They’re the words no parent, sibling, spouse or child wants to here: “We don’t know where this person is or what happened to them.”
They’re the words the loved ones of more than 38,000 people hear each and every year in Australia. And while most missing persons are found within a short period of time, there are more than 2,000 people in Australia who have been missing for more than three months.
Some of them have been missing for years. Some of them for decades.
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According to Australia’s National Missing Persons Coordination Centre, every missing persons case remains active and open until the missing person is located.
The families of these women still spend every day waiting for their loved ones to return home.
Sarah Anne McMahon
Sarah was a “happy and healthy” 20-year-old when she left her workplace around 5:15pm in Grenmount, West Australia to meet someone.
It was Wednesday, November 8, 2000, and she hasn’t been seen since.
Auburn-haired and green-eyed, Sarah - who would now be aged 37 - was last seen driving her vehicle, a 1986 White Ford Meteor Sedan, registration 7FO-731 east on the Great Eastern Highway, wearing dark jeans, a black turtle neck sweater and a black suede jacket.
Twelve days after she disappeared, her car was found at Swan District Hospital. Her mobile phone was later located on the nearby highway.
An inquest into her disappearance ruled she was murdered, but no killer has ever been named and her body has never been found.
"The circumstances in which Ms McMahon disappeared are sinister," the State Coroner who oversaw the inquest into her suspected death, Alistair Hope, said in 2015.
"I have confidently been able to exclude the possibility that she died by way of natural causes.
"The evidence points overwhelmingly to the proposition that she died by way of unlawful homicide."