Family still haunted by mum mystery

Major Crime detectives believe the mum of three was murdered.

But Alana, who was 14 and studying at Gilmore College when her mother disappeared, doesn’t know what to believe.

Mrs Mitchell left the family home on Meares Avenue after an argument with her husband Chad at about 1am on May 3, 2010. She didn’t take her phone, keys, or wallet.

Despite searches of nearby bushland, a local park and a quarry where Mr Mitchell worked, no sign of Mrs Mitchell was found.

On May 16, Mr Mitchell told police he discovered his wife’s wedding and engagement rings on their front door step.

But the hope borne of the discovery soon turned to despair for Alana and her brothers Kyle and Peter when months passed by with no news, and Major Crime detectives changed the case classification from a missing person to a homicide investigation in October 2010.

‘When they finally admitted it we already suspected they were thinking that,’ Alana said.

‘We’re all thinking that yes, hopefully, fingers crossed she’s still all good and well but you’ve always got that in the back of your mind – what are we going to find when we do find her, and what information’s going to come out when we do find her.’

She dreams of seeing her mother walk through the front door, or of spotting her in the crowd. They’re preferable to the nightmares.

‘I’m hoping with fingers crossed that it wasn’t foul play, or anything like that,’ she said.

‘But when you sit and think about it you think well where else would she be? Where else could she have gone? She’s missed out on a lot of major things in all three of us kids’ lives. You’d think something like that would bring her back if she was hiding out somewhere. So when you think of it like that you think, ‘oh shit’.

‘I guess me avoiding it is my way to deal with it. Not completely avoiding it but not thinking about it on a daily basis. Working full time has helped so much. It’s been coming up a lot lately because it is coming up to three years, I guess its just frustrating hearing about all these murders and bodies being found and it’s like, ‘crap’.

‘I recently had close friend pass away, and I went and viewed her. And me picturing that as mum really hurts.

 ‘The worst thought is that if she’s not found, then she’s laying in a ditch or in a gutter or somewhere in the bush.’

Alana’s heartache over her mum’s out-of-character disappearance is even more poignant as she was away from home that night and believes her mum wouldn’t have left the house if she’d been there.

‘I was supposed to be there, I went home that afternoon and I could just feel the tension,’ she said.

‘It wasn’t very nice and I knew that if I was there and they had an argument I would have stepped in and that wouldn’t have ended well.

‘I said to mum ‘I’m going to go stay at nan’s, I’m not doing (this)’, and she got a bit shitty at me because she was home (from work) that night and I didn’t want to be there.

‘She said ‘I’ll call you in the morning’.’

Mrs Mitchell never called.

‘We weren’t exactly fighting but we were frustrated with each other and that makes me feel bad because the last words we said to each other were like ‘Okay, whatever, see you tomorrow’, and ‘whatever, go away’. It’s not very nice.

‘I wish I could have said more.’

During fifth period at school the next day, Alana’s mobile phone wasinundated with missed calls and text messages – her mum was missing, did she know where Iveta was?

‘I was just in tears going, ‘what the f***’s going on?’

‘I just felt so bad because I was supposed to be there that night and I wasn’t

‘I don’t (blame myself) but I wish I was there because if I was there it wouldn’t have panned out how it did.’

From there the whirlwind of police reports, media interviews and above all, the hell of not knowing, descended on the family.

Alana attended school sporadically, and tried to ignore the stares and questions from other students.

She dropped out of school in Year 10 but was determined to make something of herself, and got a full-time job in childcare.

While the first year without her mother dragged, Alana said the last two had sped by. Over the years her first serious relationship fell apart and the death of a close friend heaped more trauma onto the teen.

‘Having other older females in my life like close older friends or even some of mum’s friends, they’ve made it a lot easier but at the end of the day every girl needs her mum. Just after mum went missing I got into my first serious relationship and the end of that was absolutely horrific. There’s just times where you need your mum.’

One of Alana’s most enduring memories of her ‘random, bubbly, out there’ mum was the way she’d check on her children at five minute intervals when they were sick.

‘She was (a really good mum) she did whatever she could for us three kids,’ she said.

‘If we wanted a toy and she couldn’t afford it she’d go put it on lay-by for however many weeks just so we could have it.’

Despite working long hours at Fitzy’s Lakeside Bar & Grill in South Lake – which Alana admitted caused tension as her mum was not around as much as she liked – the teen said Iveta was around for the most important times.

Alana said the disappearance of her mum has made it hard for her to trust or open up to anyone, because she’s afraid of being hurt.

Even friends who’ve had parents pass away are difficult to confide in.

‘In a way I think of them as being lucky because they know what happened, they were with her when it happened and I’m like well, lucky you.’

While the rest of her life is moving on, the hole in her life caused by Mrs Mitchell’s disappearance won’t start to heal until she knows what happened.

‘I guess it’s just closure now. We’ve been through all the hurt, all the media and the detectives and I just want closure now. Even if it isn’t a good outcome which is possibly true at least I’ll have that closure.’

She said Major Crime still haven’t returned many of her belongings – which were seized as evidence because Iveta had been sleeping in her daughter’s bedroom when Alana was away – and said she was ‘annoyed’ at the lack of contact from detectives.

‘We don’t know who is on the case, we don’t know if they’ve found anything, whether they’re releasing anything. We know nothing. Understandably they have a lot of other cases but’mething – they just don’t know they know it.’

She still drives past the old house, which was sold shortly after Mrs Mitchell vanished, and said visiting the street didn’t bother her as it was filled with good memories of Iveta ‘just being a mum’.

Alana said she threw herself into work rather than ‘going off the rails’ after her mum vanished because she’d seen other friends who’d suffered trauma ‘go completely silly’.

‘I don’t want people to think of me like that. I want people to think of me as someone that took a deep breath, dried up the tears and not moved on, but got through it,’ she said.

‘I don’t want to be thought of as the person who sits at home and does, takes or drinks whatever I can to make myself feel better.

‘I’ve been through a lot but at the end of the day I’m still me, I’m still a human, I’m still someone that needs to get through life.

‘Yeah, I do hurt every day and I do think about her every day but I can’t let that ruin everything else in my life.

‘I got told when I first started going through this – don’t make a decision in your sad days that’s going to effect you in your happy days.

‘Because at the end of the day you’re going to have more happy days than bad days.’