Circumstances - Belinda
last seen in Katoomba, NSW on the 26th September 1998.
Katoomba woman's disappearance reopened
15:03 AEST Sun Nov 28 2010 - Nine MSN
A young mum who went missing
from her NSW home 12 years ago had inherited a substantial amount of money
and her suspicious disappearance may be drug-related, police fear.
Police have reopened the case of 19-year-old Belinda Peisley who was
last seen at her Trow Avenue home in Katoomba, west of Sydney, on September
Ms Peisley had two young sons - aged three and one - at the time.
"Despite significant inquiries, no trace of Belinda has ever emerged,
although police are convinced she met with foul play," police said in a
statement on Sunday.
"Two years before her disappearance, Belinda inherited a substantial
amount of money and was able to buy her Trow Ave home outright.
"Police investigations revealed she had begun associating with a
number of people involved with illicit drugs in the months before she
vanished and have not ruled out Belinda's disappearance may have been drug
"Despite significant inquiries, no trace of Belinda has ever emerged,
although police are convinced she met with foul play."
On Sunday, Ms Peisley's father Mark Werne appealed for help to find
out what happened to his daughter.
"Belinda was only just beginning her life and had two beautiful sons
who she loved," Mr Werne said.
"Of course, we would like to hold out some hope but deep down the
family has accepted that Belinda is gone.
"But until we know for sure, this will continue to haunt her sons and
the rest of my family.
"It is an unimaginably cruel situation for my grandsons who never
really got to know their mum.
"For their sake, I would ask anyone who knows what happened to Belinda
to contact police and give this family a chance to lay things to rest and
have some peace."
Blue Mountains police local area commander Acting Superintendent Mick
Bostock said a female witness - who was one of the last people to see
Belinda - returned to the Katoomba house with detectives on Friday (November
26) to explain what she saw in the hope of triggering new leads in the
"New witnesses have come forward in recent weeks with fresh
information about her last months and we are slowly fitting together a
number of pieces to this puzzle," he said in the statement.
"A 37-year-old woman who saw Belinda shortly before she vanished
recalls attending the Trow Avenue home and finding it ransacked.
"It is likely Belinda was the victim of a drug-related incident and we
are pursuing a number of fresh leads that will, hopefully, shed some light
on her fate."
Police reopen investigation into suspicious
disappearance of teenaged mum – SF Belonidae
Sunday, 28 Nov 2010 09:33am
Police have re-opened an investigation into the suspicious disappearance of a
teenaged mum from her Katoomba home in 1998.
Belinda Peisley had inherited a substantial amount of money prior to her
disappearance and was last seen at her Trow Avenue home in Katoomba on 26
September, twelve years ago.
The 19-year-old woman had two young sons at the time aged three and one years.
She has never been seen since.
Despite significant inquiries, no trace of Belinda has ever emerged, although
police are convinced she met with foul play.
Two years before her disappearance Belinda inherited a substantial amount of
money and was able to buy her Trow Ave home outright.
Police investigations revealed she had begun associating with a number of people
involved with illicit drugs in the months before she vanished and have not ruled
out Belinda’s disappearance may have been drug related.
Blue Mountains LAC Commander, Acting Superintendent Mick Bostock, said a female
witness – who was one of the last people to see Belinda – returned to the
Katoomba house with detectives on Friday (26 November) to give an account of
what she saw in the hope of triggering new leads in the investigation.
“New witnesses have come forward in recent weeks with fresh information about
her last months and we are slowly fitting together a number of pieces to this
puzzle,” A/Supt Bostock said.
“A 37-year-old woman who saw Belinda shortly before she vanished recalls
attending the Trow Avenue home and finding it ransacked.
“It is likely Belinda was the victim of a drug-related incident and we are
pursuing a number of fresh leads that will hopefully shed some light on her
Belinda’s father, Mark Werne, appealed to anyone with any additional information
to come forward.
“Belinda was only just beginning her life and had two beautiful sons who she
loved,” Mr Werne said.
“Of course we would like to hold out some hope but deep down the family has
accepted that Belinda is gone.
“But until we know for sure, this will continue to haunt her sons and the rest
of my family.
“It is an unimaginably cruel situation for my grandsons who never really got to
know their mum.
“For their sake I would ask anyone who knows what happened to Belinda to contact
police and give this family a chance to lay things to rest and have some peace.”
Sons of missing woman Belinda
Peisley appeal for help
CODY Peisley was three and his brother Billy just one when their
mother Belinda Peisley disappeared from Katoomba in 1998.
Now 16 and 14, they just want to know what happened to her.
The boys hope a $100,000 reward announced yesterday will finally bring
them answers, then they can "at least try to move on", Cody said.
"It's about actually knowing what happened," he said.
Ms Peisley's father William Wearne said his daughter's disappearance had
been particularly hard on his grandsons.
"William, I doubt he would even remember his mother, and Cody, barely," he
"Any questions they have about their mother, they have to ask a third
party rather than knowing her."
Mr Wearne said his daughter was a "good kid" who loved her children.
He said the family - including her former partner Andrew Moffett - won't
have closure until they know what happened to her. "Everyone says: 'You've got
to get on with your life and you've got to go forward' but it's always in the
back of your head ... every single day," he said.
Ms Peisley was just 19 when she left her
Katoomba home on September 26, 1998, and police believe she met with foul
She had received an inheritance but police said a drug addiction had left
her in debt.
Acting Superintendent Robert Vellar urged anyone with information to come
"They might be scared, they might be apprehensive about speaking with
police, but they may also be protecting other people. "This is an opportunity to
come forward, to clear their conscious and help police solve this matter," he
Disappearance of Belinda Peisley
Police are renewing an appeal for information into the
disappearance of a Blue Mountains teenager after the NSW State
Government announced an award for information that may help solve the
Nineteen-year-old Belinda Peisley was last sighted at her home on
Trow Avenue, Katoomba, on 26 September 1998. Officers from Blue
Mountains Local Area Command established Strike Force Belonidae to
investigate her disappearance.
Blue Mountains Local Area Commander, Acting Superintendent Rob
Vellar, says that police attached to the Strike Force have conducted
extensive inquiries, but need further public assistance.
“Police have identified a number of persons of interest and
followed numerous lines of inquiry.
“Our investigations have revealed that Belinda received a
considerable inheritance prior to her death, and that as a result she
had many people frequenting her residence.
“She had also developed a significant drug problem and had accumulated
“We believe she met with foul play but need more information from
the public to put the pieces of the puzzle together and make a
breakthrough,” Acting Superintendent Vellar said.
When Ms Peisley disappeared, she left behind two sons, who are now
aged 16 and 14.
In the hope of receiving new information, the NSW State Government
has today announced a reward of up to $100,000 for any information
leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons
responsible for the disappearance, and presumed murder, of Belinda
Anyone with information that can assist investigators should
contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Police have uncovered crucial new information about the mysterious death
of a young mother in 1998, suggesting it may have been related to a string
of drug-related break and enter offences by people she knew.
Belinda Peisley, 19, was last seen leaving Katoomba Hospital, west of
Sydney, on September 26, 1998. Her remains have never been found.
For more than 13 years police attempted to uncover what had happened to
the young woman, but found little solid evidence beyond the fact that,
shortly before her disappearance, the 19-year-old had inherited a
significant amount of money.
But the coronial inquest into Ms Peisley's death - resuming on Tuesday
after a five-month break - heard that "significant new information had come
to light" following "significant further investigation".
The inquest, at Katoomba local court, heard that there had been a number
of drug-related break-ins around the time of Ms Peisley's disappearance, in
which property had been stolen from homes around Katoomba and then sold to
pawnshops in western Sydney.
A number of these break-ins were allegedly undertaken by some of Ms
Peisley's friends, most notably her former boyfriend Oliver Tipping and his
friend Jeremy Douglas.
The inquest heard that, shortly after Ms Peisley disappeared, the woman
who was part of the alleged break and enter racket, Joanne Thompson, had
used identification cards belonging to Ms Peisley when selling the stolen
goods to pawnshops.
"Oliver [Tipping] told me in a conversation that Joanne was using her
[Belinda's] ID," a friend of the alleged robbers, Shane Heffernan, told the
A distinctive maroon Jaguar belonging to one of the men was also seen
outside Ms Peisley's house around the time of her disappearance.
Mr Heffernan said this car belonged to Jeremy Douglas and had been
obtained with "money from a break and enter".
Police said last week that they now believe Ms Peisley was murdered, and
that they have begun searching bushland at Blackheath, near Katoomba.
The inquest, before Deputy NSW Coroner Paul McMahon, continues.
Missing mother Belinda Peisley was
most likely murdered, inquest told
Paul Bibby - SMH
A young Blue Mountains mother who disappeared in suspicious circumstances
15 years ago most likely died as a result of homicide or violence, the
Coroners Court has heard, but there is insufficient evidence to charge any
of those suspected of involvement.
Belinda Peisley, 19, was last seen leaving Katoomba Hospital, west of
Sydney, on September 26, 1998. Her remains have never been found.
At the end of the day, someone hurt Belinda but they're still out
there living their life and they've taken hers.
For more than 13 years police attempted to uncover what had happened to
the young woman, but found little solid evidence beyond the fact that,
shortly before her disappearance, the mother-of-two had inherited a
significant amount of money from her great uncle and had developed a heroin
But in late 2012, investigators uncovered new information suggesting the
young woman may have been the victim of foul play within the group of young
people she was spending time with, many of them drug users. An inquest into
Ms Peisley's death was initiated and police began searching a large swath of
bush land near Blackheath.
The inquest heard that a few days after her death, Ms Peisley's house was
broken into by a number of her former friends and acquaintances, who later
used her identification cards to sell items at a western Sydney pawn shop.
Two of the 19-year-old's former friends - Jeremy Douglas and Saxon
Holdforth - became "persons of interest" at the inquest, with the scrutiny
on their activities intensifying.
The inquest received evidence from multiple witnesses suggesting that Ms
Peisley had been killed and thrown off one of the Blue Mountains' many cliff
"Some of the things I have heard over the years is that Jeremy, Saxon and
Olly [Peisley's former boyfriend Oliver Tipping] took her in a car and
bashed her and left her somewhere," Kerren Fittler said in a handwritten
statement to police.
"After they've left her they've come back and got her body and done some
things to her before or after she was dead and chucked her over the cliff.
"I heard she was killed over drugs or she wouldn't give them what they
Mr Holdforth and Mr Douglas have steadfastly maintained their innocence
at the inquest.
On Wednesday, counsel assisting the inquest, Phillip Strickland, SC, said
the evidence relating to the exact manner and cause of the young woman's
death was inconclusive, but that it did "point strongly to her death being
the result of some sort of homicide or violence".
"Much of the hearing has been directed towards whether these persons of
interest had knowledge of or direct involvement in the circumstances
surrounding Belinda Peisley's death," he said.
"The evidence regarding these persons is inconclusive and not capable of
convincing a jury that a known person committed an indictable offence."
Speaking after the hearing, Ms Peisley's aunt, Sharon Versace said she
was "very, very disappointed" that charges would not be laid.
"At the end of the day, someone hurt Belinda but they're still out there
living their life and they've taken hers," she said.
"I'll never give up, the detectives have come so far - I'm hoping that
one day we'll get some good news. It won't bring Belinda back, but it will
be a bit of justice for the family."
Deputy State Coroner Paul McMahon will hand down his formal findings next
Belinda Peisley disappearance - father Mark Wearne's plea for answers 20
It’s been 20 years since 19-year-old Belinda Peisley disappeared from
Katoomba and her family still has no answers.
It took eight years for the police to report Ms Peisley’s death to the
coroner, and in 2012 a coroner’s inquiry found she died in or around
Katoomba, but couldn’t say how. The case was referred to the Unsolved
Homicide Unit for re-investigation.
Ms Peisley was last seen on September 26, 1998 and her remains have never
been found. She had inherited a significant amount of money before her
disappearance, and was addicted to heroin.
An ABC documentary Who
Killed Belinda Peisley? which airs on August 7 during national
missing persons week, raises more questions about her disappearance.
Ms Peisley’s father Mark Wearne, who is part of the film, told the Gazette he
didn’t believe his daughter’s disappearance had been adequately
“There are questions this documentary will not answer and there are holes it
leaves. Did the police – the homicide squad – look at any other persons of
interest? Were all these people’s [persons of interest] alibis tested?”
He said there also could be a link between the disappearance of Leura woman
Maureen McLaughlin in 1992 (her body was found in Lithgow later that year)
and Kellie Carmichael from Geelong who was last seen in a Katoomba hostel in
“They were women of similar age and similar social situation and were all
travelling in the same circles,” Mr Wearne said.
“The common thread is the drug scene in Katoomba.
“Was there a serial killer operating in the Blue Mountains at the time?”
Mr Wearne said he has not been contacted by the homicide squad since 2013.
“There is so much that could have been done,” he said. “It’s been very
Mr Wearne raised one of Ms Peisley’s two sons, Cody, until he turned 16 and,
Mr Wearne recalls him frequently asking what happened to his mother and when
he would see her again.
“How do you tell a six-year-old that, that there’s a strong possibility that
his mother’s been murdered? … I evaded the subject when he was very young.”
Documentary-maker Helen Barrow followed the case for more than seven years,
taking her cameras into the homes and lives of Ms Peisley’s family,
neighbours, friends, witnesses and persons of interest, and into the
courtroom each day of the inquest, to follow her story.
“We started filming in 2012 and 2013 and the coroner and counsel assisting
agreed to further filming in 2018, and the NSW police declined to be
involved in the documentary,” Ms Barrow said.
A NSW Police spokeswoman said: “Despite extensive investigations and
numerous ground searches by local police and the Homicide Squad over the
years, Belinda has not been located.
“Investigators identified numerous persons of interest and explored various
lines of inquiry, which were tested during a coronial inquiry.
“The investigation into Belinda’s disappearance and suspected murder will be
formally reviewed under the new unsolved framework in coming months.”
A $100,000 reward remains in place for the arrest and conviction of those
responsible for Ms Peisley’s disappearance.
Mr Wearne has appealed for anyone with information, no matter how trivial,
to come forward. Call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
'Items found' in police dig under Katoomba home of missing teen Belinda
Forensic officers have found "items of interest" just hours into a forensic
excavation and search at the former home of a Blue Mountains woman who went
missing more than 20 years ago.
Police started digging with shovels under the former home of Belinda Peisley
on Monday morning and are planning to divide the large backyard into
sections and start digging it up on Tuesday.
By Monday afternoon, a NSW Police spokeswoman was already able to
confirm that "items of interest have been located".
The nature of the items is unknown, as is the number that have been
found so far.
Ms Peisley's father Mark Wearne told a media conference outside the
house that the wait for more evidence had been painful for the
family, and he was "very grateful" for the "very heavy police
"I’d like to see every copper in NSW be here," Mr Wearne said.
Ms Peisley, then 19, was last seen in the Katoomba area on
September 26, 1998.
In late 2012, investigators uncovered information suggesting
she may have been the victim of foul play within the group
of young people with whom she was spending time, many of
them drug users.
Two years before she disappeared she had inherited a large
amount of money and bought herself a home.
But by the time she died, Ms Peisley was a drug addict and the
only money coming into her account was from welfare payments.
Police said she had "accumulated considerable debt" as a result
of her drug problem.
An inquest into Ms Peisley's death was initiated and police
began searching a large swath of bush land near Blackheath.
The inquest in 2013 heard that a few days after her death, Ms
Peisley's house was broken into by a number of her former
friends and acquaintances, who later used her identification
cards to sell items at a western Sydney pawn shop.
Two of the 19-year-old's former friends - Jeremy Douglas and
Saxon Holdforth - became "persons of interest" at the
inquest, with the scrutiny on their activities intensifying.
The inquest received evidence from multiple witnesses
suggesting that Ms Peisley had been killed and thrown off
one of the Blue Mountains' many cliff edges.
"I heard she was killed over drugs or she wouldn't give them
what they wanted," Kerren Fittler said in a handwritten
statement to police.
Mr Holdforth and Mr Douglas steadfastly maintained their
innocence at the inquest.
Counsel assisting the inquest, Phillip Strickland, SC, said
the evidence relating to the exact manner and cause of Ms
Peisley's death was inconclusive, but that it did "point
strongly to her death being the result of some sort of
homicide or violence".
"Much of the hearing has been directed towards whether these
persons of interest had knowledge of or direct involvement
in the circumstances surrounding Belinda Peisley's death,"
"The evidence regarding these persons is inconclusive and
not capable of convincing a jury that a known person
committed an indictable offence."
Speaking after the hearing, Ms Peisley's aunt, Sharon
Versace said she was "very, very disappointed" that charges
would not be laid.
"At the end of the day, someone hurt Belinda but they're
still out there living their life and they've taken
hers," she said.
"I'll never give up, the detectives have come so far -
I'm hoping that one day we'll get some good news. It
won't bring Belinda back, but it will be a bit of
justice for the family."
The inquest found Ms Peisley most likely died about the
time of her disappearance but it could not determine the
cause or circumstances of her death.
The last person to see her alive was a nurse at Blue
Mountains Hospital, the coroner said, but there was
"considerable suspicion" three other people had some
knowledge or involvement in her death.
Despite extensive police investigations and ground
searches, her body has never been found.
A $100,000 reward remains in place for information about
with AAP, Blue Mountains Gazette
Missing persons expert slams investigation of young mother's suspected
Police investigating the disappearance of 19-year-old Belinda Peisley in
1998 mishandled the case and missed a critical window of opportunity to
gather evidence into her suspected homicide, a former NSW Police officer and
missing persons expert says.
Karen Karakaya worked as a police officer in the NSW Coronial Support Unit
and Missing Persons Unit in the late 1990s, during the time the young mother
vanished from Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
Ms Karakaya told the ABC's true crime podcast investigating the
disappearance of Ms Peisley, Unravel,
it was "surprising" NSW police marked Ms Peisley's missing person's report
as needing "no further investigation" just four days after it was officially
"You would not expect to see 'no further investigation' on something that
required investigation," Ms Karakaya told Unravel.
"Those first few days and weeks are really critical to the investigation …
It's a shame that this has happened."
"The only time you would see that this early on is if [Ms Peisley] was
located, and they were locating and writing off the report as no further
"It's just so sad that these things happen — that someone's out there
At the coronial inquest into the disappearance of Ms Peisley, held over
three weeks in 2012 and 2013, the officer who took Ms Peisley's missing
person's report, Matthew U'Brien, agreed that in retrospect there were
obvious steps he could have taken, but didn't, like visiting Ms Peisley's
residence and interviewing her friends and associates.
However, the lack of police action at the time wasn't solely Mr U'Brien's
responsiblity; the priority given to particular cases wasn't something
decided by individual officers — it was also up to their superiors.
Police failed to test blood at Belinda Peisley's home
Prior to the missing person's report about Ms Peisley's disappearance being
filed, two NSW Police officers and two detectives had attended the
19-year-old's home at Trow Avenue in Katoomba.
It was three days after Ms Peisley was last seen alive. A government
caseworker who had been helping Ms Peisley had alerted police because she
was concerned about the young mother's welfare.
In a report documenting their attendance at Ms Peisley's home that day,
police officers described Ms Peisley as an "illicit drug user".
One attending officer later stated they remembered seeing what appeared to
be blood in the bathroom — about "the size of an adult handful" — but this
was not tested or collected for a sample.
Phil Strickland, the counsel assisting the coroner at the inquest into Ms
Peisley's disappearance and suspected death, said the initial police
investigation was "inadequate".
"The police never treated this as a potential homicide," Mr Strickland said.
"They treated this as a junkie who had gone missing, and so the police
didn't do any proper forensic sampling, particularly of blood samples that
were in Belinda's house, and they didn't interview a number of critical
"It is known that it is the first part of the investigation [that] is
the critical one, and if you don't do that right, then it's often very
hard to pick up the pieces later."
At the conclusion of the inquest into Ms Peisley's suspected death, coroner
Paul McMahon recommended that standard operating procedures in missing
persons cases be changed if a missing person was deemed to be of high or
very high risk of having been the victim of a homicide or suspicious death
the Homicide Squad is immediately advised.
Mr McMahon also recommended that the Homicide Squad should, if it considers
it appropriate, lead the investigation in the first 72 hours.
It was also recommended that the investigation into Ms Peisley's suspected
death be referred to the NSW Police Unsolved Homicide Unit.
Ms Peisley's suspected homicide was one of 500 cold cases to be re-examined
by the NSW Police's Unsolved Homicide Squad last year, and in December 2018
a forensic excavation of Ms Peisley's home uncovered three pieces of
clothing and underwear that are being forensically tested.
September 26, 1998
September 27, 1998
September 28, 1998
September 29, 1998
October 6, 1998
October 10, 1998
November 4, 1998
November 16, 1998
October 8, 2012
October 11, 2013
December 3, 2018
Key dates in the Belinda Peisley case
Ms Peisley inherited about $150,000 from a relative.
Ms Peisley bought a house on Trow Avenue in Katoomba for
about $118,000. She moved in with her three-year-old
son, Cody. Her other son Billy lived with his father in
Over the course of the next few months, the house became
like a "drop-in centre" for the local drug community,
according to evidence given at the coronial inquest into
Ms Peisley's disappearance. Her heroin use also
increased over this time.
Ms Peisley began a new relationship with Jason (whose
name has been changed for legal reasons). By this time,
she had spent almost the entirety of her inheritance.
September 26 1998
This is the last day Ms Peisley is known to have been
Ms Peisley attended a gathering in Katoomba where she
was punched in the face by an acquaintance.
After the altercation, Ms Peisley allegedly got a taxi
home with her boyfriend, Jason (whose name has been
changed for legal reasons). He said they had an argument
at her house and she smashed mirrors and windows.
Jason left to allegedly stay at a friend's house. This
friend remembered Jason coming over that night, but not
Ms Peisley's neighbour called the police after hearing
yelling and things smashing. Police arrived at Ms
Peisley's house and found her intoxicated and alone.
They took her to a hospital in Katoomba where she was
triaged by a nurse. She had a cut on her right hand.
Ms Peisley left the hospital at about 8:50pm before a
doctor saw her. This was the last reported sighting of
At about 10:30pm, Ms Peisley called her mother, Lesley,
and asked her to bring her son, Cody, to her home at
Trow Avenue (Cody was staying with Lesley). Lesley said
it was too late and they would come in the morning.
September 27 1998
Heidi Wailes said after she heard about her friend Ms
Peisley being punched, she went to her house to see how
she was, but no-one was home. Ms Wailes said she went
inside the house to look for Ms Peisley and found her
bag, with her wallet inside, squashed down the back of
the couch. Ms Wailes did not make an official report to
police about this until a considerable time later.
Jason (whose name has been changed for legal reasons)
went to the NRL Grand Final in Sydney with several
September 28 1998
Jason returned to Ms Peisley's house in the morning and
found the front door open and windows smashed. He looked
around for Ms Peisley but she wasn't there. He said he
found her keycard and Medicare card, and he took them.
He waited for her for a couple of hours, then left.
A Department of Community Services (DoCS) worker went to
Ms Peisley's home to visit her. She saw windows were
smashed, and there was no answer at the door.
A note on the police reporting system said Jason had
informed police Ms Peisley had gone "berserk" at her
house on September 26, smashing property and windows and
throwing him out. The note also said Ms Peisley had not
been seen at the house for two days and her current
whereabouts were unknown.
September 29 1998
The DoCS worker returned to Ms Peisley home to ascertain
her whereabouts but nobody was there. The worker
notified police about her concerns for Ms Peisley's
Police attend Ms Peisley's home and made a forced entry
into the property. One officer who attended later
remembered seeing what appeared to be blood in the
October 6 1998
Ms Peisley's mother officially reported her as missing
to police. A photograph of Ms Peisley was collected by
police and posted on an information board in Katoomba.
October 10 1998
Police marked Ms Peisley's missing person's report with
a clear-up status of "No further investigation".
4 November 1998
Police were informed of activity in Ms Peisley's bank
account and the possibility that Jason (whose name has
been changed for legal reasons) was the person accessing
16 November 1998
Police took their first formal statement from Jason
regarding Ms Peisley's disappearance. Jason admitted to
using her keycard to withdraw money from her account,
but said she owed him money.
8 October 2012
The inquest into the disappearance and suspected death
of Ms Peisley began at the NSW State Coroner's Court in
Katoomba. The inquest continued over 15 days in 2012 and
2013 at Katoomba Local Court, Parramatta Local Court and
the NSW State Coroner's Court in Glebe.
11 October 2013
NSW deputy state coroner Paul McMahon determined Ms
Peisley died on or about 26 September 1998 in or around
Katoomba, and her death was more likely than not the
consequence of the action of a third party. The coroner
was unable to make a finding as to the cause and manner
of her death.
At the conclusion of the inquest, Mr McMahon found it
was unlikely Jason (whose name has been changed for
legal reasons) was involved in Ms Peisley's
disappearance and suspected death. As to whether Ms
Wailes had any direct knowledge of and/or involvement,
the coroner said the evidence was inconclusive.
3 December 2018
Police conducted a forensic dig at Ms Peisley's Katoomba
home and found three pieces of clothing that are being
tested for DNA.
'I never, ever expected foul play': What happened to Belinda Peisley?
Nineteen-year-old single mum Belinda Peisley vanished from a hospital in the
Blue Mountains in September 1998. Years later, an inquest uncovered a murky
network of friends and locals around her in the last few months of her life. Her
family hangs onto the hope that someone knows something and will come forward
with new information.
The third season of the ABC's Unravel podcast, Last
Seen Katoomba, examines the evidence around these six persons of interest.
The coroner basically ruled out three of the six persons of interest: Jason and
John (whose names have been changed for legal reasons), and Wanda Loynds.
Regarding the other persons of interest — Heidi Wailes, Jeremy Douglas and Luke
(whose name has been changed for legal reasons) — the coroner found the
available evidence was inconclusive, but did raise considerable suspicion as to
the possibility of knowledge and/or involvement in Belinda's disappearance
and/or subsequent death.
More than 20 years on, some people are still too scared to speak about Belinda
and her case.
Could some of the people at the inquest know more about what happened to her?
Last known sighting of Belinda
Belinda Peisley was last seen leaving a hospital in Katoomba in the Blue
Mountains around 8:50pm on September 26, 1998.
Police had brought her to the emergency department at about 8:30pm from her
At the hospital, a nurse triaged Belinda noting she seemed agitated, had a
laceration on her right hand and wouldn't remove her jacket.
Before a doctor could see her, Belinda walked out of the emergency department.
Despite several police investigations stretching across two decades, Belinda has
never been found.
Belinda's life in Katoomba
A year before she vanished, Belinda Peisley had inherited $150,000 from a
distant relative. She used a large portion of the money to buy a house in
Belinda's aunt, Sharon Versace, said she helped Belinda buy the house and was
proud Belinda had used her money wisely.
"She did the right thing and went out and bought a little cottage," said Sharon.
At the time Belinda was born, Sharon lived with her sister Lesley Peisley,
Belinda's mother, for a few years, so Sharon helped to raise Belinda and had a
close relationship with her.
"Belinda was a real little sweetie; always wanting to do things to help Lesley,"
said Sharon. "Even from a very young age, making her cups of tea and helping out
with things around the house — she was really good like that".
Belinda's father, Mark Wearne, was absent from Belinda's childhood, and Sharon
says Lesley had mental health issues so things weren't easy for Belinda.
When Belinda hit her teens, she became what Sharon describes as "wilder and less
controlled": Belinda dyed her hair dark, was listening to heavy metal, and
started hanging with the "wrong crowd".
Belinda was going out at night, partying, taking drugs, and Sharon felt there
wasn't a lot of stability.
Belinda ran away from home a number of times, stayed in women's refuges, and
lived with Sharon for a while.
By the time Belinda was 15, she was pregnant with her first son, Cody, and soon
after she had another son, Billy.
Belinda and her family had known for a few years that Belinda was due to receive
the inheritance when she turned 18.
When the time came, Sharon said she persuaded Belinda to buy a house.
"It just would've been devastating to waste that money," said Sharon. "She was
lucky to have that opportunity, so basically we made it known that this was
setting her up for life — she could start afresh and it was good for her sons".
Belinda moved into the house with her then three-year-old son, Cody. Her younger
son, Billy, lived with his father in Sydney.
Within six months of buying the house, Belinda disappeared.
The last time Belinda was reported being seen alive was at the hospital in
Katoomba on September 26, 1998. However, the last known contact Belinda made was
a phone call to her mother, Lesley Peisley, at around 10:30pm that night.
Lesley had been looking after Belinda's son, Cody, and Belinda asked Lesley to
bring Cody up to her Katoomba home. Lesley lived locally but told Belinda it was
too late in the evening, so they would come in the morning instead.
In the days afterward, Lesley did go to Belinda's home with Sharon Versace, but
Belinda wasn't home. They saw that Belinda's house had been trashed: windows and
mirrors were smashed and there was blood on the floor of the bathroom.
Fearing for her life
In the lead-up to her going missing, Belinda Peisley told multiple family
members, including Sharon Versace, she was fearing for her life.
Since moving to Katoomba, Belinda had become involved in the local drug
community, and her home had become like a "drop-in centre", as one witness
described at the inquest.
People in the community would visit her home anytime, day or night, and
sometimes would stay for periods of time, with or without Belinda's permission.
It appeared to one witness at the time that Belinda had lost control of her home
and she was sick of people coming to her house and using drugs.
Belinda's ex-boyfriend, Andrew Moffett, the father of her son Billy, told the
inquest he noticed things started to change after Belinda moved to Katoomba.
After the move, they used to keep in touch by talking on the phone, and Andrew
said one particular phone call sticks out in his mind where he says Belinda told
him she'd got herself into trouble.
"She said she'd dug a hole for herself and she was getting herself out," said
Andrew said Belinda was stressing to him that she loved both he and Billy, and
she wanted them to remember that.
I didn't realise she was in as much trouble as she was
Evidence from Sharon and from Belinda's boyfriend at the time she disappeared,
Jason, shows that in the weeks leading up to her vanishing, Belinda had shown a
desire to leave Katoomba.
In the days before she disappeared, some of the people Belinda had considered
friends had broken into her home.
At the inquest in 2013 into her disappearance and suspected death, the coroner
found that the evidence Belinda was alive after September 26, 1998, is marginal,
and is satisfied that it is more probable than not that Belinda is dead and that
she died on or about September 26, 1998.
A moment of hope
In December last year, there was a moment of hope for Belinda Peisley's family.
New South Wales Police found three items of women's clothing during a forensic
dig under Belinda's former home in Katoomba.
In March 2019, police
released photos of the items exclusively to Unravel.
The commander of the NSW Homicide Squad, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook,
told Unravel the clothes had been subjected to numerous forensic examinations
that provided investigators with further lines of inquiry.
"As detectives continue to explore these lines of inquiry, we are appealing to
the community for information that may assist us in our pursuit of justice for
Belinda and her loved ones," Detective Superintendent Cook said.
What has become clear in the years since she disappeared is that wherever
Belinda ended up after leaving the hospital that night, she probably wasn't
'We just want to know the truth'
In the end, the coroner found it is more likely than not that Belinda Peisley's
death was the consequence of the action of a third party, and that the matter
was to be referred to the unsolved homicide unit of the NSW Police Homicide
Squad for further investigation.
Belinda's father, Mark Wearne, who had reconnected with Belinda a year before
she went missing and attended the inquest to give evidence, said the inquest
brought Belinda's case into the public limelight and onto public record.
"Whereas, prior to the inquest it was just a closed personal tragedy," said
No parent should ever bury their own child, and what makes it even
more difficult is we don't even have a body to bury.
"We just want to know the truth; we just want to know what's happened," said
"At the end of the day that's the hardest thing: not knowing if she's alive or
if she's not," said Belinda's aunt, Sharon Versace.
"The 'not-knowing' is the worst thing".
Belinda's mother, Lesley Peisley, said for a long time she held on to hope that
Belinda was alive.
"I thought she would come back or they'd find her," said Lesley. "But once I got
the report from the coroner saying a 'homicide' giving the date of her death, I
had to accept she was gone."
Lesley said she has never found a way to cope with the loss of her daughter.
"I just felt the void. Basically it's a continual loss."
Detectives have released images of clothing, including underwear, of a missing
Sydney woman who has not been seen for 21 years.
Belinda Peisley, then aged 19, was last seen in the Katoomba area of the Blue
Mountains on Saturday, September 26, 1998.
In December last year, detectives from Strike Force Belonidae – formed
exclusively to investigate Peisley’s disappearance – conducted a forensic
examination underneath her former home in Katoomba.
The dig recovered a number of items, including underwear, a skit and a top that
had been buried underneath the property.
Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, said the clothes
have been subjected to numerous forensic examinations, which have provided
investigators with some further lines of inquiry.
“As we continue to explore these lines of inquiry, we are appealing to the
community for information that may assist us in our pursuit of justice for
Belinda and her loved ones,” Det Supt Cook said.
“In particular, we are hoping someone may recognise the clothing and recall
Belinda wearing them or being in her possession.”
The search for Peisley, a mother of two, has been ongoing for more than two
In the late 1990s, local police and officers from the Homicide Squad launched
extensive investigations and numerous ground searches into the whereabouts of
the then 19-year-old.
Despite exploring various lines of inquiry and identifying numerous persons of
interest, Peisley has never been found.
In 2013 the NSW Coroner declared that Peisley had died around the time of her
disappearance, but did not specify the 19-year-old’s cause or manner of death.
Two years before Peisley disappeared, she had inherited a large amount of money
and bought herself a home.
But by the time she died Ms Peisley was a drug addict and the only money coming
into her account was welfare payments.
Police previously said she had "accumulated considerable debt" as a result of
her drug problem.
Strike Force Belonidae was formed to continue investigations into Peisley’s
Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Belonidae detectives is
urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000.