Police divers search for missing mother
Posted - 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
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 - 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 - 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."
Police post reward in missing woman case
Posted - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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
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
Updated - 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
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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 - 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 - 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.