Voice of Real Australia: My cold case crime podcast for a forgotten victim

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Mandurah Mail journalist Carla Hildebrandt, whose podcast series, Annette: Cold Case Unlocked, was launched this week.

ON SITE: Me, where Annette Deverell's remains were found in 1982 in the bush outside of Mandurah, WA.

ON SITE: Me, where Annette Deverell's remains were found in 1982 in the bush outside of Mandurah, WA.

A year ago I had never heard of Annette Deverell.

The 19-year-old from seaside Mandurah, south of Perth in Western Australia, disappeared in 1980, and her remains were found in nearby bush two years later.

Her death had been a cold case for almost 40 years, with no inquest and no offer of a reward for information.

Even when I went looking for the facts of the case, it was difficult to find, with just a few blogs and a Crime Stoppers page online.

But after many visits to WA's State Library to trawl through old copies of The West Australian, the Daily News and the Sunday Times and some small country papers, an interesting picture began to emerge.

The more I spoke with Annette's family, friends and retired Mandurah police and politicians, the more the need to tell this story, in detail, became evident.

There was no way Annette was going to remain a forgotten victim.

The podcast Annette: Cold Case Unlocked has consumed me for many months now.

In and around my work as a news reporter for the Mandurah Mail, I've been piecing together the facts from records and initial media coverage, interviewing those who knew her, retracing her last known movements on that night in September 1980, visiting the bush where her remains were found, seeking the insights of investigators familiar with the case, writing and editing the script, recording the narration, producing the podcast, and, finally this week, publishing the first of the four episodes (It's available now in Apple Podcast, Spotify, PodBean, TuneIn and SoundCloud).

Every step of the way, I've been gripped by the mystery, touched by the tragedy and driven by my strong belief that Annette's family deserve to know the truth.


Some of her old friends were wholeheartedly supportive and couldn't have done any more to help tell the story of the "cool chick" from high school they will never forget.

They hoped her mother and brothers would finally receive some much-needed closure.

Others, however, warned me not to write about Annette, to avoid "reopening old wounds".

Unfortunately, if Annette's family is ever going to get answers about what happened to their fun-loving girl back in 1980, it is going to be uncomfortable for some people.

For me, it was important to tell this story truthfully, and to the best of my ability; to analyse why the case was never solved; and to open the door to new information.

With Annette's friends now in their late 50s and early 60s, time is running out for police to solve the case.

BACK WHEN: Annette Deverell with her cousin Malcolm Black in Mandurah. Photo: Margaret Carver.

BACK WHEN: Annette Deverell with her cousin Malcolm Black in Mandurah. Photo: Margaret Carver.

I hope the podcast will encourage authorities to get moving.

In particular, it seems clear that a reward should be posted for information that helps solve the case, while a coronial inquest should be scheduled to examine all the evidence and see whether new evidence can be brought forward.

And there are so many unanswered questions.

Annette's mother, Margaret Carver, still lives in the town where her daughter died. She deserves justice.

I'll never know the deep pain Margaret feels every day.

But by telling Annette's story, I hope that, in some small way, it will help to lessen that burden.

Thanks for reading, and for listening to the podcast. If you have any information that could help police solve this case, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Carla Hildebrandt

Journalist, Mandurah Mail

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