Helen Karel MUNNINGS

    Missing Burnie 20-year-old, Helen Munnings                                               


Left - Missing Burnie woman Helen Munnings' grandmother Julie Payne. She is upset about rumours.    Above right: Helen Munnings' brother Mark Black, with friend Elle Russell.

Pictures Tony Cross.


Above -

"We want to speak to any person that may have observed a flat tray parked or pulled over in the west bound lane on the Bass Highway outside Australian Paper between Old Surrey Road and Reeve Street South Burnie at about 5.30pm last Wednesday the 23rd of July, that's when Helen was last seen,

"We're encouraging witnesses with any information ..........to come forward and approach us at the mobile police station or contact us here at Burnie CIB."


*I set up a Facebook group on behalf of Helen's family, please visit it by clicking on this link.

Family's plea to find missing Burnie woman

July 31st 2008 - ABC

The family of a missing woman from Burnie, in Tasmania's north west, have released a public statement.

20 year old Helen Munnings has been missing for seven days.

Her mother, Karel Black, says she fears for her daughter's safety and has asked anyone with information to contact police.

"We are very grateful for the love and support we have received from the community, our family and friends," she said.

"Helen has been missing for over 7 days now, which is out of character for her. As a family, we fear for our daughter's safety. We ask that anyone with any information about her current whereabouts contacts Police and passes on that information as a priority."

Police say they are investigating information received at a mobile police station set up on a north west road, where Ms Munnings was last seen.

She was dropped off outside Australian Paper on the Bass Highway at south Burnie.

Detective Inspector Adrian Shadbolt says police are investigating some leads given to officers at the station, but they still need more information.

"Helen is described as 20 years of age, 160 centimetres tall and of slim build. Last wednesday she was last observed wearing a long sleeve light blue cotton top and dark black slacks, trousers and black slip on shoes," he said.

Grave fears for young mum's safety

Posted Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:14am AEST
Updated Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:30am AEST - ABC

Tasmanian police are urging the public to come forward with information about the disappearance of a Burnie woman.

20 year old Helen Munnings was last seen near the beach at South Burnie a week ago.

Police are setting up a mobile station there this afternoon.

Detective Inspector Adrian Shadbolt says police hold grave fears for Ms Munning's safety.

"It's been seven days since Helen was last seen, from 3pm today the mobile police station will be parked on the foreshore opposite Australian Paper in South Burnie," he said.

"We want to speak to any person that may have observed a flat tray parked or pulled over in the west bound lane on the Bass Highway outside Australian Paper between Old Surrey Road and Reeve Street South Burnie at about 5.30pm last Wednesday the 23rd of July, that's when Helen was last seen,

"We're encouraging witnesses with any information ..........to come forward and approach us at the mobile police station or contact us here at Burnie CIB."

Fruitless search for missing woman

Posted Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:15am AEST
Updated Tue Jul 29, 2008 11:38am AEST  - ABC

20 year old Helen Munnings from Burnie was last seen near south Burnie beach, but has not been in touch with her two year old son since last Wednesday.

She is about 160 centimetres tall, of slim build with long brown hair and a fair complexion.

Search continues for Burnie mother

Posted Wed Aug 6, 2008 7:51pm AEST
Updated Wed Aug 6, 2008 7:50pm AEST  - ABC

Tasmanian Police have spent most of the day searching fruitlessly for a Burnie mother who disappeared two weeks ago.

20 year old Helen Munnings was last seen on the Bass Highway at south Burnie on July the 23rd.

Today, police extended their search for Ms Munnings on the foreshore east of Burnie.

Eight western district police search and rescue officers scoured the area for about six hours.

Detective Inspector Adrian Shadbolt says it was an extension of their investigation and nothing of significance was found today.

Ms Munning's family believe she was murdered.

Detective Inspector Shadbolt says although that's still being investigated, they haven't ruled out other reasons for the 20 year old's disappearance.

The Burnie CIB are now planning to re-interview all witnesses to ensure no stone is left unturned.


Munnings witnesses to be re-interviewed

Posted Thu Aug 7, 2008 10:43am AEST - ABC

Police searching for a missing north-west Tasmanian woman will re-interview witnesses in the case.

20 year old Helen Munnings was last seen on the Bass Highway at South Burnie 15 days ago.

An air, land and sea sea search yesterday failed to find any trace of Ms Munnings, and her family believes the missing mother has been murdered.

Detective Inspector Adrian Shadbolt says foul play is possible, but other possibilities are still being considered:

"We're reviewing the case, we're reviewing and going to be re-interviewing witnesses, to make sure that no stone has been left unturned insofar as a thorough investigation being conducted," he said.

`She'd never take own life'

11/08/2008 9:37:00 AM


BEFORE she went missing, Helen Munnings was starting to build a life for herself.

Pregnant with her second child, her brother and grandmother believe the 20-year-old had everything to live for and would never have taken her own life.

It is nearly three weeks since the Burnie woman was last seen by her family and Mark Black and Julie Payne don't expect to see her again.

"We're sticking together as a family," Mr Black said.

"It's been so long now.

"We're coming to terms with the fact that she might be gone."

Asked to describe her grand- daughter, Ms Payne speaks of her in past tense.

"She was very naive ... but she was a nice, very generous girl," she said.

"She loved clothes, and jewellery.

"She used to love going through my jewellery box."

Mr Black, a protective older brother and even more protective uncle, is convinced his sister would never choose to leave her two-year- old son Donovan.

"She's a beautiful, loving girl.

"She wouldn't hurt anyone and would help anyone given half the chance," he said.

"There is no question. She wouldn't have hurt herself."

Ms Munnings, who was about three months pregnant when she disappeared, had only told her sister she was expecting.

But Mr Black said their mother had already noticed something was different.

"She was watching what she was eating, just the way she did when she was pregnant with Donovan.

"She wouldn't go near anyone who was smoking, she wouldn't drink.

"She was being very careful with the way she lived her life."

Mr Black said Ms Munnings was also studying hospitality at TAFE, had a flat and recently bought a new car.

Ms Munnings' family and friends are devastated at her disappearance, which they say is completely out of character.

Ms Payne is particularly upset by reports last week that her grand- daughter had gone missing before.

"She hasn't gone missing at all," she said. "We've always known where she was.

"All the rumours that go around - it's upsetting."

Det-Insp Adrian Shadbolt yesterday said there was nothing new to report in the investigation.

Utility main link to missing mum

Article from: The Mercury

August 06, 2008 12:00am

THIS is the ute at the centre of the investigation into the disappearance of Burnie mother Helen Munnings (see photo, top of page)

Police yesterday released a photograph of the white Holden Rodeo -- taken in the police compound at Wivenhoe.

Burnie CIB Detective Inspector Adrian Shadbolt said the owner, who was driving the utility in which Helen Munnings was travelling when last seen on July 23, was being treated as a witness.

"This still remains a possible murder investigation," Det Insp Shadbolt said.

"The owner and location of the ute are known to police. But we want to hear from anyone else who saw this vehicle in South Burnie at about 5.30pm on July 23 or anywhere else that afternoon."

Ms Munnings' handbag was left in her flat on the day she disappeared after telling her mother she was walking down to the doctor's surgery. Her mobile phone is being held by police.

It is 12 days since the 20-year-old pregnant woman was seen outside the Australian Paper mill at South Burnie.

Police believe Ms Munnings may have crossed the Bass Highway and walked on to the beach after she got out of the ute.

Reports of a body are incorrect MISSING MUM SEARCH

9/08/2008 12:00:00 AM


POLICE yesterday hosed down rumours that the body of Helen Munnings had been found.

Det-Insp Kim Steven, of Burnie CIB, said he too had heard the scuttlebutt saying Ms Munnings' body had been discovered in any number of places, including at the Blinking Billy lighthouse near Round Hill.

"We've been hearing all of the same rumours as everyone else. You name it, we've heard it," Det-Insp Steven said.

"However, I can categorically state at this point they are all false and investigations into Ms Munnings' disappearance are continuing."

Det-Insp Steven said such a high level of speculation among the public "went with the territory" in a high-profile case like Ms Munnings' disappearance, leading to all kinds of misinformation.

"People hear things and it grows legs of its own from there," he said.

While appreciative of the assistance that the public can offer in missing persons cases, he urged people to only pass on serious information to police.

"We do need to investigate all information that comes our way, so (these rumours) do take time out of an inquiry and slow us down," he said.

Police are still devoting significant resources to the search for Ms Munnings, who was last seen on July 23.

Det-Insp Steven said Burnie CIB was in the process of re-interviewing witnesses.

People with information are asked to contact Burnie Police on 64345211 or CrimeStoppers on 1800333000

Police optimistic about new leads on mother

12/08/2008 12:00:00 AM


POLICE remain optimistic someone out there will remember crucial information which may help reveal what happened to missing Burnie mother Helen Munnings.

They were still getting new information - nearly three weeks after her disappearance - from people who had just remembered things or realised they may be relevant, Detective- Inspector Adrian Shadbolt said yesterday.

"We're very pleased with the response we've received to date and we're looking forward to more people coming forward.

"I'm still confident someone in the community may have seen the utility (a Holden Rodeo flat tray) or Helen Munnings walking in South Burnie or on the beach."

The last report of Ms Munnings' whereabouts was being dropped off from the flat tray on the Bass Hwy outside Australian Paper at 5.30pm on July 23.

Inspector Shadbolt would not say how much verification of that report police had.

He would also not discuss what police knew of her whereabouts between the time she was reportedly seen leaving home about 4pm that day and the last reported sighting about 90 minutes later.

He said there was "still a lot of work to undertake" with the investigation.

He said police would re- visit some witnesses to check on any "loose ends" a review of their investigation uncovered and said there may be further searching.

People with information are asked to contact Burnie Police on 6434 5211 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

No new leads in woman's disappearance

Posted Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:00pm AEST  - ABC

Tasmania Police believe there are still people with information about a missing Burnie mother who have not come forward.

20 year old Helen Munnings was last seen on the Bass Highway at South Burnie on July 23.

The Burnie CIB has been re-interviewing witnesses and reviewing the evidence, but have come up with nothing fresh.

Detective Inspector Adrian Shadbolt says another officer is conducting an independent review, but it will take some time.

"As time progresses, people have assessed their knowledge of certain events and observations on that day and have contacted us," he said.

"I'm sure that there are people out there in possession of information, relevant information, and we're still encouraging them to come forward and make contact with us.

"The case will always remain ongoing and open until we come to some resolution, so to speak."

Ms Munnings' family believe she has been murdered.


Police divers search for missing mother

Posted 41 minutes ago - August 14th 2008 - ABC

Investigations into the disappearance of a northern Tasmanian woman are being stepped up today, with police divers searching the waters of Emu Bay, at Burnie.

20 year old Helen Karel Munnings has been missing since July 23.

Divers will search waters opposite the Australian Paper Mill where Ms Munnings was last seen when she was dropped off from a white Holden flat tray ute.

Police now have new evidence that Ms Munnings said she wanted to walk along the beach next to the Bass Highway on the day she disappeared.

Detective Senior Sergeant Kim Steven says the dive team will be looking for Ms Munnings' clothing or her body.

"We've been getting some specialist advice from a number of scientific areas including the CSIRO and AUSAR, the Australian Search and Rescue personnel," he said.

"If a body did go in at the South Burnie beach on the afternoon that Helen went missing, the possibility that if a person has drowned in that area, the body still could be in that area this far down, three weeks down."

Police have not ruled out that Ms Munnings disappeared of her own accord, but she did not have her mobile phone or identification with her.

Ms Munnings' family say she was pregnant and believe she has been murdered.

Missing mum: Police divers search bay

15/08/2008 9:45:00 AM


POLICE divers braved the chilly waters off Burnie yesterday in the latest attempt to solve the baffling disappearance of young mother Helen Munnings.

The five-strong, Hobart-based dive squad, including one local officer, closely searched around the pier opposite Australian Paper and then turned its attention to sweeping Emu Bay, which took most of the day.

The divers found no clues to the 20-year-old Burnie woman's disappearance in good underwater viewing conditions, but will continue the sea search today.

"We are undertaking this action following specialist scientific advice and are looking for anything that may assist further with this investigation, including a body or clothing as worn by Helen when she disappeared," Det-Insp Adrian Shadbolt said.

It is still not clear if she was murdered, committed suicide or if something else happened to her.

Sgt Iain Shepherd, of the dive squad, was hoping for tips on sea areas to search from local fishers and others who knew the shoreline well.

"If someone has local knowledge or thoughts on where anyone could go into the water, we'd like to hear.

"Fishermen or others may know of people being swept off from a particular spot in the past, or have information about tidal areas.

"If it was brought to our attention we'd look at it."

Sgt Shepherd acknowledged it was possible they would find nothing.

"When you take tide, wind and weather patterns into account, we're talking about significant areas (of sea)."

Ms Munnings has been missing since July 23.

The last report of her whereabouts concerned her being dropped off from a Holden Rodeo flat tray on the Bass Hwy, outside Australian Paper, about 5.30pm that day.

Det-Sgt Kim Steven said Australian Paper's security staff had helped police with an extensive search of the company's site.

He said it did not turn up evidence of Ms Munnings.

Anyone with information, including sea search tips, is asked to contact Burnie Police on 64345211 or CrimeStoppers on 1800333000.

Munnings search wound down

Posted Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:20pm AEST - ABC

Tasmania Police have halved the number of officers working on the case of a Burnie woman who has been missing for nearly five weeks.

20 year old Helen Munnings was last seen on the Bass Highway at South Burnie on July the 23rd.

Ms Munnings' family believes she has been murdered.

Website bid to find missing woman

Posted Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:30am AEDT - ABC

The family of a Burnie woman who disappeared six months ago has launched a website to try to obtain new information about the case.

Twenty-year-old Helen Munnings was last seen in Burnie on July the 23rd.

She has a two-year-old son, Donovan.

A family member, Gail Burnett says police regard the case as 'still open', even though there has been no fresh information about Ms Munnings' whereabouts.

Burnie police say there is a strong likelihood she is dead.

Ms Burnett says people can reply on the website anonymously.

"It's been coming up to nearly six months since Helen's been missing, she would have been having her second child in the first week of February and the family are just distraught," she said.

"They've lost Helen."

"They've lost another family member and the unborn child and we see very little of Donovan."

Munnings family pins hopes on Internet

21/01/2009 1:00:00 AM


MISSING Burnie mother Helen Munnings' family has turned to the Internet social networking site Facebook in a search for answers to her disappearance.

They are hoping someone who may be hesitant to contact police may leave them vital clues, nearly six months on from Ms Munnings' disappearance on July 23.

"Please help find Helen," the website they set up reads.

"She was a pretty 20-year-old mother and her son misses her."

The Facebook page may give the impression Ms Munnings is alive, although the family does not believe that.

"We're just trying to get it out there to see if anyone knows anything," her cousin, Chris Isherwood, of Burnie, said. "We're not expecting her to still be alive."

Ms Munnings' family said she was pregnant when she disappeared and her second child would have been due in February.

"Helen's family miss her and need some closure," they wrote in a letter to The Advocate.

"We need to find her body and the body of her unborn child.

"It is so important that we find her.

"It's awful thinking of her laying in some unmarked place."

Ms Munnings, 20, was last seen being dropped off on the Bass Hwy near Australian Paper.

Her disappearance sparked a major police investigation, which is continuing.

Police believe she may have been murdered.

Information for the family can be emailed to help.find.helen@gmail.com or given to police on 64345211.

Missing Helen

24/12/2008 9:50:00 AM - The Advocate


THIS Christmas Julie Payne has no answers, no closure and no grand-daughter.

It has been five months since Helen Munnings was last seen and her family can still only imagine what happened to the loving mother.

Their pain is intensified at a time of year so focused on family.

Ms Payne struggles to describe the constant feeling of despair she now lives with.

"I was in a store the other day and I saw something Helen would like and I thought `That's what I'll get Helen for Christmas'. Then it suddenly hit me and the tears came."


Police post reward in missing woman case

Posted Fri May 29, 2009 3:44pm AEST - ABC

Tasmanian police hope a $50,000 reward will help them solve the case of a Burnie woman who is missing, presumed dead.

Twenty-year-old Helen Munnings was last seen in Burnie about 10 months ago.

Police have not ruled out murder as a factor in her disappearance.

Burnie police inspector Adrian Shadbolt says the case is still a high-priority investigation, and anyone with information should call Crimestoppers.

"Forthcoming information has all but ceased in this matter, and we're hoping that the provision of this reward will prompt anybody to come forward and discuss the reward," he said.

"Payment of such a reward or any portion thereof shall be at the sole discretion of the Commissioner of Police."

Police divers search for missing Burnie woman

Posted Tue Jun 2, 2009 1:00pm AEST - ABC

A major land and water search will be carried out over the next two days in Tasmania's north-west for a missing Burnie woman.

It has been 10 months since 20-year-old Helen Munnings was last seen on the Bass Highway in Burnie.

She told a friend she was going for a walk on the beach, but extensive searches of the foreshore failed to find any trace of her.

Last week a $50,000 reward was offered for information about her disappearance and police were inundated with calls.

Lake Kara near Hampshire is the focus of investigations today, while police and State Emergency Service teams will also search Burnie beach, the Heybridge shoreline and other undisclosed locations.

After a check of Lake Kara shallow water earlier this morning, the divers are now searching deeper areas.

The Burnie beach and Heybridge shoreline will also be searched over the next two days.

Police say there are persons of interest to them in the case.

Ms Munnings' family maintains the young mother was murdered.

Search crews fail to find missing woman

Posted Tue Jun 2, 2009 5:49pm AEST - ABC

A day of land and water searches at a north-western Tasmanian lake has failed to find any trace of a missing Burnie woman.

Tasmanian police will continue their search for a missing Burnie woman tomorrow.

Almost 20 police divers, search and rescue officers and the state emergency service spent the day scouring Lake Kara near Hampshire.

Helen Munnings, 20, was last seen getting out of car in south Burnie almost a year ago.

A $50,000 reward was offered for information about her disappearance last week and police are now following several new leads.

Divers will move onto Burnie beach and Heybridge foreshore tomorrow.

Detective Sergeant Richard Chugg says there are suspects in this case.

"It's a multi-faceted investigation that's involved lines of inquiry in terms of her perhaps suiciding," he said.

"But certainly we are of the belief that she may have died at the hands of another person."

Sergeant Chugg says search will continue tomorrow.

"We'll be searching areas in the Burnie area being Burnie beach, Heybridge foreshore and also the divers in the sea front at Burnie and some other areas that I can't disclose at this time."

Ms Munnings grandmother Julie Payne says they are hopeful.

"I just hope they find something because without evidence, it's very hard to convict someone," she said.

Police resume search for Burnie mother

Posted Wed Jun 3, 2009 12:08pm AEST  - ABC

Tasmanian Police are scouring the seafront at Blythe Heads east of Burnie in a fresh effort to find the body of a missing woman.

A search of Lake Kara at Hampshire yesterday failed to find any trace of Helen Munnings.

The 20 year old mother was last seen nearly a year ago walking next to the Bass Highway, outside Australian Paper.

Inspector Richard Chugg says rough weather is making today's underwater search difficult and about a dozen volunteers are combing the beach and nearby scrub.

Police have offered a $50,000 reward for information about her disappearance.

Anyone with information should contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

No new clues to north-west disappearance

Posted Wed Jun 3, 2009 4:05pm AEST - ABC

A two day water and land search has failed to find any trace of a Burnie woman who has been missing for nearly a year.

Helen Munnings, 20, was last seen walking next to the Bass Highway outside Australian Paper.

Police divers and volunteer search crews spent today scouring the seafront and scrub at Blythe Heads, east of Burnie, but say nothing new has turned up.

Police say it is most likely Ms Munnings is dead and they are hoping a $50,000 reward will bring a breakthrough.

Anyone with information should contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

Police divers resume Munnings search

Posted Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:41pm AEST

Tasmanian police are resuming the search for the body of missing north-west woman, Helen Munnings.

Divers will search the area of Blythe Heads and the Blythe River mouth, east of Burnie.

The search began on June the 3rd after a fresh tip-off but it was suspended because of deteriorating weather conditions.

The 20-year-old mother was last seen not far from the area nearly a year ago.

Police believe it is unlikely she is still alive.

Police drain reserve in search for body

Posted Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:47am AEST
Updated Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:52pm AEST - ABC

Police in Tasmania's north-west believe a small group of people know what happened to missing 20-year old Helen Munnings and are urging them to come forward.

Police are draining of a reserve at Fern Glade behind Burnie as they search for her body.

The area near Fern Glade was one of Ms Munning's favourite spots to meet friends.

Police divers started searching the Emu River near Burnie this morning for clues to her disappearance.

Ms Munnings was last seen on the Bass Highway outside Australian Paper about a year ago.

Detective Sergeant Richard Chugg says she may have been murdered.

"This was one of Helen's favourite locations in Burnie, as such we believe it may have been a meeting place that she used with persons of interest from time to time," he said.

"We've also conducted this search at the request of the family on that basis."

A reward of $50,000 is being offered for information on her whereabouts.


Investigation into missing Burnie woman continues

Posted Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:22pm AEDT - ABC

Police in northern Tasmania will continue to investigate the disappearance of a north west woman, despite the fact they are preparing a file for the coroner.

Helen Munnings, 20, was last seen in July last year on the Bass Highway east of Burnie.

Burnie Police Detective Sergeant Richard Chugg says they are hoping to give the file to the coroner by March, but Ms Munnings disappearance will remain an open investigation.

"It's an ongoing investigation with Burnie CIB, generally there'll be two officers working on it almost full time and the resources of the department and the rest of the office are available when required," he said.

Police extend search for Burnie woman

Posted Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:33pm AEDT - ABC

Police investigating the disappearance of a Burnie woman 18 months ago are reviewing the file before handing it onto the coroner later this year.

Twenty-year-old mother Helen Munnings was last seen on the Bass Highway outside of Burnie in July 2008.

Detective Acting Inspector Richard Chugg says they originally planned to hand the file to the coroner by March but that date has been pushed back.

"It's an ongoing case into the circumstances surrounding Helen's disappearance and that investigation will continue even after the matter is before the coroner, on the basis of new information received," he said.

Mr Chugg says they are going to wait for the second anniversary of Ms Munnings' disappearance.

"It's our intention now to wait for the current reward that's in place to come up for review," he said.

"At that time we would expect to be prepared for the coroner and submitted at that time."

Inquest into Tasmanian mother's fate

THE Tasmanian coroner will investigate the disappearance of a young mother last seen in the state's north two-and-a-half years ago.

Helen Karel Munnings, of Burnie, also known as Helen Black, was last seen in South Burnie in July 2008 when she was aged 20.

She was due to pick up her two-year-old from child care but failed to arrive and has not contacted the boy or relatives since.

Her disappearance sparked an intensive air and ground search along the beach at South Burnie.

A coronial investigation will be held into Ms Munnings' disappearance, it was announced on Thursday.

A date has not been set, but it is envisaged that the inquest will start later this year and hear evidence for about two weeks, a statement from the coroner's office said.

Missing woman's case still active


Updated July 26, 2011 16:16:25 - ABC


Tasmania Police has marked the third anniversary of the disappearance of Burnie woman Helen Munnings.

Ms Munnings was 20-years-old when she was last seen on the Bass Highway, east of Burnie, on July 23rd 2008.

Her family believes she was murdered and hopes a coronial inquiry into her disappearance will shed new light.

Detective Inspector Robert Gunton from Burnie CIB says the investigation is still active.

"This month marks three years since Helen was last seen."

"The investigation into her disappearance remains both open and active, we continue to investigate any credible information received," he said.

A coronial hearing will be held later in the year.


Inquest set for missing woman

Posted August 16, 2011 09:39:49 - ABC

Tasmanian police are appealing again for credible information into the disappearance two years ago of Burnie woman, Helen Munnings, as they prepare their case for the Coronor.

The hearing has been set down for November in Burnie, before Coroner Robert Pearce.

Last month marked three years since Ms Munnings disappeared.

She was 20 years old when she was last seen on the Bass Highway, east of Burnie, and her body has never been found.

Ms Munnings' family believes the young mother was murdered, and is hoping the coronial inquest will shed new light on what happened to her.

Ms Munnings' son is now five years old.

Burnie CIB still considers the investigation open and active, and is calling for any credible information on the case.

Leads still flow on Munnings case

Posted November 21, 2011 14:36:04 - ABC


Burnie police say there has been constant flow of information in the case of Burnie woman Helen Munnings since she disappeared more than three years ago.

An inquest into the 20-year-old mother's disappearance begins next week.

She was pregnant at the time and was last seen being dropped off from a white flat tray utility on the Bass Highway, east of Burnie.

Her body has never been found despite extensive searches around Burnie, including at Lake Kara.

The police investigation into her disappearance is ongoing.

Detective Sergeant Richard Chugg says there has been a reasonably constant flow of information.

"Some of that is of assistance but generally a lot of it's information that we've previously had."

A $100,000 reward for information is still being offered.

The inquest starts on Monday in Burnie.

Family hopes for answers

28 Nov, 2011 11:26 AM - The Advocate


1.30pm: THE father of Helen Munnings' son knew she was not coming back a few days after her disappearance, an inquest into her suspected death has heard.

Ms Munnings' grandmother, Julie Payne, said she went to visit Adam Taylor at Heybridge several days after Ms Munnings' disappearance in 2008.

She said she asked what had happened to Ms Munnings and said Mr Taylor said he did not know.

She said he revealed Ms Munnings had been pregnant.

Ms Payne said she asked who the father was and Mr Taylor said he did not know.

"He said 'Helen's upset because she doesn't want to be like her mother and have babies to different men.''

"He said 'I hope she doesn't do anything silly. She's in a state, she's all muddled up.''

Ms Payne said Mr Taylor asked if she would like him to bring the son - Donovan - to visit her from time to time.

She said he knew Ms Munnings was not coming back.

The part about bringing the boy to visit not appear in her original statement made shortly after Ms Munnings' disappearance, but did in one completed in 2010.

Steve Wright, for Mr Taylor and others, told her she had made it up in an effort to incriminate Mr Taylor.

"You know the man,'' Ms Payne replied.

"I did not make up the story.''

12.57pm: Members of Ms Munnings' family are now appearing.

11.26am: A police diver has told the inquest of a cement filled bucket found during a dive search off Heybridge in 2009.

Const. Ashley Kent said it had a wire loop with rope attached. The dive was part of the Munnings investigation.

10.55am: The inquest is expected to hear from about 100 sources, including police, family members and known associates of Ms Munnings.

Simon Brown, assisting the Coroner, said there would be more than 40 witnesses.

There would also be more than 50 statutory declarations from people not expected to be called.

Mr Brown said a number of witnesses would be called about the alleged final sighting of Ms Munnings by the Bass Hwy at Burnie on July 23, 2008.

Mr Pearce ruled he had jurisdiction.

Lawyer Steve Wright, representing a number of witnesses and interested parties, had questioned whether the inquest had jurisdiction.

He argued there must be reasonable grounds to suspect a death.

He said it was a missing persons case, with no evidence, as he understood it, to suggest Ms Munnings was dead.

9.20am: AN INQUEST into the missing person case of young Burnie woman Helen Munnings is about to start.

Several police officers are scheduled to be the first people to appear.

The inquest, before Coroner Robert Pearce, will start at 10am in the Burnie Magistrates Court.

Ms Munnings disappeared on July 23, 2008 and is believed to have been pregnant when she went missing.

She was last seen being dropped off on the Bass Hwy near the former Tas Paper site.

In an earlier interview with The Advocate Ms Munnings' mother, Karel Black, said she hoped the inquest would mean certain questions have to be answered. Ms Munnings' family believed she had been murdered.

While the investigation into Ms Munnings' disappearance had been ongoing for over three years, no clear leads were established into her whereabouts. Her mother became increasingly frustrated with the lack of information and on what would have been her daughter's 23rd birthday in March, went back to the Burnie Police Station for answers. She said she was sick of it and not enough was being said.

It is hoped the inquest may be able to provide some of the answers Ms Munnings' family has been looking for.


Tears at inquest opening

Updated November 28, 2011 13:53:27 - ABC


The inquest into missing Burnie woman Helen Munnings has heard she was unhappy on the day she was last seen.

The 20 year old pregnant mother of one has not been seen since July 2008

The magistrates court in Burnie has heard Ms Munnings' mother reported her daughter missing after she failed to collect her two-year old son from childcare.

Constable Mark Cowan from Burnie police told the court, he interviewed the boy's father, Adam Taylor, after the missing persons report was filed.

Constable Cowan said Mr Taylor gave a statement to police saying he had picked up Ms Munnings in his car on Marine Terrace in Burnie on the day she was last seen.

Mr Taylor told police they had driven around Natone before he dropped her off on the Bass highway south of Burnie, because she wanted to 'clear her head'.

He said Ms Munnings had seemed a little upset and depressed and upset, but she was often like that.

Members of Ms Munnings wept during the opening statements this morning.

The 20 year-old was three months pregnant and had a two year-old son when she went missing.

Constable Leigh Stanley told the inquiry in Burnie this morning a 2009 police dive search found a nine litre plastic bucket filled with concrete and a rope attached.

He told the inquest it was a unusual object to find but in his opinion it was too small to be used to weigh down a body.

Despite extensive land and sea searches Ms Munnings' body has never been found.

The court has heard more than 40 witnesses including police, family and friends will give evidence over the next five days.

The Coroner, Robert Pearce, was challenged as to whether he had the jurisdiction to proceed with the inquiry because there was no evidence a death had occurred.

But Coroner Pearce ruled the inquest could proceed because a suspected death had taken place.

Inquest told of alleged threat

THE mother of a Burnie woman who is presumed dead after being missing for three years claims she was threatened by the man she believes killed her daughter.

Karel Munnings, also known as Karel Black, told a Coronial inquest into the disappearance of Helen Munnings that she approached Adam Taylor, the father of her daughter's son, in Woolworths in Burnie in 2009 and demanded to know where he had put Helen's body.

"He went red and said 'watch what you're saying, you bitch, or you'll get the same as Helen did'," Ms Munnings told the inquest before Coroner Robert Pearce.

Ms Munnings said she also confronted Mr Taylor with the fact that he had been sleeping with her daughter since she was just 15.

Mr Taylor was in his 30s at that time.

Karel Munnings said her daughter's relationship with Mr Taylor, who was in another relationship when Helen went missing in July, 2008, had been a source of constant friction between them.

Helen was 20 and pregnant with her second child when she was last seen.

Ms Munnings said she assumed Mr Taylor was also the father of that child.

Counsel Simon Brown put it to her that the mother-daughter relationship was troubled and had been violent.

"There was constant pressure on the family due to the relationship," Ms Munnings said.

The inquest heard there had once been a restraint order between her and Helen and that she had been charged with assault in relation to a fight with Helen in 2004.

Ms Munnings said it was unfair to call her relationship with Helen a violent one.

"It was a mother and daughter disagreeing on who she was seeing," she told the inquest.

But she admitted the tension had been increasing before Helen moved back into a flat her mother owned.

"There was so much pressure. It went on and on the trouble with Taylor."

Earlier, Helen's cousin Christopher Isherwood recounted a day when he had taken Helen to visit Mr Taylor at his Heybridge home a few months before she disappeared.

"They were arguing and it got physical," Mr Isherwood said.

"He pushed her into the car and was holding her down by her throat."

Counsel for Mr Taylor and others involved in the inquest, Stephen Wright, asked Mr Isherwood if he was aware there was a restraint order stopping Helen from contacting Mr Taylor.

He said he was not.

"What was really happening was he was trying to get Ms Munnings to leave his property and she was resisting him," Mr Wright asserted.

The inquest continues.


No sign found of woman

A PLASTIC bucket filled with concrete was the only thing of interest found as Tasmania Police conducted a massive land and water search for missing Burnie woman Helen Munnings, a coronial inquest into her presumed death heard today.

Ms Munnings was last seen alive on July 23, 2008.

Coroner Robert Pearce said there was no evidence at this stage to prove the pregnant mother-of-one was dead but there were reasonable grounds to suspect that this was the case.

Her body has never been found despite extensive searches of lakes and weirs in the Burnie area and of Bass Strait.

The bucket, which had a hook and rope attached, was found on the beach at Heybridge where Adam Taylor, the father of Ms Munnings' son, lived at the time of her disappearance.

Mr Taylor has been interviewed by police and admits being with the 20-year-old on the day she was last seen.

Constable Leigh Stanley told the inquest, before coroner Robert Pearce, that the bucket was found in August that year -- about three weeks after Ms Munnings was last seen.

Ms Munnings' mother Karel Munnings, also known as Karel Black, asked Constable Stanley if the bucket would have been heavy enough to hold a body down in the water.

He told the court the concrete would not be heavy enough on its own.

Constable Stanley conceded it was an unusual item to find.

The inquest will hear from more than 40 witnesses.

Mr Pearce was told that checks with airlines, interstate police, government departments, banks and even the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had failed to find any evidence that the young mother was alive.

The inquest was told Ms Munnings was a naive and gullible young woman who had struggled with life and caring for her two-year-old.

But her maternal grandmother Julie Payne told the inquest she was not suicidal.

A missing person's report was filed on July 25, 2008, when Ms Munnings failed to collect two-year-old Donovan from childcare as per her arrangement with Mr Taylor.

Constable Mark Cowan told the court Mr Taylor said during an interview on that day that he had picked Ms Munnings up on July 23 and driven her to Ridgley and then dropped her off outside Burnie's paper mill.

Constable Cowan said Mr Taylor said Ms Munnings had said she wanted to walk on the beach to clear her head.

The inquest continues.


Mum denies daughter alive

THE mother of missing Burnie woman Helen Munnings denied yesterday that her daughter was alive and well and living in Darwin.

Helen's mother Karel Munnings, who is also known as Karel Black, travelled to Darwin in October, 2008 - some three months after she reported Helen was missing.

Helen was last seen in Burnie on July 23, 2008 and an inquest into her presumed death is being held in the town.

Counsel for the father of Helen Munning's son Donovan, Stephen Wright, asked Ms Munnings if Helen was with her when she left Tasmania for the Northern Territory.

Ms Munnings said she was not.

Mr Wright asserted that Ms Munnings had left for Darwin, where her brother Tony Munnings lived, to help her daughter set up a new life.

Ms Munnings denied the assertion, saying: "I had to get a job to pay the bills."

She was out of Tasmania for six months.

Earlier, Ms Munnings told coroner Robert Pearce that Helen had received a letter from a lawyer in the week before she went missing in relation to the shared custody of Donovan with his father, Adam Taylor.

She said Helen had been upset because she felt she was being coerced into changing the date on which she had started dating Mr Taylor.

"Helen did not want to sign the document," Ms Munnings said.

The inquest also heard Ms Munnings confronted the man she believes killed her daughter in a supermarket in 2009.

Ms Munnings said she approached Mr Taylor and demanded to know where he had put Helen's body.

"He went red and said: 'Watch what you're saying you bitch or you'll get the same as Helen did'," Ms Munnings told the inquest.

Mr Wright disputed Ms Munnings' recollection of the meeting saying Mr Taylor simply wanted Helen's mother to stop harassing him and calling him a murderer in public places.

Munnings mystery continues

Updated Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:50am AEST - ABC

A Tasmanian coroner has found there is no evidence another person contributed to the death of Burnie woman Helen Munnings.

Coroner Robert Pearce has found the only reasonable explanation for Ms Munnings' disappearance is that she is dead.

He says there is no evidence of how Ms Munnings died, or whether another person contributed to her death.

Ms Munnings was 20 years old, had a two year old son and was pregnant when she went missing in July 2008.

Despite extensive land and sea searches, she has not been seen since.

A nine day coronial inquiry into Ms Munning's disappearance was completed in January.

Mr Pearce recommended the police investigation into her death remain open.

Outside the court, Ms Munnings' mother, Karel Munnings, said the initial police investigation was flawed, due to a conflict of interest.

She says she is seeking legal advice.

"I'm claiming the case wasn't dealt with properly at the beginning," she said.

But police say the investigation has been reviewed by several senior officers and no problems have been found.

The investigation into the circumstances of Ms Munnings' death will continue.

Police still wish to speak with anyone who has information.


Memorial for young Burnie mother

Posted Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:35am AEST - ABC

The uncle of missing north-west Tasmanian woman, Helen Munnings, says a memorial service has gone some way towards closure for her family.

A service was held yesterday at Fern Glade, near Burnie, four years on from when the young mother disappeared.

Six weeks ago an inquest found that Ms Munning was probably dead but could not determine the circumstances of her death.

Ms Munnings' great uncle, Tom Payne, spoke about the 20-year-old's love of life and family, especially her son.

"My indication from family is that they now accept the fact that she's dead but it's just a matter of knowing how or where it happened and that may, or may not, ever be revealed," he said.

Sad mother haunted by what happened to Helen Munnings

THE Upper Burnie toilet block might not be the most romantic place to find out you’re in the family way, but judging by the number of pregnancy test kits found there – about 40 a year – it must have something going for it.

It was to this nondescript red-brick building in July 2008 that Helen Munnings, 20, went with the man she loved, Adam Taylor, and learned she was pregnant with her second baby.

Adam, 34, later claimed Helen had conceived the baby after a one-night stand with another man, but everyone who knew her said she only had eyes for him.

What follows are the intrigu­ing details of the police investigation into Helen’s disappearance, as well as the findings of Tasmanian Coroner Robert Pearce, who ruled Helen was dead but was unable to say if she lost her life at the hands of another.

Police remain convinced there are people who know what happened to the young mum. Are you one? Call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

There was something about Adam Taylor. There must have been, because from the moment she met him in August 2004, Helen Munnings was besotted.

“In September or October of that year they had a sexual encounter at the home of a mutual friend,” Mr Pearce ­revealed in his 2012 record of investigation into Helen’s death.

“He disclaimed responsibility for initiating the ­encounter, claiming to have been heavily affected by ­alcohol. He told the inquest that they then became friends but, after she turned 17, she pressed him to commence a sexual relationship.”

On March 15, 2005, Helen turned 17 – the age of consent in Tasmania – at which time she made it clear to Adam, then 31, he was the only man in her sights.

Helen’s mum Karel Munnings made no secret of the fact she disapproved of her budding relationship with Adam, a local tiler, concreter and occasional barman.

It was the age difference that most bugged Karel. She did everything she could to put an end to the ­relationship.

“She complained and continued to complain to police about Mr Taylor, alleging that he had committed an ­offence,” the coroner wrote.

“Thus, Helen’s relationship with Mr Taylor was the cause of considerable conflict between her and her mother. They argued and fell out from time to time. Each obtained restraint orders against the other.”

Amid the drama, Helen gave birth to a boy on March 30, 2006, not long after she turned 18.

“Little Donovan was so much loved,” Karel says, ­recalling how her daughter doted on her son.

At first Adam denied being Donovan’s father, but paternity tests proved otherwise. Still, it took between three to six months for Adam to tell his mother he had ­fathered a child outside his primary relationship.

Meanwhile, Adam’s partner of 13 years Karalina ­Garwood – a striking woman closer to his own age, with whom he had two children – believed baby Donovan was conceived while she and Adam were taking a break from their relationship.

As far as she understood, there was no ongoing sexual relationship between Adam and the younger woman.

Little Donovan was so much loved.

Even though he wanted to maintain his de facto relationship with Karalina, it’s ­believed Adam kept in regular contact with Helen. This is despite an agreement that all communication about Donovan be channelled through Adam’s mum after Helen harassed Adam with demanding phone calls and texts.

But instead of sticking to the agreement, Adam bought a second mobile phone, which he used to keep in touch with Helen.

Adam claimed his sexual relationship with Helen stopped after their initial fling, but that they’d hooked up for one more night in 2007.

In his official finding, Mr Pearce said: “He [Adam] said that this was the last time that he and Helen had sex and called it ‘a mistake’, which arose again from pressure from Helen Munnings.

“Nevertheless the evidence discloses a series of messages, some of them of a highly sexualised nature, ­exchanged between Mr Taylor and Ms Munnings during 2008 and until at least May 2008.

“Mr Taylor admits that Helen frequently sent such messages. He says they were mostly one way but the evidence shows at least some similar responses from him.”

Sometimes Helen sent angry messages, including one in which she told Adam she was going to have the baby and didn’t want his help.

“That message appears to confirm her pregnancy and infer that Taylor is the father,” says detective Senior Sergeant Richard Chugg, from Devonport Criminal Investigation Branch.

Adam ­initially denied paternity and claimed Helen had conceived the child during a one-night stand. But if that were true, it would have been a big shock to her family and friends, who knew her as a one-man woman.

Some of Helen’s texts might have been acrimonious, but her anger was fuelled by her desire to have an exclusive relationship with Adam, in which they could raise Donovan together.

To discourage Helen from pursuing a committed relationship with the older man, her mum admits she spoke her mind, and didn’t hold back.

“That’s something that eats me away, doing tough love,” Karel says.

“At the time it seemed like the right thing to do.”

That’s something that eats me away, doing tough love. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do.

But three weeks before she disappeared Helen, who had been living elsewhere in ­Burnie, moved back in with her mum, who believed the “tough love” technique worked from time to time.

What Karel didn’t realise, however, was Helen had plans to move out again, ­because before she went missing, Adam was helping her to find a place of her own.

Perhaps Helen had a bright future planned. It was tragic she couldn’t be in it.

On Wednesday July 23, 2008, Helen told her mum she was going to the doctor for a pap smear.

She left home about four in the afternoon and walked ­towards Burnie’s central business district.

“It was after about an hour that me and Linda – one of Helen’s sisters – thought, ‘Helen is taking a long time’,” Karel says.

“But we just thought she might have bumped into someone she knew.”

Yet Helen’s appointment was not what it seemed.

“It appeared this was a story she told Karel to cover a pre-arranged meeting with Adam, of which her mother would not have approved,” Sen-Sgt Chugg says.

So instead of going to the doctor’s surgery, Helen had organised to meet Adam at the South Burnie park at 4.15pm.

“Adam went to the park and couldn’t see her, so he drove around the Marine Terrace area before he saw her near the Greens Hotel,” the detective says.

“Police obtained footage from the Centrelink office near the Greens Hotel which showed a woman we believe to be Helen walking south past the office on Marine Terrace at around 4.16pm. A ute – which the coroner has accepted was most likely Adam’s – then drove past at 4.21 and returned, heading north, at 4.22.”

It was the last known sighting of Helen Munnings alive.

After Helen disappeared, Adam admitted to police he’d taken her for a drive that afternoon, and detailed the route. He also told police – in a statutory declaration sworn on July 25, 2008 – that during the drive Helen mostly talked about her pregnancy and said she didn’t want to have an abortion.

Adam wrote: “She said she would prefer to kill herself than have an abortion. She had talked about suicide on previous occasions, but I have never taken her seriously ­because [of] the amount of times she had threatened to do it.”

Adam told the investigators that at the end of their drive, he dropped Helen at the southern side of the Bass Highway near the Australian Pulp and Paper Mill. She told him she wanted to go for a walk and “clear her head”. Adam did a U-turn and ­returned home. So what happened to her after that?

According to her family, the one thing Helen would never do was abandon her child.

All little Donovan had to do was stir after a nap and Helen would be at his side, announcing to anyone who’d listen that he was awake. She adored him, so when she hadn’t returned home by the following day, Karel reported her missing to police.

Anxious to find her alive, police spoke to everyone in Helen’s inner circle, hoping they might know where to find her. They also launched land and air searches, and trawled the waterways surrounding the windswept coastal town.

“But no evidence of Helen was located during the course of any of the searches conducted in July and August 2008, nor when they were repeated and extended the following year,” Sen-Sgt Chugg says.

Police suspected early on that Helen was dead because since her disappearance she had made no contact with her family or friends; she had not accessed her bank account or any Centrelink payments; and she had not consulted a doctor, despite telling Adam she was pregnant.

On the day she left home to meet Adam, she didn’t even take her handbag or wallet.

There have been no credible sightings of the young mum since and no activity on her mobile phone SIM card either. Nor does it appear that she had found a way to leave Tasmania.

“Travel checks for Helen were conducted with TT-Line and all international and regional airlines,” Sen-Sgt Chugg says.

“All checks have returned a negative result. And there is no information or evidence at this time to suggest she travelled from the state by covert means.”

In any case, Helen’s family and friends couldn’t imagine she would just up and leave.

“A number of witnesses stated that prior to her disappearance Helen appeared normal and would have been unlikely to have absconded without her child or before telling her close family and associates,” Sen-Sgt Chugg says.

So why did she end up a missing person? Could it be that Helen, overwhelmed by unrequited love, took her own life?

Police were aware that Adam Taylor, believing Helen to be in low spirits the last time he saw her, sent her a text message after he dropped her off. It read: “Keep your chin up.” Helen did not respond.

It meant police could not rule out suicide, although they considered it improbable.

“Information from a number of sources suggests that Helen may have been suffering from depression at the time of her disappearance,” the detective says. But, he adds, the same sources ­insist “she was unlikely to take her own life” because of Donovan.

Just to be sure, police called in a psychiatrist to examine video footage of the young mum. Admittedly, the psychiatrist could not rule out suicide, but Helen’s GP, who knew her well, said suicide was definitely not on her mind.

Yet with so much coastline around Burnie, police did have to consider whether Helen might have walked into the water to drown herself, even though they found it doubtful.

“Furthermore, on the basis that her remains have not been located, it is unlikely that Helen has suffered an acci­dental death either,” police said.

Furthermore, on the basis that her remains have not been located, it is unlikely that Helen has suffered an accidental death either.

Of course the most disturbing scenario, towards which police have been leaning, is that Helen met her end at the hands of someone else.

“Investigators believe that Helen has been the victim of a crime,” Sen-Sgt Chugg says plainly. And that crime, they believe, is homicide.

As you would expect, the detectives investigated those closest to Helen, including her family as well as her love interest, Adam Taylor, who was the last known person to see her alive.

But they didn’t stop there.

“Witnesses numbering the hundreds have been spoken to during the course of the investigation,” Sen-Sgt Chugg reveals.

In 2012, four years after Helen’s disappearance, Coroner Robert Pearce found, however, that there was no direct evidence to suggest anyone had contributed to her death, and it is on solid evidence which coroners must operate.

“One of the issues raised during the inquest is whether I should find that Mr Taylor is a person who contributed to the cause of Ms Munnings’s death,” the coroner said. “The evidence does not justify such a finding.”

Coroner Robert Pearce found that there was no direct evidence to suggest anyone had contributed to Helen’s death.

Still he believed some aspects of the evidence surrounding Adam Taylor were worthy of further comment. He found that it was most likely Helen was pregnant and, even if she had lied, it would probably have placed additional strain on Adam’s relationship with Karalina.

Mr Pearce also noted that Adam gave two different versions of the route he took after he picked up Helen and dropped her off, “and there was some question about whether the journey he ­described would have occupied all the time he was with her”.

He also suggested that what Adam did with a boat after returning home from his drive with Helen might have appeared “incongruous”.

That evening, Adam told Karalina that he thought someone had tried to steal an aluminium dinghy from their yard, and that it had been dragged from its usual position to the water’s edge. Adam told Karalina he was going to drag it back to where it belonged.

“In the course of doing so he put the boat in the water, started the motor of the boat and drove it a short distance before turning and bringing it back in,” the coroner stated, remarking that he did not find Adam’s account far-fetched.

But, in June 2009, during a second search of the ocean below Blythe Heads, divers had made an unusual discovery out the front of Adam’s place.

“A bucket of concrete with a hook in the top and a small rope attached was located in water several metres in front of the Sice Ave home,” Sen-Sgt Chugg says.

“Divers indicated that this was not an area where it would have had a purpose in terms of being a mooring.”

Yet even though it might have looked suspicious, the coroner could not draw any conclusions from the discovery of the bucket. The rope didn’t tell police anything new either because when forensic scientists ­examined it for human traces, they found none.

In August 2009, police also conducted a thorough search of Adam’s house.

“A substantial amount of rope which ­appeared to match the colour of that tied to the bucket of concrete was located on the premises and seized,” the officer says.

He knew, however, that any apparent evidence to suggest Adam had murdered Helen, then disposed of her body, was purely circumstantial, and there was nothing to suggest he had dumped evidence, such as clothing or tools, in the water either.

“The dinghy was also the subject of forensic testing,” Sen-Sgt Chugg says, “but with no ­result.”

He can now tell readers of Unsolved Australia that he doubts Helen’s remains are in the water at all. Due to the sensitivity of the matter, he cannot go into detail, but, he says, “based on other known facts which police uncovered during the investigation, I find it more likely that Helen’s remains were disposed of on land”.

But where? And by whom?

“No finding can be made about how or why she died,” he said. “Or whether any person contributed to the cause of her death”

At the inquest on June 14, 2012, Mr Pearce found that Helen had died on or about July 23, 2008, in or near ­Burnie.

“No finding can be made about how or why she died,’ he said. “Or whether any person contributed to the cause of her death.” He also suggested the case remain open.

So who can help?

“It is considered likely that a very small group of people know the truth, and to date, they haven’t been able, or haven’t seen fit, to come forward,” Sen-Sgt Chugg says.

“But we remain confident that will occur in the future, for Helen’s sake.’”

When someone goes missing under suspicious circumstances, there is inevitable fallout.

In this instance, Adam Taylor and Karalina Garwood have split up. Meanwhile, Judy Taylor, Adam’s mum, is understood to be raising Donovan.

Karel Munnings cannot move on until she finds out exactly what happened to her missing daughter. She is convinced, however, that Helen has met with foul play.

“When something like this happens, at the beginning, you’re devastated, and as time goes on you get angrier,” she says. “I just want anyone with information to come forward. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect justice.

Police are offering a $50,000 reward for information about the disappearance of Helen Munnings. A Burnie businessman, who wishes to remain anonymous, has offered a further $50,000.

Extract from Unsolved Australia, by Justine Ford, Macmillan Australia, RRP $32.99


Tasmanian cold case being treated as a murder investigation with family desperate for answers


A lot can change in 10 years: toddlers become teenagers, relationships are made and others dissolve, careers change and people move on.

But not for the Munnings family.

They are stuck in the moment on July 23, 2008 when 20-year-old Helen Munnings disappeared in the seaside city of Burnie.

She told her family she was making the short walk from their home to the doctor.

In fact, she had arranged to meet Adam Taylor, the father of her two-year-old son.

Her mother Karel Munnings cried as she recalled that day.

"She said she had to go down to the city medical and she left her keys on the table — and that's the last we saw of her," she said.

Mr Taylor was the last known person to see her alive.

The builder first slept with Helen Munnings when he was 30 and she was just 16. The age of consent in Tasmania is 17.

The relationship continued in secret after she turned 17, with her mother pushing police to charge Mr Taylor with having sex with a minor and Mr Taylor still living with his long-term partner.

Shortly before she disappeared Helen Munnings told friends and family she was pregnant again and Mr Taylor was the father.

The 2012 inquest into Helen Munnings' disappearance heard Mr Taylor did not want her to keep the baby.

"I'd been to the police, I'd been out in the street yelling at him, literally. I got charged for doing it," Karel Munnings said.

"Helen wanted that family unit because my children were brought up with one parent and Helen must have thought 'well, it would be nicer with a family'."

Mr Taylor told the inquest the pair had driven around the greater Burnie area talking and he had dropped her off on the highway near the old pulp mill about 6:00pm before heading home to his partner.

She has not been seen since.

The family, including Helen's Munnings' sister Kathryn, is still searching for answers.

"It's probably been hardest to watch my mum, to be honest. She's just heartbroken," she said.

"What do you say? 'It's OK'? Because it's not OK, what's happened, and it's just really hard."

Coroner could not rule out self-drowning

An inquest was unable to shed much light on the case.

Coroner Robert Pearce found it was unlikely Helen Munnings had deliberately disappeared to start a new life.

He found while "it would take a remarkable effort of human resolve to deliberately stay under water to the point of drowning" he could not rule out that she had drowned herself.

The inquest identified Mr Taylor as a person of interest.

But while the coroner found the relationship between Mr Taylor and Helen Munnings was "tumultuous and turbulent" and at times "characterised by ill will", the evidence before him did not support a finding that Mr Taylor was involved in her disappearance.

He made no formal recommendation or comment concerning Helen Munnings' death except to indicate that the police investigation into it should remain open, because "further evidence may become available".

'This is a murder investigation'

The Cold Case Unit has now identified a number of new leads, with the investigation being led by Detective Inspector Rob Gunton.

"I'm investigating this as a murder," he said, adding that police have one person of interest.

"This is very much an active investigation and will remain an active investigation until such time that we've resolved the matter," he said.

"I have my suspicions but my suspicions and my beliefs are certainly not enough.

"It's not about what we believe, what we think or even what we know — it's what we can prove."

The disappearance was too much for Kathryn Munnings, who left Burnie because of it.

"Everybody will talk about who's sleeping with who but they keep their mouth quiet about a murder — it never has made sense to me," she said.

"That's the reason I don't live down there. It's too frustrating."

A $100,000 reward for information about the disappearance has so far not loosened tongues but police hope over the past 10 years circumstances that stopped people speaking out may have changed.

The family members are pinning their hopes on it, with Kathryn Munnings desperate for someone to have the courage to come forward.

"To sit in the sidelines and watch us suffer, literally screaming out for help and answers ... I don't know how they sleep at night because I sure as hell don't," she said.

The Munnings said the disappearance not only robbed them of Helen but also of regular contact with her son Donovan, who lives with the Taylor family, and the baby she was carrying.

Explosive question to missing pregnant woman’s ex-boyfriend

ADAM Taylor was the last person to see his pregnant ex-girlfriend alive. In an explosive interview, he faces hard questions.

Ally Foster - News.com.au
news.com.auJULY 22, 20189:34PM

“DID you kill Helen Munnings?”

It’s the question Adam Taylor was forced to answer after being confronted in the street by a journalist over the whereabouts of his missing ex-girlfriend.

Ms Munnings, 20, was pregnant with her second child when she vanished from the Tasmanian town of Burnie on July 23, 2008.

Police say Mr Taylor, the father of her then two-year-old son and unborn child, was the last person to see Ms Munnings before she mysteriously vanished.

She has not been seen or heard from since, with a 2012 inquest finding she “most likely” died that same day.

Journalist Alex Cullen confronted Mr Taylor in the street for Channel 7’s Sunday Night program and put the question to him directly.

“I’ve got to ask you straight out,” Cullen says. “Did you kill Helen Munnings?”

“Of course not,” Mr Taylor responds.

“You had nothing to do with her death?”

“No. It upset me that people keep asking and carrying on about it, so... anyway I’ve got a bit on.”

Cullen asks him whether he has anything to say to Ms Munnings’ family.

“Mate, everyone misses her as much as their family,” Mr Taylor tells him. “That’s the thing. This is the thing that gets me. I mean, obviously this has taken me on the hop.”

But he had a few choice words for Ms Munning’s mum, who claims Mr Taylor grabbed his then-girlfriend around the throat and forced her into a car.

“Her mum’s a f**kin’ psycho, mate.”

Mr Taylor was a prime suspect in the investigation but has always denied any knowledge of what happened to Ms Munnings, with authorities unable to establish where her body might be or how she died.

Sunday Night also put investigating officers in the spotlight, questioning whether “crucial evidence” could have “gone missing” under their watch.

Ms Munnings' family were recently given fresh hope following announcement that the cold case had been upgraded to murder after police uncovered fresh leads.

Cold case unit Detective Inspector Rob Gunton said a “person of interest” had been identified and that a $100,000 reward remained in place for information leading to an arrest.

Mr Taylor began a sexual relationship with Ms Munnings while he was in a long-term relationship with another woman, Karalina Garwood.

He was 30 when he started sleeping with the 16-year-old.

Ms Munnings mother Karel Black attempted to have Mr Taylor charged with having sex with a minor, as the age of consent is 17 in Tasmania.

The couple secretly continued their relationship after Ms Munnings turned 17 and she gave birth to their son, Donovan.

It was not long before she disappeared that Ms Munnings told friends and family that she was pregnant again and Mr Taylor was the father.

Throughout the 2012 inquest it was heard that Mr Taylor was unhappy she was pregnant again and wanted her to get rid of the baby.

On the day of her disappearance she lied and told her mother she was walking to the doctor’s office, when in reality she was meeting up with Mr Taylor.

The two went for a drive together and Ms Munnings was never seen again.

Mr Taylor told the inquest the pair had driven around the greater Burnie area talking and he had dropped her off on the highway near the old pulp mill about 6pm before heading out on his boat.

On Monday it will be a decade since the pregnant mum vanished

Anyone with information about her disappearance is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.