Cyril Levitsky went missing in November 1970. Picture: Supplied


Cyril Levitsky: DNA could bring answers to 51-year missing person case

For 51 years there’s been no leads on Cyril Levitsky. But with the discovery of a crucial document and a subsequent DNA test, cops could be on the verge of a stunning breakthrough.

September 4, 2021 - 9:24AM
Hills Shire Times Nicole Pierre


DNA from the long lost nephew of a man who went missing 51 years ago could bring his family one step closer in their quest for answers.
On the morning of November 28, 1970 Tatiana and Erazim ‘Eric’ Levitsky drove to Callan Park Mental Hospital in Rozelle to visit their son Cyril like they had done every other weekend.
But on their arrival they were met with the news that would tear the family apart.
He had gone missing.
To this day nobody knows what happened to Cyril Levitsky
Cyril, then aged 37, was a full-time patient living at the then asylum. The last known surviving Australian relative of Cyril is his nephew Marc Alexander.
Marc’s mother Ira ‘Irene’ Levitsky was Cyril’s only sibling.
Originally from Russia, they moved to Shanghai and then migrated to Australia with their parents in January 1951.
They initially lived in Redfern and Strathfield before relocating to Roseville.
Mr Alexander was just 11 when his uncle went missing but remembers how it tore his family apart.
“My grandmother really fell to pieces over it,” he said. “It had a real effect on my mother as well.
“They didn’t think they were taken seriously about his disappearance because he was not a normal person of society but someone with serious mental health issues.
“It was a different time.”
Cyril’s parents and his sister have since passed away.
Just one month ago, Mr Alexander said he was shocked when he got an email “out of the blue” from a criminal investigator 51 years on from Cyril’s disappearance.
“I was on my way to Port Douglas with my wife when I got an email message from Detective Senior Constable Richard Gozman and at first I thought it was a joke because it didn’t look real and I thought it was a scam,” he said.
Mr Alexander, who had never had any police contact on Cyril’s disappearance, then called up the Missing Persons Unit in Sydney to check if the email was legitimate.
Before long he was on the phone with the investigator himself.
Mr Alexander was told police were still actively investigating the case and wanted to get his DNA sample to see if it matched any of the hundreds of bodies and remains on their database.
Just days later, Queensland Police arrived at his Clifton Beach home to conduct a mouth swab.
Mr Alexander said he hopes his DNA sample can shed some light on what happened to Cyril.
“I’m really hoping this will be solved. It would be wonderful for it to come to rest,” he said. Det Snr Con Gozman, from the Missing Persons Registry, took over the case in June and said he kept “hitting roadblocks” at the start because there was no government records that showed Cyril existed.
He then turned his concentration to Cyril’s parents and found a death certificate for Tatiana which mentioned she had a son.
“This was a huge breakthrough in the investigation because this was the first time I get an actual result from birth death and marriages that this family actually existed, and I learnt that Cyril had a sister,” Den Snr Con Gozman said.
“I commenced making inquiries about Irene Levitsky but this led me nowhere again but I identified a Robert Little was possibly the husband of Irene.
“I did checks via Service NSW which gave me an address for Robert Little being at Henry Kendall Retirement Village in Wyoming.”
From the nursing home records he discovered Irene and Robert, who had passed away, had a son, Marc.
“This was the moment I knew I was on the right track.” Det Snr Con Gozman said he was keen to get Marc’s DNA and any other relatives because police have a body with a similar description to Cyril.
The body was found along a railway line in Concord West about the same period he went missing.
“The body was found on December 15, 1970. Cyril went missing on the November 28, 1970,” he said.
Mr Alexander said: “The police thought they wouldn’t have an answer (on my DNA) until after Christmas.
“It’s been 50 years and if I have to wait another three months I’m OK with that.”
Det Snr Con Gozman said there were no guarantees the body was Cyril’s yet he said police have hundreds of mystery remains and bodies on record and any found in future could still be tested with familial DNA. While Covid has limited his ability to dig into archives and he’s had delays in obtaining Cyril’s hospital records from NSW Health, he said he’s determined to follow the case through and appealed for anyone who knew the family and has any information to get in contact.
“Anyone with links to the family, knew the family or can help us identify family members whether Australia or overseas, we would like to you to come forward and talk to us,” Det Snr Con Gozman said.
“Unfortunately Cyril is one of many sad cases we are trying to piece together to provide answers and closure to his family.
“It is sometimes the fine details that could help us solve a case so I encourage anyone with any information to come forward and speak with us because that small information that you may have could be the key to solving this case.” Mr Alexander said: “It’s 50 years so I don’t know how many people who worked there (at Callan Park) as a doctor or nurse are still alive.
“You never know there might be someone still hanging on and it would be wonderful if they came forward because it would give us closure.
“If we do find Cyril it would be lovely to bury him alongside my mother and reunite them.”
Missing Persons Registry Coordinator Detective Inspector Glen Browne said he was hopeful they would be able to find answers.
He said: “The investigation around Cyril Levitsky’s disappearance is ongoing and detectives are keen to meet with any family members who may be able to assist police with the collection of DNA samples.
“These samples can then be matched against unidentified human remains; something which has already been a proven success in other long-term missing persons cases. “I’m positive there are people out there who were close with Mr Levitsky at some point in time and may be able to assist his family and investigators with their quest for answers.”
At the time of his disappearance, Cyril was described as being about 178cm tall with a fair complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. If you have any information on Cyril, contact Crime Stoppers at 1800 333 000.


NSW Police

August 2021

As Missing Persons Week continues, police are appealing for public information to locate a man who went missing from Sydney’s north west more than 50 years ago.

Cyril Levitsky – then aged 37 – is believed to have left a facility in North Ryde to visit relatives living in Roseville on Saturday 28 November 1970.
He was later reported missing to police by family members when he failed to arrive.
Since Mr Levistky’s disappearance, NSW Police have conducted extensive investigations to locate him and are appealing to the public to come forward with any information that may assist detectives with their ongoing inquiries.
Missing Persons Registry Coordinator, Detective Inspector Glen Browne, said specialist police continue to review all information received that relates to long-term missing persons in an effort to provide answers to loved ones.
“NSW Police have conducted exhaustive inquiries to locate Cyril and believe his family – who are of a Russian background – migrated to Australia from China in 1950 or 1951,” Det Insp Browne said.
“It is further believed that family members lived in the Redfern and Rockdale areas until the mid-1980’s.
“As part of this year’s Missing Persons Week, police are issuing an appeal to the public – particularly those members of the Russian-Australian community – to come forward with any information about Cyril and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance,” Det Insp Browne said.
At the time of his disappearance, Cyril was described as being about 178cm tall, of a medium build, with a fair complexion, brown hair and hazel eyes.
Anyone with information about Cyril’s disappearance is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Information is treated in strict confidence. The community is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.
Missing Persons Week is an annual national campaign to raise awareness of the issues and impacts surrounding missing persons and runs between Monday 1 August and Friday 6 August 2021.