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Families of missing and murdered

WOOMBYE State School students show their support for Daniel Morcombe during a visit to the school by Daniel's parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe.
WOOMBYE State School students show their support for Daniel Morcombe during a visit to the school by Daniel's parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe. Cade Mooney

TAKING a break on their road trip, Bruce and Denise Morcombe were met by a woman with one story they never expected to hear.

They never planned to meet Jenny Kerwin, whose daughter Natasha Ryan faked her own disappearance when she was a teenage schoolgirl.

Mrs Kerwin wanted to meet Daniel Morcombe's parents in Rockhampton and she was greeted with a warm hug, Mrs Morcombe said.

Notorious serial killer Leonard Fraser was on trial for the murder of 14 year old Natasha when the runaway teen was found safe and well in 2003.

Mrs Kerwin is one of few people who can comprehend the pain the Morcombes have lived through.

"She knew our journey and she expressed her sorrow," Mr Morcombe said.

"We could understand her journey was equally as difficult.

"There was a different result ... but the pain over those years is exactly the same."

As they toured the state spreading a child safety message, the Morcombes have met families of other missing children this week, including the parents of Marilyn Wallman who disappeared 39 years ago.

"We sort of compare notes as to how they come to be and what's the best way forward for us and them," Mr Morcombe said.

Elderly parents John and Daphne Wallman last saw their daughter as she rode her bicycle from their Mackay house in 1972.

Marilyn's younger brothers, Rex and David, found their sister's bike and bag on the side of the road 10 minutes later.

"We just wanted to talk to someone who has been through similar things," Rex, 48, said of meeting the Morcombes.

"Anyone who hasn't been in this situation, it's impossible to understand what you go through.

"You can't stop thinking about all those things, the what-ifs.

"I was sitting on the side of the road (where Marilyn's bike was found) waiting for my mother to come back with my brother and I heard voices.

"I always say 'what if I had gone down to the headland to see if she was there'.

"I was eight years old and maybe I couldn't have done anything about it."

Marilyn's father John, 75, said he could see the Morcombes were "going through hell too".

On Wednesday morning in Rockhampton, the Morcombes had coffee with the mother of murdered schoolgirl Keyra Steinhardt.

Keyra, nine, was walking home from school in 1999 when she became a victim of Leonard Fraser, who died in jail four years ago.

Keyra's mother, Treasa, said it was "a real honour" to meet the Sunshine Coast parents.

"We talked about our children and we talked about how we are handling it and how well they are doing in the campaign," Ms Steinhardt said.

"Even though my daughter was only missing for two weeks ... it was hell.

"I still have my daughter's ashes and I will never let go."

On Thursday night the Morcombes met with the parents of missing 16-year-old Rachel Antonio, who disappeared from Queens Beach Esplanade, near Bowen, 13 years ago.

Mr Morcombe said most families looked for moral support and to share stories.

Natasha Ryan's parents mourned the suspected death of their daughter while the teen hid away with her older boyfriend, Scott Black, for five years.

Natasha hid in the cupboard of Black's Rockhampton home when he had visitors. Black, now married to Natasha, later spent 12 months in jail for lying to a court that he had not seen or heard from the teenager since she disappeared.

Natasha has vowed never to reveal why she hid from the world.

 

HORROR STORIES

Marilyn Wallman, 14

Marilyn disappeared in Mackay on March 21, 1972. She left home on her bicycle to ride to the Rural Youth Hall. Her two brothers followed the same route 10 minutes later and found Marilyn's bicycle and school bag on the side of the road about 1km from their home. She has not been seen since.

Rachel Antonio, 16

Rachel was last seen walking on the Queens Beach Esplanade near Bowen on April 25, 1998. Her mother drove Rachel to the Summer Garden Cinema about 6pm. With an hour to fill, Rachel walked down to the end of Beach Ave, 200m from the cinema. She was seen leaving the beach at 6.45pm but was never seen after that.

Keyra Steinhardt, 9

Keyra was abducted and murdered as she walked home from school on April 22, 1999. She was the victim of serial killer Leonard Fraser, who was also found guilty of killing women in the Rockhampton area, where Keyra's mother still lives. Fraser died in prison in 2007.

Natasha Ryan

For five years, Natasha was presumed abducted and murdered. She was found hiding in her boyfriend's Rockhampton home in 2003 at the same time Leonard Fraser was on trial accused of abducting and murdering the then 14-year-old.

Topics:  bruce and denise morcombe, keyra steinhardt, marilyn wallman, natasha ryan, rachel antonio




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