Ernest Hyde drove from his home on June 24, 1964, and his last known trace was never seen again. And while his son has a theory on the disappearance, the fate of his father may never be known after a decision by a coroner.
A missing Mitcham father whose car was found near Blackburn Lake 55 years ago has been declared dead by a coroner.
In the Coroner’s Court last Tuesday, coroner Rosemary Carlin closed the case on Ernest Hyde, finding the he died on or after the day he went missing in 1964.
Mr Hyde’s body has never been found and there have been no confirmed sightings of him since he drove away from his home about 12.30pm on June 24, 1964 — almost 55 years ago.
His only child, Peter Hyde, told the court he believed his father “went missing because he was heavily in debt to his employer, a real estate agency”.
He said his family thought his father had changed his name and disappeared to escape the debt.
According to Peter, when police located his father’s locked car near Blackburn Lake on June 29, 1964 they found a letter inside stating Mr Hyde would agree to “pay back $5000 not $8000” to his employer.
Ms Carlin said the letter had not been seen since.
Blackburn residents told police My Hyde’s Ford sedan had been parked on the corner of Lake Rd and Jeffrey St in Blackburn for the five days leading up to June 29, according to an article in the City of Nunawading Gazette on July 8, 1964.
The article said Victoria Police undertook an unsuccessful two-day search of the lake and surrounding area.
While there have been no confirmed sightings of Mr Hyde since he went missing, Peter told the court that at his mother’s funeral in November 2004, his aunt told him she had seen Mr Hyde in September 1965.
She believed she had seen Mr Hyde in Narrabeen, North Sydney, where the family used to holiday, and had not previously said anything to avoid upsetting Peter and his mum.
Peter and police have been unable to locate any information or records of Mr Hyde in Victoria, NSW or Queensland.
Peter’s DNA had not struck any familial matches in the Victorian Missing Persons DNA database as of April 4, 2019.
Ms Carlin said she found Mr Hyde, who would be 108 years old if he were alive today, was deceased.
She said she could not ascertain his cause of death and could not “even be certain that he died around the date he went missing”.
But she said she was satisfied no further investigation was required.
She expressed her sympathy for Peter and his family.
“It is a terrible burden to never know the fate of a loved one,” she said.
Mr Hyde served in the RAAF from June 1941 to September 1946 after his family migrated to Australia from England in 1913.