The disappearance of Marion Barter is a case that has baffled NSW police for 22 years.
The Gold Coast teacher and mum of two was 51 years old when she abruptly resigned from her job in June 1997 and decided to take an overseas holiday. She’d told family and friends it was her dream to travel on the Orient Express.
Although her family received a few postcards and a couple of patchy phone calls from her shortly after she left, none of them have seen or heard from her since.
Barter’s disappearance is now the focus of a 7NEWS podcast, heralded as the ‘new Teacher’s Pet’, in which investigative reporter Bryan Seymour, executive producer Alison Sandy and Marion’s daughter, Sally Leydon, delve into the mystery.
Sally tells the podcast that she grew concerned after not hearing from her mum, who was once married to Aussie soccer legend Johnny Warren, for a number of weeks.
She told the podcast: “I rang the bank… and said to the lady on the phone ‘my mum’s travelling overseas by herself, we haven’t heard from her in a while and… we are concerned for her. Can you check to see if she’s using her account’?
“The standard answer was ‘I’m really sorry, I can’t tell you anything due to privacy’ but then she paused and asked ‘Did you say your mum’s overseas?’, which I said yes to.
“And then she said ‘Oh my god, money is coming out of her account in Byron Bay’.”
Upon learning that thousands of dollars had been siphoned from Marion’s account in both Byron Bay in northern NSW and Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Sally reported her mum missing and police began to investigate.
But they found no trace of Marion.
The mystery deepened when Sally asked a friend working in customs to do a passport check on her mother.
“He told me that her passport had come back into Australia on August 2, 1997,” she said.
That was the day after Sally had last heard from her mother. This fact was later confirmed by police.