Colleen Dawn ADAMS - TRAGICALLY LOCATED DECEASED
Colleen with her husband
The Adams' house
POLICE have unearthed remains in the search for murdered SA mother Colleen Adams under a concrete slab at her former home at Maitland — 45 years after her disappearance in 1973 and hours after a court heard her husband had admitted to the murder.
Police began excavating the site on Thursday morning, a day after they visited the site with Adams’ husband, Geoffrey Adams, who has been charged with murder.
Major Crime Investigation Branch officer-in-charge Detective Superintendent Des Bray said police located remains about 1pm on Thursday.
“She was in the area indicated to us and discovered about one hour ago and we’ve made the necessary notifications since then,” Det-Supt Bray said.
“It’s going to be some time before we can make a formal identification but we are proceeding on the basis that the remains are those of Colleen.”
The discovery came a short time before the couple’s youngest daughter, Kaye, delivered a statement to the media through victim contact officer Debbie Gibson.
“Today I have finally found my mother,” the statement said. “After 45 years of hoping, we have found her.
“It’s hard to say in a few words what I am feeling, but I am so grateful to the South Australian police and everyone who has worked to help find her.”
Kaye, who was 18 months old when her mother vanished, said she is thankful that the truth has come out, and she has now put her faith in the legal system.
“I want today to also be one of inspiration to all those who live with cold cases, lost loved ones, not knowing what has happened,” she said.
“Today we’ve seen there is hope. Even after 45 years this proves that cold cases can be solved.”
Police arrested 70-year-old Geoffrey Adams at his Wallaroo home on Wednesday afternoon, before travelling with him to the property at Maitland, on the Yorke Peninsula, where the couple lived with their children.
During a brief court appearance on Thursday, Adams, who wore a dark jumper, made no application for bail through his lawyer Andrew English.
Police prosecutor acting Sergeant Frank Jakacic told the court Adams had confessed.
“(Adams) did admit to the crime that he has been charged with,” Sgt Jakacic said.
“He further identified the site where police are currently in the process of excavating.”
Magistrate Ian White described the case “unusual” because Adams’ court appearance was coinciding with an active police investigation.
Adams was remanded in custody to face Elizabeth Magistrates Court on October 5.
The victim’s sister, Heather Johncock, said she was “relieved’ the remains had been found.
“It concludes everything,’’ Ms Johncock said.
“It is still a shock though. It has happened very quickly.”
While she always hoped the mystery would one day be solved, she was never confident it would be.
“I honestly didn’t know,” she said.
“You always hope that it would, but because of all of the investigations before you just wonder will you ever get answers.”
“I thought he (Geoffrey Adams) would pass on before we got answers to be quite honest.
“I think in the end he knew, one way or the other, they were going to find her. It would have been a lot easier on everyone if he had done this (admitted the crime) decades ago.
“It probably would have been easier on himself too, to be quite honest.’’
Ms Johncock said she now hoped the family could sit down and plan Colleen’s funeral so they could “say goodbye to her properly.’’
“We want to give her a proper burial, she deserves that.’’
Ms Johncock also had a message to the families of other unsolved murder victims: “never give up.’’
“Just keep on looking, never give up hope and looking for answers,’’ she said.
“Just keep on going over things in your mind and remember things to help the police, it also helps you cope and get through,’’ she said.
“Any little thing can help.’’
Mrs Adams’ niece, Tina Millbank, 48, said it was a bittersweet day for family and that she felt some justice.
She said her father, Garry Millbank, never believed his sister ran away and always had a feeling she was hidden on the property.
“He never got closure,” Ms Millbank told The Advertiser. “My dad always believed that that’s where she was. (The family) knew she’d never leave her kids behind.”
Ms Millbank said her father — who died in 2009 at 62 — would be overjoyed by the discovery.
“He’d be rapt, it’s happy tears and sad tears of course because my dad is not here to see it all.
“But I’m just very happy she’s been found.”
The property was cordoned off as a crime scene and covered with a tent on Wednesday night, and was briefly opened on Thursday morning before police began their dig.
Adams previously told police he woke about 7am on November 22, 1973, to find Mrs Adams fully dressed with two packed suitcases.
According to Adams, she said she was leaving and never wanted to see him or the children again, before getting into a car with a middle-aged woman he did not know.
Mrs Adams was reported missing by her mother about a month later, but the case was not declared a major crime until 1979.
For almost 45 years, Mrs Adams’ remains appear to have been buried beneath a cold, concrete slab.
During that time, her husband repeatedly maintained she had left him one morning in November 1973 — despite police gathering an abundance of information that suggested otherwise.
Just after 2pm on Wednesday, Adams relented and finally told Major Crime detectives where to search for his wife.
Det-Supt Bray said the breakthrough followed days of intensive work by detectives at Maitland, Wallaroo and other locations on Yorke Peninsula.
On Thursday morning, Det-Supt Bray told Channel 9 he was confident Mrs Adams’ remains would be found today.
“The search was due to escalate yesterday (Wednesday) when we got the breakthrough from the suspect and he agreed to co-operate and identify the area,” he told the Today Show.
“With what we were told yesterday and the information we had before, we are very confident Colleen we will be recovered today from here and in the very near future she’ll be able to be returned to her family to be buried with dignity.”
On 19 December 1973, Colleen Adams (then aged 24 years) was reported missing to Police by her parents after they were advised by her husband Geoffrey Adams that she had left the family home 5 weeks earlier. At the time of her disappearance, Colleen was residing with her husband and their two young children aged 3½ years and 18 months at an address in Bagnall Street Maitland. Colleen was reportedly last seen by her husband on the morning of 22 November 1973 when she left in a vehicle being driven by an unidentified middle-aged female. She has not been seen or heard from since this date and has not been in contact with her parents or children.
Colleen's disappearance was declared a major crime in 1979. Police suspect she has been murdered. If you have information that may assist police to locate Colleen, please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
SA Police News
September 16 2018