Jill Lesley GAMBLIN

Name: GAMBLIN Jill Lesley Sex: Female
Date of Birth: 04 Nov 1949 Age Now: 59
Age when missing: 30 Height (cm): 165.0 Build: Thin
Hair Colour: Blonde Eye Colour: Blue Complexion: Fair
Nationality: British Racial Appearance: Caucasian    
Circumstances - Jill was last seen on 2 December 1979 at Darlinghurst.

Police search for woman 29 years after she vanished

 
Georgina Robinson - SMH
November 11, 2008

 

THE mystery of missing woman Jill Lesley Gamblin is as puzzling now as it was nearly three decades ago when she disappeared after visiting a theatre in Sydney.

Ms Gamblin, described as "unstable but likeable", was last seen leaving the Paris Theatre in Liverpool Street, Sydney, on December 2, 1979.

A coroner's inquest 12 months ago concluded the fun-loving Bellevue Hill woman, then 30, might have been murdered, but no suspects were identified.

Now police are excavating a bunker on a property in the Blue Mountains after a tip-off to Crime Stoppers about the time of the inquest.

Yesterday about 30 police officers, with sniffer dogs and earth-moving machinery, began searching a property in Wombat Street, Blackheath, for Ms Gamblin's remains.

Property records indicate her former lover, Adrian Chenhall, owned a property in Wombat Street. Police would not confirm it was the one being searched.

"The information we received indicates that Jill Gamblin was linked to the owner at the time," said Detective Inspector John Maricic, from Rose Bay police.

The inquest heard that Ms Gamblin had spent a weekend at Mr Chenhall's home shortly before her disappearance. The pair had argued and Mr Chenhall, who has since died, had tried to hit Ms Gamblin, the inquest was told.

Detective Inspector Maricic said police had no suspects and stressed that the present owners of the Wombat Street property were not linked to the inquiry.

Ms Gamblin had visited her new lover, Wallace Randolph, at the Paris Theatre on the night she disappeared. A few days later a note, apparently from

Mr Randolph, appeared on her pillow saying: "I missed you last night. Where are you? Give me a call."

At the inquest Mr Randolph denied ever knowing her.

A friend of Ms Gamblin, Gavin Gatenby, told the inquest he had gone to Blackheath to visit Mr Chenhall but found the property locked like a fortress.

An inquiry into Ms Gamblin's disappearance was launched in 2004 after the then state coroner, John Abernathy, asked that historic disappearances be reinvestigated and finalised in inquests.

Yesterday Inspector Maricic acknowledged criticism of the initial handling of the case but said that in the circumstances, Ms Gamblin's family was taking the new search well.

"Obviously at the end of the day they'd like some closure in relation to Jill's disappearance," he said.

"It's obviously difficult for any family after 30 years to still be stuck on the fact that a daughter's death has gone unsolved. But we're keeping them informed and they're very appreciative of the work still being done."

Vanished Jill a 28-year mystery

Article from: The Daily Telegraph

By Kara Lawrence

November 20, 2007 12:00am

A FREE spirit who epitomised Sydney in the late 1970s, Jill Gamblin left the old Paris Theatre in the city one night - and was never seen again.

The attractive 30-year-old loved to drink and party, had an interest in alternative religions and was casually seeing two men.

But one thing her family and friends are certain of is that she never would have chosen to disappear without a trace.

Yesterday, 28 years after Ms Gamblin's disappearance, her family and friends fronted Glebe Coroner's Court in the hope of finding out how and why Ms Gamblin vanished on the night of December 2, 1979.

State Coroner Mary Jerram found she had died - and was possibly murdered - that night or afterwards, but told her family and friends not to hold out hope the mystery would ever be solved.

In a day of evidence dotted with colourful snippets of 1970s culture - such as the Beatles' promotion of Indian spiritual enlightenment - the inquest heard there were no suspects into Ms Gamblin's death.

She had been living in a share house in Bellevue Hill at the time, was unmarried and had no children, and was starting up a business selling clothing at markets.

She had expressed interest in sects and alternative religions, including the "Orange People" and a group called the "Temple of Ra".

In the weeks before she disappeared, she had been seeing two men. One, artist and set creator Wallace Randolph, had invited her to a production of Boy's Own McBeth, which she saw the night she vanished. The court was told Mr Randalph was the last known person to have seen her, as she left the former Paris Theatre on Liverpool St and headed towards Hyde Park to catch a cab.

Mr Randolph, whom the coroner stressed was not a suspect, told the court he could not remember Ms Gamblin or recall her going missing.

The court was also told another man named Adrian Chenhall, whom had since died, had spent a weekend with Ms Gamblin at his Blackheath home shortly before she disappeared and had tried to strangle her during a violent argument in a car.

"She was quite distressed about what had gone on," Ms Gamblin's friend Jean Hawkins told the inquest.

Constable Victoria Payne, assigned to reinvestigate the case in 2004, said the previous lack of police contact with family members about efforts to find Ms Gamblin was "disgusting".

"I would just like to apologise to the family in relation to the lack of attention that NSW Police has paid to the matter because I believe 20 years is far too long," she said.

Ms Jerram said Ms Gamblin's disappearance was not in character.

Older sister June Gamblin said outside court she believed her sister had met foul play.

"But I really want to thank the police for helping us this time around, they've been so compassionate and caring," she said

Police discover macabre dungeon in missing woman search

Article from: The Daily Telegraph

By Tim Vollmer and Gemma Jones

November 11, 2008 12:00am

THIS macabre dungeon hidden on a mountain property may hold the key to a 30-year mystery.

Police searching for the body of a missing Sydney woman yesterday discovered the underground chamber at a walled, electric-fence rimmed Blue Mountains property.

Jill Gamblin was last seen leaving the Paris Theatre in the city in 1979.

Investigations yesterday led to the Blackheath home of her now dead former boyfriend, Adrian Chenhall.

A buried shipping container he told neighbours was his nuclear shelter is the focus at the overgrown and unoccupied bush property.

Police opened the bunker but Detective Inspector John Maricic, who is co-ordinating a three-day search, said police were yet to forensically examine it.

Mr Chenhall had tried to strangle Ms Gamblin, 30, when she spent a weekend at the sprawling property shortly before she vanished, a coroner heard last year.

"Everybody has always said there was a body buried," said a neighbour, who asked not to be named.

"There were a lot of crazy things that went on in there. We heard he had built a concrete nuclear bunker and one morning we woke up to find he had put these big fences up."

Other neighbours described Mr Chenhall as an eccentric and said rumours had circulated about the house for decades.

Ms Gamblin's sister Sandra Copland, who lives in Western Australia, yesterday said the family was braced for bad news.

A coroner told the family last November that Ms Gamblin was dead and that she may have been murdered. The family now hopes her body will be found.

"At least we could bury her next to Dad," Ms Copland said.

"My mother is 93. I don't know how she would deal with it if they find out what really happened."

She said police were of little help when friends and family first reported Ms Gamblin missing

She said she was relieved police had finally acted and were "bending over backwards to try and find out what happened to Jill".

Police said yesterday a tipoff last year to the Crime Stoppers hotline led to the reopening of the case and to yesterday's dramatic search.

The vanishing of Jill Gamblin
(A true story)

by Nick Possum - http://www.brushtail.com.au/the.vanishing.of.jill.html

23 June 1999

*Reproduced with kind permission.
 

The week was cold and wintery, so I holed up in the office with the heater on and picked through my old file on the Jill Gamblin case.
 

It's coming up on 20 years since Jill vanished. Twenty years. Somewhere out there there's an undiscovered killer. Perhaps a serial killer. Or perhaps a serial killer already locked away who hasn't confessed to this one.
 

Jill had been a regular at French's Tavern on Oxford Street where I dropped in to listen to rock music from time to time. She was a lively English girl of about 30, living in a shared house in Bellevue Hill. She worked as a punchcard processor, made jumpsuits she sold at the markets and hunted the singles scene for a partner. I remember her as a wild space cadet.
 

On the night of Sunday 2 December 1979, she left Bellevue Hill with about $9 in her purse. She turned up at the old Paris Theatre on the corner of Wentworth and Liverpool, wearing her lurid, spangled, 'Queen of the Night' makeup. The Boy's Own Macbeth, starring Graeme Bond, was playing there, and Jill's boyfriend was doing the lighting.
 

She spent the evening there but left by herself, for whatever reason, at about 10.15. The theatre crowd had dispersed. According to her boyfriend she said "Strange things could happen tonight, it's a full moon". She left him standing there and crossed Liverpool Street to catch a cab -- to Bellevue Hill, he thought. It was the last time anybody claims to have seen her.
 

On the following Tuesday a flatmate found a note to Jill from her boyfriend lying on Jill's bed. She realised that Jill hadn't been with her boyfriend since Sunday evening. The bed hadn't been slept in, and presents for her family in England were packed but unposted. Her flatmate raised the alarm and her friends reported her missing and began to search. That was when I got involved.
 

We organised the usual stuff. Her friends put up posters with her photo around her old haunts and questioned her acquaintances in Martin's Bar at Taylor Square. The denizens of the bar took it pretty calmly. Jill had probably just met some bloke with a bag of dope and headed off for Queensland, they said. I saw Missing Persons, but they took it pretty calmly too, which was understandable. She was after all, an adult, and the vast majority of missing persons turn up eventually. Maybe, they said, she was fleeing an abusive relationship, and they asked how we were related to Jill.
 

Nowadays it would be taken more seriously, but in 1979 'serial killer' wasn't a household word.

I interviewed her friends and checked the morgue, the hospitals, the psychiatric hospitals, the Wayside Chapel and the Balmain Markets, where she sold the clothes she made. We even visited the gay bars on Oxford Street where smart arse barmen asked me if Jill was my boyfriend.
 

We went through her room carefully. There wasn't much to show for her years in Australia. We fitted it all in a couple of green garbage bags. There was a bank account with $120 and $4.80 in cash. There were also some new leads. It seemed that Jill had been mixed up with a group called Cabaret Conspiracy and a shadowy bunch of mystics called The Temple of Ra. I tried hard, but I never did find anybody who claimed to be a member.
 

Months passed and I used my contacts to check her bank account. There had been no withdrawals. She never registered with Social Security either, and she never again paid taxes. She never rang anybody and her family never heard from her. Eventually the case was put in the hands of Homicide.
 

The trail is very, very cold now. The Paris Theatre was pulled down a few months after Jill disappeared and the Bellevue Hill place went too. Martin's Bar and French's closed years ago and punch cards have gone the way of all technology. Jill's friends got married and had kids and moved to the suburbs.
 

But every few years I get out the file and make a phone call to the cops, or somebody in the media, and on a couple of occasions they've run the story. And I've waited for a call, but nobody has ever rung.

Police begin search operation in 29-year-old missing person case – Blackheath

Monday, 10 Nov 2008 05:21am

NSW Police will today brief the media regarding a search operation in the Blue Mountains relating to the disappearance of a woman almost 30 years ago.

At 10am today a team of officers will begin searching an unoccupied property in Wombat Road, Blackheath. This operation is expected to take several days.

The search follows fresh information provided through Crime Stoppers into the disappearance of Jill Lesley Gamblin.

Ms Gamblin, 30, vanished after she was last seen leaving the old Paris Theatre on Liverpool Street on the night of December 2, 1979.

A Coroner’s inquest in November last year concluded Ms Gamblin was possibly the victim of a homicide but no suspects were identified.

Following new information provided by the public, the case was re-opened in December last year by Rose Bay detectives who established Strike Force Magdala to investigate.
 

 

Police search Blue Mountains property in Jill Gamblin case

Angus Hohenboken | November 10, 2008
Article from:  The Australian

POLICE investigating a 30-year-old homicide are searching an abandoned property in Wombat Street, Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains, which contains an underground bunker and was once protected by an electric fence.

The property had been occupied by the now-deceased Adrian Chenhall, a boyfriend of Jill Gamblin who was last scene leaving the old Paris Theatre in Sydney on December 2, 1979.

A coronial inquest in November last year found Ms Gamblin was murdered by persons unknown. Forensic police today began a three-day search of the property.

A neighbour, who asked to be asked only as Heather, said Mr Chenhall had been an "eccentric character" who used to "drink a lot".

"The rumour has he was a remittance man, his family paid him to stay away," she said. "He drank like a fish."

The inquiry into Ms Gamblin's disappearance heard Mr Chenhall had spent a weekend with Ms Gamblin at his home at Blackheath, shortly before she disappeared and had tried to strangle her during a violent argument in a car.

Heather said she recalled Mr Chenhall bringing in equipment to dig a hole for a "shipping container-like bunker" in the early 1990s.

Police confirmed the presence of the bunker, which they said was completely buried.

Detective Inspector John Maricic of Rose Bay LAC, said it was believed the bunker could have been installed as a precaution against a nuclear threat.

Police are also searching a weatherboard house and sheds on the half-acre property, which is littered with rusty car bodies.

Police would not identify the owners of the property but said they have assisted police and are not part of the investigation. They would not say if the owners are related to Mr Chenhall.

Heather believed Mr Chenhall had died in 1997.

Shadow of death cast by a full moon

Nick O'Malley - SMH

Georgina Robinson


November 15, 2008

 

THE last time anyone claims to have seen Jill Gamblin, she was crossing the road towards Hyde Park on a warm Sunday night in December 1979.

"Strange things could happen tonight, it's the full moon," she told her companion. Then she vanished. It was 10.15pm.

This week Rose Bay detectives dug under a dilapidated weather-board cottage at Blackheath hoping to find Gamblin's remains. To the disappointment of a handful of friends who had never given up on the search, the fragments unearthed were those of a sheep.

Gamblin was short, blonde and beautiful, an unpredictable English expat who, at 30, had been in Australia for four years and moved easily through a fast Darlinghurst crowd.

One of her favourite haunts was Martin's Bar on Oxford Street, above what is now the Balkan Grill near Taylor Square. The club was frequented by artists, filmmakers and journalists, who were served by topless young women, many of them students at East Sydney Tech across the road.

Gamblin worked as a punchcard operator, the equivalent of a data entry job today, and was having some success selling clothes she made at Paddington and Balmain markets. Jenny Kee was said to have taken an interest.

"She was stylish but she was poor. She'd been in Sydney for years but her life was shit," says Gavin Gatenby, a friend who has kept up the search since helping to raise the alarm two days after her disappearance.

On the last night she was seen, Gamblin was excited about a date with Wallace Randolph, the set designer of a cult musical, Boy's Own Macbeth. She planned to join him for a performance at the Paris Theatre and go on to a cast party.

"To get invited to a party with the cast and crew was a really big thing for her. She thought something was finally happening in her life," says Gatenby.

She prepared for the date over a glass of wine with her flatmate, Jean Hawkins, in their Bellevue Hill share house, a tumbledown mansion that was once home to the Soviet consulate.

Hawkins says Gamblin chose a silver jumpsuit of her own design and lurid sparkling make-up, a look she called "queen of the night". Another flatmate recalls the make-up, but a cream outfit.

No one noticed Gamblin was missing until Tuesday, when Hawkins found a note from Randolph on the pillow of her unmade bed. "I missed you last night. Where were you?" it said, or something along those lines, Gatenby recalls. "We hit the panic button then."

Gatenby and his partner, Lee Hoffmann, called the police and with Hawkins began trawling the bars of Oxford Street. The police and the Darlinghurst barflys were not too worried at first. Gamblin was an adult and known to be footloose. Gatenby recalls his shock at seeing her leap into a stranger's car outside Martin's Bar on the promise of a party.

For days they visited hospitals, railway stations and psych wards. They pestered police endlessly and had Gamblin's description broadcast by radio stations.

Hawkins recalls visiting Randolph at his home in Paddington to ask about the Sunday date. According to a letter the three wrote to Gamblin's sister at the time, Randolph said Jill left him at the theatre, looking for a taxi, excited by the moon.

During a coronial inquest into the case last year, Randolph, who still lives in Sydney and works as an artist, denied any memory of the evening or the police interviews afterwards.

When Gamblin's distraught friends finally ransacked her bedroom they found Christmas presents wrapped and ready to be sent to family in England and a notebook with references to the power of the moon and a new age group in Balmain called the Temple of Ra. There was also an address: 20 Wombat Street, Blackheath.

Gatenby had been a political activist with the Socialist Labour League but had quit politics and begun driving a taxi. His search for Gamblin soon became a full-blown amateur investigation.

He discovered the Blackheath home was owned by Adrian Chenhall, a young man known to regulars at Martin's Bar as the son of a well-to-do doctor, Hilton W.T. Chenhall, who lived in Palm Beach but ran a practice near the old Herald building at Broadway, an insalubrious part of town.

"Women liked him. I've heard him described as Jack Nicholson - good looking," says Gatenby.

Although articulate, charismatic and smart, Chenhall had never studied or worked as far as anyone knew. He ran with a group known as the Bayview Push, an artistic offshoot of the intellectual Sydney Push.

Gatenby learnt that Chenhall drank a lot of whisky, used the drug speed and manufactured LSD in a backyard operation.

Hawkins says she has heard he was at first charming to women, then dark and controlling.

Gatenby claims to have spoken with people who knew first hand that Chenhall was into sadomasochistic sex.

Accounts given by Gamblin's friends - and found in her notebook - suggest that she stood up Randolph on the weekend before she disappeared, and instead of attending the musical with him spent the weekend with Chenhall at Blackheath.

Gamblin wrote of working in his garden and, as they drove back to Sydney (drunk), fighting so viciously that he stopped the car and tried to strangle her.

During questioning by police, Chenhall, who died 10 years ago, admitted to the drunken roadside fight, but claimed he had hit her rather than throttled her.

Weeks after the disappearance Gatenby and Hoffmann drove to Blackheath to confront Chenhall.

"When we drove down Wombat Street and there was this dilapidated weatherboard cottage, we were horrified," Gatenby says.

"There were these huge bars on the windows and the front door and side door had been reinforced with sheet steel. The fortress-like nature of the place was something I passed onto the cops.

"I banged on the door but I couldn't raise anyone."

Gatenby says cold case detectives who interviewed him for three hours at Kogarah police station late last year were interested in his recollection and sketches of the cottage.

He claims they told him they were looking into links between Chenhall and two other young women who disappeared about the same time, though Rose Bay police deny this.

Detective Inspector John Maricic said "a number of items" that may be relevant were retrieved from the house and more people had come forward claiming to have fresh information.

Hawkins is angry about the original police response, but relieved by the renewed investigation. "They said she'd probably just gone off somewhere, and we tried to tell ourselves that too. But deep down we knew she hadn't."

Gatenby does not believe the mystery will be solved until more is known about that night on Liverpool Street at the Paris Theatre. Randolph is the only person who has ever confirmed Gamblin was even there.

Dungeon property bones are animal's, not those of Jill Gamblin?

Article from: The Daily Telegraph

By Gemma Jones

November 12, 2008 05:35pm

POLICE have found bone fragments at a Blue Mountains property where officers are searching for the body of missing Sydney woman Jill Gamblin - but tests have confirmed they are animal bones.

Meanwhile, another former girlfriend of Adrian Chenhall has come forward to describe her relationship with the now dead Blackheath man whose property is being searched.

Police unearthed a dungeon buried in the bush property this week which he had told neighbours was a nuclear fallout shelter.

Ms Gamblin, 30, was last seen outside the Paris Theatre in the city in 1979 but information to Crime Stoppers placed Ms Gamblin at Chenhall's secluded bush property.

A coroner heard last year he had tried to strangle her shortly before she vanished.

"I found him very weird, very strange," the former girlfriend, who declined to be named, said today.

"He was very, very good looking at that point in time. He could charm women until they found out how strange he was."

The woman dated Chenhall for six months in 1984 and said he drank heavily.

Detective Inspector John Maricic said the search of the property was expected to finish today.

Her sister Sandra Copland this week told The Daily Telegraph the family was braced for bad news but were hopeful they could lay her to rest next to their father.