Monday 4 November 2013
Special Edition 56
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Breaking news - Coober Pedy cold case breakthrough - prisoner charged with murdering Karen Williams in 1990
NIGEL HUNT THE ADVERTISER NOVEMBER 07, 2013 2:30PM
POLICE have arrested and charged a man with the cold case murder of Coober Pedy teenager Karen Williams.
The breakthrough in the long-running case came this morning when police descended on the Mt Gambier
prison and interviewed an inmate. He was then formally charged with murder.
The man, 42, is a former Coober Pedy resident who was allegedly the last person seen with Karen shortly before she
disappeared in the early hours of August 4, 1990.
The arrest follows 14 months of renewed investigations into the mystery by Major Crime detectives and the
excavation of numerous disused opal mines on the outskirts of the Far North town over the past six months.
The investigation has also seen detectives interview witnesses in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia
who were living in Coober Pedy at the time of Karen's disappearance.
The arrest is another step closer to solving one of Coober Pedy's most enduring mysteries.
Detectives have discovered the 16-year-old had been at Coober Pedy's Opal Inn on the night of Friday,
August 3, 1990. She left the premises in the early hours of Saturday August 4 with several friends
and went to Sergio's Restaurant in Hutchinson St. Between 5am and 6am that morning, Karen left the
restaurant with three friends on foot.
They were collected by a young male and driven to the corner of Medway Drv and Lehman Pl. Her friends
left the vehicle and the man drove several hundred metres along nearby Dawes St, where he said he dropped Karen off.
She has not been seen since.
Detectives now believe the man drove Karen to an isolated area where she was murdered.
They believe while one man was responsible for murdering Karen, others may have helped him
dispose of her body down a mine shaft located near the intersection of Maliotis Bvd and Flat Hill Rd,
about 100 metres from the Stuart Hwy. Several shafts at the site have so far been searched but no trace of Karen's body has been found.
In August last year, Karen's family issued a heartfelt plea for people who could help solve the mystery to come forward.
As part of the investigation, police also took the unusual step of extending the payment of a $200,000 reward to anyone who
provided information leading to the recovery of Karen's remains. Rewards are normally only paid for information leading to a conviction.
Anyone with information that may assist police in recovering her remains is urged to contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.
Police make an arrest for historic Coober Pedy murder
Thursday, 7 November 2013 1:31pm
Police today arrested a 42-year-old man for the 1990 murder of teenager Karen Williams.
The man was arrested this afternoon in Mount Gambier by Detectives from SAPOL’s Major Crime Investigation Branch.
He was refused bail and will appear in court tomorrow.
Sixteen-year-old Karen Williams was last seen about 5am on 4 August 1990 in Coober Pedy, in the state’s far north.
Her disappearance was declared a major crime in October of the same year.
At the time more than 115 statements were taken and police enquiries extended to the Northern Territory and New South Wales. Since her disappearance police have continued to actively investigate the case, following each new piece of evidence in the hope that it would lead to an arrest.
Last year a comprehensive review of the investigation identified a number of new lines of enquiry.
Acting on that new information, in July this year mine shafts at the junction of Flat Hill Road and Malliotis
Boulevard, Coober Pedy, were searched by Major Crime detectives with the help of SAPOL’s State Tactical Unit
as well as local and SES Mines Rescue. Unfortunately Karen’s remains were not located, however, police will be
returning to the town within weeks to recommence the search.
Announcing today’s arrest Deputy Commissioner Grant Stevens said that despite not yet recovering Karen’s remains,
police are confident there is a sufficient evidence to progress this case.
“As much as we would like to find Karen’s remains, especially for the sake of her family,
we will take this case forward regardless.
“This arrest is the culmination of the relentless work of all those police involved over the years.
Murder investigations never close and police do follow up every line of enquiry in the hope that each
case is solved and the justice process completed.
“But often the reality is that to help close historic investigations Police need help from the public. And so I urge anyone with information on the State’s unsolved murders to come forward – no matter how small or insignificant you think your information may be.
As this case shows it is never too late and we will take action,” he said.
The Major Crime investigation into this murder remains ongoing and police continue to look for a Datsun 180B, registration (SA) SLG-539,
which they believe is connected to the case.
The Datsun is believed to have been sold or disposed of in 1990 in Adelaide. This vehicle may still be in use and police believe there’s a possibility that important forensic material could still be in the car.
Police stress that the number plate may have changed since 1990.
Anyone with information that could assist with the investigation, in particular, information relating to the sale or
disposal of the Datsun 180B is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at www.sa.crimestoppers.com.au
Photos of mystery digger found at Coober Pedy dump
PETER CALDICOTT, 7NEWS ADELAIDE Yahoo!7
Priceless World War 2 photographs and negatives of a mystery Digger have been found at the Coober Pedy dump.
No one knows who the soldier was or why his family history has been tragically tossed out.
Cave Dave could not believe his eyes when he found the negatives while throwing out some rubbish at the dump.
He had stumbled across an old metal chest, with a treasure trove of historical photos and negatives dating back to the 1940s.
“Guys in uniforms going round in ships, I suppose had to be Second World War didn’t it,” he said.
He contacted 7News and the graphics department brought the old negatives back to life.
The unknown digger fought overseas, possibly in the Middle East or Tropics.
The unique photos show his life at sea, with his mates in camp, and there are even some family snaps apparently taken in Adelaide.
The Coober Pedy RSL has scoured its records in a bid to track down the soldier.
“It’d be nice to put a name to the face and know what campaign overseas he was in for posterity’s sake it would be good to
keep and preserve,” Peter Lane from the Coober Pedy RSL said.
If you know who the Digger is, you can contact the Coober Pedy RSL or let us at 7News know.
Woman reported for driving without a licence
Police reported a woman after she was detected driving without a licence.
Police were travelling on Government Road at Andamooka when they spotted the woman driving a Ford station wagon.
Checks revealed the 20-year-old woman had never held a licence.
She was reported for driving unlicensed.
Stuart Highway reopening after rollover north of Coober Pedy
A road train rollover closed part of the Stuart Highway for several hours.
The road was closed 55 kilometres north of Coober Pedy after the early morning accident, while debris was cleared.
Senior Sergeant Peter Murray of Coober Pedy Police said bobcats were brought from Marla Bore to remove items scattered across the road.
"We've received notification that two of those trailers have been able to be moved off the road," he said.
"At this stage we are waiting for heavy vehicle recovery from Adelaide to attend the scene to completely clear the road."
By mid-afternoon, the road was open with a reduced speed limit.
The road train driver, 47, from Clare was not injured in the accident.
Important Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY reminder
Parents with children receiving Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY Living Allowance need to update their income details as soon as possible to ensure their
children’s payments aren’t suspended.
Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said as part of the annual assessment of the payments,
parents are required to advise the department of their annual taxable income.
“The parental income is used to determine the correct payment for their children,
so it’s really important this is provided to us accurately and on time,” Mr Jongen said.
“If a parent is required to lodge a tax return and has not done so for the last financial year, an estimate can be provided.
“Last month letters were sent to approximately 110,000 Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY Living Allowance customers reminding them to
ask their parents to update their income details. If they were not completed, a second letter was sent earlier this month.”
Mr Jongen said if parents still fail to update their parental income after these reminders, the next step is payment suspension.
“The quickest and easiest way for parents to update their details is through Centrelink’s Online Services using the one time access
code included in the letters that were mailed out,” Mr Jongen said.
“Any payments suspended will automatically be restored once the parental income details have been updated.”
Mr Jongen said it’s important to keep Centrelink up-to-date and report changes in circumstances.
“We regularly send our customer’s letters in the post and online with important advice so it’s important
personal details are up-to-date,” said Mr Jongen.
“Updating these details is easy to do by logging on to Centrelink Online Services or downloading the
Express Plus Students app to let us know on the go.
“Students can keep up-to-date with their payment by subscribing to News for Students and Trainees at humanservices.gov.au,
or by ‘Liking’ the Student Update Facebook page, following @StudentUpdateAU on Twitter and watching the Human Services YouTube channel.”
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