Disappearing people and unsolved murders are often one and the same. Here on a bright day with the Tree Ferns and the blooming flowers in my garden I sometimes forget that a 10 minute walk away is a vast area that can swallow you whole. You grow up with it and accept that you can cope because you know the terrain like the inside of your eye lids. That is probably a dangerous attitude to have, you can get complacent that way.
A short hop by plane and you are in Australia. Complacency will get you killed twice as fast there.
At A Glance The Disappearance of Teenagers Chad And Melony Sutton
Chad was 16 and Melony was 14 years old. They lived in Inala, Brisbane. On 23rd November 1992 the brother and sister walked a younger sibling to school and then vanished. Friends told police the pair had planned to hitchhike to Perth as they wanted to live with their father.
Described as ‘different’ these kids had had a rough time. They were bullied by local youths and sometimes seriously assaulted outside their home.
Since then nothing is known of their fate. Rumours include, abduction, dehydration after being stranded on the road or they simply took off to make their own way in the world. Notorious killer Ivan Milat has also been suggested as the killer of Chad and Melony as their route would have taken them through his area.
See also: Lee Boxell, UK
The Case In More Detail
Chad had tried to get to his father’s place before. The distance is over 4200 km (2800 miles) and his previous attempt had got him only as far as Toowoomba which is about an hour and a half drive from home. They only put a few possessions in a school bag and carried no money or clothing.
They started out from home at just after 8.30 am when their mother watched them leave the house. There have literally been no sightings of them after they walked away from their sibling’s school. It should be noted that this comes after years of appeals and enquiries.
A friend claimed that Chad had called him several times in November and December. The friend said Chad had stated he was first in the city of Sydney and then Adelaide. The police say they do not doubt the friend is genuine but they cannot confirm it was Chad through phone records or other enquiries.
In later years a school mate of the missing pair gave an interview with The Courier Mail. Clare Snow said that the pair were hounded on a continuous basis by people in the area. The article also said that this was more than kids stuff. The family of the bullies were supporting this harassment. When asked if she thought the three main tormentors could be capable of murder she said, ‘Oh yeah, for sure. They were very nasty people.’
The rumour was that Chad and Melony had been taken into nearby bush and killed. The area was searched but there was nothing to support this.
Although the police are of the opinion something bad happened to the kids they are open minded as to what. They say that the phone calls may have indicated they were in company with people and on the move. There were no more calls after December but this was because the friend moved house then.
Ivan Milat killed seven backpackers in the area around Belanglo National Forest after targeting them on Hume Highway. This area is about 1000 km south of Inala and he was active at the time. Another name that was thrown into the hat was Lenny Fraser, the Rockhampton Rapist. Nothing has stuck when it comes to these two inadequates. Fraser, for instance, may have been in a position to hurt Chad and Melony but he operated for the large part seven hours drive time to the north of Inala.
A Few Thoughts
As one cop said it is possible that the pair were hitchhiking and a ride dropped them off in the middle of nowhere. Wandering and dehydration could have been the sad cause of their deaths. However, there are a couple of problems with some of the other aspects. I have not got the local knowledge of the cops or the family or the friends but those phone calls?
It is reported that the friend who took them was called Chris and he only said he had had them in April 1993. So a big hunt is on for Chad and Melony but he waits five months to tell anyone about them.
I understand he was maybe 16 years old yet he moved without telling his mate he was going? Fair play it might have been a sudden move in December 1992. Even so he knew that Chad could have been calling without any answer after that. Meanwhile, the family are going frantic. Against the backdrop of bullies and possible local harm coming to these kids…Is it not also convenient to have someone local saying they were alive and well long after they had left the area?
Of course I know what loyalty is to youngsters. If Chad had told him to keep it a secret he might have done even though it would have helped a lot if this Chris had said something earlier.
Another glaring aspect is one the cops highlighted. These two kids have not been reported as having a single ride from a kindly passer by. Literally no-one has said ‘ hey, yeah I picked them up and dropped them at wherever.’
The final point is one of mine from experience. Kids can have a terrible time at home and fly the nest. They can then fall into troubled life styles involving theft and drugs. They normally come to police attention then. That does not seem to have happened either.
Bless the family and these two. I hope Chad and Melony have defied the odds and are now middle aged and safe somewhere.