NATHAN PAULL | October 1st, 2010
In one of Queensland's most baffling unsolved crimes, Robin Jeanne Hoinville-Bartram was murdered at Sensible Creek west of Charters Towers in 1972.
The girl's remains were found in a shallow grave under a bridge at the creek, near Pentland, west of Charters Towers, on November 15 that year.
The woman she was hitchhiking from Melbourne with, Anita Cunningham, was never heard from again and no traces of her were ever found.
But Ms Hoinville-Bartram's Bowen high school best friend, Kathleen Bertram, said she believed Ms Cunningham was still alive.
Brisbane-based Ms Bertram last week travelled to the spot where her best friend was buried in a bid to highlight the unsolved crime and plea for Ms Cunningham to come forward.
"The reason why I think she's alive because she was seen by ... a personal family friend in December 1972 working in the Annabella Bar in Melbourne," she said. "People say Anita is dead with Robin, but there has been no trace of Anita Cunningham or her property since that day, since Robin was murdered. People just presumed she was dead."
Ms Bertram said she had also heard Ms Cunningham had been writing to school friends.
She suspected Ms Cunningham, who was 17 at the time, vanished without a trace because she was protecting her friends and family from a notorious criminal she believed was responsible for Ms Hoinville-Bartram's death.
John Andrew Stuart, 33, was arrested for the infamous Whiskey Au Go Go fire in Brisbane Fortitude Valley where 15 people died after the nightclub was fire-bombed in the early hours of March 8, 1973.
Ms Bertram said Stuart was in Pentland in October 1972.
Bowen man Randall Wilson told media in 2008 he saw Stuart had stolen his property after he had befriended him at Pentland at the time.
Ms Bertram said she met Mr Wilson when she made her journey north to pay tribute to her best friend.
She said she believed Stuart was travelling with the girls, who were last seen on the Gold Coast and were reported missing on September 15.
They were travelling to Bowen to see Ms Hoinville-Bartram's parents.
Charters Towers detectives and the Brisbane Homicide Squad were examining Stuart's links to the crime but are yet to publicly reveal whether his presence in North Queensland was coincidence or something more sinister.
Ms Bertram said she wanted Ms Cunningham to come forward to put an end to almost 40 years of wondering exactly what happened to her best friend.
A heartfelt plea to Anita Cunningham
IT is my enduring hope that you are still alive and able to read my
I have always believed that you were spared the fate of Robin and have been forced to hide for all these years for your own and your family's safety.
Dear Anita I fully understand the impact that Robin's murder must have had on you, especially if the connection with John Andrew Stuart is proven. I would imagine that your life and your health have suffered greatly and I fully sympathise.
I am pleading for you to come forward, so that Robbie's family and I can at last obtain closure. My reasons for this is the search for justice, and an opportunity to place a proper plaque on Robbie's grave to include her date of birth and date of her death, with the words ''Morning has Broken''.
There has been too much suffering and it is my fervent wish that this might give hope to those others who also have lost loved ones.
Love never dies