Australia's Oldest Unsolved Missing Persons Cases

Each year around 38,000 Australians go missing, and some are never found.

In the final moments leading up to her disappearance, Perth teenager Patricia Broun was just 400 metres from her family home.

Broun, 17, was anxious too, inquiring about a missing package in a corner store just a few hours after mysteriously agreeing to meet with an unidentified male caller over the phone while at work.

Patricia Broun. Images: AFP and the National Library of Australia

It was June 4, 1953, and the young Shorthand typist asked permission to leave work early following the phone call -- which remained a key point of her disappearance in the years that followed -- and traveled by bus to her hometown of Mt. Lawley.

Once there, she entered a grocery store to purchase a soft drink before walking a block down the road half-an-hour later to purchase another.

The teenager then returned to the first store just before 6pm and, according to reports, anxiously inquired about a small package.

Broun then left the store, which was only a few hundred metres from her home, and was never heard from again.

The case of the Mt. Lawley teenager, her unexplained phone call and still-missing package, remains the longest standing unsolved case on the Australian Federal Police's long-term missing persons public register.

Newspaper article from the Mirror, Perth, Saturday 15 August 1953. Source: National Library of Australia
'A Journalist Has Vanished'

The second oldest case on the register is that of Alan Edmonds.

An English born journalist, Edmonds disappeared while travelling through Australia in September 1959.

Alan Edmonds. Image: AFP

Supporting himself with a variety of jobs, the 28-year-old kept in regular contact with his family overseas as he hitch-hiked during his travels.

The last post card his parents received was sent from Alice Springs, dated 7 September 1959. It detailed Edmonds' plans to leave Alice Springs that day for Adelaide.

A newspaper announcement in the Canberra Times, Friday 12 February 1960. Source: National Library of Australia

Authorities believe the young journalist made it to his destination and was living in North Adelaide before he was reported missing when his family stopped receiving communications from him.

Newspaper clippings from the time described the case as one of the "most baffling" on record, and Edmonds' parents traveled from the UK in the 1960's to search for their son.

However, 59 years later, his case remains open.

The Beaumont Siblings

Arguably now Australia's most high profile missing persons case, the search for Adelaide's Beaumont children is not only more than half a century old, but still carries a $1,000,000 reward for information.

On Australia Day 1966, siblings Jane, 9,  Arnna, 7, and Grant, 4, took a five minute bus ride to Adelaide's Glenelg Beach.

Arnna, Grant and Jane Beaumont. Image: AFP

After they didn't return home that afternoon, their parents knew something was wrong and alerted police at 7.30pm.

Several witness accounts reported seeing the children in the company of a tall, thin, blonde man before their disappearance. A shopkeeper reported that Jane Beaumont had bought food from his store that morning.

A newspaper article in the Canberra Times, Friday 28 January 1966. Source: National Library Of Australia

Claims the man described by witnesses was Harry Phipps, an affluent businessman who was allegedly a violent paedophile, lead to the excavation of his old Castalloy factory in Adelaide in 2013 and once again just over six months ago.

In February, investigators found animal bones buried beneath the site but located no evidence linked to the Beaumont children.

Left: A police sketch of the man witnesses said they saw with the children the day they disappeared. Srouce: SA Police. Right: Harry Phipps. Source: Provided

Prior to these recent searches, the 52-year obsession of Australians with the case has seen a clairvoyant enlisted to aid the investigation, several false leads and, as South Australia Police revealed in 2016, a call to authorities almost every four days regarding the case.

National Missing Person's Week

Despite the decades that have passed since their last sightings, Broun, Edmonds and the Beaumont Children are just five of the more than 2, 600 people listed as long-term missing persons in Australia.

While 98 percent of the 38,000 people reported missing nationally each year are often located within one week, there remains hundreds of Aussies who haven't been found.

“It is hard to fathom the pain and anguish that the families and friends of those missing a loved must endure," the Minister for Police Troy Grant said.

“If you have information about a missing person, please do the right thing and contact NSW Police.”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of National Missing Person's Week, which runs from August 5-11.

Grant urges people who have concerns for a loved one's welfare not to wait the 24-hour period many believe is necessary before alerting police, but to make contact as soon as possible.