Rachel Joy ANTONIO

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Click here for the Searching for Rachel podcast by David Murray


Rachel Joy ANTONIO

At about 6.00pm on Saturday, 25 April 1998, Cheryl ANTONIO drove her 16 year old daughter, Rachel Joy ANTONIO to the "Summer Garden" Cinema at the corner of Beach Avenue and Murroona Street, Queens Beach. As the movie did not commence until 7.00pm Rachel intended to walk down to the 'stinger nets' at the end of Beach Avenue, some 200 metres from the Cinema. This she did and was seen leaving the beach by a number of persons at 6.45pm. She was seen walking on Queens Beach Esplanade shortly after, but has not been seen since. Rachel is described as 165cm tall, slim athletic build, hazel eyes, fair complexion with sun-bleached brown shoulder length hair. When last sighted she was wearing a short sleeved, collarless T-shirt with horizontal blue and white stripes, a green skirt above the knee with large brass buttons down the front and black dress sandals. Any member of the public with information which could assist Police is asked to contact: the Homicide Investigation Group, Brisbane, Phone (07) 3364 6122; any Police Station; or Crime Stoppers, Phone 1800 333 000.


Bowen schoolgirl Rachel Antonio, 16, was dropped off by her mother at a cinema on Anzac Day, 1998, and never came home. She was was last seen sitting alone on a beach 500m away. Her body has never been found.


REWARD: The Minister for Police and Corrective Services has approved a reward of $250,000 be offered for

information which leads to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the

disappearance of Rachel Joy ANTONIO at Bowen on 25 April 1998.

INDEMNITY FROM PROSECUTION: In addition, an appropriate indemnity from prosecution will be

recommended for any accomplice, not being the person who actually committed the crime, who first gives such information.

The allocation of the $250,000 reward will be at the sole discretion of the Commissioner of the Police Service.

Sunday, January 22, 2006. 2:26pm (AEDT)
Search may help solve Antonio case

North Queensland police say the search for a teenager missing from Bowen for almost eight years, has uncovered several items of interest.

Police, Air Force cadets, fire officers and State Emergency Service crews have been combing thick bushland on Sandflats at Kings Beach.

They are looking for clues that could help them find Rachael Antonio, who has been missing since Anzac Day 1998.

The search has turned up several items of clothing and some bone fragments, which will be tested this week.

Inspector Warren Webber says north Queensland Police continue to receive information from the public.

The missing girl's father, Ian Antonio, says he has not lost hope.

"We won't give up ... we can't give up," Mr Antonio said.

"Something will come up in the future, we know something will come up.

"Somebody can't disappear off the face of the Earth and nothing ever happen about it."

Police expect to carry out more searches in the area.

Bone fragments found where teenager went missing
Michael Madigan - Courier Mail

BONE fragments and material from clothes have been uncovered in Bowen after police began a new search for missing Bowen teenager Rachel Antonio.

Police say the bone fragments could be from anywhere but are sending them and the pieces of clothing for testing.

Nearly eight years have passed since the 16-year-old schoolgirl went missing from Queens Beach Esplanade in the north Queensland town on April 25, 1998.

Former Bowen Surf Club captain Robert Paul Hytch was found guilty of Antonio's manslaughter in 2000 but was acquitted on appeal in 2001.

About 60 people including police, State Emergency Service personnel, air cadets and volunteers scoured about 70ha at the weekend in wetlands east of Queen's Rd near where the teenager disappeared.

They found clothing and bones but police are not hopeful of any valuable information.

"It's nothing really significant which will help us solve the case," Detective Sergeant Mark Inmon, of Bowen, told ABC Radio.

An increase in a reward from $50,000 to $250,000 has encouraged people to come forward with more information.

"We have checked a lot of ground in the past seven-and-a-half years," Sgt Inmon said.
Monday, January 23, 2006. 2:00pm (AEDT)
Search for missing teen uncovers bones - ABC

Police are playing down the discovery of bones and clothing during a widescale search at the weekend for schoolgirl Rachel Antonio, from Bowen in north Queensland.

The 16-year-old disappeared eight years ago this Anzac Day and her remains have never been found.

Bowen lifesaver Robert Hytch was convicted and later acquitted of her murder.

Detective Inspector Warren Webber says the area near Kings Beach where the bones were found is a common dumping ground.

"At this stage there's no great light at the end of the tunnel if you like, we'd very much like it to bring forth someone who has some additional information and I suppose one of the side benefits of the search on Saturday may actually be that it might prompt someone's attention that's otherwise thought that they had nothing to offer," he said.

The father of Rachel Antonio say he is relieved by the discovery of some bones and clothes during weekend searches for his daughter.

The samples will be sent away for testing this week.

Ian Antonio says something may have been missed in the initial searches.

"Well, it's a very thick area and little bits of it may have got missed last time because of the wetlands water, its high tide mark and high tide does come in here," he said.

"Being so thick and everything else we may have missed little bits of it last time, we just want to make sure nothing was missed."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. 11:37am (AEDT)
Antonio investigators reveal bones not human - ABC

North Queensland police say bones found last weekend in a search for missing Bowen teenager Rachel Antonio are not human.

Rachel Antonio was 16 when she was last seen outside the Bowen cinema eight years ago.

Northern regional crime coordinator Detective Inspector Warren Webber says the bones were tested and found to be animal.

"They've been examined and been determined to be all of animal origin, so at this stage they've been eliminated from our enquiries," he said.

Inspector Webber says clothes found in Saturday's search are yet to be tested by forensic experts.

Inquest to probe Rachel Antonio disappearance

By Brock Taylor and Sam Burgess - ABC

Updated Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:29am AEDT

A coronial inquest will be held into the 1998 disappearance of north Queensland teenager Rachel Antonio.

The 16-year-old disappeared from Queens Beach in Bowen on Anzac Day 1998.

She was dropped at the local cinema by her mother and never seen again.

Dozens of ground searches of the area, as well as the use of cadaver dogs and aerial mapping found no trace of the girl.

Her boyfriend, Robert Hytch, was initially found guilty of her manslaughter in 1999 and served nine months of his sentence.

He was later acquitted after a retrial into the case was ordered.

In 2005, police offered a $250,000 reward for information about the case.

A Justice Department spokesman has confirmed an inquest will be held in Mackay sometime next year.

The former mayor of the Bowen shire council, Mike Brunker, says the town is still saddened by the case of a missing teenager.

Mr Brunker says the teenager's disappearance affected the entire town.

"The father worked on the council and the mother was well known in the community," he said.

"In a small community it does affect everybody and this many years of the unknown is hard to take for the family and of course members of the community."

He says the Bowen community has always held out hope the Antonio family would find their daughter.

"It's a similar case to the Morcombe family where they finally got closure after nine years, and to this day the Antonios still wonder what happen to their daughter Rachel," he said.


Rachel Antonio: Bowen tip dug up in search for missing teen

THE parents of Rachel Antonio are holding out hope that forensic officers searching the Bowen dump will find clues in their daughter’s case.

Ian and Cheryl Antonio met with police at the dump early this morning to discuss the delicate operation and are optimistic about the dig.

“We met up with (Mackay Detective Inspector) Nikki Colfs out at the rubbish dump this morning and she explained a bit more of what they’re doing and how they’re going about it,” Mr Antonio said.

“We haven’t got our hopes up high at all, we are well and truly prepared that it is a longshot, but as one bloke said, if the body is there, they’ll find it.

“We can only hope, it’s a longshot … with the forensic scientists that are around today and the technology, they’ve been digging up old clothing and old things they’re going to get the barcodes off of things to try and date it that’s where they’re at, at the moment.”

He said the family had always thought Rachel might be at the dump and were glad the police were looking into their long held belief.

“Originally we thought if her body was at the dump it would have been very deep, like 60 metres deep, but then when Hughie (Hugh Smith the former tip manager in 1998) looked at his diaries he found out that it wasn’t as deep as he thought it was.

“We felt pretty good that there was a chance we might find something, that’s the last place we’ve got to look.

“We’ve looked everywhere else, there’s not a place we haven’t looked in Bowen, we have spent years and years and years, searching every square inch of Bowen.”

Mr Antonio said the couple want to find out what happened to their daughter, give her the burial she deserves and try to move on with their lives.

“We want to find out what happened to Rachel as much as anyone else wants to find out and they’re doing it.

“We could get on with life again (if we could bury Rachel), and get living again, that’s what we need to do, we need to put it behind us and we can’t put it behind us at the moment.”

Earlier, forensic crews are scouring a section of the Bowen dump in an attempt to locate material from 1998, the same year schoolgirl Rachel Antonio went missing.

At this point police are calling it an exploratory dig, in a section of “interest”, to gain an insight into what the waste of the time currently looks like.

Police began the dig early this morning, using a backhoe, along a pond in the Bowen dump, digging out a trench in a section that is believed to have held rubbish from that era.

Forensic officers are then painstakingly sifting through the waste, to try and find indications of rubbish from 1998.

Mackay Detective Inspector Nikkie Colfs said the dig comes on the back of maps received from a worker who previously worked at the site, but wanted to make it clear, they weren’t searching for remains.

“We’re not actually looking for anything at this stage, it’s an exploratory examination around the age of the refuse during that time that Rachel Antonio went missing,” Det Insp Colfs said.

“We have a scientific officer here that is gauging the age of the actual rubbish and that will be done through a whole heap of different scientific examinations.

“It (further digs) will depend on what they find, how long the refuse has been here, whether the refuse (has) decontaminated through the last years.”

Det Insp Colfs could not say whether there would be any further digs down the track, but said they would await the examination of the forensic officers following today’s findings.

“At this stage we’re not looking at any further locations, at the end of the examination today, scientific officers will provide us with some information and we will have a look at that information that’s given to us.

At this stage I can’t tell you if there will be further digs, what I can tell you is at the end of the exploratory examination we will have much more of an insight in what that’s actually produced.

She said police had spoken with Rachel Antonio’s parents about their dig and this would not be the final step in their near two decade search for her body.

“They’ve (Rachel’s parents) actually been advised of what’s occurring today, they’re happy that police are conducting these examinations.

“The QPS are committed to finding the remains of Rachel Antonio and we certainly will continue to seek information from the public if they have any knowledge or information that could assist police.”

EARLIER: POLICE have started digging at the Bowen tip where Rachel Antonio’s parents believe their daughter’s remains are hidden.

Officers were this morning using a drone to survey the dump. The exploratory dig will attempt to verify that rubbish in a specific location is from the period when Rachel disappeared.

Rachel, a 16-year-old lifesaver, vanished on Anzac Day in 1998 after her mother dropped her off at the local cinema.

She is believed to have been murdered and her disappearance is one of Queensland’s highest profile investigations.

Today’s dig comes after a Courier-Mail podcast series revealed former tip manager Hugh Smith had kept detailed diaries of where he put the town’s rubbish at the time Rachel disappeared.

Mr Smith was able to give police a hand-drawn map leading them to the site of today’s dig.

Last year, a coroner found that Bowen Surf Life Saving Club captain Robert Hytch, who was 25 when Rachel disappeared, killed Rachel and hid her body.

The coroner found the pair were romantically involved but kept their relationship a secret.

Rachel’s parents, Ian and Cheryl Antonio, believe their daughter’s body was left in a skip bin because of the short amount of time available to hide her.

Detective Inspector Nikki Colfs said 10 officers, including forensic officers from Brisbane, would be on the one-day exploratory dig.

“We will endeavour to undertake a scientific evaluation of the refuse and the environmental conditions that were present in 1998,” Insp. Nikki Colfs said.

“The Antonio family deserve to know what happened to Rachel, and the Queensland Police Service remains committed to finding her,” Insp. Colfs said.

Mrs Antonio said she and her husband were glad police were beginning their search of the tip. “It’s good news,” she said.

“I think if they find anything, they’ll go back to the drawing board and make a new plan.”

Mrs Antonio said they would not travel to the tip for tomorrow’s exploratory dig, but would wait by the phone for news. “It doesn’t get any easier,” she said.

“It would be great if we could find her, give her a funeral, put her to rest.

“It would mean so much to us.”

Mr Hytch is appealing the coroner’s findings and has long denied any involvement in Rachel’s disappearance.

A shirt he wore on the night she disappeared — when his movements cannot be verified for a period of 30 minutes — has never been found and is among items police would seek to recover from any search.

Rachel Antonio: Family devastated after dump dig plans abandoned

POLICE have abandoned further searches of the Bowen tip for the remains of Rachel Antonio after expert advice suggested there would be nothing to find.

Police conducted a test dig at the site in July following an investigation by The Courier-Mail and The Sunday Mail that revealed meticulous records still existed pinpointing the location of the area’s rubbish from the time of Rachel’s 1998 disappearance.

Rachel’s parents, Ian and Cheryl, believe her killer could have hidden her body in a skip bin.

But experts have told police there would be no value in a dig at the dump because acidity levels are too high.

The 16-year-old schoolgirl vanished on Anzac Day after her mother dropped her at the cinema. A coroner last year ruled that it was likely Bowen Surf Life Saving Club captain Robert Hytch killed Rachel during an altercation and hid her body.

Mr Hytch was 25 at the time and had been in a secret relationship with the teen. He has always maintained his innocence and has asked for the coroner’s findings to be reviewed.

In July, police undertook an exploratory dig at the tip – which was not searched at the time of Rachel’s disappearance – in an attempt to date the rubbish as being from the right period. It involved 10 officers, including forensics specialists from Brisbane, and heavy machinery.

But The Sunday Mail can revealthere are no plans to explore the site further after police were told a further dig would be very costly and was unlikely to lead to the discovery of any remains due to high acidity levels.

“The Antonio family deserve to know what happened to Rachel, and the Queensland Police Service remains committed to finding her,” Detective Inspector Nikki Colfs said at the time.

A further blow to the search came when Det Insp Colfs was stood down from the QPS over an unrelated internal investigation.

Ian Antonio yesterday said the family was not surprised there wouldn’t be any further searching.

“Really, there’s not much they can do,” he said. “It’s disappointing, but we worked out that if she’s there, she would be 60m deep.

“If there was anywhere else to search, we’d be there digging tomorrow.”

Mr Antonio said the family’s focus was now on the outcome of Mr Hytch’s application to review the coroner’s findings about Rachel’s disappearance.

“This is never-ending for us,” he said. “How long is it going to go on for? Everyone is broken hearted for us.

“Really, all we want is the truth.

“I would have him go scot-free for the truth.”

Rachel Antonio’s ‘likely’ killer wants inquest findings overturned

THE man a coroner concluded was probably responsible for the disappearance and death of 16-year-old Rachel Antonio is trying to have the record scrubbed.

Toby Mann
AAPMARCH 19, 201812:33PM

A MAN found likely responsible for the death of missing teenager Rachel Antonio wants the Supreme Court to overturn the findings of an inquest.

Following a 2016 probe into the 16-year-old’s disappearance in April 25, 1998, Coroner David O’Connell concluded Robert Hytch probably killed the Bowen teenager.

In opening Hytch’s application for a judicial review on Monday, barrister Glen Rice QC said they would be arguing the inquest was conducted under the wrong act.

The inquest was held under the 2003 Coroners Act but Mr Rice has told Justice Peter Applegarth it should have been conducted under the previous iteration of the act, which was from 1958.

“There was jurisdictional error from the outset,” he said.

Further, Mr Rice argued, the coroner’s findings were not reasonable, based upon the evidence heard during the inquest.

Rachel vanished after her mother dropped her off at a Bowen cinema on Anzac Day, 1998.

An inquest into her disappearance was held after former surf lifesaver Robert Hytch was acquitted of her manslaughter at a retrial in 2001.

The coroner found Ms Antonio was in a clandestine sexual relationship with Mr Hytch, despite his repeated denials.

The teenager died after a physical altercation with Mr Hytch on the night she went missing, with a “fake pregnancy” possibly causing him to become enraged, Mr O’Connell found.

However, the coroner was unable to conclude the exact cause of Ms Antonio’s death or where her body was.

“Ultimately I cannot determine what Mr Hytch did with Rachel’s body unless her remains are located,” Mr O’Connell said.

Last July forensic police searched a tip at Bowen looking for the teenager’s remains.

Police have offered a $250,000 reward for information that leads to the recovery of Ms Antonio’s remains and investigations are ongoing.

The hearing continues before Justice Applegarth.

Rachel Antonio: ‘Secret boyfriend’ has 28 days to appeal court ruling on coroner’s findings

HE has fought every step of the way to clear his name. Now the ex-boyfriend of slain schoolgirl Rachel Antonio has just 28 day left.

news.com.auAPRIL 19, 20186:54PM

THE clock is ticking on how long Robert Hytch has to appeal the bombshell ruling that upheld findings that he is the likely killer of Queensland schoolgirl Rachel Antonio.

A 2016 coronial inquest named Mr Hytch as the 16-year-old’s probable killer after he was convicted but then acquitted of her manslaughter on appeal. Her body has never been found.

Supreme Court judge Peter Applegarth yesterday dismissed his challenge to the findings and Mr Hytch now has 28 days apply to have Queensland’s Court of Appeal consider overturning the ruling. It will be the only option left to Mr Hytch.

Mr Hytch’s legal team insists the coroner should have acted under the 1958 Coroners Act, not the 2003 version.

Rachel’s parents Ian and Cheryl Antonio reportedly expect him to launch the challenge, prolonging their 20-year nightmare.

She was last seen walking along the Queens Beach Esplanade in Bowen, in the state’s north, on April 25, 1998.

The former surf lifesaver was sentenced to nine years in jail after he was convicted of her manslaughter in 1999.

But it was later overturned and in June 2001 he was acquitted following a retrial at Townsville Supreme Court.

Fifteen years later, Coroner David O’Connell found Rachel had been in a sexual relationship with Mr Hytch — despite his denials — and died after an altercation with him.

He also found Mr Hytch then likely hid and disposed of her body. Police excavated the Bowen tip in search of her remains last year, but failed to find any clues.

Mr Hytch’s team also claimed the evidence did not meet the standards of proof. But Coroner David O’Connell’s findings were upheld in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday when Mr Hytch’s application was dismissed.

Justice Peter Applegarth found Mr O’Connell applied the appropriate standard of proof and had jurisdiction to investigate Rachel’s death under the 2003 Act. “He diligently evaluated a large body of circumstantial evidence, including evidence which was not available to the juries at either of the applicant’s criminal trials,” he said in his judgment.

Justice Applegarth said Mr O’Connell was aware of the fact a “high degree of satisfaction” was required before he could make the findings against Mr Hytch. He also acknowledged Mr Hytch had lied about the nature of his relationship with the girl along with details about his car breaking down.

“A reasonable decision-maker in the coroner’s position was entitled to reject key aspects of the applicant’s evidence, and to conclude that the applicant gave deliberately false evidence,” he said.

Justice Applegarth also found Mr O’Connell had used enough evidence to support each of his findings.

“Each finding had an evident and intelligible justification,” he said. “Each finding was one which a reasonable decision-maker could reach on the evidence which the coroner accepted.”

Rachel faked a pregnancy with Mr Hytch to get back at him for having sex with someone else, the inquest was told. Around the time she was last seen alive, Mr Hytch left his brother’s 18th birthday party and had no one to corroborate his whereabouts for about half an hour. When he returned he was not wearing his Nike shirt. Tiny drop of Rachel’s blood were later found on his sandals.

People on the Rachel Antonio Facebook page begged for information that would see her body returned to her family after two decades of torment.

“Rachel deserves justice,” one person wrote. “He needs to give up fighting, admit his wrongs and show her family her location,” another implored.