Lost Boys, Gone Girls

Can you catch a killer or find a missing person?

Australia is ‘the lucky country’. But not for everyone. Unsolved Australia: Lost Boys, Gone Girls tells thirteen stories of people whose luck ran out in the most mysterious of circumstances.

It’s a journalistic deep-dive into Australia’s dark heart by one of Australia’s premier true crime writers, Justine Ford, the acclaimed bestselling author of Unsolved Australia and The Good Cop.

Why are four people missing from a Western Australian doomsday cult? Who abducted and murdered beauty queen Bronwynne Richardson on pageant night? And why is a cooked chook important evidence in the outback disappearance of Paddy Moriarty?

Key players are interviewed, evidence laid out and suspects assessed. Never-before-published information is revealed. Can you help crack the case and solve these mysteries?

Hold tight as Unsolved Australia: Lost Boys, Gone Girls takes you on a chilling yet inspiring true crime rollercoaster ride where the final destination is hope.

Jan Ross’ profile is listed on Page 179

Author Information
Justine Ford is a true crime author, TV producer and journalist. Her first forays into crime were as a reporter on the top-rating Australia’s Most Wanted. She has covered scores of chilling homicides and missing person cases, winning the trust of families who are victims of crime, and developing deep access to police all over Australia. Justine has written five books, including the best-selling The Good Cop, the true story of Ron Iddles, Australia’s greatest detective which in 2019 she executive produced for Foxtel’s Crime + Investigation channel.

Missing You – Justine Ford

Every 15 minutes someone in Australia goes missing. Some of these people want to disappear;  other times they tragically meet with misadventure or murder.

Missing You by Justine Ford, TV producer of Missing Persons Unit, features some of Australia’s most disturbing Missing Persons cases and invites you to play armchair detective. With rare, privileged access to police around the country, and in moving interviews with the families of missing people, Missing You tells the intimate stories of Australia’s Missing, revealing clues that police hope will ultimately bring them home. In an insightful, mysterious, and often emotional journey, Missing You features more than 20 of this country’s most baffling cases, as well as stories of unidentified remains, abductions and suspected homicides. Here you’ll find the true, in-depth stories behind this country’s most worrying disappearances, with fresh insights into recent and historic cases.

Jan says, “Chapter 9: The Long White Cloud to the Final Frontier describes one of our cases: Jamie Herdman, who would now be 33 years old. Please Contact Us if you know anything about his whereabouts since November 2006.”

Where is Daniel? – By Bruce and Denise Morcombe and Lindsay Simpson

On 7 December 2003 Daniel Morcombe disappeared on the Sunshine Coast, while waiting for a bus. For Bruce and Denise Morcombe – the parents of Daniel – and his brothers, Bradley and Dean, it was apparent within hours that something was very wrong. In the first few days following Daniel’s disappearance, Bruce and Denise made a promise to their son that they would never ever stop looking for him, and bring who was responsible to justice. ‘We will never give up.’ As the nightmare of hours became days then weeks, and months and years, the family mobilised to become the moral force behind the longest criminal investigation in Australia’s history. Where is Daniel? covers the decade-long investigation into the disappearance of Daniel and the extraordinary courage, dignity, persistence and fortitude Bruce and Denise displayed under unbearable circumstances. This determination also applied to Bruce and Denise’s desire to mine something positive from the darkest of experiences. They started the Daniel Morcombe Foundation in 2005, to teach children about safety, and have since visited hundreds of schools around Australia.

This quote from the book is part of Denise’s heartfelt prayer given at a memorial service on the first anniversary of Daniel’s disappearance:

“There is never a day when I do not search for your face. Somewhere, everywhere, anywhere, I see a turn of the head, a back that reminds me of you and I hurry to look more closely only to feel despair again, because of course it’s not you. Are you lying in some lonely place, dead or lost? My heart reaches out to you and I try to touch you there…Are you held captive by someone? We would give anything to see you, just to see you once more…There is no place where my love will not reach you. There is no time when I will forget you.” 

Denise and Bruce established Australia’s largest annual child safety day-of-action, ‘Day for Daniel’, and utilised the funds raised to support other children who have been the victims of abuse. Over a decade later, with Daniel’s killer brought to justice thanks to an amazing covert police sting, this is the family’s story. Where is Daniel? is a testament to the enduring power of love between parents and their child, and the strength and bonds of family to survive.

Madeleine – Kate McCann

Kate McCann‘s heart-rending account of the disappearance of her IVF daughter, Madeleine, almost 4 years old, in Portugal in May 2007. It details not only the nightmarish worst-case scenario thoughts that went through her mind, but also the uphill struggles with coping with an inept Police investigation and the intense media pressure on her and her husband.

Fortunately, Kate began a journal soon after Madeleine went missing, and this has proved to be an invaluable tool in both clearing her name with the Portuguese Police, and re-energising the search through Scotland Yard, who have subsequently established several new suspects.

Jan was present when Gerry McCann gave a speech at the National Missing Persons Conference in the UK in September 2007, and she extends her very best wishes that Madeleine may yet be found alive and well.

Gone Missing – Douglas Coop

Gone Missing is written by Douglas Coop, the father of Peter Coop, a doctor who went missing in New Zealand in 1989.

Thousands of people go missing each year, exceeding the combined number of traffic fatalities, suicides and all the injuries requiring hospitalisation. In addition, each person reported missing affects at least twelve others emotionally or financially; immobilising families as there can be no closure until the fate of their loved one is resolved.

Based on decades of fieldwork, Gone Missing discusses the role of police and search agencies, how to deal with the media and the many organisations available to give support and assistance.

The book gives a detailed account of the emotional trauma and grieving suffered by those left behind, the professional help available, and explains the role of counselling. It examines why people go missing, and deals with their return or the finding of remains. No other book offers the same comprehensive information and guidance.

Jan says, “I agree with Douglas that it’s a really good idea to keep a journal to record what inquiries have been made, who said what and when – which might not become significant until later. It’s also a means of recording your feelings, your hopes and fears, so that your brain can process it all while you sleep, and so you can face the next day with a positive frame of mind. If your Loved One returns, they can read how much their absence affected your daily life. Sadly, some people go missing more than once, so if they can understand your viewpoint, they’re much more likely to talk to a friend, relative or counsellor before doing anything they may regret in the future.”

On Dangerous Ground – Lesley Horton

On Dangerous Ground is written by a former teacher, Lesley Horton, set in Bradford, West Yorkshire, at the very same Police Station which Jan was working from when she read the book.

Jan says, “This book is a must-read for every parent for girls, and some boys, coming up to the 12-16 year age range. Whilst this is a work of fiction, it very accurately describes how kids who go missing are groomed into sexual exploitation. Make no mistake, this is not something which only affects kids from broken homes or poor socio-economic backgrounds, it could happen to anyone, it could happen to you. Not every missing teenager becomes a prostitute, but in my experience as a Police Officer patrolling the Red Light District, every prostitute started out as missing from home and then being preyed upon by someone who got them hooked on drink or drugs. Parents, please don’t make the mistake of grounding your teenager or locking them in their room “for their own safety”, it doesn’t work. After you have read the book, please feel free to Contact Us if you need further advice for strategies that do work.”

Oranges & Sunshine – Margarete Humphreys

Oranges & Sunshine by Margarete Humphreys

Margaret was a Social Worker in Nottingham when she appalled to discover that between the end of the Second World War and 1970, some 130,000 children aged 3 to 10 years were taken from their mothers and exported to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Rhodesia by the UK Government in the belief that they were giving them a better life in the land of oranges and sunshine.

In reality, things weren’t quite so romantic. Arriving on Fremantle Docks after a long voyage, children would be split up from their siblings and sent to work in factories in suffocating heat, or to live in orphanages where they were subjected to physical and sexual abuse. Some were lucky enough to be adopted by loving families. However, these children grew up believing that their birth mothers were dead or didn’t want them, when all they were guilty of was being poor.

This scenario echoes what happened to the Stolen Generations in the Aboriginal community.

Margaret has now set up the Child Migrants Trust to help the children re-establish contact with their birth families and, in many cases, unknown step families.

Jan says, “Having traced my own family back to 1677, I’m happy to help these children, now approaching retirement age, to find their relatives in Australia and the UK so their parents have a chance to explain what really happened all those years ago and how they never stopped loving them. I know myself that it is quite a moving experience to discover your own unique recipe of nature + nurture = personality. Contact Us if you would like us to help you.”

Lost Child of Philomena Lee – Marten Sixsmith

Dame Judi Dench starred in the film Philomena, which was based on this book Lost Child of Philomena Lee, written by Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan.

The story tells of a young Irish girl in the family way, who is whisked away to a home run by nuns. After the birth, the nuns arrange for Philomena’s son to be adopted, and he is taken away without the chance of saying goodbye. Keeping silent for 50 years, Philomena decides to look for her son with the help of Martin, who still has connections in America. Fate takes a strange turn in this moving and poignant story.

Jan says, “If you would like to trace a biological parent, adopted child or sibling, then please Contact Us so that we can help you find them. I can also signpost you to specialist counsellors who will guide you through this delicate process.”

Sara Payne: A Mother’s Story – Sara Payne

‘Thank God we have found her!’ These were the heartfelt words of Sara Payne as she announced that the body of her daughter, of the same name, had been found at last.

She describes the numbness as she endured 17 days of not knowing what had happened to her innocent little girl, desperate to hear news of her missing daughter, and then that terrible moment when her worst fears became reality. She explains how her family tried to cope with their grief and the stress placed upon them by the media, the Court case against paedophile Roy Whiting, plus their campaign for Sara’s Law to help protect other families from such an ordeal.

Whilst this tragedy is set in England, there are similarities with the Daniel Morcombe case here in Australia because the families showed immense courage by turning such a devastating experience into a positive way forward.

Pathfinder Investigations understand that horrible limbo of “ambiguous loss”, the not knowing whether your loved one is dead or alive. We are also fortunate to have one of the murder squad detectives from the Sara Payne case joining our team, so he will be instrumental in conducting Cold Case Missing Person reviews to ensure that every line of inquiry has been followed by the Police.

Bullies Don’t Rule! – Nicholas & Jaclyn Bold

What do you think happened to Billy when he gave a kid a wedgie? What did Sally’s mum do when she found bullying in her emails? Read these and other great stories to find out!

Bullies Don’t Rule! That is the message every child should understand. This book is a collection of short stories about bullying, written by a 10 year old kid, for other kids and their parents.

  • Use this book to open up conversations about bullying with your kids.
  • Designed for parents to read to younger children and for older children to read themselves.
  • Perfect for kids aged 4 -12 years old.
  • Learn simple ways to teach your kids how to deal with bullying.
  • Understand warning signs to look out for if your child is being bullied.
  • Read about bullying from a child’s and parent’s perspective

Jan says: Since bullying can be a major contributing factor to kids going missing from school and home, it’s great to see this sensitive subject being tackled from a child’s perspective, together with some research found by his supportive Mum. Kids who don’t learn the skills to stand up to bullies often fall into the role of victim during their adult life, so this book is a must-read for all ages.