Mysterious death haunts town. Listen to the podcast now.

Annette: Cold Case Unlocked podcast explores 40-year crime mystery

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Annette Deverell went out to buy smokes, she never came back.

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She was a typical Australian teenager from a typical Australian town.

To her former high school friends in the late 1970s, Annette Deverell was the "cool chick". Popular and pretty, she was a bit of a rebel. She had a kind heart but she acted tough - a "rough diamond" who seemed "a bit indestructible".

In those days before the internet, social media and smartphones, Annette and her mates made their own fun in the sleepy seaside town they called home.

They did "bog laps" around the streets in their cars. There were booze-ups down on the foreshore. Mischief at the midnight drive-ins. Dancing to live bands at the pub on the weekends.

Then, one Saturday night in September 1980, 19-year-old Annette partied with her friends at the pub, went out to buy a packet of cigarettes and vanished.

Initially, police treated her disapperance as a missing persons case. But her friends and family had no reason to think she would run away.

Two years later, their worst fears were realised when her skull and a few bone fragments were found in bush 20 kilometres from where she was last seen.

Annette was the "skeleton in the forest" - as one newspaper headline screamed following the gruesome discovery.

When she disappeared in 1980 and again after her remains were identifed by dental records in 1982, police interviewed her family and friends, and others who knew her and who had seen her laughing and dancing and waving goodbye at the pub on the night she vanished.

But almost four decades later, no one knows what happened to Annette Deverell. An inquest into her death has never been held. A reward for information has never been offered.

But someone somewhere knows something.

Was Annette the victim of serial killers known to have preyed on young women in the regions around where she lived and died? Or is someone who knew Annette - and who maybe still lives in her home town - hiding a grim, brutal secret?

Annette: Cold Case Unlocked is a four-part podcast series exploring the mysterious death of Annette Deverell and the dark secrets and suspicions that have haunted a seaside community for decades.

The first episode, The Skeleton in the Forest, is now available on your favourite podcast app.

Published across the Australian Community Media network, the Annette investigation features the recollections of her mother and the insights of the circle of friends and acquaintances who last saw her alive.

It also hears from the retired police detective who examined the case and whose superiors allegedly baulked at investigating possible links to the deaths of other young women.

Annette's mother, Margaret Carver, wants an inquest or a reward to be offered. She wants justice for her daughter. The Mandurah Mail, the local newspaper in the regional Western Australian town south of Perth where Annette lived and where Mrs Carver still resides today with Annette's ashes always close by, is taking up the cause with its special podcast series.

September 13, 2019, marks 39 years since Mrs Carver drove her daughter into town for that fateful night out with friends.

Now 76, Mrs Carver says she does not want to die without knowing what happened to her daughter.

Annette: Cold Case Unlocked is a four-part podcast written and presented by journalist Carla Hildebrandt and published by Australian Community Media. The first episode, 'Skeleton in the Forest', is available on your favourite podcast app.

Annette: Cold Case Unlocked is a four-part podcast written and presented by journalist Carla Hildebrandt and published by Australian Community Media. The first episode, 'Skeleton in the Forest', is available on your favourite podcast app.

With some of Annette's friends now in their late 50s and early 60s, and some having already passed away, she says time is running out for police to speak to people who might know what happened that night.

"Most of them are still in Mandurah, not many of them have moved away," Mrs Carver said.

"Somebody must know something out there. I don't want to go to my grave not knowing it was never solved."

Annette's friend Barbara Calleja says the mystery has had a lasting impact on long-time residents of Mandurah, especially those who knew Annette.

"You just look at everyone and think, 'do I really know you?'" Ms Calleja said.

"I think it's about time somebody opened this case. You see all the other ones on TV, all the cold cases and they are finding the murderers. And I think 'come on somebody, get Annette's out'."

Somebody must know something out there. I don't want to go to my grave not knowing it was never solved. - Margaret Carver, mother of Annette

The Western Australian government has offered a $250,000 reward for information that helps police solve any one of 12 murder and missing person cases in the state.

But there is no reward on offer for information about Annette's death.

In a separate case, Mandurah mother Margaret Dodd successfully lobbied for a $250,000 reward to be offered for information about the disappearance of her 17-year-old daughter Hayley.

Hayley vanished in July 1999 from Badgingarra, north of Perth. Francis John Wark was convicted of her murder in January 2018.

Ms Dodd said she was able to secure the offer of a reward three years after Hayley's disappearance because she did not take no for an answer.

Ms Dodd said the Annette cold case was still solvable.

"There's a lot of strange things about that case," she said.

"Annette's poor mother would love answers."

  • Written and presented by journalist Carla Hildebrandt, the first episode of Annette: Cold Case Unlocked is available now on your favourite podcast app. Search "Annette: Cold Case Unlocked"in Apple Podcast, Spotify, PodBean, TuneIn and SoundCloud.

Photo credit: Margaret Carver, Mandurah Historical Society, Carla Hildebrandt

Music credit: https://www.freesfx.co.uk

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