On December 7, 2003, Denise and Bruce Morcombe’s life changed forever.
The couple’s 13-year-old son, Daniel Morcombe, was on his way to buy Christmas presents for his family, when he vanished from a bus stop on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
After failing to return home, Daniel’s disappearance sparked the biggest manhunt in Queensland’s history.
It was a manhunt which would span several years, with Daniel’s young face often appearing on the news around Australia.
Finally, after a tireless campaign to find their son, including a coronial inquest into the disappearance, police took Brett Peter Cowan into custody on August 13, 2011.
After Daniel’s remains were found, Cowan was charged with the 13-year-old’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.
One year on, 2000 people attended Daniel’s funeral at Siena Catholic College on December 7, 2012 – the ninth anniversary of his disappearance.
In the years after Daniel disappeared, Denise and Bruce, along with their sons Dean and Bradley, Daniel’s twin brother, established The Daniel Morcombe Foundation in an effort to educate children about their personal safety, with the goal of preventing another family ever having to endure what they have.
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This month, the foundation is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
Denise and Bruce first established the foundation in 2005, around 18 months after Daniel disappeared.
“We sold our business that we had – we were running Jim’s Trees at the time – and we sold that so we could focus on the foundation,” Denise told Mamamia.
“We always say now that we’ve got two lives – one before Daniel and one after Daniel.”