true crime

Ivan Milat linked to the disappearance of two teenagers.

Two teenage girls, missing for more than three decades, have been linked to Australia’s worst serial killer Ivan Milat.

An inquest yesterday made the stunning admission that Cronulla teenagers Elaine Johnson, 17, and Kerry Anne Joel, 18, who went missing from the Sutherland Shire in Sydney’s south in 1980 had circumstances strikingly similar to that of 14 other missing girls – many of whom are believed to have been murdered by Milat.

The Glebe’s Coroner’s Court heard the disappearance of the two girls, who would now be aged in their 50’s, had a striking resemblance to the latest investigation into 14 girls who vanished in the Hunter region of NSW in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Elaine Johnson, 17, and Kerry Anne Joel, 18.

Detective Senior Constable Richard McNally, who is in charge of the investigation, told the inquest “Around that area I think there was 14 girls (that) went missing,

“I think every time they were hitchhiking they were running the gauntlet.“

The Daily Telegraph reports that Milat became the prime suspect because he had worked in the area at the time.

Milat was jailed for life in 1996 for the murders of seven backpackers who were discovered partly buried in the Belanglo State Forest,

“Strike Force Fenwick showed a number of girls going missing around the Hunter/Newcastle area. (There are) a number of persons of interest in ­regards to that,” Const. McNally told the inquest.

The most likely scenario he claimed was they met with foul play while hitchhiking to Jilliby.

Fenwick found similarities in the disappearances of several missing persons from the area, including Leanne Goodall, 20, Amanda Robinson, 14, and Robyn Hickie, 18.


An inquest into the deaths of these three women Milat denied he had killed them, despite his denials then NSW state coroner John Abernethy said Milat remained a major suspect. His "north coast killing field" has never been found.

Yesterday Peter Bain, advocate assisting the coroner said it wasn’t “beyond the realm of possibility” Elaine and Kerry Anne , who were known to hitchhike from Sydney to the Wyong area, had been abducted and met a violent end.

“Police inquiries show a number of young girls went missing in NSW in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A number of persons of interest with violent histories are suspected by police to have been active during this time,” Mr Bain said.

Yesterday the coroner had the difficult task of telling their families that the girls had most likely met with foul play.

“I’m so, so sorry,” deputy state coroner Mary Jerram said.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Kerry Joel, aged 18 at the time may have been pregnant.

A friend said she last saw the pair in what she thought was 1979, on the day Kerry Anne crashed her mother's car and left it in the garage.

The friend said she went to an arcade with the girls but left them to walk home.

At the inquest relieved relatives expressed hope that finally they might get some answers.

Elaine’s sister Helen Cooper said the decision followed three decades of pleas.

“I think today we’ve actually got some clarity and help from the sergeants that we’ve never got before,” she told reporters.