Peter White, from Ballarat, Victoria disappeared while bushwalking in the Grampians in the 1980's.


Grampians bones remain a mystery

Posted Fri Feb 22, 2008 1:36pm AEDT - ABC

Victorian Police say human remains found by Bendigo students three years ago in the Grampians, in south-west Victoria, might not be as old as first thought.

Police had believed the remains might be those of missing Melbourne photographer Rex Sutherland, who disappeared in the 1970s, or Ballarat bushwalker Peter White, who disappeared in the 1980s.

But Senior Detective John Bongiorno says a sports shoe found with the body was made in Australia in 1992.

He says no missing persons reported in the Grampians from that date are unaccounted for and detectives are seeking more help from the public.

He says with no missing persons reported in the Grampians from that date, detectives have little other information to go on.

"All we've got basically through the DNA or examination of the bones, is that basically we are looking at a Caucasian male, probably around late 20s to 30s," he said.


Human bones in bush: new clues

22 February 2008 - 5:00AM  The Advertiser - Bendigo

COLD case police have released key photographs they hope will solve one of regional Victoria's great mysteries of human bones found in the Grampians by Bendigo schoolgirls.

New information on the human bones found in September, 2004, by a group of Girton Grammar schoolgirls on a school hike indicates they are not as old as first thought.

Stawell CIU's Senior-Detective John Bongiourno, who has led the investigation since the discovery, said the major breakthrough had been specialist information on the age of a pair of shoes discovered with the bones.

Sen-Det. Bongiourno said consultation between the Cold Case Taskforce and Adidas had established the shoes were manufactured in Australia in 1992, which eliminated the possibility of the most likely missing person, Melbourne photographer Rex Sutherland, who disappeared on Mt William in 1978.

"This answers some questions, but raises quite a few more," Sen-Det. Bongiourno said.

"One of the biggest problems was that the remains weren't in very good condition, so forensic scientists weren't confident about accurately estimating how long they had been there."

Sen-Det. Bongiourno said the bones were distributed over several hundred metres and possibly scattered by animals or by water flows in the rugged terrain.

He said to further complicate the mystery there were no unsolved missing person cases from the Grampians region from the period 1992 to 2004.

DNA testing of the brother of Ballarat bushwalker Peter White who disappeared in the 1980s has already ruled out another possible identity.

Police are now hoping pictures of the shoes and watch found with the body will help trigger memories of some knowledge of what they estimate to be a male Caucasian probably aged in his 20s or 30s.

He said the latest discovery came after the 2006 fires, when changes to vegetation and soil at the spot turned up another bone.

Unfortunately, repeated searches of the area have not yielded any teeth.

"The first thing we were hoping we would find were some teeth and go straight to dental records and make an identification that way," he said.

But Sen-Det. Bongiourno said the absence of the jawbone and lower part of the skull did not necessarily indicate anything suspicious, as the time the bones had been exposed and the disturbance of animals could have contributed to the condition.

Forensic scientists still have not been able to establish the cause of death.

"Everything has to be canvassed," Sen-Det. Bongiourno said.

"It could have been a body dumped there, it could have been somebody who had grown tired of life and decided to end it in a remote spot."

Girton Grammar schoolgirls made the grisly discovery while on a school hike on Mt William in September, 2004, after taking a wrong turn near the summit car park.