Missing for more than 40 years: the Perth girls who vanished without trace

Peel Zonta members Margaret Wyatt and Deborah McLeod with Mandurah Officer in Charge Darren Hart and Jean Eaton with a photograph of her daughter at the Missing Persons Memorial.
Peel Zonta members Margaret Wyatt and Deborah McLeod with Mandurah Officer in Charge Darren Hart and Jean Eaton with a photograph of her daughter at the Missing Persons Memorial.

RAELENE Eaton was just 16 when she disappeared along with her 17-year-old cousin Yvonne Waters more than 40 years ago.

One day in 1974, the two had gone to watch a band playing at the Oxford Hotel, Leederville and moved on to the White Sands Hotel in Scarborough.

When they failed to return that night or the next day, police were called but took no action for several days.

Raelene’s mother Jean, who lives at Furnissdale and is almost 95, will be among those present at Peel Zonta Club’s annual ceremony at the Missing Persons Memorial on the eastern foreshore next month.

The girls were believed to have left the hotel with three unidentified young men driving a white panel van, possibly with Queensland plates.

Raelene had only a few dollars in her purse.

Their bank accounts were untouched and Mrs Eaton believes the girls had no reasons to run away, particularly as her daughter was saving hard for a trip to Canada.

In a desperate attempt to find them, the two families searched Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and checked railway stations to no avail – but were forced home when their money ran out.

Ten days after her disappearance, Raelene’s older brother was involved in a road crash and died two weeks later.

In 1976, the family put up a $5000 reward and the then Premier Sir Charles Court asked police minister Ray O’Connor to increase the State Government reward from $3000 to $5000, relieving the family of any personal obligation.

Over the years, Mrs Eaton hoped against hope her daughter might simply walk through the door but is now convinced she is dead – although she would only be about 60.

The three young men would be in their mid-60s.

Several years ago, Mrs Eaton carried out some research and found the girls were not on any missing persons list, which she found appalling.

She said it would be wonderful to discover what happened to her daughter before she dies.

Someone, somewhere must know something.

The ceremony will be held at the Zonta Missing Persons Memorial on Mandurah Terrace on Friday, August 3 at 10am.

It marks the 12th year since the memorial was dedicated.