abducted by direct force or threat from the street. Apparently that was not unheard of. A group of low life called ‘The Family’ (a name taken from a statement by the police who hunted them) had been operating a decade before. This group of men abducted, tortured and killed many young males in the Adelaide area. A quick glance showed that one victim was taken from the streets of Port Adelaide only 15 years earlier.
Just one of the group was prosecuted and imprisoned.
I’m not saying it was the same ones that took Daniel Sheppard. I can’t even say 100% that he was taken. What I would do is bet all I have that this is a case of kidnapping and murder and I would expect to win that bet. The lad was not the sort to go missing, he had even said where he was going less than a half hour before the nurse heard the shouts in her street. Some low life, inadequate coward targeted him.
I am on that line between what people call middle age and old. Yet I could subdue and abduct a young male in those circumstances without any help. I would never do it, but then I am not a twisted nobody like the offender (s) in this case.
The point is most young men believe they can fight. Most would not even consider the depravity of many out there. They will, as I did, wander the streets on their way home with a belly full of beer. That makes them vulnerable.
In order to protect yourself you need a bit of muscle, a bit of awareness and even then someone with experience and weight can see you challenged to the limit of your ability.
On this website alone we have so many cases of missing teenagers and young men. Not all will have become victims of the like of The Family.’ Some may well have done. There is rightly a huge focus on women’s safety. I would suggest if you have young males in your clan, have that uncomfortable conversation with them.
If Drunk: Call a cab or arrange a pick up.
If No Ride: Stay put, come home in the morning.
Of course one size of advice does not fit all. You might get some ‘Macho’ resistance. Please point out that even the toughest loses to superior numbers and an offender doesn’t have to be tough to take down a drunken man. They plan as you walk. They already have a move in mind as all you are thinking about is that warm bed and a comfortable sleep.
Other cases of young men vanishing in suspicious circumstances that we have written about are: