As told to Lee Price.
There’s a certain kind of reverence that you experience when someone shares a story about a missing child with you. As a parent, your empathy for what another mother has gone through can feel like an ache in your chest.
Rachel* is a mother of three children who lives on the south coast of NSW.
She has a welcoming home, full of artwork and ready-for-school checklists for her 10-year-old twins Alex and Josh, and her six-year-old son Billy.
When her youngest was six weeks old and her twins had just turned four, Rachel woke one morning to find that one of her older boys was missing.
Rachel’s husband gets up at 5am to leave for work, and on this particular day, he had accidentally woken Alex, one of the twins.
She shares the events that happened next.
It was a day like any other day with three young children.
‘Alex came into my room, and woke the baby up as I was trying to get him back to sleep. I told him to go and put a movie on while I fed the baby and that I would be out soon to make him some breakfast.
As I was feeding Billy, I fell back to sleep for what would have been no longer than five minutes. I jolted awake and it was still dark outside, the sun wasn’t even up.
I put the kettle on and went to the boys’ bedroom. Alex wasn’t there.
I woke Josh up and asked him if he knew where Alex was. He said ‘oh he got dressed already.’
I looked all over the house, calling his name, and then I looked at the front door. It was unlocked.
In September 2014, a mother called 000 to report her son missing. Five years later, he still hasn’t been found. Listen to Mia Freedman’s interview with journalist, Caroline Overington, who has been investigating the case. Post continues below.
I went out the front with Josh to see if I could see Alex. He could sense my panic by this time. When we couldn’t see him on the street I called 000 and reported him missing.
I was a mess but the woman on the 000 call was amazing. She kept me calm, and got me to listen to her so that I could answer her questions.
I just wanted to get in my car and go looking for him, but she said no, he might come back, you need to stay home and talk to us. Describe him, what is he wearing, where do you think he might go?
I had no clue what he was wearing but luckily Josh knew that he had his Lightning McQueen shirt and hat on.
There was nobody around to help us.
It was only just getting light outside so there was nobody around. The street was quiet.
I wondered whether I should go and knock on my neighbour’s houses to ask if they’d seen him but I was just trying to do what the police officer told me to and answer her questions.