Rhianna Brenda Ann BARREAU
Rhianna aged 5 Rhianna's mother
At 10.30 a.m. on 7/10/1992 Rhianna BARREAU left home and her movements are known for only part of this day. She was last believed sighted standing near the junction of David Terrace and Acre Avenue, Morphett Vale, unaccompanied at 4.00 p.m...
Rhianna Brenda Ann BARREAU
At about 10.30am on Wednesday, 7 October, 1992 Rhianna Brenda Ann Barreau, 12 years, student of 47 Wakefield Street, Morphett Vale left her home and walked to the Reynella Shopping Centre where at 11.19am she purchased a Christmas Card from a newsagency.
Between 12.05pm and 12.30pm the same day, she was seen walking through the grounds of the Morphett Vale High School and the Stanvac Primary School carrying a small bag. At about 4.00pm the same day she was seen standing near the junction of David Terrace and Acre Avenue, Morphett Vale unaccompanied. Suspicious activites occurred at Acre Avenue, David Terrace, Highwray Avenue, and Crittenden Avenue Morphett Vale allegedly involving a Victorian registered white Torana. Her description is 158 cms, 44 kgs, slim build, hazel eyes, fair complexion, light brown to blonde hair below shoulder length wearing purple shorts, green ‘T’ shirt with words ‘Hypercolour’ across front, white socks and white ‘Lynx’ sneakers with bright pink tongues. Enquiries have failed to establish the whereabouts of Rhianna Barreau and it is suspected that she has been murdered. “Notice is hereby given that a reward of up to One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) will be paid by the Government of South Australia, at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police, to any person or persons who give information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Rhianna Brenda Ann Barreau.”
The assistance and cooperation of the public is earnestly sought in this matter. Any information, which will be treated as confidential, may be given to BankSA Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
A member of the public posted this comment online in relation to the car Police were seeking and I feel this precise description is worth reprinting here -
"I still remember this case yet at the time of this crime police released a media request to the public in relation to a car seen in the area of Rhianna's home. The police were interested in speaking to the MALE driver of an early model 2 door Holden Torana (white) with possibly VICTORIAN number plates. A few months after, police released a statement stating they were still interested in speaking to the driver & locating this vehicle yet they were unable to trace this vehicle? Nothing more was ever mentioned in relation to the car or the driver? I can't see how hard it would be to trace this model with interstate plates? "
Rhianna was 12 years old when she vanished from her Morphett Vale home and left behind a mother, father and brother heartbroken by her disappearance. Police believe she was murdered shortly after she disappeared.
Detective Senior Sergeant Steve Kinsman, from the Major Crime Investigation Branch, said Rhianna's missing person case would remain open until someone was convicted of her abduction and murder.
"Police never give up. The lack of a body does not stop people from being charged with murder," Det-Sgt Kinsman said.
He urged who thought they knew something that could help to ring Crime Stoppers.
"Anything, any information no matter how trivial may assist us in any case," he said.
"If they're not sure if it will assist they should ring Crime Stoppers and let the investigators decide. No one knows, it could be something that links some pieces of information together and could assist the investigation."
Det-Sgt Kinsman could not reveal whether police had a suspect for Rhianna's abduction and murder.
What can be reported are the facts of her disappearance.
Rhianna's mother Paula last saw her on October 7, 1992, about 8.30am.
Ms Barreau was studying at TAFE and initially she planned to meet Rhianna later that day at Colonnades shopping centre, where Rhianna wanted to buy a Christmas card for her American pen friend.
However, Ms Barreau heard on radio that Wednesday morning that bus drivers planned a snap strike.
Ms Barreau suggested Rhianna, who was on school holidays, walk to a nearby newsagent instead.
Ms Barreau hugged and kissed her daughter goodbye and never saw her again.
When Ms Barreau returned home at 4.10pm, she found the front door locked, the television on and a vinyl record on the living room floor, as though Rhianna had been playing it.
The Christmas card, complete with its wrapper, was on the dining room table.
Witnesses told police they saw Rhianna walking towards a Reynella newsagency about 10.30am.
She was also sighted walking alone at Morphett Vale High School at 12.30pm.
Det-Sgt Kinsman said missing persons cases were always distressing for families.
"I can't speak for the family, they're all getting on with their lives as best as they can, but they would hope, as I do, that one day media publicity will prompt something to occur that will bring the investigation to a successful conclusion," he said.
"When there's a release in the media about a body or remains being located I would surmise that people who have lost loved ones, lost relatives, lost friends would immediately be thinking is that their loved one?"
However he warned parents should not be paranoid about letting their children play - Rhianna's abduction, though tragic, is rare.
"Stranger abductions are a very rare occurrence, and it is borne out in statistics that the victims of personal crimes such as sexual abuse and homicide, know the perpetrators in a high number of cases - in homicide it's more than 80 per cent.
"I think with a healthy family environment children should be encouraged to talk to mum and dad or a trusted adult about any worries."
A $200,000 reward is on offer for information about Rhianna.
Even someone who remained anonymous could collect some money, Det-Sgt Kinsman said.
"Everyone who rings Crime Stoppers is given a caller ID number, whether they want to remain anonymous or not. They can then use that number every time they ring.
"I think anybody that would assist the immediate victims of this, and that's the family and friends of Rhianna, anybody that could assist bringing this matter to closure would be helping them very much and also helping the general public of South Australia."
Anyone with information about Rhianna's disappearance or other crimes should phone BankSA Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.
Her relatives have told 7News that in recent weeks they have been approached by Major Crime Detectives on who they think may have taken her.
7News reports that detectives are investigating at least one person who knew Rhianna, but is not related to her.
Rhianna's mother last saw her daughter on Wednesday October 7, 1992,when she left the family home.
Two hours later 12-year-old Rhianna walked to a newsagency in nearby Reynella to buy a Christmas card for her overseas pen pal.
After she bought the card, she was seen walking near Morphett Vale High School, and police said she later returned home.
But once there, it's believed she was lured outside, or left the house later that afternoon, possibly in a rush - relatives said at the time a record was left lying on the lounge room floor, and other items were left out of place.
At the time, police were investigating a Holden Torana with Victorian registration plates that had been reported in the area.
But the Torana was never found and 7News reports that line of inquiry has since been abandoned.Rhianna's body has never been found, and relatives are hoping recent investigations may offer some hope of a breakthrough.
Seven news reported relatives of Rhianna - who went missing nearly 20 years ago from her Morphett Vale home on Wednesday October 7, 1992 - have been approached by Major Crime Detectives and asked again who they believe may have taken the 12-year-old schoolgirl.
The report also stated at least one person who knew Rhianna, but wasn't related to her, was being re-investigated.
But SA Police today issued a statement denying the claims.
"No person is being re-investigated and speculation such as this by the media is unhelpful and causes unncessary distress to the family," the statement read.
"Major Crime Detectives maintain a watching brief over all cold case matters and detectives allocated the watching brief on any of the unsolved cases do keep in contact with relatives and keep them informed of any developments."
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Rhianna Barreau, or other missing persons, should contact BankSA Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
AT BEST there are only two or three possible scenarios in which Rhianna Barreau vanished.
In the first, Rhianna answered the front door to someone she knew and went with them willingly. The second sees her answer the door, only to be taken against her will — silently and swiftly — from the house.
The third involves her simply leaving the house voluntarily for some reason, walking away from it — unseen by any witnesses — and being snatched at another location.
The second and third scenarios appear unlikely. Rhianna’s house in Wakefield Ave, Morphett Vale, was locked, there was no sign of a struggle and no one reported hearing any disturbance on the afternoon she vanished.
And Rhianna’s mother firmly believes she would not have left the house without asking her, a view shared by police. Reinforcing this belief is the total absence of any sighting after Rhianna returned home from a trip to the local shops.
That leaves the inescapable, unpalatable likelihood that Rhianna most likely knew the person who abducted and subsequently murdered her.
Statistically, child abductions are a rarity. There have been just a handful over the past few decades. They are also among the hardest for police to solve. Unless there are witnesses or forensic evidence, leads are few, mostly because the perpetrators act alone and tell no one of their crime.
In this respect the abduction and presumed murder of Rhianna Barreau remains one of South Australia’s most enduring mysteries. Despite thousands of hours of Major Crime investigations and the posting of a $1 million reward for information on the case, it remains unsolved.
It is highly likely that if Rhianna were snatched today, the result may be very different. Policing techniques and technology have both evolved considerably, tipping the balance against those who prey on children.
Major Crime case officer Brevet Sergeant Simon May said “every aspect’’ of the file was now under review and about 200 exhibits were being re-examined by forensic officers using new technology.
Despite its lapse in time, there are still regular calls to Crimestoppers by people who believe they have information about the case that could assist police.
After her mother left for work on October 7, 1992, it appears Rhianna remained at home until midmorning. There was a positive sighting of her at 10.30am walking towards a Reynella newsagency. The last sighting was at 12.30pm on Highway Dr, between the Morphett Vale High School and the Stanvac Primary School.
While Rhianna returned home after that sighting — the card she purchased was on a dining room table — precisely what time and what then occurred after that remains a mystery.
“A lot of people who were younger and lived in that area still remember the disappearance vividly. Some of the calls have been useful,’’ Detective Bvt Sgt May said.
The trail of Rhianna’s killer is certainly not cold. While detectives have no firm suspect, they do have several persons of interest they believe have information concerning her disappearance.
Detectives have closely considered the possibility the offender may have been a paedophile who was living in the area at the time and “a number’’ who were known to police have been scrutinised.
The lack of direct information in relation to an offender may well indicate it was someone who was acting alone and who has not shared their information with anyone else.
“It does make our job harder. If anyone had been told, you would hope with the passage of time allegiances have changed and they may need to get it off their chest,’’ Detective Bvt Sgt May said.
“She does appear to have left the house in an orderly manner. There was no break and enter, there wasn’t a struggle and the house wasn’t a mess.
“There is an absence of any neighbourhood disturbance, screams, anything like that in that vicinity that day.
“It certainly opens up the possibility she may have known the person or had some reason to be comfortable with that person maybe. That is one possibility we are looking at.’’ Another factor pointing in that direction is the fact no one has claimed the $1 million reward available for information that helps solve the case — simply because there are no witnesses.
In her only interview since Rhianna was abducted, conducted in 2015, her mother Paula told me her memories of the day her daughter vanished were still vivid.
“It is still there. I can still see myself walking into her room before I left for work,’’ she said.
“She was listening to music and told me: ‘shush mum, I’m listening to this.’ The song was The B-52’s hit Loveshack, one of Rhianna’s favourites.” Before going to work Paula had talked with Rhianna about her plan to go to the local shopping centre to buy a card for an American penfriend. Ironically, there was a bus strike that day, so she was going to walk.
Ms Barreau can remember the instant she walked into the house late that afternoon when she arrived home. It was 4.10pm. The television was still on and a record was on the floor. The card Rhianna had bought was still in its wrapper on the table. She looked for Rhianna inside and outside, but there was no sign.
Like his former wife, Rhianna’s father Leon Barreau has strong recollections of the day his daughter vanished. At the time he was living on the Gold Coast.
When his former wife rang him several hours after she arrived home, his first thought was to get to Adelaide to help find her. He arrived with his wife, Sandra, the next morning.
While Mr Barreau has accepted his daughter is dead, he still gets angry when he thinks about the circumstances of his loss and simply not knowing what took place.
“I have been totally denied the knowledge of what happened to Rhianna and being able to deal with her remains respectfully,’’ he said.
“I am hoping there will be a resolution, but I seriously doubt it will be in our favour, to be honest. I am convinced she is deceased, it is just a matter of where she is and what happened to her.”
Sadly, Mr Barreau’s father, Rex, passed away in 2012, aged 88, still grieving over the loss of his granddaughter.
His mother, Muriel, who “just worshipped” Rhianna, also passed away in late 2016 without seeing a resolution in the case.
In a heartfelt letter she wrote me in 2015 after I interviewed Rhianna’s parents, Murial “Midge’’ Barreau said she hoped the “public will understand we were just a normal, caring family’’.
“… the last years since ’92 have always been clouded in a veil of sadness so one would never enjoy life’s special moments in complete happiness,’’ she wrote.
“On Rhianna’s 13th birthday some of the family planted 13 wattle trees with the help of Friends of Morialta at Morialta. Sadly I have never been able to return.
“Perhaps one day you would write an article on what a wonderful gift life is?
“I try to pass on the message to young people I meet.
“My last image of the beautiful, clever Rhianna is in my house wrapped in a pink dressing gown looking in the mirror.
“When I asked ‘why?’, her reply was ‘just planning my future gma!’.”
VETERAN homicide detective Allen Arthur retired just over 23 years ago, but there is still one job that haunts him.
Each time he drives through the southern suburbs on the way to his South Coast home, his memory is flooded with thoughts of Rhianna Barreau.
Mr Arthur spent much of the last two years of his distinguished policing career investigating her abduction and murder and is still troubled by it. He is optimistic the case will be solved.
“You look across the open ground and always wonder if she is out there. she has to be somewhere,’’ he said.
He recalls the first few months of the investigation, which was conducted from an incident room that had been established at Christies Beach police station.
“The media interest was intense and we finished up with hundreds and hundreds of calls from people wanting to assist with any information they thought might be valuable,’’ he said.
“Some was helpful, but most were not, but people were very keen to help find Rhianna.
“It was an atrocious incident. People responded because a young girl had disappeared off the face of the earth and they were concerned.’’
Mr Arthur said that within several weeks it became clear young Rhianna had been abducted and most likely murdered.
“It was just too clean cut,’’ he said.
“We looked into her background in the initial stages and found she was not an adventurous girl, she was a family girl and could be trusted. She didn’t have a boyfriend, would not have run away, so the more we learned of her family history I was convinced she had met a terrible fate.’’
He said the lack of positive leads and sightings after Rhianna returned home from the shops had left him with a “clear belief’’ as to what happened.
“I think the perpetrator lives closer to her home address than perhaps further out,’’ he said.
“But I still look at those paddocks around Morphett Vale and Christies and ask myself the question: ‘I wonder where she is?’
“I think that until someone who knows what happened — and there always is someone — comes forward, then I think this will remain unresolved.’’