Missing Persons- Joanne Ratcliffe/ Kirste Gordon
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Australian Politicians/ Contacts
SA Police are working to
establish possible links between the murders of two
Townsville schoolgirls and
the abduction of five Adelaide children.
They are co-operating with
Queensland colleagues and
the Canberra Bureau of Crime
intelligence, and have established a special file with their
Crime Stoppers office to assess
calls from the public.
Major Crime Task Force
chief, Supt Paul Schramm,
confirmed yesterday a joint inquiry was under way into any
possible connections between
the 1966 abductions of Jane,
Anna and Grant Beaumont,
the 1973 disappearance of
Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirste
Gordon and the arrest of
Arthur Brown, 86.
Brown was arrested in
Townsville two weeks ago
for the alleged murder of
MacKay sisters Judith, 7,
and Susan, 5, in 1970.
The arrest followed
statements to police by
He has denied the
It was a picture of
police sketches of the man
seen in the Beaumont and
Gordon-Ratcliffe cases that
prompted media attention and
revived SA police interest in
Supt Schramm told interstate media: "We are taking it
seriously and we are seeing if
there is any connection. We
have analysts working very
closely together to try and
piece together the past 30
Since the Queensland arrest,
police have opened a new file
in its Crime Stoppers office
and reports a "significant"
number of contacts from the
public volunteering information.
Mr Schramm said the number of calls to Crime Stoppers
indicated an on-going interest
in the two SA abduction cases.
"We are quite happy for the
public to volunteer useful information and will look closely
at what comes in."
Adelaide Advertiser 13-12-1998
Browns trial for the murders of the Mackay sisters did not reach a verdict
and a 2nd trial abandoned as Brown had become unfit to stand trial. Brown died in 2002.
Sketch of suspect in abductions
I Saw Kidnap
A FORMER SA woman has claimed
to have witnessed a double abduction at Adelaide Oval 25 years ago.
She contacted an Adelaide radio
station and said she watched for "60
seconds" as a young girl fought and
punched a man carrying a, little girl
near the oval on Saturday, August
25,1973. It was on that day Joanne
Ratcliffe, 11, and Kirste Gordon, 4,
were abducted by a mystery man
from the rear of the oval during the
North Adelaide-Norwood clash.
No trace of the abductor or the two
girls has been found, and the double-
disappearance remains one of Australia's most baffling mysteries.
Sue Laurie, 40, told radio 5AA she
was 14 at time of the abduction.
She said she "put things together"
three or four years later and made
a statement to police. No further
action was taken.
Last week a friend in Adelaide
contacted Ms Laurie at her Victorian
home and told her about the photos
recently published of Arthur Brown.
arrested in Townsville.
Ms Laurie later spoke to the Sunday Mail and said: "We walked out
from the zoo and were about midway
between Popeye and tne University
Bridge. I looked across the river and
saw a very young girl being carried
by a man who I thought was her
grandfather. He had a hat and a
checked jacket on.
"She was crying and the older girl,
I think she was a few years younger
than me, was running after him.
"She was thumping him and
punching into him and crying out at
him. I saw all that for about 60
"The thing seemed wrong because
I would have thought if he was a
relative he would have shooed her...
"It was after I married, I was about
18 or 20, 1 kept on and on at my
husband about my memories - and
I read another article on the abduction. My husband said 'go and do
something about it'. I went to the
chief investigator in about 1979-80
and made a full statement.
"I was sure of many things, including the time, because the siren went
for the beginning or end of the third-
quarter. Dad remarked on the game,
but I don't think he saw what I was
watching on the other side of the
river. I believe on the day of the
abduction the police were looking in
an opposite direction to where we
"The only other thing I need to say
is the parents of Joanne should take
heart that little girl did everything
she could to protect her little friend."
Sue Laurie's description of the
mystery man tallied with two other
descriptions made at Adelaide Oval
on the day the girls were abducted.
Queensland police and SA detectives have still to determine the
movements of Brown 25 years ago.
Senior police stress Mr Brown is
not a suspect. The photo similarities
are not evidence.
On Friday, Brown, a retired school
maintenance man, was freed on bail.
He has been charged with murdering the MacKay sisters, who were on
their way to school. They had been
raped, stabbed and suffocated. Their
dresses were folded beside their
school bags, shoes and socks.
He also was granted ball on 45
charges involving alleged offences
against six girls aged three to 10
between 1970 and 1977, including
rape, sodomy, deprivation of liberty
and administering drugs.
Adelaide Advertiser 13-12-1998
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