Kelly Dodd was 26 when her sister, Jessica Gaudie, went missing 12 years ago. A man has been charged for her murder but he has always denied doing it and Jessica’s body has never been found.
Kelly Dodd was 26 when her sister, Jessica Gaudie, went missing 12 years ago. A man has been charged for her murder but he has always denied doing it and Jessica’s body has never been found. Brett Wortman

Family hopes to find their Jess

THE discovery of Daniel Morcombe's remains last month was bittersweet for the family of another Sunshine Coast missing teen.

Jessica Gaudie was 16 when she vanished 12 years ago after babysitting children in Nambour and her murderer is serving a 15-year jail sentence.

But her body and those of two other women also believed to have disappeared at the hands of Kenilworth-based indigenous tracker Derek Bellington Sam, 38, have never been found.

Jessica's sister Kelly Dodd said the discovery of 13-year-old Daniel gave her strength and hope to continue the fight to lay her sister to rest with dignity.

She hopes police will put her sister and the two other missing women back on the agenda and pursue the investigation with renewed vigour.

"I have just a little bit more hope that Jess will be found," she said.

"I was happy for the Morcombes, but at the same time it's bittersweet."

Sunshine Coast Police Criminal Investigation Branch's new chief Daren Edwards promised on his arrival in July that he would revisit the case.

This week he told the Daily he would direct resources to the disappearance of the three women within a month or two, as soon as he could free up resources committed to the Morcombe case.

British backpacker Celena Bridge, 28, was the first of three women to go missing on the Coast in a 16-month period.

Sabrina Ann Glassop, 46, was the second and Jessica the third.

They were all linked in some way to Sam, who has long been a "person of interest" in all three, though he has only been convicted of murdering one - Jessica.

In all three cases, detectives have been frustrated tracing the women's final hours, with either no, or hazy, reported sightings to help pinpoint where to search.

Extensive searches in the Kenilworth area - including parts of a 60,000ha forest riddled with treacherous terrain, cliffs, gorges and abandoned mine shafts left after the gold rush - have yielded nothing.

Ms Bridge went for a hike to the Little Yabba Creek camping ground at Kenilworth on July 16, 1998, for a bird-watching meeting the following weekend but she never arrived.

She was seen about 3.30pm that day by a Booloumba Creek Rd resident, and by two men who worked with Sam at Piabun, a centre for troubled Aboriginal youths, on the same road.

Unlike his boss and workmates, Sam told a 2002 coronial inquest he could not identify the gender of the person he saw, let alone as Celena Bridge.

The same inquiry looked into the disappearance of Sabrina Ann Glassop, who was a 46-year-old teacher aide rumoured by some to be having an affair with Sam.

Her mother Joan Worsley heard her daughter's car speed away about 6am or 6.30am on May 29, 1999. Unusually, the animals were unfed, the gate left open and her car locked with the bonnet slightly warm nearby with no sign of her.

Jessica was never seen by her family after she left home on August 28, 1999, to babysit three young children, for Sam's estranged de facto, Mia Summers, who lived nearby in Burnside and wanted to go to a birthday party that evening.

Sam turned up at the same party and was involved in an argument with another man over Mia. He told police he picked up Jessica to ask her to go into the party and get Mia to come home.

He claimed he dropped Jessica off at the intersection of Bonney and Elizabeth sts, Nambour.

Ms Dodd was 26 - the second eldest sister among six siblings, just one boy - when Jessica went missing.

She lived in Palmwoods with her two children and Jessica, the second youngest, lived in Nambour with their mother.

"I had gone over the day before because there was a christening on that Sunday morning and I had organised to pick her and mum up to take them to Woodford," she said.

"Jessica had babysat for another family who lived across the street from Mia previously. She did quite a lot of babysitting.

"I was there about 7.30am and that's when we realised something was wrong because she didn't come home.

"We went to Mia's and realised Jess's stuff was all there. Her shoes, her bag ... her money was still on the bench."

Ms Dodd said police went to see Sam within the week and had charged him with murder within the month.

Sam, who has always denied his involvement in Jessica's death, was found guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court of her murder in August, 2001.

"It's good to know they've charged somebody but it still doesn't really help. When it happened it was a letdown because we still didn't have Jess," Ms Dodd said.

"If you've ever lost a child and didn't know where they were, it's that feeling all the time, I can't get rid of it."

Ms Dodd said Jessica, who would have turned 28 in July, was on a path to becoming an amazing woman when her life was cut short.

"I think about it all the time, at least every day, it doesn't go away," she said.

"I suffered from nightmares for years, still do sometimes, and I'm pretty sure the rest of the family were the same, mum especially."

Ms Dodd said police officers Mark Wright and Peter Brewer "did a fantastic job" but she believed more could still be done.

"I don't think the mines have been searched. Surely there's something a mining company could do to get down in there to have a bit of a look," she said.

"But I know there are hundreds in that Kenilworth area and I don't think they can get out there unless

there are some kind of new leads.

"I think somebody saw something or knows something, definitely."

"Coast CIB chief Daren Edwards said while he was in the state's homicide unit, involved in cold case investigations, his colleague reviewed all the information relating to the disappearance of the three women.

"That took a fair while to go back and re-interview the young blokes at the Aboriginal place there," he said.

"I've started going back through that review again plus doing some other checks ourselves on different things. We're just trying to keep the case alive.

"We're trying to find everyone again, where all the potential witnesses are. And we're looking at some other things on him (Sam), his attitudes and other details.

"Obviously, we're committing a lot of resources to the Morcombe case right now but as soon as some of those resources can be freed up we'll make a good concerted effort.

"There's no use doing it ad hoc, so we'll wait until we're properly resourced to do a proper review and renew the investigation."

Ms Dodd said she jumped on any potential new information relating to the case and was shocked to read a newspaper article two years ago claiming a shallow grave could be the answer.

A woman had come forward claiming her partner, now in jail, had seen a shallow grave in the Kenilworth forest about the time Sam was acting "oddly".

Ms Dodd said she hoped other people would also come forward with information they held about the women's disappearances.

"You've always got to have hope, it's not good not to have hope."

Three hospitalised after crash outside shopping centre

Premium Content Three hospitalised after crash outside shopping centre

Six people were assessed by paramedics at the scene of the two-vehicle crash...

Three in custody over alleged bashing after pub stoush

Premium Content Three in custody over alleged bashing after pub stoush

A man was rushed to hospital with a serious head injury after an alleged assault...

Costly mistake for motorcyclist clocked at 168km/h

Premium Content Costly mistake for motorcyclist clocked at 168km/h

Defendant claims his early morning behaviour did not put other people at risk