Louise BELL

 

Police search the backyard of a Hackham West house in hope of finding evidence to solve the 29 year old case of missing child Louise Bell. Pic Mark Brake Source: AdelaideNow

Louise Bell's pj top.

Louise Bell's pyjama top 

 

 

Rewards up to the amounts shown will be paid by the Government of South Australia, at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police, to anyone who provides information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or people responsible for crimes posted.

 

REWARD $200,000

 

Age - 10 years

Last seen - January 3rd, 1983, Hackham West, SA

 

Family's plea to dying murderer

Article from: Sunday Mail (SA)

RENATO CASTELLO

May 11, 2008 12:30am

 

THE sister of an Adelaide woman missing for two decades has pleaded for vicious child murderer Valmae Beck to bring closure to her family's ordeal.

Queensland police believe the critically ill murderer and her estranged husband could hold the key to the disappearance of Henley Beach woman Stella Farrugia and Hackham West schoolgirl Louise Bell.

Beck, who was jailed for life in 1988 over the rape, torture and murder of a schoolgirl, is on life-support in a Townsville hospital following heart surgery on Monday.

Townsville's Regional Crime Co-ordinator, Detective Inspector Warren Webber, has said Beck and Watts may be linked to the disappearances of a number of young women in the 1980s.

"There is a great deal of interest in Beck because she may hold the key to solving a number of unsolved crimes," he said.

"We can only hope she has an epiphany on her deathbed and comes clean."

Police had put the morbidly obese Beck on suicide watch after interrogating her about possible links into the disappearance of Ms Farrugia and Ms Bell.

Ms Farrugia's sister, Christine Lilkendey, 47, pleaded with Beck, 64, to tell police anything she knew about the fate of her "gorgeous" sister.

"She must tell us if she knows anything, I want to know if Stella is alive," she said from her Melbourne home.

"At least if there was a body, a cemetery to go to, we can mourn. But there is no closure, no end, if the body is not there."

Ms Farrugia was 18 when she was reported missing from her Seaview Rd apartment on October 18, 1984, leaving behind her belongings, bank notes and her beloved dog. Louise Bell was 10 when she was reported missing from her Hackham West home on January 5, 1983.

Police believe the girls fit the description of the "pretty little virgins" Beck and husband Barrie Watts stalked during the 1980s. The pair were jailed in 1988 for the abduction, rape, torture and murder of Noosa schoolgirl Sian Kingi.

 

 

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=3700

A week after 10-year-old Louise Bell was snatched from her Hackham West home on January 3, 1983, by an intruder who is believed to have cut through a window flyscreen, $5000 was put up for information.
A week later, the state government increased that by $10,000. About the same time, a group of Adelaide business leaders put forward up to $15,000 of their own money as added incentive. More than 21 years later, the case remains open.

"After the disappearance of 10-year-old South Australian schoolgirl, Louise Bell, from her parents' home in the Adelaide suburb of Hackham West in January 1983, concerned parents demanded immediate action from the South Australian police.

A South Australian prisoner, Raymond John Geesing, was serving time in Adelaide Jail for an unrelated crime when he was charged with the abduction and murder of Louise Bell. The Crown case rested largely on evidence from four prisoner informants who had been in prison with Geesing and alleged he had confessed to them. Based on their evidence, Geesing was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

On April 12, 1985, the South Australian Court of Criminal Appeal unanimously upheld an appeal by Geesing. South Australian Chief Justice, Mr Len King, ruled that Geesing's 1983 trial had miscarried and the guilty verdict for the murder and abduction of Louise Bell was set aside. Chief Justice King said the prisoner informants were unreliable and untrustworthy witnesses.

One prisoner retracted his original statement. The evidence of another prisoner informant was declared inadmissible. The Court of Criminal Appeal ordered there be no retrial and Geesing walked to freedom after serving 17 months for a crime he had not committed. " - Information source, Bernie Matthews, Online Opinion writer -

Murderer takes her secrets to the grave

May 28, 2008 - SMH
 

THE notorious child killer Valmae Faye Beck, formerly known as Fay Cramb, has died in hospital, Queensland's Acting Police Minister, Robert Schwarten, said yesterday.

Beck was admitted to a Townsville hospital earlier this month suffering difficulty in breathing and chest pains.

She was placed in a medically induced coma following complications with heart surgery.

Beck and her former husband Barrie Watts were jailed for life in 1987 for the torture and murder of a Noosa schoolgirl, Sian Kingi.

Detectives, seeking deathbed confessions, were hoping to interview the 64-year-old high-security prisoner over more unsolved crimes.

Detectives believed the notorious criminal may have known the fate of several unsolved cases involving young girls and women across Australia, including the death of Helen Mary Feeney, a 31-year-old student, between October 29 and December 1, 1987.

Beck gave evidence that Watts had dumped Ms Feeney's body and burnt it at a rubbish tip near Lowood, west of Brisbane.

Watts was acquitted of the murder, but police believe Beck knew exactly where Ms Feeney's body was buried.

Today, Mr Schwarten, who is the acting Police Minister while Judy Spence is overseas, confirmed Beck had died in Townsville General Hospital without having regained consciousness.

"She got a life sentence and it turned out to be that," Mr Schwarten said.

"Right until the end, she was of no assistance to police. Harsh as it may sound, and people may judge me on that, I don't think there will be many Queenslanders who would shed a tear in her direction and there would be some who would cheer."

Beck and Watts moved from Western Australia to Queensland when they embarked on an eight-week crime rampage that ended with the abduction, torture, rape and murder of Sian. "There are a number of other unsolved cases that involve similarities to the well-planned killing of Sian," a police source said.

Queensland's Police Commissioner, Bob Atkinson, is expected to give a statement this week on Beck's death.

AAP

Cops hope killer Valmae Faye Beck will confess to more

By Nadine McGrath

May 17, 2008 11:50am

Article from: AAP

THE condition of convicted child killer Valmae Faye Beck, formerly known as Fay Cramb, has improved and it is believed she is out of a coma.

The Department of Corrective services said Beck was now in a stable condition in the Townsville General Hospital.

Beck was in a medically induced coma following complications with heart surgery.

It is believed she is out of the coma but still not speaking.

Beck and her former husband Barrie Watts were jailed for life in 1987 for the torture and murder of Noosa schoolgirl Sian Kingi.

Cold case detectives want to interview the 64-year-old high security prisoner over more unsolved crimes, hoping for confessions as she faces her own mortality.

Detectives believe the notorious criminal may know the fate of several unsolved cases involving young girls and women across Australia.

In August 1995 a Supreme Court jury in Brisbane acquitted Watts of murder and a lesser charge of manslaughter in relation to the death of a woman whose body has never been found.

Watts pleaded not guilty to murdering Helen Mary Feeney, a 31-year-old student, between October 29 and December 1, 1987.

Beck testified that Watts had dumped Ms Feeney's body and burned it at a rubbish tip near Lowood, west of Brisbane.

But detectives believe the body was actually disposed of elsewhere and Beck knows the location.

Beck has been questioned about the disappearance of 14-year-old Sophie Helen Woodman, who went missing on March 21, 1980, after leaving her Perth home with a girlfriend and travelling to the eastern states.

She and Watts have been linked to the murders of Sharron Phillips, 20, in Brisbane's outer west, Stella Mary Farrugia, 19, and Louise Bell, 10, in Adelaide.

Treatment of morbidly obese Beck sparked a public outcry with Premier Anna Bligh forced to defend her rights to taxpayer-funded health care.

"While I understand that people might have some questions about this, in this country we don't have a death penalty - we do provide medical services to people who are in our prisons,'' Ms Bligh told reporters in Brisbane.

Two prison officers have been posted at Beck's hospital bedside with concern she may be a target for reprisals rather than posing any threat given her medical condition.
 

80s murder suspect jailed for child sex crimes

Posted 17 minutes ago - January 29th 2010 - ABC

A man once convicted of killing Adelaide girl Louise Bell has been sent to jail for at least five years for child sex crimes.

The District Court heard Raymond John Bolte, previously known as Raymond John Geesing, was convicted of the murder of 10-year-old Hackham West schoolgirl Louise Bell in the 1980s.

That was quashed on appeal.

Bolte, now 62, pleaded not guilty to the current sex charges against two young girls, but was convicted by a jury.

Judge Paul Rice has sentenced him to seven years' jail with a non-parole term of five years, back-dated to when he was taken into custody in September.

The judge said Bolte may do it hard in prison because other inmates may think he was involved in the unsolved murder.

The victims say they think Bolte will remain at risk of re-offending after he is released.

But Bolte's wife says he is innocent and the convictions are based on lies.

DNA tested as 1983 murder case reopened

Updated October 10, 2011 10:54:48 - ABC

Police hope new forensic testing techniques might help solve one of South Australia's high-profile murder mysteries.

Advances in technology have triggered a reopening of the 1983 abduction case of Louise Bell.

The 10-year-old girl was taken from the bedroom at her Hackham West home in Adelaide in January 1983.

No body has never been found, but police are convinced she was murdered.

A Port Lincoln prison inmate has been questioned and is having his DNA tested.

The man, who cannot be identified publicly, is believed to be serving a lengthy sentence for child sex offences.

Police say the testing will need to be further refined, before any conclusions can be drawn.

Detective Acting Superintendent Denise Gray of SA Police says authorities do not want to give the girl's family false hope.

"While current forensic testing initially appears positive or encouraging, I don't want to raise the hopes of Louise's family unnecessarily," she said.

Police will not say if the suspect owned a nearby house which was searched intensively back in 1991.

But they have ruled out Raymond John Bolte, previously known as Raymond John Geesing, who was convicted of Louise Bell's murder in 1984, but later released from jail after the conviction was overturned.

Paedophile killer's house searched in link to teen's 29-year murder mystery

A PROPERTY being searched today for clues on the abduction and murder of a schoolgirl was occupied by a convicted child killer.
Police in Adelaide are searching a property in connection with the 1983 abduction and murder of schoolgirl Louise Bell, which was formerly occupied by convicted child murderer Dieter Pfennig.

AdelaideNow can reveal hi-tech ground-penetrating radar equipment is being used to search the backyard of Pfennig's former house on Holly Rise, Hackham West, in Adelaide's outer southern suburbs.

There are more than a dozen police officers from the Major Crime and Forensic branches involved in the search.

Louise was 10 when she was abducted from her family's Hackham West home on January 4, 1983. Her body has not been found.

Known paedophile Raymond John Geesing was convicted of the crime, despite no body being found. He was later acquitted on appeal.

Pfennig was jailed for life with a 38-year non-parole period in 1992 for the murder of 10-year-old Murray Bridge schoolboy Michael Black.

Michael was abducted on January 18, 1989, from a reserve near Murray Bridge. Pfennig placed the boy's belongings upstream to give the impression he had drowned while swimming, but his body was never found.

Pfennig has also admitted abducting and sexually assaulting another boy, 13, in late 1989.

Lands Title Office records show Pfennig owned the Holly Rise property from 1977 until he was taken into custody.

The Louise Bell investigation was re-opened last year because of better DNA technology, police said.

The radar equipment being used at the Hackham West search site has been loaned from the Australian Federal Police, who are assisting in the operation.

Similar equipment was previously used to search a Salisbury North backyard in the infamous "bodies in the barrels" murder investigation.

Police say they could be working at the site for several days.

Major Crime officer in charge Superintendent Grant Moyle said the search had been ordered after police re-examined evidence from the 1983 investigation and subsequent investigations in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"We are searching for any evidence that might  relate to Louise Bell or any other offences that might have been committed," he said.

"It's a big commitment. We have examined closely the extent of investigations that were conducted in 1983, when Louise Bell went missing. It is a result of that, that we felt for thoroughness we needed to fully examine the backyard more than they did in 1991."

In the mid-1990s, Louise's father, Colin Bell, said his daughter's disappearance was "completely out of character''.

"She was a fairly timid girl and slightly immature for her age and fairly shy,'' he said.

 

House searched over 10yo's cold case abduction

By Robyn Powell - ABC

Updated July 03, 2012 08:08:56

 

Adelaide police are searching the backyard of a property in the southern suburbs over the unsolved abduction and presumed murder of a 10-year-old girl in 1983.

Major Crime squad detectives and forensic experts are searching a house in Holly Rise at Hackham West.

Louise Bell was abducted from the bedroom of her home at Hackham West and police believe she was murdered.

A body has never been found.

The case was reopened last year to make use of new forensic technology.

Police have called on Australian Federal Police and their ground-penetrating radars to search the Hackham West property, which they said was once owned by a key suspect.

Dieter Pfennig lived there until he was taken into custody for the murder of a Murray Bridge boy in 1989.

He is serving a life sentence in Port Lincoln jail.

Detective Superintendent Grant Moyle, who heads Major Crime, said the backyard had been dug up back in 1991 but he hoped the new technology would uncover fresh evidence.

"In 1991 they used an excavator just to dig along the layers of the ground and expose it. Now we're able to use the radar to pinpoint certain areas of the ground and look for abnormalities in the ground structure as I understand it. That'll give us some indications of disturbed ground so we can excavate set areas," he said.

But he said he did not want to give the Bell family false hope.

"While current forensic testing initially appears encouraging, I don't want to raise the hopes of Louise's family unnecessarily," he said.

Police expected their search to take at least the next three days and the current residents of the property have been moved out during that time.

A man was convicted of Louise Bell's murder in 1984, but later released from jail after the conviction was overturned.

Abduction revisited 30 years on

POLICE are edging towards a potential breakthrough in one of South Australia's highest-profile suspected murder mysteries.

The abduction in 1983 of 10-year-old schoolgirl Louise Bell from her bedroom in suburban Adelaide has haunted the community and investigators for almost 30 years.

The body of the schoolgirl was never found, but police remain convinced she was murdered and yesterday vowed they "won't give up" trying the solve the case.

Detectives hope advances in forensic testing techniques will help solve the mystery and yesterday began work with the Australian Federal Police on a three-day search of a property at Hackham West in Adelaide's outer southern suburbs.

The head of the Major Crime Branch, Detective Superintendent Grant Moyle, said "current forensic testing initially appears encouraging".

He stressed police did not want to raise the hopes of the Bell family. "One of our objectives is to try to find Louise and return her to her parents, who have been devastated for the past 29 years over this matter."

The property being searched was reportedly once occupied by convicted child murderer Dieter Pfennig. Mr Moyle would only say the person of interest linked to the property was in custody.

Pedophile Raymond John Geesing was convicted of the crime, despite no body being found, but later acquitted on appeal. Pfennig was jailed for life in 1992 for the murder of 10-year-old Murray Bridge schoolboy Michael Black.

 

Louise Bell investigation

Friday, 6 July 2012 5:18pm - South Australia Police

Major Crime have today concluded their search for Louise Bell at 31 Holly Rise Hackham West.  Items have been taken from the property for further analysis, but no human remains were located. 

Since the commencement of the search, there has been a further 15 calls to Crime Stoppers and each of those calls will be followed up in due course by investigators. 

Louise's disappearance has been the subject of a full investigational review since August 2011. 

Major Crime remain satisfied with the progress of this review and maintain a resolve to locate her and to charge the person responsible for her disappearance. 

Louise's family have been kept informed of the progress of the investigation and in particular, have been advised of the results of this search. 

While they are naturally disappointed that Louise has not been located, they remain hopeful that she will be and are eager for the police to continue with the investigation.

 

School friend hopes mystery of missing Louise Bell will be solved

KYLIE Doubikin will never forget the day her school friend Louise Bell was abducted.

"It was school holidays, they had police helicopters landing on the school oval and the police came and interviewed us all," Mrs Doubikin, of Hackham West, said.

"I grew up in the area and I was friends with Louise, we were in the same class at school."

Louise was 10 when she was abducted from the bedroom of her family home in Hackham West on January 4, 1983. Her body has never been found.

Mrs Doubikin, 39, said she was sad the high-profile case still remained unsolved but was pleased the investigation had been reopened.

"We were only 10 when it happened and we all just wanted her found," Mrs Doubikin said.

"She was just a shy, sweet girl."

Major Crime detectives started a search of a Holly Rise home, Hackham West, for new evidence earlier this week.

It is the second time the home, which was once owned by convicted child murderer Dieter Pfennig, has been searched in relation to the case.

Pfennig owned the Holly Rise property from 1977 until 1992 but police have not confirmed he is "a person of interest" in the case.

"I just hope they find her, the family have had to deal with it for a long time," Mrs Doubikin said.

"I feel for the family that live in the house now too, it's not nice for them."

Mrs Doubikin has lived on Holly Rise for 11 years.

"It's strange to think that of all the streets, I ended up living on this one," she said.

Mrs Doubikin said her children had been interested in all the activity on the street in recent days.

"My eldest is 13 and she understands what happened and I guess she is worried it could happen to her.

"I think it's a really good time for us to bring up stranger danger with our kids."

Search for clues

Several small items were taken from the scene for examination yesterday as police continued their painstaking search of the Holly Rise home.

Their attention was focused on three concrete slabs in the back yard of the property - one of them the floor of a shed and two others in the yard.

Concrete cutters were used to break up the slabs before police used shovels and hand trowels to dig through the dirt underneath.

Late in the afternoon, police focused on a back corner of the property where a slab was removed and a marquee erected over the site.

Sifting pans were used to carefully examine the soil under the slab and some items were placed in bags to be taken from the property for further examination.

A police spokeswoman said that the search was a lengthy process.

"Police are still searching the property and will continue to do so," she said.

"They have conducted a thorough search and they are examining items from the scene."

Officers will return to the scene today to continue the search.

In 1991, police pulled up floorboards but excavated only a section of the yard.

Australian Federal Police officers were at the property again yesterday to continue their examination with ground-penetrating radar, which can identify disturbed ground up to a metre deep.

Pfennig owned the Holly Rise property from 1977 until 1992 but police have not confirmed he is "a person of interest" in the case.

Known paedophile Raymond John Geesing was convicted of the crime but later acquitted on appeal.

Pfennig was jailed for life in 1992 for the murder of Murray Bridge schoolboy Michael Black, 10.

Louise Bell search yields no remains

POLICE have failed to uncover any human remains of missing schoolgirl Louise Bell during a search at Hackham West this week.

But Major Crime detectives have taken items for further analysis from the Holly Rise property, formerly owned by convicted child killer Dieter Pfennig.

Police have received 15 calls to Crime Stoppers since the search began on Monday.

Louise's disappearance has been the subject of a full investigational review since August 2011.

"Louise's family have been kept informed of the progress of the investigation and in particular, have been advised of the results of this search," police said.

"While they are naturally disappointed that Louise has not been located, they remain hopeful that she will be and are eager for the police to continue with the investigation."

SA police dig yard for clues in Bell case

 
POLICE are digging up an Adelaide backyard after using radar to scan for clues to the 1983 disappearance and suspected murder of Adelaide schoolgirl Louise Bell.

Officers brought in on Monday radar equipment that can penetrate concrete to look for anomalies in the soil at the home once owned by a convicted child killer, which they first searched in 1991.

Detective-Superintendent Grant Moyle says police are now excavating sections of the yard, hoping to find evidence or rule out the house as a link to Louise's abduction.

The property used to belong to Dieter Pfennig, who was jailed in 1992 for the abduction and murder of a 10-year-old schoolboy whose body was never found. Pfennig remains in custody.

In the 1991 search, police pulled up floorboards but excavated only a section of the yard, Supt Moyle said on Tuesday.

"Hopefully (we can) unravel some more evidence and bring some closure to the family," he told ABC radio.

Louise was abducted from her bedroom in West Hackham in 1983. Her body has never been found and police believe she was murdered.

Raymond John Bolte, formerly known as Raymond Geesing, was sentenced in 1983 to life imprisonment for Louise's murder and abduction.

His conviction was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal two years later and he was released from jail.

He was later jailed again for sexually abusing two sisters over an eight-year period in the 1990s.

Police continue dig in Louise Bell case

DETECTIVES are spending a fifth day at an Adelaide home hunting for clues to the fate of missing schoolgirl Louise Bell.

Police believe the 10-year-old girl may have been murdered after she was abducted from her bedroom in West Hackham in 1983.

They are re-examining the backyard of another West Hackham home they first searched in 1991 when it belonged to convicted child murderer Dieter Pfennig.

Pfenning, who has not been named as a person of interest in this case, was jailed in 1992 for abducting and murdering a 10-year-old schoolboy whose body was never found.

Police say they have no information to share just yet but they continued their search on Friday.

Ground-penetrating radar equipment has been used to try to find clues to the fate of the girl whose body has never been found.

Raymond John Bolte, formerly known as Raymond Geesing, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1983 for her murder and abduction.

His conviction was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal two years later and he was freed from jail.

He was later jailed again for sexually abusing two sisters over an eight-year period in the 1990s.

Man charged over the 1983 murder of South Australian schoolgirl Louise Bell

NEW forensic evidence led to Major Crime detectives charging a former schoolteacher in the Louise Bell murder case.

The evidence forms the backbone of the case against former schoolteacher Dieter Pfennig, 65, who was today charged with the murder of the 10-year-old schoolgirl.

In a sensational development in the 30-year old mystery, detectives from the Major Crime Investigation Section descended on Port Lincoln.

Pfennig, who has been a suspect in the Bell abduction for two decades, was taken to the Port Lincoln police station after being arrested and formally interviewed.

He was then charged with murder.

In an Adelaide Magistrates Court hearing before Magistrate Jayanthi McGrath, he appeared via videolink from Port Lincoln Magistrates Court and was remanded to next appear in February. He sat emotionless and silent.

The arrest was the culmination of a two-year cold-case review in which many pieces of evidence, including the pyjama top worn by Louise, were sent to the Netherlands by police for advanced DNA testing.

The pyjama top was left on the front lawn of a neighbour's house two months after Louise was abducted from her bedroom on the night of January 4, 1983.

The DNA testing used new "low-copy'' testing techniques that have been successfully used in other jurisdictions, including the US.

The low-copy method of DNA testing is a far more sensitive technique than the method used in Australia.

It can extract a DNA profile from just a few cells of skin or sweat.

The review also led to police excavating the backyard of a Hackham West house that was occupied by Pfennig when Louise was abducted.

It was the second time his house had been searched by officers investigating the case.

Deputy Commissioner Grant Stevens declined to be drawn on the nature of the new evidence against Pfennig, but said police would allege he abducted Louise from her bedroom sometime after 10.30pm on January 4.

They believe he acted alone and no other suspects are being sought.

"She has not been seen since and unfortunately her remains have not been located,'' Mr Stevens said.

"This is a significant step forward in the investigation and is evidence once again that police continue to investigate murders, regardless of their age or the difficulty of those investigations.''

Mr Stevens paid tribute to the current investigators and others, many of whom have since retired, who also sought to bring Louise's killer to justice.

"We have also had significant support from Forensic Science SA, who have been instrumental in helping us to bring this case to a point where we have been able to make an arrest,'' he said.

Louise was snatched from the bedroom of her house on Meadow Way during the night of January 4, 1983.

Neighbour Pat Golsby, who has lived in Meadow Way since 1971, welcomed news of the arrest.

"We all had young children at the time, there were a lot of children on the street so it was very distressing,'' she said.

"It is something that has needed to be solved for a long time and you just wonder all the time who could do such a thing.

"Our kids used to all play together, it would be nice to know where Louise is for her parents' sake. Hopefully now they can get closure for the parents. It has taken so long.''

Pfennig has been a suspect in the case for two decades. He lived two streets from the Bell house when Louise was abducted.

The backyard of his house and a shed were first excavated in 1991. The floors of two bedrooms were also dug up as part of the search, which failed to find any evidence.

One of the key exhibits sent overseas for forensic testing was the pyjama top Louise was wearing at the time she was abducted through her bedroom window.

Weeks after taking Louise, her abductor phoned Kathleen Smith - who lived near the Bells - and asked about medical advice for Louise.

He told her where to find Louise's earrings - under a brick at the Beach Rd-South Rd intersection. Earrings matching Louise's were discovered.

Five weeks later he left Louise's pyjama top - neatly folded - on Mrs Smith's front lawn.

Algae and soil samples found on the pyjama top led police to the estuary area at Noarlunga but no trace of the girl was found.

Deputy Commissioner Stevens said the arrest was the "culmination of the relentless work of all those police involved over the years combined with the dedicated efforts of Forensic Science SA personnel".

The investigation had involved taking 550 statements as detectives pursued Louise's murderer.

"Murder investigations never close and police do follow up every line of inquiry in the hope that each case is solved and the justice process completed," he said.

"Police have had ongoing contact with the Bell family during the past 30 years and continue that contact today.

"Louise's family remain devastated by her disappearance and remain hopeful that her remains will, one day, be found.

"Police will continue to work hard to meet this expectation. As this case shows it is never too late and police will take action whenever possible."

Raymond John Geesing, who had lived 500m from the Bell house until two months before her abduction, was initially charged with murdering Louise. Police had spoken to the father-of-four days after the abduction.

He was convicted using circumstantial evidence, but this was later overturned. The court found some grounds of suspicion but that they fell far short of the proof the law required for conviction of a criminal offence.

A key witness, a prisoner, was found to have fabricated his statement implicating Geesing, who successfully sued the government for facial injuries sustained during his 16 months in prison.

Louise Bell trial: Dieter Pfennig found guilty of murder

By court reporter Candice Prosser -ABC

Posted 

Dieter Pfennig has been found guilty of murdering 10-year-old Louise Bell more than 30 years ago, in one of South Australia's most notorious cold cases.

The schoolgirl was abducted from her Hackham West bedroom, south of Adelaide, in January 1983 and her body has never been found.

Her disappearance prompted a police search of then unprecedented proportions.

Raymond John Geesing was initially tried and convicted of her murder but that conviction was quashed on appeal in 1985.
 

Pfennig was arrested and charged with Louise's murder in 2013 after advances in DNA technology led to a breakthrough during a review of the cold case.

The 68-year-old is already serving a life sentence with a non-parole period of 38 years for murdering Murray Bridge boy Michael Black in 1989 and later abducting and raping a 13-year-old boy.

Justice Michael David announced his guilty verdict to a packed public gallery full of family members, detectives and others.

He said in court that he wanted to "bring this whole ghastly thing to an end".

"I'm going to say something that's quite unusual, but I've thought a lot about it.

Louise 'likely enticed' through her window

Justice David said in his written judgement he could not say how she was taken from her room, whether she was dragged out through the window, enticed to come out, or was taken through the front door.

He said Louise's sister was very close in a "very small room" at the time of her abduction.

"Her parents were also in a small room divided from the girls' room by a very thin wall," Justice David said.

"Any form of forceful abduction would surely have woken another member of the household.

"I think it more likely that the accused to some extent knew the deceased through his daughter and enticed her to come out through the window."

'Tantalising gaps in evidence', says judge

Justice David said in his written judgement the "finding of guilt is not affected by the fact that we will never know some details of what occurred or the full story".

"There are many tantalising gaps in the evidence.

"I do not know how he actually killed the deceased, where he killed her, or where he put her body. These questions may never be answered, but they do not impinge upon the certainty of my verdict."

Sentencing submissions will be heard on December 6.

In a statement, South Australian Police said the case was "not closed" and appealed for any information which could lead to the recovery of Louise Bell's remains.

"I would appeal for anyone with information that might assist us to find her, to search your conscience and come forward now," Detective Superintendent Des Bray said.

"It is time to do the right thing."

Victory for Louise

Outside court, Louise Bell's father, Colin Bell, stood next to Detective Brevet Sergeant Anthony van der Stelt as the officer spoke to the media on behalf of the family.

"Today's verdict leaves us feeling relieved," he said.

"It has been a long time coming and while it's a significant outcome, it's not the end of this difficult journey."

The Bell family thanked police, prosecutors, Justice David, friends, family and supporters.

"It is a small victory for Louise," said Detective Brevet Sergeant van der Stelt.

Louise Bell trial: Judge's verdict long time coming in tragic mystery

By court reporter Candice Prosser- ABC

Posted 

The brazen abduction of 10-year-old Louise Bell from her suburban home south of Adelaide on a summer's night in January 1983 was a mystery that captivated and horrified the community.

It led to a police search of then unprecedented proportions and shocked the public.

The unthinkable had happened a little girl was abducted from her bedroom in a quiet, friendly neighbourhood, never to be seen again.

Raymond John Geesing was initially tried and convicted of her murder but that conviction was quashed on appeal in 1985.

Louise's abduction and murder remained a high-profile cold case and then advances in DNA technology led to a major breakthrough three decades later.

The schoolgirl's yellow pyjama top, which was left at a nearby house a few weeks after her disappearance, became one of the most vital clues in the case.

In 2011, after a cold case review, samples from the clothing were sent to the world-leading Netherlands Forensic Institute.

And in November 2013 former school teacher Dieter Pfennig, who was already serving a life sentence with a 38-year non-parole period for murdering 10-year-old Michael Black in 1989 and later abducting and raping a 13-year-old boy, was charged with Louise's murder.

A Supreme Court judge today delivered a guilty verdict after Pfennig's trial, which began in September 2015 and finished in July 2016.

It delivered more than a few surprises and was a widely anticipated court case.

'A dad, teacher' likely enticed Louise from bedroom

Defence lawyer Grant Algie said Louise's disappearance was "a bit like South Australia's Azaria Chamberlain, where the public was shocked, outraged and horrified but also intrigued and drawn into the speculation of how this could happen".

But how it happened is a question we are never likely to know the answer to.

Prosecutor Sandi McDonald said as much in her closing address.

"At the end of the day, Your Honour might well, in fact it's likely, arrive at the point where you just don't know how it occurred."

She said given the difficulties in physically getting a 30 to 40 kilogram child out of her bed and through the window without waking up Louise's sister, who was sleeping in the same room, the most likely scenario was that Louise was enticed out of her bedroom.

Ms McDonald said it was "far more likely that she has gone with someone she knows, someone she recognised, a dad, a teacher, than a stranger".

Pfennig, according to the prosecution, fit that bill.

He was then a teacher and he knew Louise. She had played basketball with his daughter.

Pfennig continued to maintain his innocence and the prosecution was put to proof on all aspects of their case.

The unusual challenge to the DNA evidence involved several special late sittings with video links to some of the world's best minds in the field, including Professor Peter Gill.

Such a calibre of expert witnesses was a unique and fascinating aspect of Pfennig's trial.

His lawyers were challenging the validity of the DNA evidence, pointing to differences between results obtained from the South Australian Forensic Science Centre to those obtained from the Netherlands Forensic Institute.

The DNA evidence obtained from Louise's pyjama top came from three sources; a piece of fluff, a stain and tape-lifts.

The court heard in precise scientific detail about the testing process in the Netherlands which resulted in a likelihood ratio of more than one in a billion.

That was in stark contrast to the likelihood ratio of 6,400 to one that was generated in the Adelaide laboratory.

Professor Gill said he was not at all surprised there was such a difference in the results, saying it was "a bit like comparing apples and pears" because of the different techniques used.

He said such a variation was not scientifically problematic.

After initiating such a fiercely contested defence to the DNA results, Pfennig's legal team then abandoned the challenge and sought to put forward an explanation to how Pfennig's DNA could have got on the 10-year-old's pyjamas.

They said it could not be excluded that the DNA could have ended up on Louise's pyjama top through a process known as secondary transfer, whereby DNA is passed on to a person through another person such as Pfennig's daughter who played basketball with Louise.

Pfennig obsessed with girl's disappearance

As important as DNA evidence often is, Ms McDonald pointed out that it was not the be-all and end-all of the prosecution case.

She said the case amounted to so much more; it also involved a so-called "trail of evidence" spanning decades.

"That trail was in how he behaved, what he did, what he said and what he left behind him," Ms McDonald told the court.

There were allegations Pfennig had demonstrated somewhat of an obsession with Louise's disappearance and spoke about it often.

Tellingly, according to the prosecution, he had once told a colleague he was a suspect in the murder before he was ever considered to be one.

"Why on earth would a father, teacher, a family man be telling his colleague and friend that he was a suspect in the abduction and murder of a little girl when he's not?," Ms McDonald said.

There was evidence Pfennig had continued this obsession to discuss the case, resulting in alleged jailhouse confessions to two inmates on separate occasions.

That led to some very interesting cross-examination.

Jailhouse confessions under spotlight

One of the former inmates, whose identity is suppressed, was called to give his account of Pfennig's alleged confession which he claimed happened when Pfennig became emotional after smoking cannabis with him about Christmas time.

When he was challenged during cross-examination by Mr Algie, the witness reacted by repeatedly calling the lawyer derogatory terms including "twit", "ferret" and "homeboy".

After being asked by Mr Algie if he was lying and was just giving evidence to get attention, the witness responded "whatever, homeboy" and later told Mr Algie to "f*** up, idiot".

"You're all a bunch of clowns in here, seriously ... I hate all of youse. You're not my friends. I just want to get on with my life and hope you will all just f*** off, seriously," he said during his evidence.

He later became a key focus of the defence case; in fact their only witness was a forensic psychiatrist who was called as part of a defence attempt to discredit the witness.

The psychiatrist testified the man had a severe anti-social personality disorder with characteristics of narcissism and manipulative behaviour of being "cocky", "hostile" and "sarcastic".

However, when cross-examined by Ms McDonald the psychiatrist agreed the disorder would not necessarily affect a person's reliability.

The other witness who testified about an alleged jailhouse confession was an ordained Baptist minister who claimed Pfennig had confessed to murdering Louise in the context of seeking spiritual guidance and counselling.

The prosecution submitted the two alleged admissions were completely separate, there was no opportunity for the witnesses to collude and both went to police before the DNA results pointing to Pfennig were obtained.

A lengthy prosecution case combined with two separate arms of Pfennig's defence, one relating to the DNA evidence, resulted in many different sittings and adjournments in the trial, a luxury best afforded in judge-only trials.

At one stage the whole process looked as though it may be derailed when Pfennig suffered a heart attack in prison and was rushed to hospital.

However, he was back in the courtroom within two weeks of his heart surgery and the trial continued.

More than 33 years after Louise disappeared from her bed, the judge's verdict is a long-awaited outcome.

 

 

Louise Bell trial: Dieter Pfennig sentenced to 35 years prison for the 1983 murder of Adelaide schoolgirl

By Claire Campbell ABC

Posted 

Dieter Pfennig will remain in a prison cell for the rest of his life after he was sentenced to 35 years without parole for the murder of 10-year-old Adelaide schoolgirl Louise Bell in 1983.

Added to Pfennig's previous sentence for an unrelated murder, it makes a combined total of 60 years in prison without being eligible for parole.

Louise Bell was last seen alive in January 1983 when she went to bed at the family home in Hackham West in Adelaide's south.

Her body has never been found.

Her disappearance prompted a police search of then unprecedented proportions, with her disappearance becoming one of South Australia's most puzzling cold cases.

Pfennig, 68, was last month found guilty in the South Australian Supreme Court of her murder.

The 'most evil' of crimes

Justice Michael David told Pfennig his was "the most evil" of crimes and it was in no way "ameliorated by the passage of time".

"The shock and anxiety that your offence caused the South Australian community cannot be compared to the distress that must have been suffered by the parents and family of Louise Bell," he said.

"The effect of my sentence will be that you most certainly spend the rest of your days in jail."

Pfennig will not be eligible for parole until he is aged 103.

Prosecutor Sandi McDonald had urged Justice David to hand down the toughest penalty possible.

"This man is entitled to no mercy," she said.

"Your honour should impose a non-parole period that would make it clear to the community, and to this man, that he has no expectation of any life outside of custody.

"It would be completely and utterly inappropriate to impose the mandatory minimum."

A woman who described herself as Louise Bell's "last teacher" said outside court she was "utterly relieved that justice had been done".

"He [Pfennig] got what he deserved and the judge was amazing," she said.

"It just shows that you won't get way with horrible things that are done."

Whereabouts of Louise's body remains unknown

Ms McDonald said police had also made two unsuccessful attempts to find out the location of Louise Bell's body since the Pfennig verdict last month.

But Pfennig's lawyer Grant Algie told the court that his client could not advise where her body was buried because he maintains he is not guilty of the offence.

Mr Algie had asked Justice David to hand down the minimum non-parole period of 20 years.

Pfennig is already serving a life sentence with a non-parole period of 38 years  later reduced to 25 years due to a sentencing legislation change in SA  for murdering Murray Bridge boy Michael Black in 1989 and later abducting and raping a 13-year-old boy.

Another man, Raymond John Geesing, was initially tried and convicted of Louise Bell's murder but that conviction was quashed on appeal in 1985.

Pfennig was arrested and charged with the murder in 2013 after advances in DNA technology led to a breakthrough during a review of the cold case.

Justice David told Pfennig during sentencing that he was not punishing him for his previous crimes against Michael Black and the 13-year-old boy.

"You've already been punished for those," he said.

"Also, I'm not punishing you for not accepting my invitation to tell the authorities the whereabouts of the bodies of Louise Bell and Michael Black."