Officer reflects on cold case

Judith Bartlett's case shows how incredibly important it is to contact us if they see or know something, no matter how old the case.

Detective Inspector Denise Godden
ANSWERS 50 YEARS ON: Judith Bartlett. Human remains found in a Gooloogong paddock in 2009 belonged to Mrs Bartlett.

ANSWERS 50 YEARS ON: Judith Bartlett. Human remains found in a Gooloogong paddock in 2009 belonged to Mrs Bartlett.

WHEN a small fragment of bone turned up in a paddock in Gooloogong, it was a godsend for detectives who had carriage of one of the longest running missing persons cases in the Central West.

Detective Inspector Denise Godden, now attached to Orana Mid Western Police District, as Crime Manager, was based in Orange, part of Canobolas Local Area Command, when the remains of missing Bathurst woman Judith Bartlett were found back in 2009 in a paddock at Gooloogong 40kms from Cowra.

She said the case was an example of how police never give up investigating, and illustrates the importance of the community speaking up if they know or find something which they think is relevant, no matter how insignificant they think that information may be.

She said being part of the team that helped solve the Judith Bartlett missing persons case is one the highlights of her policing career.

"It is very satisfying as an investigator that my team kept asking questions and finally came through with a result and provided those answers. I applaud the hard work and persistence of my team. It was a tremendous effort, assisted by many other agencies."

Reflecting on the case a decade on, Inspector Godden said it was still something she was very proud of.

"I think that case in particular shows that police will always keep going, no matter how old the case is.

"It always remains an open case, and we will always keep investigating."

"Judith Bartlett's case shows how incredibly important it is for anyone in the community to contact us if they see or know something, no matter how old the case."

Judith Bartlett was last seen in March 1964, aged 28 on her way to the Old Royal Hotel, Bathurst.

Her remains were found by a bushwalker on a Gooloogong property in 2009 almost 50 years after she was last seen.

As part of the investigation, the bone was sent to New Zealand for advanced technology, and samples were sent to Texas in the USA for DNA analysis.

Detective Inspector Godden said she recalls Ms Bartlett's daughter, Frances Ryan's, relief, when she finally realised her mum "just didn't walk out on her."

"It was a good ending to a very sad story.

"We did a lot of media on it at the time, and Frances (who has since passed away) spoke about how she and the family thought their mum had abandoned them."

At the time, Frances said to journalists that thanks to the dedication of police, and information from the public, the family found out the truth.

"She didn't stop loving us. She was taken by a thief in the night," Mrs Ryan said.

Inspector Godden said homicide investigations into Judith's death remain ongoing, and urged anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.

She said police will never stop trying to find out what happened not only to Judith, but to all missing persons.

Across the Central West there remain many long term missing persons cases. While some have been declared deceased at inquest, their bodies have never been found. Many have rewards, of up to one million dollars, for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for their death.

In recent years the most significant missing persons case involving Cowra relates to former Cowra resident Max William Day, 53 who left his home on Bingara Street, Peak Hill, on Saturday, January 7, 2017.

Mr Day was seen at a truck stop on the Newell Highway, about 10 kilometres north of Parkes, on Sunday, February 5, 2017.

Police later located his vehicle in Forbes and were told it had been left at the location, a car park on Rankin Street sometime between Monday, January 9, 2017 and Wednesday, January 25, 2017.

Piecing together the days leading up to his disappearance police determined Mr Day was picked up hitch-hiking at an address in Forbes and dropped at the Gooloogong Caravan Park on Wednesday, January 25, 2017.

Police have conducted an extensive search of a property in Gooloogong owned by his family and it's possible he may have stayed at this location for a short period of time; however, he was not located.

No transactions have been made from Mr Day's accounts since his disappearance.

In other significant central west cases Paula Denton, 42, has been missing from Mudgee since October 4, 2017.

Robert Dickie, 73, from Elong Elong was last seen on June 14, 2016 in Elong Elong, around 44 kilometres east of Dubbo. He has not been seen since.

Harry Youl has been missing from Dubbo since 1990. Harry was last seen leaving his place of work for a lunch break on August 2, 1990. He failed to return.

Mary Quy has been missing from Dubbo since February 1991. Mary Quy was 69 when she vanished from her home at 29 Cobra Street in the early hours of February 11, 1991.

Lawrence Salak, missing from Dubbo since 1981, was 82 at the time he was last seen alive.

Jessica Small, aged 15, was last seen in the early hours of Sunday, October 26, 1997 after attending the 'Amuse Me' amusement centre in Bathurst.

Janine Vaughan, then aged 31, left a local nightclub and was last seen getting into a red car on Keppel Street, Bathurst, about 3.50am on Friday, December 7, 2001.

If you know anything about these cases call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.