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1 October 2012

Music and...Missing Persons

A tribute to Jill Meagher.

Welcome to this month's blog about the sad topic of Music and... Missing Persons.

 You can read more at Sophie's Music Club at http://www.altoproductions.com.au/blog/sophie-s-music-club 
or visit us on Facebook to share your thoughts.

Due to the nature of this topic and the current progress of the case of Jill Meagher please note the message from Victoria Police:
"Please remember that it is inappropriate to post speculation or comments about matters before the courts. We ask you to refrain from posting anything on social media which could jeopardise or endanger the presumption of innocence, as this has the very high potential to interfere with the administration of justice."

Anything deemed inappropriate, offensive or not respecting the requests of Victoria Police,
will be immediately removed from this site. 

I never met Jill Meagher. We weren’t friends on Facebook or connected on LinkedIn, even though we shared a workplace in her last two places of employment. Prior to September 22, I had no idea what she looked like or even knew she existed. But since then, the image of her smiling face has remained constant and prominent in my mind. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide encountered Jill in the same way I did: in the media.

On September 22 Jill Meagher went missing. 

People have been simultaneously fascinated and disturbed by cases of missing persons. 

Various musicians over the years have disappeared. Possibly the most notable and puzzling was Glenn Miller, a big band leader who was one of the best selling recording artists around 1940. There are various theories about his disappearance over the English Channel on route to entertain troops in France in 1944, as no trace of the air crew or plane have ever been found. So he remains “missing in action”. 

Somewhat more recent was the perplexing case of singer, Olivia Newton John’s former partner, Patrick McDermott, who disappeared off California in 2005, after boarding a fishing charter. To date there are various theories that as Mr McDermott was bankrupt, he staged his own disappearance in order to avoid paying overdue child support payments and to profit from an insurance payment. Some people state they have seen him alive in Mexico, yet his ex-wife, Yvette Nipar, believes he is dead and that the disreputable private investigator hired to solve this mystery is simply benefitting financially from interest in the unresolved case.

Each year 35,000 people are reported missing each year in Australia – one every 15 minutes. Fortunately many of these people are reunited with family and friends. In the US, over 2000 people go missing every day. Photographs of missing people have been printed on milk cartons to gain help from the public in order to assist the police and tracing agencies in their difficult quest to locate people. A small, but significant quantity of missing persons are the result of abductions that can result in foul play. Such was the case for Jill Meagher. She walked home from a night out with friends at 1.30am. Alone. Evidently she had done this before, but this one occasion resulted in her ill fate. 

It was a miracle that a retailer from the street where Jill walked that night sourced CCTV footage from inside her shop. This provided the police with crucial information regarding Jill’s last known movements. As the police urged us to view the footage - in case we could help identify anyone in it- the chilling effects of the vision made me ill. The absence of sound of the video made the effect surreal. There were so many questions I wanted to ask her. Why did you walk home alone? When the guy in the video was hassling you, why didn’t you run onto the road and scream? What was he saying to you? Why didn’t you call your husband or the police (instead of your brother in Perth)? Within 24 hrs of the public release of the footage, sadly any remaining hope of Jill being alive was eliminated when an arrest was made of the man who allegedly raped and killed her.

Musicians work late. We often feel a rush of adrenalin following a concert, prompting a desire to go out for a post-concert celebration. This often results in walking the streets post midnight. The most baffling thing I’ve heard discussed since Jill Meagher’s death is that the public are angry that we can’t even walk the streets alone at night anymore. It infuriated me when I heard something along the lines of “Jill wouldn’t want us to start triple locking our doors and not going out at night”. The reality is this could happen in any city, town or village in the world and so it’s our responsibility to ourselves to take responsibility for ourselves. It may be that the chances of being abducted might be highest or even expected in Haiti and Iraq, but there are people with ill intentions everywhere. It is no longer enough to just let people know where you are going. So I am going to state my advice without hesitation, not just to my fellow musicians, but to any human being who wishes to not become a statistic:

  1. Never, under any circumstances, walk along dimly lit lonely residential streets alone after dark 
  2. Always carry a mobile 
  3. When in doubt call the police AND anyone local who can assist immediately
  4. Don’t hesitate to cause a scene to bring attention to yourself if someone is hassling you
  5. Call out a fake male name to someone across the road as if you know them, as a way of confusing your attacker, to give you a chance to run off
  6. Do not ride a bike alone late at night - take a taxi; drive or get a lift with friends
  7. Park in well lit places
  8. When returning to your car, pay attention to your surroundings
  9. Lock the doors when you are driving
  10. Do a self defense course

I love Melbourne. I love the nightlife of a city. I don’t love the feeling of complete sadness I have felt since September 22 for the tragic loss of someone I had never even met. It has kept me awake at night and make me nauseas to think of what this innocent woman endured in the last moments of her life. I cannot even imagine what her husband, her brother (being the last person to speak to her) and her family would be experiencing right now. Currently they have the public’s support and thoughts. In years to come when time has moved on, every time they hear of another victim of such a crime, the sleepless nights will resume.


Last but not least, it must be remembered that the inexcusable actions of the one bad person were overwhelmly outnumbered by the caring actions of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Good will always prevail.

If you have any information at all regarding missing persons please contact your local police station immediately. Something that seems irrelevant or minuscule to you, may be of immense importance in solving a case. It was in the end the public who assisted in solving this inconceivable crime.

I would like to send my condolences to the Meagher and McKeon families. May your immense love for Jill offer you strength in this sad time. RIP Jill.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


 You can read more at Sophie's Music Club at http://www.altoproductions.com.au/blog/sophie-s-music-club or visit us on Facebook to share your thoughts.

Due to the nature of this topic and the current progress of the case of Jill Meagher please note the message from Victoria Police:
"Please remember that it is inappropriate to post speculation or comments about matters before the courts. We ask you to refrain from posting anything on social media which could jeopardise or endanger the presumption of innocence, as this has the very high potential to interfere with the administration of justice."

Anything deemed inappropriate, offensive or not respecting the requests of Victoria Police, 
will be immediately removed from this site.