Kim Cherie TEER

  Kim Teer was 17 when she went missing in Melbourne in 1979. She had been backpacking across the country

    Sex: Female
Date of Birth: 1961    
Age when missing: 17 Height (cm): 175.0 Build: Medium
Hair Colour: Brown Eye Colour: Blue Complexion: Olive
Nationality:   Racial Appearance: Caucasian    
Circumstances :- Kim Teer has not been seen since August 1979. She had been spending the year backpacking around Australia with her border collie, Crosby.
She had made her way to Melbourne from her hometown of North Haven in New South Wales and was due to travel to South Australia when she disappeared.
If you have information that may assist police to locate Kim please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

*Also listed in Victoria and SA sections

Teen Kim vanished on 'bucket list' quest

 

Colleen Holding envies parents who can hold a funeral for their children and bury them.

"That's a terrible thing to say," the 71-year-old from NSW says, fighting back tears. But the alternative is too torturous to bear, she says.

For the past 32 years, Ms Holding has been left wondering, and agonising, over what happened to her 17-year-old daughter who set off from Port Macquarie on a trip around Australia in 1978 with her black and white border collie, and never returned home.

Blue-eyed and athletic, Kim Teer left home determined to have a big adventure by the time she was 18.

"She wanted to do her bucket list at 18," Ms Holding said.

She hitch-hiked all over Australia, picking fruit in Victoria and South Australia and landing odd jobs in other states, including a two-week stint as a cook on an ocean trawler.

Her journey took her to East Melbourne in 1979, where she was living in a flat with friends on Simpson Street. At one point she visited Kangaroo Ground for a camping trip with an unidentified man.

But in September or October that year the letters and telephone calls to her mother in NSW suddenly stopped, and Kim and her dog simply vanished.

In her last letter, Kim spoke of her fear of hitch-hiking and asked her mother to send her birth certificate so she could get her driver's licence.

When Kim's 18th birthday passed without any contact, Ms Holding knew something was wrong.

"At first I found it very difficult to believe that anything could happen," Ms Holding said.

"I think to myself ... that if I could bury her I'd be much happier because I envy people that can bury their children, and that's a terrible thing to say."

The letters and telephone calls to her mother in NSW suddenly stopped, and Kim and her dog simply vanished

Late last year the NSW Coroner recommended the cold case be referred to Victoria Police, and Victorian detectives have since travelled across Australia interviewing old witnesses and following up any potential clues.

Ms Holding and her family have also tried to get to the bottom of the mystery, travelling to Victoria many times to see if they could shed any light on her disappearance.

Ms Holding said she sent a telegram to her daughter at Kangaroo Ground in 1979 asking her to phone home urgently. Ms Holding learnt that the telegram was collected by a mystery man.

"It was a man that picked up the telegram because when I came to Melbourne I spoke to the postmaster and he said, 'No she didn't pick it up,'" Ms Holding said, adding she did not know who the man was.

"I really don't know. I have my suspicions but I can't be sure."

Through tears, she appealed today for anyone with information about her daughter to phone police.

"It's still as difficult today as what it was when I first realised that she was missing," she said.

"It's just not possible that something didn't happen to her. I'm not saying it was deliberate. It could have been an accident.

"I'm not prepared to condemn anybody for it, but just a little bit of peace of mind with one phone call would make all the difference.

"It would make my life. I'm 71 and it would be lovely to be able at least to have a shower without crying, or at least go to bed without having the nightmares."

Detective Inspector John Potter, from Victoria's Homicide Squad, said Kim was believed to have fallen victim to foul play.

"We're particularly appealing for anyone that had knowledge of Kim while she was staying in Simpson Street in East Melbourne in late 1979, and also camping at the Kangaroo Ground area also in late 1979.

The trail goes cold about October 1979 when Kim was in the Melbourne area.

"Somebody knows what happened to Kim. It's now 32 years since the family have had any news of Kim and they're desperate for answers. We're also very keen to hear from anyone that may know of Kim in 1979 or indeed had come across her while she was travelling around Australia."

Kim is known to have spent time fruit picking in Mildura and across the South Australian border in Renmark and Berri.

She also hitched a ride to Western Australia and picked apples in Esperance and Manjimup before visiting Perth, and also headed to Bowen in Queensland.

Investigators believe she then travelled with friends to Victoria and stayed in a unit in Simpson Street while she helped to clean another property in Darling Street in East Melbourne.

Police have appealed for anyone with information about Kim's disappearance or who had contact with her between August and October 1979 to contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.

 

Plea for information on cold case mystery

 
Friday, 20 April 2012 04:59
 

More than three decades have passed since the disappearance of teenager Kim Teer but police have never given up hope of solving the case.

The 17-year-old NSW girl was hitchhiking around Australia when she went missing in Victoria sometime between September and October 1979.

Kim left her home near Port Macquarie in late 1978 with a female friend and her black and white border collie, Crosby.

She travelled itinerantly across the country, spending time fruit picking in Mildura, Renmark and Berri.

In late April 1979, she hitched a ride to Western Australia and landed jobs picking apples in Esperance and Manjimup before visiting Perth and Bowen, Queensland.

Investigators believe Kim then travelled with friends to Victoria and stayed in a unit in Simpson Street, East Melbourne while helping to clean another property in Darling Street, East Melbourne.

During her time in Melbourne, Kim also visited the Kangaroo Ground area.

Kim and Crosby were last seen in East Melbourne around September 1979.

During her travels, the teenager kept in regular contact with her mother, Colleen.

In her last letter, Kim spoke of her fear of hitchhiking and asked her mother to send on her birth certificate so she could get her driver’s licence.

When Kim’s 18th birthday passed without any contact from her, Colleen became extremely concerned for her welfare and reported her missing to NSW police in December 1979.

Victorian Homicide Squad detectives are investigating and believe that Kim may have met with foul play while in Melbourne.

Detective Inspector John Potter said police were leaving no stone unturned in their search for Kim and had already spoken to people in Perth, Darwin, Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour as part of their investigation.

“We believe that this is a solvable case but we need the community’s help,” he said.

“For more than 32 years, Kim’s family has been haunted by her disappearance and we would like to solve the mystery and provide them with the answers they need to move forward with their lives.

“Someone out there knows what happened to Kim and we would ask that they come forward with that information and help us close this case.”

Investigators would like to speak to anyone who has any information about Kim’s disappearance or had any contact with her between August and October 1979.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000 or via the website at www.crimestoppers.com.au.

TIMELINE OF KIM’S MOVEMENTS

Late 1978 Kim Teer begins hitch-hiking around Australia with a female friend and her black and white border collie named Crosby. They travelled to Sydney (Balmain) for a few days, then south to Shellharbour where they stayed with a male friend of Kim’s in his beach shack. They travelled south to Bega and Eden where they worked on a tuna boat for 5 or six days. They made their way to Melbourne where they spent one night before hitching out to Mt Gambier where they stayed for several days.

27-Dec-78 Kim arrives in Mildura Victoria for fruit-picking with plans to travel around Australia.

22-Jan-79 Kim writes that she and a friend are camping in a friend's backyard in Mildura. She also writes that she sent away for her birth certificate but was unsuccessful as she included the wrong amount of money. Says that she may start her job picking grapes in Mildura on 18-Feb-79

28-Mar-79 Letter from Kim to her mother Colleen Holding postmarked Renmark. Kim says that she is going to Alice Springs next week with a friend. It appears after a short trip, they return to Renmark and Kim goes to the Down to Earth Festival before hitching a ride across the Nullabor with some friends that she met.

27-Apr-79 Kim writes and says she is in Esperance WA and that she and others are going to Manjimup WA around 28-Apr-79 for apple picking. She also tells her mother that she has leant a motor scooter that she bought in Mildura to a friend who will send it on to her (Colleen) in the coming months. This motor scooter never arrives. Kim then spent some weeks in Perth.

29-May-79 Letter from Kim to her mother postmarked Perth 29-May-79. She writes that she will leave Perth WA on Thursday 31-May-79 for Bowen QLD with a male friend. She travels to Bowen via Broome, WA.

28-Jun-79 Kim sends a telegram from Bowen QLD to her mother telling her she has a job (believed to be referring to fishing boat) - date approximate

12-Jul-79 Letter from Kim to Colleen postmarked Bowen 12-Jul-79. She says she has just spent 2 weeks on a fishing boat. Kim meets up with a couple she knew from fruit-picking in Mildura. The couple continues north while Kim heads home.

01-Aug-79 Kim returns to North Haven after being in Bowen, Qld - date approximate

11-Aug-79 Saturday 11-Aug-79. (date approx) Kim’s friends (the couple) drive come south and arrive in North Haven Kim hitches a ride with them to Melbourne. They stop at a house in Rouse Hill (Sydney) for a few days. Kim takes the opportunity to catch up with another friend.

14-Aug-79 Tuesday 14-Aug-79. Kim and the couple arrive in Melbourne area. They are known to visit Kangaroo Ground, and also stay in a flat in Simpson St, East Melbourne.

20-Aug-79 Kim begins writing a letter to her mother. She finishes the letter on Sunday 26-Aug-79 and posts it on Monday 27-Aug-79. She asks Colleen to "not send any more mail until further notice” as "we are in the midst of deciding where to stay" and that she is "not sure she'll stay in Melbourne". She also thanks Colleen for sending her a parcel care of the Kangaroo Ground post office.

27-Aug-79 Kim sends the above mentioned letter post marked Melbourne.

10-Sep-79 Colleen believes she received a phone call from Kim in Sep-79 where Kim asked if her tax cheque had arrived - date approximate

01-Oct-79 Colleen deposits tax cheque into Kim's bank account - date approximate

10-Oct-79 Birth Certificate for Kim printed in Burke on 10-Oct-79 after being requested by Colleen HOLDING. Kim had asked her to do this by phone after the letter of 27-Aug-79.

15-Oct-79 Kim’s 18th birthday. She has not contacted her mother for at least two weeks

30-Oct-79 Colleen sends telegram to Kim care of Kangaroo Ground Post Office – date approximate. Colleen hears nothing from her daughter and becomes extremely concerned and distressed. She seeks advice from a friend who suggests she travel to Melbourne to look for Kim herself before she reports her missing.

11-Dec-79 Kim’s parents attend the Kangaroo Ground Post Office. The Post Master tells them he has seen and spoken with Kim. He recognises her photograph and says that the man she is staying with collected the telegram

15-Dec-1979 Colleen reports Kim missing to NSW Police.

Police announce $100,00 reward for cold case mystery

Police are hoping that today’s announcement of a $100,000 reward will hold the key to solving the disappearance of teenager Kim Teer over 30 years ago.

The reward has been offered for any information leading to the apprehension and subsequent conviction of the person or persons responsible for Kim’s disappearance.

The 17-year-old NSW girl was hitchhiking around Australia when she went missing in Victoria sometime between September and October 1979.

Kim left her home near Port Macquarie in late 1978 with a female friend and her black and white border collie, Crosby.

She travelled itinerantly across the country, spending time fruit picking in Mildura, Renmark and Berri.

In late April 1979, she hitched a ride to Western Australia and landed jobs picking apples in Esperance and Manjimup before visiting Perth and Bowen, Queensland.

Investigators believe Kim then travelled with friends to Victoria and stayed in a unit in Simpson Street, East Melbourne while helping to clean another property in Darling Street, East Melbourne.

During her time in Melbourne, Kim also visited the Kangaroo Ground area.

Kim and Crosby were last seen in East Melbourne around September 1979.

During her travels, the teenager kept in regular contact with her mother, Colleen.

In her last letter, Kim spoke of her fear of hitchhiking and asked her mother to send on her birth certificate so she could get her driver’s licence.

When Kim’s 18th birthday passed without any contact from her, Colleen became extremely concerned for her welfare and reported her missing to NSW police in December 1979.

Victorian Homicide Squad detectives continue to investigate her disappearance and believe that Kim may have met with foul play while in Melbourne.

In April last year Kim’s family joined with police to make an appeal for any information and we again urge anyone with knowledge of what happened to Kim to come forward.

Detective Inspector John Potter said investigators had not given up hope of solving this case.

“We believe there is someone out there who has information that can solve this case,” Insp Potter said.

“Circumstances change and people’s lives change. Someone who may not have felt comfortable coming forward with information previously may now be in a position to do so.

“We hope that by announcing this reward today it may give someone even more impetus to come forward.

“For more than 32 years, Kim’s family has been haunted by her disappearance and we would like to solve the mystery and provide them with the answers they need to move on with their lives.”

Investigators would like to speak to anyone who has any information about Kim’s disappearance or had any contact with her between August and October 1979.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000 or via the website at www.crimestoppers.com.au

'She just vanished off the face of the earth':

By KATE LYONS - Daily Mail

 13:41 +10:00, 5 August 2014 | 

 

The 17-year-old who went missing on the trip of a lifetime around Australia and 35 years later her family are still hoping for answers

 

Kim Teer was on the trip of a lifetime backpacking around Australia when her mother last heard from her.

Kim, who was weeks away from her 18th birthday, had written to her mother, Colleen Holding, asking her to send a copy of her birth certificate so she could get a driver's license. Colleen never heard from her daughter again.

Colleen, now 73, still does not know what happened to her only child despite police investigations and two years spent travelling around Australia, visiting the places Kim had stayed in the hope someone might know something.

Kim is one of thousands of people missing across the country as Australia marks Missing Person's Week this week.

Kim's aunt Mary Hallam, 61, from the Southern Highlands of NSW said that 35 years after she went missing, the family believe that Kim is dead and police say they believe she met with foul play, but without a body, Kim's family have no answers and no finality.

'Unfortunately we all feel that Kim is no longer alive… But you can imagine, when you don't have the remains of someone, I know Colleen in her heart lives with the hope that she'll be found. That's something a parent never loses. When there's no body, there's no finality about it,' Ms Hallam told Daily Mail Australia.

Kim, described by her aunt as an artistic girl, took off backpacking around Australia in 1978 at the age of 17. She returned to her aunt's home in Bathurst for Christmas in 1978, the last time her family saw her, before continuing her travels in 1979.

After travelling across Western Australia, Queensland and NSW, she eventually stopped in Melbourne and shared a flat with two fellow travellers.

'Kim had an agreement with her mum that she would stay in constant contact to let her know she was okay, which she did, she sent letters to her mum and called her,' said Ms Hallam.

 
 

When Kim's mother Colleen did not hear from Kim as her 18th birthday approached she became distressed and knew something was wrong.

'There's no way Kim would have not contacted her mother for her birthday,' said Ms Hallam.

Colleen and her husband, Kim's step-father, drove to Melbourne to try and find her and then travelled across the country talking to people who might have known Kim.

'She just vanished off the face of the earth; [Colleen] never found any of her belongings. She spent two years going around Australia trying to find her,' said Ms Hallam.

Kim's disappearance devastated both her parents, who had separated years earlier.

Ms Hallam has not seen Kim's father Greg Teer for years, but is informed by his family that he is now 'very much a recluse… he can't quite cope with the fact that his daughter's gone.'

 

Colleen, who worked as a cosmetics buyer for Myer, threw herself into work and hobbies in order to distract herself from the heartbreaking reality of Kim's disappearance.

'She worked really hard all her life and owns her own home, she did a lot of things to take her mind off it, retain her sanity.

MISSING PERSONS WEEK: REMEMBERING THE 35,000 AUSTRALIANS REPORTED MISSING EACH YEAR
 

To mark Missing Persons Week this year, Australian Federal Police are attempting to raise awareness about the 35,000 people reported missing in Australia each year.

Of those reported missing, approximately half are 'recidivists', such as teenagers who regularly run away from foster carers or other institutions, almost all of whom are found.

Approximately 85 percent of all those reported missing in the country are found within 48 hours and police say it is crucial that people tell police as soon as they notice someone is missing.

'It is a myth that you have to wait 24 hours. We're always hearing on American TV that you don't call police or start searching [in the first 24 hours],' said Rebecca Kotz, from the Missing Person Unit with the Australian Federal Police.

'It couldn't be further from the truth. Police need to get onto it as soon as they can. In Australia we know for a fact the first 24 hours are so critical.'

This year the focus of Missing Persons Week is on people with dementia, who comprise 10 percent of missing people reported in Australia.

'We have people who will wander off. They might be 200m from their front door, they might also fall into scrub and hit their head,' said Ms Kotz.
 

Police are encouraging people with dementia to wear identity bracelets with a contact phone number and information about their condition, so that police can help them if they are found.

'She taught herself to sew and she'd make these amazing wedding dresses. She created some of the most beautiful things as a way of her dealing with the grief. It's a strange thing when something tragic happens in your life, certain people try to create something nice to balance it out.'

Ms Hallam said that her sister could not face dealing with what happened, but as she got older it has caught up to her and she finds the uncertainty harder.

'[Colleen] said: "I envy people who can bury their children, because at least you know where they are, you know what happened to them,"' said Ms Hallam.

Since retiring in 2009, Ms Hallam has dedicated herself to working with the NSW and Victorian police to trying to work out what happened to Kim. 
 

Police have re-opened the cold case and a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of someone involved in Kim's disappearance, was announced in September last year in the hope of providing new leads into the case.

Ms Hallam says she thinks there are a few suspicious people police should talk to 
 

'I've put several scenarios to the police, but as with an ongoing investigation they won’t comment,' she said.
 

But for Kim's family, finding out what happened to her is less significant than recovering her body.

'Whether or not, anyone was ever found responsible, that'd be good because people do these things and get away with it, but to know where she is would be the best outcome of all.

'To have her remains found would be the best outcome ever, at least then we would know where she was, we could bury her properly… To be able to bury her remains would give you some sort of peace of mind, that's the wrong word, and I hate the word closure, because you never have closure on things like this, you think about it every waking minute of the day. It would give her some sort of ending to a long search.'

Investigators would like to speak to anyone who has any information about Kim's disappearance or had any contact with her between August and October 1979.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000 or via the website at www.crimestoppers.com.au


 

Verdict soon in inquest on missing teenager Kim Teer

 
 

A teenager who disappeared more than 30 years ago could have been killed while hitchhiking around Australia, a court has heard.

Kim Teer was 17 when she went missing in 1979 while travelling around Australia, and was believed to have last been seen in Melbourne around September that year.

A coronial inquest into her suspected death began on Tuesday before Coroner Jacqui Hawkins.

Sergeant Phillip Gynther, who investigated the case between 2011 to 2014 as a homicide detective, said that Ms Peer's dental records had not matched those of any unidentified remains.

Asked what he thought had happened to Ms Teer, Sergeant Gynther said that shortly after she left an East Melbourne flat, "she continued with her risky behaviour of hitchhiking...(and later) fallen victim of foul play or had a terrible accident in an isolated area and that she's dead".

Police offered a $100,000 reward in 2013 for information that could lead to a conviction over Ms Teer's disappearance.

Outside court, Sergeant Gynther said this did not produce enough information to work out what happened to her, but encouraged others to come forward about other cold cases from around the same time.

Police would continue to investigate Ms Teer's case after the inquest if more information came to hand, he said.

Peter Russell Triggs, who was one of the last people to see Ms Teer, appeared in court on video link from Darwin. Mr Triggs drove Ms Teer from her Bathurst family home to Melbourne, where she stayed with him and others at an East Melbourne unit while they cleaned his mother's house nearby.

He could not recall how they had met, any conversations they had had, or how they had parted ways.

"I don't remember saying goodbye to her. It makes me sad."

Counsel assisting the Coroner, Leading Senior Constable Amanda Maybury, said that years earlier, Mr Triggs had told police he had feared "some things were missing from the flat when Kim left".

She said Gwen Clifton, who was also with the pair at the time, told the police she "remembers tipping out Kim's backpack and discovering her own clothes in the bag".

Mr Triggs could not recall the incident.

A phone intercept of a conversation between the pair was tendered in evidence. They have since been exculpated of any wrongdoing.

Ms Teer's mother, Colleen Holding, told the court she had reported her daughter missing a year after her last contact with her.  "We were told at the time...not to worry the police about it, that she'd be treated as a runaway. I knew that wasn't true but you take the best advice you've got at the time," she said.

She said she had accepted her daughter had passed away.

"I'm fully aware of the fact that she's deceased. It's not just a passing thought, it just bounces all over (your mind), even when you're having a conversation about anything (else) it's still there."

Ms Teer was "family-minded but she was adventurous".

She called and wrote to her mother regularly when she travelled and they had a close relationship. She did not always tell her mother where she was travelling. "She was a sensible girl...I trusted her judgment. I know she wasn't into drugs because I'm very aware of the signs and symptoms.

"When I hadn't heard from her in two weeks, which was very unusual, I did send a telegram (asking her) to contact me immediately and ...when I came to Melbourne the postmaster said Russell Triggs had collected that telegram," Ms Holding said.

Coroner Hawkins expects to hand down her findings on Wednesday, after hearing evidence from Ms Clifton.

Last two people to see missing woman Kim Teer alive cleared by coroner

 

A coroner has cleared a man and woman who were the last people to see alive a teenager who disappeared 35 years ago.

Kim Teer, 17, was last seen between mid-September and October 1, 1979 at an East Melbourne flat she was sharing with friends, but most likely died while hitch-hiking, coroner Jacqui Hawkins found on Wednesday.

Ms Hawkins said she accepted police advice that Kim's friends, Russell Triggs and Gwynneth Clifton, were not suspects in the disappearance despite an argument between the two girls before Kim left the flat.

"I consider it most likely that Ms Teer died as a result of the involvement of an unidentifiable person or persons, probably whilst engaging in the high-risk activity of hitch-hiking," Ms Hawkins said.

Kim had been hitch-hiking around Australia after leaving her NSW home with her dog and a friend in late 1978, but the following year said in a letter to her mother she found the method of travel too dangerous and planned to stop.

Ms Hawkins said Kim appeared to have "potentially foreshadowed her fate" in that letter.

The coroner said it was unlikely Kim had intentionally cut herself off from her family or taken her own life because of the strong, loving relationship she had with her mother.

Kim's mother, Colleen Holding, told the Coroners Court on Tuesday she had accepted her daughter had died.

"I'm fully aware of the fact that she's deceased," Ms Holding said.

"It's not just a passing thought, it just bounces all over (your mind), even when you're having a conversation about anything (else), it's still there."

Detective Sergeant Phillip Gynther, who between 2011 and 2014 investigated Kim's disappearance, told the court on Tuesday he believed the teenager had most likely met with foul play while hitch-hiking or had been involved in an accident in an isolated area.

He said police did not consider Mr Triggs or Ms Clifton as persons of interest.

Ms Hawkins said on Wednesday she could not determine Kim's cause of death, and expressed her condolences to her family.

"No words will lighten the burden of the loss that you have shouldered for 35 years with no answers," she said.

Police offered a $100,000 reward in 2013 for information that could lead to a conviction over Kim's disappearance.

 

                                                                   Inquest into the Death of KIM CHERIE TEER

 

IN THE CORONERS COURT OF VICTORIA

AT MELBOURNE

 

Comt Reference: COR 2011 004096

 

FINDING INTO DEATH WITH INQUEST

Form 37 Rule 60(1)

Section 67 of the Coroners Act 2008

 

 

Inquest into the Death of KIM CHERIE TEER

 

 

Delivered On: 11 March 2015

 

Delivered At: Coroners Court of Victoria 65 Kavanagh Street

Southbank Victoria 3006

Hearing Dates:

 

10 and 11 March 2015

 

 

Findings of: Coroner Jacqui Hawkins

 

Police Coronial Support Unit Leading Senior Constable Amanda Maybury appeared to

assist the Coroner

 

1 of 17

 

I, Jacqui Hawkins, Coroner, having investigated the death of KIM CHERIE TEER AND having held an inquest in relation to this death on 10 and 11 March 2015

at the Coroners Court of Victoria, 65 Kavanagh Street, Southbank, Victoria, 3006 find that the identity of the deceased was KIM CHERIE TEER

born on 15 October 1961

and the death occurred between mid-September and 1 October 1979 at an unknown location

from:

la) UNKNOWN CAUSES

in the following circumstances:

BACKGROUND

  1. Kim Cherie Mary Teer was born in Bourke, New South Wales (NSW) on 15 October 1961 to Colleen and Gregory Teer. Her mother described her as a good student who was both sport and family minded and quite adventurous.
  2. In 1968, Ms Teer's father returned to Ireland, leaving her mother to raise her alone. In 1971, Colleen Teer mall'ied Donald Holding, who had three children from a previous marriage, and assumed the name Colleen Holding. In 1973, Ms Teer and her family moved to North Haven NSW where she attended North Haven Primary School and later Kendall Central School.
  3. Ms Teer completed F01m 4, her final year of high school, in 1977. At this time, she moved out of the family home and into a caravan. She was known to be an independent person who would go camping alone with her Border Collie, Crosby. Ms Teer planned to travel around Australia by hitch-hiking, a mode of transport she had previously used to travel between N01th Haven and Byron Bay.
  4. In late 1978 Ms Teer, Crosby, and her friend, Sue Mudford, commenced a trip around Australia. They first hitch-hiked to Balmain, Sydney where they stayed for a few days, then south to Shellharbour where they stayed in a beach shack with a friend of Ms Teer's, Martin Pundyk. TI1e two girls then hitch-hiked south to Bega, then Eden where they worked on a tuna

    boat for five or six days. 1

  5. After this, they made their way to Melbourne, staying only one night before hitch-hiking to Mt Gambier where they spent several days. Just after Clnistmas 1978, they aiTived in Mildura where they plalllled to find work fruit picking before continuing their travels.

Statement of Sue Mudford (undated), Inquest Brief, page 20.

    1. of l7

  1. On 22 January 1979, Ms Teer wrote to her mother and advised that she and a fiiend (believed to be Ms Mudford) were camping in another friend's backyard in Mildura. She also wrote that she sent away for her birth certificate but was unsuccessful as she included the wrong amount of

    money. She fmther noted that she might stmt picking grapes in Mildura on 18 February 1979.2

  2. By the end of March 1979, Ms Teer was picking grapes in Beni, South Australia, where she met and made friends with Gwynneth Clifton. Like Ms Teer, Ms Clifton was h·avelling and seeking work picking fruit. It is through Ms Clifton that Ms Teer met Russell Triggs. Ms Clifton had a dog called Odin and the two girls and their dogs travelled various places together. On 28 March 1979, Ms Teer wrote to her mother and advised that she intended to travel to Alice Springs with "Gwenn"3 for a sho1t trip before returning to Berri to resume work.4
  3. In early April 1979, Ms Teer attended the "Down to Earth Festival" held in Renmark where she met Michael Wagstaffe. Ms Teer and Mr Wagstaffe later re-established contact in Adelaide and arranged to travel across the Nullarbor together. Mr Wagstaffe drove Ms Teer, Crosby, and another, unknown, female to Norseman, Western Australia.5
  4. On 27 April 1979, Ms Teer wrote to her mother from Esperance, Western Australia, telling her that she and others would soon head to Manjimup, Western Australia for apple picking. Ms

    Teer told her mother that a motor scooter she purchased in Mildura was being borrowed by a friend who would return it to Mrs Holding in the months to come.6 In this letter, Ms Teer also tells her mother that she should address future mail to her, care of the Broome Post Office. 7 8 This is consistent with the statement of Mr Wagstaffe who indicates that he saw Ms Teer in

    Broome sometime after they had parted ways in Norseman.

  5. On 29 May 1979, Ms Teer wrote to her mother from Perth, Western Australia. Ms Teer stated that she would be leaving Perth on 31 May 1979 for Bowen, Queensland. Ms Teer indicated that she was travelling with a male friend, however the identity of this friend is unknown. 9

2 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 22 January 1979 and postmarked Mildura, Inquest Brief, pages 169- 174.

The evidence suggests that 11G\venn" \Vas Ms Clifton.

4 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 28 March 1979 and postmarked Rcnmark, Inquest Brief , pages 175- 180.

Statement of Michael Wagstaffe undated, Inquest Brief, page 26.

6 The scooter was never received by Mrs Holding and investigations by police were unable to find any further

inforn1ation about the vehicle.

7 It is believed that Ms Teer travelled to Broome Western Australia around May or June 1979, where she again met Mr Wagstaffe. It cannot be established whether her visit to Broome occurred between visiting Esperance and Perth or on her way to Bowen Quensland.

8 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 27 April 1979 and postmarked Esperence, Inquest Brief, pages 181- 193.

9 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 29 May 1979 and postmarked Perth, Inquest brief pages 194-198.

 

    1. of 17

  1. In late June 1979, Ms Teer sent a telegram to her mother from Bowen, Queensland telling her she had a job. 10 111en, on 12 July 1979, Ms Teer wrote from Bowen advising that she had just spent two weeks on a fishing boat and intended to get a job picking tomatoes. The evidence suggests that at this time she reconnected with Mr Triggs and Ms Clifton and Ms Teer asked them to call in at North Haven when they eventually headed to Melbourne. 11
  2. On approximately 1 August 1979, Ms Teer returned to North Haven NSW. Mrs Holding had recently sold the family home and was living in the Brigadoon Caravan Park, North Haven. 12
  3. On approximately 11 August 1979, Ms Clifton and Mr Triggs visited the North Haven area to catch up with Ms Teer. Mr Triggs indicated in his first statement that Ms Teer pressed them to give her a lift with them to Melbourne. This is consistent with Mrs Holding stating in her interview that Ms Teer left with Ms Clifton and Mr Triggs bound for Melbourne. 13 Mrs Holding said that her daughter appeared to be excited about heading off on her next great adventure. Her memory was that when Ms Teer left, she was wearing a white cheesecloth skhi, sandals and a t­ shirt. She had with her a backpack, which Mrs Holding believed was a sort of dark grey colour,

    and new clothes for the colder Melbourne weather. 14

  4. There is some contradictory evidence as to the timing and circumstances in which Ms Teer came to be staying with Ms Clifton and Mr Triggs in East Melbourne. 15 However, the weight of the evidence suggests that Ms Teer did travel to Melbourne with Ms Clifton and Mr Triggs and Ms Teer stopped in Rouse Hill outside of Sydney where she had dinner with a friend.

    Meanwhile, Ms Clifton and Mr Triggs stayed with her mother in Sydney and picked Ms Teer up on the way to Melbourne. 16

  5. By approximately 14 August 1979, Ms Teer was staying at Unit 4, 62 Simpson Street, East Melbourne, with Ms Clifton and Mr Triggs. 17 Mr Triggs indicates that his mother had been

10 Telegram from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding, Inquest brief pages 199-20I.

11 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 12 July 1979 and postmarked Bowen, Inquest brief pages 202-207.

12 Exhibit I - Interview between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Fawkner dated 13 July 2010, Inquest Brief, pages 89-167.

13 Exhibit l - Interview between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Fawkner dated 13 July 2010, Inquest Brief, pages 119 and 124.

14 Exhibit I - Interview between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Fawkncr dated 13 July 2010, Inquest Brief, page 120.

15 For example, Ms Clifton talks about the possibility that Ms Teer made her own way to Melbourne after them. I consider this inost likely to be a product of decline in 1nemory over tiine, rather than a deliberate attetnpt to obfuscate the trnth. I further acknowledge and accept that this was an articulated caveat of their evidence, both during the recorded intervie\vs \Vith Victoria Police and at Inquest.

16 Evidence of Ms Clifton at Inquest, 11 March 2015.

17 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 27 August 1979, Inquest brief pages 208-215. I note that in some initial documents relating to the investigation by New South Wales Police, this date is recorded as 27 October 1979. Ho\vever, the preponderance of evidence, including the letter itself, suggests that the correct date is 27 August 1979.

 

    1. of 17

unwell and so he and Ms Clifton spent the week after their anival cleaning up her house. At Inquest, Ms Clifton confirmed that Ms Teer did stay with them during this time.

  1. On 27 August 1979, Ms Teer posted a letter to her mother that she had started on 20 August

1979.18 The letter said that she was staying at "[Mr Triggs'] mother's flat in East Melbourne" and they are "sorting and cleaning" out another house around the corner also owned by Mr Triggs' mother. r 9

17. The letter further said that "they'' arrived last Tuesday after staying in Rouse Hill, Sydney, for a few days during which she had dinner with Martin Pundyk. Ms Teer also asked Mrs Holding not to "send any more mail until further notice as "we are in the midst of deciding where to stay" and that she was "not sure she'll stay in Melbourne". Ms Teer asked her mother to obtain a copy of her birth ce1tificate and thanked her for sending a parcel, which her mother later infmmed police she had sent care of Kangaroo Ground Post Office.

  1. Also in this letter, which is the last known written correspondence from Ms Teer, she writes that she is looking for work and hopes to save enough money to buy .a car. Part of her reasoning, it would seem, related to her concerns about hitch-hiking: "Act ually I never want to hitchhike again. It is just much to (sic) dangerous and it's just not worth it".20
  2. In his later interview, Mr Triggs was uncertain about whether he travelled with Ms Teer to the Kangaroo Ground or Christmas Hills area during this time. He did recall that he was playing in an Irish music band at the time and remembered spending time in Christmas Hills and reconnecting with friends.21 Similarly, Ms Clifton remembered staying.out at Christmas Hills and Kangaroo Ground.22 I further note, the more contemporaneous information provided in his initial statement was that during this period they visited friends in that area and Eltham amongst other places. 23
  3. Fabrizio Calafuri also remembered the three visiting at Christmas Hills during this time. He stated:

In what I think was the summer of 1978/1979, Russell TRIGGS had been away from Melbourne fruit-picking and I remember when he returned to the Melbomne area he visited me and Sebastian at our house in Christmas Hills. At the time, he had with him two girls who were both about 17 years old. Both of the girls had dogs. I believe that

 

18 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 27 August 1979 and postmarked Melbourne, Inquest Brief, pages 208- 215

19 This house was subsequently identified as 10 Darling Street, East Melbourne.

20 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 27 August 1979, Inquest brief pages 208-215.

21 Interview between Mr Triggs and Sergeant Gynther, Inquest Brief, page 342.

22 Interview between Ms Clifton and Sergeant Gynther , Inquest Brief, page 305.

23 Statement of Mr Triggs dated 25 Nove11ber 1982, Inquest Brief, page 273.

 

    1. of 17

Russell had met these girls while away fruit-picking. I remember the timing because I had also recently met my pmtner, Gwendolyn.24

  1. Ms Clifton stated that on a Sunday night in late August, early September 1979, Ms Teer had made plans to leave the following morning. Ms Teer spent her last day in Melbourne away from the flat. While she was out, Ms Clifton noticed that almost all of her clothes had gone missing and she suspected Ms Teer had taken them. Accordingly Ms Clifton searched her backpack and

    located the missing clothes. When Ms Teer returned, an argument ensued and Ms Clifton and Mr Triggs requested that she leave.25 Although Ms Clifton indicated that she should remain at the flat for the night as planned, Ms Teer was adamant that she wanted to leave that night. 111e

    last time they saw Ms Teer was when she left the apartment with her dog, Crosby. Ms Clifton said .that she believed Ms Teer was heading home.26

  2. Mrs Holding believes she received a further phone call from Ms Teer in September 1979 in which they discussed whether or not Ms Teer's tax refund cheque had aJTived. Her mother told her that it had not yet atTived but was due any day and that when it did atTive she would put it in Ms Teer's bank account.
  3. Towards the end of September 1979, Mrs Holding sent a telegram to Ms Teer, cm·e of Kangaroo Ground Post Office. It indicated lier concern for her welfare and requested that she make contact as soon as possible.27
  4. Mrs Holding went on to state in her inte1view tha't within a matter of days after the last phone call with Ms Teer, the tax refund cheque did aJTive and on I October 1979, Mrs Holding deposited this cheque into Ms Teer's bank account.28
  5. On 10 October 1979, a copy of Ms Teer's bhih ce1iificate was issued at Bourke, NSW and was

    . sent to Mrs Holding. Mrs Holding never fo1warded this on to Ms Teer because she did not have an address at that time to which it could be sent.

  6. Ms Teer's 18th birthday was on 15 October 1979 and unusually, the date passed with no contact between Mrs Holding and her daughter. Mrs Holding believes that she sent a telegram to Ms Teer at around this time, however did not receive a response. 29

24 Statement of Fabrizio Calafuri, undated, Inquest Brief, page 36.

25 Interview between Ms Clifton and Sergeant Gynther , Inquest Brief, page 309

26 See for example, Statement of Mr Triggs dated 25 November 1982, Inquest Brief, page 273; Interview between Ms Clifton and Sergeant Gynther , Inquest J3rief, page 322.

27 Exhibit 1 - Interview between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Fawkner dated 13 July 2010, Inquest Brief, page 130.

28 Exhibit I - Interview between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Fawkner dated 13 July 2010, Inquest Brief, pages 131-133.

29 Exhibit 1 - Interview between Mrs Hold ing and Detective Sergeant Fawkncr dated 13 July 2010, Inquest Brief, page 135.

 

    1. of l 7

  1. As the time since Mrs Holding last heard from her daughter grew greater, Mrs Holding became increasingly concerned for her daughter's welfare. She sought advice from a friend in the NSW police, Sergeant Roy Beverstock, who suggested she travel to Melbourne to look for Ms Teer

    herself before reporting her missing. Mrs Holding says that this advice was based on his opinion that members of Police would most likely consider her a nmaway child.30 Based on this advice, Mr and Mrs Holding conm1enced their own search for Ms Teer.

  2. On approximately 11 December 1979, Mr and Mrs Holding attended the Kangaroo Ground Post Office. Mrs Holding states that the Post Master, Kevin McNamara, told her at this time that he had seen and spoken with Ms Teer. Further, that he remembers having received a telegram addressed to Ms Teer and "the man she [was] with collected the telegram".31
  3. Mr and Mrs Holding also attended nearby Montsalvat and spoke with residents there because Ms Teer was artistic and they believed that she may have been drawn to such a place. They

    attended the residence of Neil Douglas whom Mrs Holding said recalled meeting Ms Teer, telling her "that's the girl with the dog".32

  4. Mr and Mrs Holding also attended the Melbourne address where Ms Teer was last known to have been staying. The house was abandoned and Mr and Mrs Holding located mail addressed to Mr Triggs mother as well as an "IOU note" from Ms Teer to Damien Staude.33
  5. Upon her return to Nmih Haven after searching for Ms Teer around Melbourne and indeed all over Australia34, Mrs Holding reported Ms Teer missing to NSW Police. This appears to have occmTed on or around 17 December 1980.35

 

JO Exhibit 1 - Interview between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Fawkner dated 13 July 20IO, Inquest Brief, page 93

JI Exhibit I - Interview between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Fawk ner dated 13 July 2010, Inquest Brief, page 139.

J2 This comn1ent appears to contradict a verbal statetnent he n1akes to Detective Sergeant Mason as recorded in

Detective Sergeant Mason's report dated the 3 August 1982 (Insert IB page).

JJ Exhibit 1 - Interview between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Fawkner dated 13 July 20 IO, Inquest Brief, page 135; Evidence of Mrs Hold ing at Inquest, IO March 2015. "IOU note" located at pages 292-293 of the Inquest Brief.

J4 Evidence of Mrs Holding at Inquest - IO March 2015.

J5 Inquest brief, page 225.

 

    1. of 17

JURISDICTION

  1. The suspected death of Ms Teer was initially reported to the State Coroner of New South Wales. On 17 October 2011, then State Coroner of Victoria Judge Jennifer Coate, received a request for assistance from the then NSW State Coroner, Mary Jerram.
  2. In 2012, the NSW coronial investigation into the death was closed and the responsibility for the coronial investigation was assumed by the Vict01ian Coroners Court.
  3. I note that in Victoria, a Coroner must investigate a 'reportable death', as defined in section 4 of the Coroners Act 2008 (the Coroners Act). Pursuant to section 3 of the Coroners Act, a death includes a suspected death. Given the passage of time since there has been any positive evidence that Ms Teer is alive, I consider that there is jurisdiction for me to investigate the disappearance of Ms Teer as a suspected death.

    Nature of the Coroners jurisdiction ·

  4. Section 67 of the Coroners Act requires me to find, if possible, the identity of the deceased, the cause of death, and the circumstances in which the death occmTed.
  5. The Coroners Court of Vict01ia is an inquisitorial jurisdiction. 36 The role of the coroner in this State includes the independent investigations of deaths to contribute to a reduction in the number of preventable deaths, the promotion of public health and safety, and the administration of justice.
  • 37. It is not the role of the coroner to lay or app01tion blame, but to establish facts.37

  1. A coroner may comment on any matter connected with the death, may report to the Attomey­ General and may make recommendations to any Minister, public statut01y authority or entity, on any matter connected with the death, including recommendations relating to public health and safety and the administration of justice. 38

    CORONIAL INVESTIGATION AND INQUEST

  2. Ms Teer's death was subject to a thorough coronial investigation. As part of my investigation, I received information from a number of sources including investigations undertaken by the New South Wales' and Victorian police forces.

 

36 Section 89(4) of the Coroners Act.

37 Keown v Kahn (1999) l VR 69.

38 Section 72(1) and (2) of the Coroners Act.

 

    1. of 17

NSW Police investigation into the disappearance of Ms Teer

  1. The following is a summary of key steps taken to investigate the disappearance of Ms Teer as documented in the NSW Police file:

    A conversation was recorded between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Joel Fawkner on 13 July 2010;

    Copies were obtained of letters sent from Kim Teer to Mrs Holding dated:

      • 22 January 1979 postmarked Mildura;
      • 28 March 1979 postmarked Renmark;
      • 27 April 1979 postmarked Esperance;
      • 29 May 1979 postmarked Perth;
      • 12 July 1979 postmarked Bowen; and
      • 27 August 1979 postmarked Melbourne.

    Tiie following documents were sourced:

        • Telegram from Kim Teer to Mrs Holding from Bowen (undated)
        • Birth Certificate for Kim Teer issued at Bourke NSW issued 10 October 1979;
        • Letter from C.J. Barnett (Chief Trust Officer) to Mr Russell Triggs dated 24 October 1979.
        • Handwritten IOU for $15 from Kim Teer to Damian Staude - unknown date. Requests for Victoria Police to:
        • Conduct an investigation into the whereabouts of Ms Teer (14 August 1981);39
        • Interview Mr Triggs;
        • Interview Mr Triggs' mother;
        • Interview the Post Master at Kangaroo Ground; and
        • Identify Neil Douglas of Kangaroo Ground.

    On 25 November 1982, Mr Triggs and Ms Clifton were found living in Mullumbimby, New South Wales together with their young child. A statement was obtained from Mr Triggs. An interview was also conducted with Ms Clifton.40

    Requests were made for South Australian Police to make enquiries as to the whereabouts of Ms Teer.

    Dental Records relating to Ms Teer were obtained.

    1. The evidence suggests that after approximately 1983, any active investigation into the disappearance of Ms Teer by NSW Police ceased.

    39 Inquest brief, page 234-235

    40 At page 54 of the Inquest brief, Sergeant Gynthcr noted with respect to this interview: "Irefer to a report by Sgt MORTENSON, Mullumbimby Police[ ...] dated 25 November 1982 (Appendix 29) detailing that a statement was takenjiwn TRIGGS that day. The report also states that a separate inte11'iew of CLIFTON took place in which she corroborated TRIGGS. The only copy of this report ispartly obscured by another document making it unclear as to l'11hether or not a Hiritten account lvas obtained fro111 CLIFTON."

     

      1. of 17

    Victoria Police investigation into the disappearance of Ms Teer

    Operation 'BELIER' - The Cold Case Tasliforce

    1. In addition to assisting NSW Police dming the initial years of the early investigation, Victoria Police subsequently opened their own investigation into Ms Teer's disappearance. Sergeant Gynther explained that:

      The Cold Case Taskforce - Operation 'BELIER' was commenced in January 2007, in response to recommendations by the State Coroner Mr Graeme Johnstone and the Office of Police Integrity (OPI), to address investigative deficiencies identified during inquests relating to a number oflong term missing persons.

      It was during Operation 'BELIER' that then Detective Sergeant David BUTLER identified that the case of Kim TEER, who was last seen alive in East Melbourne sometime between August and October 1979 and who was later reported missing to New

      South Wales Police, should in fact be a Victoria Police investigation. 41

    2. On 16 December 2008, Detective Senior Constable Anthony Combridge recorded a conversation with Ms Clifton about her knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Ms Teer's disappearance.

      Investigation undertaken by Sergeant Gynther

    3. In October 2011, Sergeant Gynther received the NSW police investigation file and assumed responsibility for the investigation into the death of Ms Teer. Between this time and April 2014, Sergeant Gynther and the Victoria Police Homicide Squad conducted a thorough review of the investigation.
    4. On 10 December 2011, Sergeant Gynther, Detective Sergeant Butler and Brad Cuff ie conducted a recorded interview with Mr Triggs in Rapid Creek, Darwin.
    5. On 11 December 2011, Sergeant Gynther attended Ms Clifton's home address in Byron Bay and conducted a recorded conversation with Ms Clifton.
    6. A number of further inquiries were made in relation to names and addresses contained in the police file from New South Wales. Statements were obtained if the individual had relevant inf01mation. A number of individuals could not be located, a number had nothing to add, and a number were not contacted because preliminary investigations indicated that they did not have anything to add to the investigation.
    7. In April 2012, an extensive media campaign including television, radio and newsprint about Ms Teer's disappearance was undertaken. As a result of the media campaign, the Australian Federal Police contacted Victoria Police in relation to Mr Wagstaffe who had travelled with Ms Teer in early 1979. A statement was subsequently taken from Mr Wagstaffe on 15 May 2014.

      41 Exhibit 4 - Statement of Sergeant Phillip Gynther dated 28 August 2014, Inquest Brief page 40.

       

        1. O of17

     

    1. In September 2013, a reward of one-hundred thousand dollars was offered for infonnation leading to the apprehension and subsequent conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Ms Teer. Although a number of responses were received, no infonnation provided assisted Victoria Police with their investigation.

      Inquest into the suspected death of Ms Teer

    2. On 15 February 2014, the Coroners Court of Victoria received a request for an Inquest from Ms Teer's mother, Mrs Holding. I consider that it was in the public interest to hold an Inquest as pmi of my investigation and did so on 10 and 11 March 2015.

      Witnesses

    3. The following witnesses gave evidence at the Inquest:

      Colleen Holding, Mrs Teer's mother; Russell Triggs;

      Sergeant Phillip Gynther; and Gwyneth Clifton.

      Aspects of the suspected death considered at inquest

    4. In line with my statutory responsibilities, as part of the inquest I explored:

      The possibility that Ms Teer made a decision to cease all contact with her family and friends to stmi a new life;

      The possibility that Ms Teer's disappearance was the result of the involvement of another person or persons; and

      The nature and sufficiency of evidence that a death has occmred.

    5. I now consider the evidence in relation to each of these aspects in turn.

      Possibility that Ms Teer made a conscious decision to cease contact with her family and friends to start a new life

    6. One possible explanation for Ms Teer's disappearance is that she made a conscious decision to cease contact with her family and friends. Accordingly, I considered the factors that weighed for and against this hypothesis.
    7. One of the factors that weighed heavily against the possibility that Ms Teer had willingly cut contact with her family was the strength of her relationship with her mother. Until her disappearance, Ms Teer appears to have maintained a loving relationship with her mother and kept in regular contact. This is evidenced by the extent to which Ms Teer had previously gone to keep her mother informed about her movements. On one occasion in July 1979 when Ms

     

     

        1. of 17

    Teer obtained a last-minute job on a fishing boat and would not be in touch with her mother for two weeks, she sent an urgent telegram advising her of this.42

    1. The tone and language of the written correspondence with Mrs Holding is loving and substantiated the strong bond between the two. The letters would often acknowledge and apologise for any delay in writing on Ms Teer's part and expressed a desire to hear from her mother.43
    2. Mrs Holding was strongly of the view that it was not a valid possibility for Ms Teer to have decided to cut contact. She said:

      I think she is dead. Whether it be through an accident, she's definitely not alive. She would've contacted somebody. [...] there's just no way that, no possibility at all that she wouldn't not contacted me especially. 44

    3. Ms Mudford supported this:

      Both Kim and I always stayed in touch with our mums while we were away. As soon as we'd arrive somewhere we'd call reverse charges if we had to. [...] That was the first priority. Kim loved her mum and she had no brothers and sisters so they had a fairly close bond.45

    4. However, when asked specifically by Sergeant Gynther whether she believed it likely that Ms Teer decided to cut all contact, she stated:

      Look, it wouldn't surprise me, because Kim was the type of girl who could cut all contact with the world and go and live on a hippie commune, but at the same time it would surprise me because Kim loved her mu m and always kept in contact with her. 46

    5. I also considered that, although Ms Teer seemed to have had a tendency to want to be independent and not tied down to a paiticular location, there was no evidence available to me that indicated Ms Teer would want to start a new life. It is for this reason that I also do not consider suicide to have been a likely occmTence.

      The possibility that Ms Teer's disappearance was the result of the involvement of another person or persons

      Possible involvement of Mr Triggs and Ms Clifton

    6. Ms Clifton appears to have known Ms Teer for approximately six months to a year in total. At Inquest, Ms Clifton described their relationship as good; they shared an interest in music, they loved each others dogs, and were having a great time being young, free and adventurous.

    42 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 12 July 1979 and postmarked Bowen, Inquest Brief, page 203.

    43 See for example, letters dated 28 March 1979 and 24 April 1979, Inquest Brief, pages 176 and 182 respectively.

    44 Exhibit 1 - Interview between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Fawkner dated 13 July 2010, Inquest Brief, page 159.

    45 Statement of Sue Mudford, undated, Inquest Brief, page 23.

    46 Statement of Sue Mudford undated, Inquest Brief, page 23.

     

      1. of 17

     

    1. From the accounts given by Mr Triggs and Ms Clifton, it is believed that sometime between August and October 1979 Ms Teer left the apartment where the three were staying in East Melbourne with her dog and intended to continue her travels. She disappeared sho1ily thereafter.
    1. Given that Ms Clifton and Mr Triggs were the last known people to see Ms Teer, the possibility of their knowledge or involvement in her disappearance was considered. This was so, particularly given the acknowledgement that a heated argument had occurred between Ms Teer and Ms Clifton around the time that she was considered to have disappeared.
    2. One factor that may have indicated Mr Triggs' and Ms Clifton's involvement was the appearance of a general vagueness in later interviews in relation to their knowledge of Ms Teer. For example, when Mr Triggs was interviewed by Victoria Police in 2011, his ability to recall

      the events more than 30 years earlier appeared limited.47

    3. However, I do not necessarily consider this unusual, given the lapse of time, even at the point of the first interview in 1982, and in light of the lifestyle they were living. Ms Mudford in her statement provided evidence that it would not be unexpected to forget someone from around that time:

      We met a lot of people along the way, but people who I've had nothing to do with for the rest of my life. I never got there (sic) addresses or phone m1mbers. I don't have any photos

      - we didn't even take a camera with us! 48

    4. Inher interview with Sergeant Gynther, Ms Clifton stated:

      She just hitch-hiked off into the wild blue yonder, with her dog Crosby - black and white border collie. And that was the last I saw of her, or heard of her until the police knocked on my door in '81 in Mullumbimby and said that we were perhaps the last people that had

      seen her.49

    5. In addition, shortly after Ms Teer is last known to have communicated with her mother, Mr Triggs sold the vehicle in which he drove them to Melbourne. This factor was investigated by Victoria Police however no connection with the disappearance of Ms Teer was apparent.
    6. Furthe1more, the evidence reveals that there was a possible means of disposing of human remains available to Mr Triggs and Ms Clifton at the time, in the fmm of his mother's house which was undergoing renovations including digging around the foundations. However, there was no evidence before me to indicate that this occmTed.

    47 Sec for example Exhibit 3 - Interview between Mr Triggs and Sergeant Gynther, Inquest Brief, page 337.

    48 Statement of Sue Mudford, Inquest brief page 23

    49 Interview between Ms Clifton and Sergeant Gynther , Inquest Brief, page 300.

     

      1. of 17

     

    1. Mrs Holding also considered that the conflicting evidence with respect to time spent in Christmas Hills area was suspicious. In paiiicular, the Post Master, Mr McNamara, initially stated to Mrs Holding that the man [Ms Teer] was with collected the telegram. However, Mr Triggs indicates that if he had picked it up, the Post Master would have been able to refer to him by name as he was well known in the area.50 In addition, the Post Master later recanted this story, telling Victoria Police that the telegram was never collected.51
    2. This issue was explored further on the first day of the Inquest. Mr Triggs told the court that because he had been moving around a fair bit, it suited him to keep a permanent post office box in Kangaroo Ground even after he was no longer living there. He noted that although he had no memory of this occurring, it is conceivable and would have been a reasonable thing for Ms Teer to have also used that post office box.
    3. There is further conflicting evidence in relation to Neil Douglas. Mr Triggs indicated that Mr Douglas (a known artist in that area at the time) would not have known him by name,52 however, when questioned by Victoria Police about Ms Teer, he stated to them that Mr Triggs had told him that Ms Teer did not want her mother to know where she was.
    4. I note that at Inquest, Mr Triggs and Ms Clifton presented as credible witnesses although it was evident that Ms Clifton had a clearer recollection of the events.
    5. Having conducted a thorough investigation into the possibility that Mr Triggs and Ms Clifton had knowledge of or involvement in the disappearance of Ms Teer, Victoria Police advised me that they were not persons of interest and based on the evidence before me and on the balance of probabilities, I agree.

      Possible involvement of other unknown individuals

    6. The most likely possibility is that Ms Teer continued with her practice of hitch-hiking and something untoward occtmed. In relation to this practice of hitch-hiking her family and friends had a number of things to say.
    7. Hitch-hiking appeared to be integral to the lifestyle Ms Teer was living at the time, and Ms Teer appears to have had a carefree attitude to it. When asked about how Ms Teer would travel, Mrs Holding said that "she was hitch-hiking at some different stages [...] Which terrified the life out

       

      50 Exhibit 3 - Interview between Mr Triggs and Sergeant Gynther, Inquest Brief, page 410.

      51 Outcome of discussion \Vith Post Master Kevin McNatnara, Inquest Brief, page 262.

      52 Exhibit 3 - Interview between Mr Triggs and Sergeant Gynther, Inquest Brief, page 404.

       

      14 of 17

       

      of me [...]".53 However her mother also stated at Inquest that Ms Teer was a sensible girl, not air-headed and she trusted her.

    8. At Inquest, Ms Clifton implied that hitch-hiking was a common and accepted fonn of transport and one which Ms Teer used regularly. She stated that she would not have hitch-hiked without a big protective dog and Ms Teer was of the same mind.
    9. Ms Mudford stated that "We hitch-hiked, as everyone did those days".54 Ms Mudford also described a m1mber of experiences hitch-hiking with Ms Teer, which provided an indication of the level of danger associa ted with the practice. For example, shortly after having left home for the first time, Ms Teer and Ms Mudford were taken by four young men to a house that was run down and in Ms Mudford's words, looked like a drunks' camp. Although the details were

      scarce, the evidence of Ms Mudford was that ultimately, they ended up needing to nm away and hide in the bush until they believed it was safe.55 Ms Mudford states: "We just smt of thought "dick heads!" you know, "we'll be right!".

    10. In a letter dated 29 May 1979 and postmarked Perth, Ms Teer wrote to her mother:

      I am going up there with this male he isn't a boyfriend or anything just a good friend. I think I find more security in male friends than bitching females. Plus it is much better to hitch with a guy. Don't wony mother dear. I have got my head together and ani not liable

      to do anything stupid.56

    11. Finally, in the time immediately preceding her disappearance, Ms Teer seemed to realise that her hitch-hiking was potentially placing her in danger. In her final letter to her mother she appears to have potentially foreshadowed her fate, writing: "Actually I never want to hitchhike

      again. It is just much to (sic) dangerous and it's just not worth it".57

      FINDINGS

      Identity

    12. I find that the identity of the suspected deceased person is Kim Cherie Mary Teer, born on 15 October 1961. I acknowledge that Ms Teer was also known variously as Kim Nash and Kim Holding. 58

       

      53 Exhibit I - Interview between Mrs Holding and Detective Sergeant Fawkner dated 13 July 20 I 0, Inquest Brief, page 123.

      54 Statement of Sue Mudford undated, Inquest Brief, page 18.

      55 Statement of Sue Mudford undated, Inquest Brief, page 19.

      56 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 29 May 1979 and postmarked Perth, Inquest Brief, page 195.

      57 Letter from Ms Teer to Mrs Holding dated 27 August 1979, Inquest brief pages 213.

      58 Statement of Sue Mudford, undated, Inquest Brief, page 29

       

      15 of 17

       

       

       

       

      Cause of death

    13. There have been no 'proof of life' indicators for Ms Teer since her disappearance as verified by checks conducted in relation to a driver's licence, mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, dental records, contact with her mother, bank and Australian Tax Office enquiries, and a general National Police Check.
    14. On the basis of the information available to me and on the balance of probabilities, I find that Ms Teer is deceased.
    15. No body has ever been located. There is othe1wise no information about any circumstances that may have lead to her death. Accordingly, the evidence does not support a finding as to when or how Ms Teer died.
    16. I therefore find that the cause of Ms Teer's death is unknown.

      Circumstances in which the suspected death occurred

    17. I find, on the balance of probabilities that Ms Teer did stay with Ms Clifton and Mr Triggs in East Melbourne and travelled with them on at least one occasion to Kangaroo Ground.
    18. Mrs Holding believes that she spoke to Ms Teer by phone a few days prior to the tax return mTiving, which she deposited into her bank account on 1 October 1979. This would suggest that Mrs Holding may have spoken to Ms Teer as late as the last week of September and therefore she may have been alive up to 3 weeks after her last known written contact and three weeks after she was last known to have been in Melbourne and was thinking of moving on. However, it is difficult to draw any definitive conclusions about the cln·onology and timing of these events given that recollection will necessarily have faded over time and there is no objective evidence to substantiate the infmmation. However, on the basis of the evidence available to me, it would seem that Ms Teer was last heard from some time around mid-September 1979.
    19. I therefore find that Ms Teer probably died sometime between mid-September 1979 and

      1 October 1979 when her tax return was deposited in her bank account and was not subsequently accessed.

    20. On the basis of her relationship with ·her mother and in the absence of any other positive indicators, I find it unlikely that Ms Teer made a decision to cut off ties with her friends and family. Similarly I find it unlikely that Ms Teer's death was the result of suicide.
    21. I accept and adopt the opinion of Sergeant Gynther that there is no evidence to establish the involvement of Mr Triggs or Ms Clifton in the disappearance of Ms Teer.

       

       

       

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    22. Accordingly, I consider it most likely that Ms Teer died as a result of the involvement of an unidentified person or persons, probably whilst engaging in the high-risk activity of hitch­ hiking.
    1. It is unfortunate that the completeness and accuracy of evidence before me was significantly impacted by the deficiencies in the early investigation of Ms Teer's disappearance. I recognise that this was a product of policing standards and technology at the time and I make no criticism of the police forces or individuals involved. Nevertheless, the upshot of this for Ms Teer and her family is that valuable information was lost and the ability to establish the circumstances of her disappearance all but vanished with her.
    2. Finally, I wish to express my sincere condolences to Mrs Holding and her family and acknowledge the grief that they have endured as a result of her disappearance and death. No words will lighten the burden of the loss that you have shouldered for 35 years with no answers.
    3. I note that there is provision under section 77 of the Act for the investigation to be reopened in the event that new facts and circumstances become available.

     

     

    Pursuant to section 73(1) of the Coroners Act, I order that this finding be published on the internet. I direct that a copy of this finding be provided to the following:

    Mrs Colleen Holding; Mrs Mary Hallam;

    New South Wales Police;

    Victoria Police; and

    Coroners Investigator, Detective Sergeant Phillip Gynther.

    Date: 11 March 2015

    Jackie Hawkins - Coroner