20 years on: Still no answers for family of Lee Ellen Stace
TWENTY years can pass in the blink of an eye for some people, but Peter and Robyn Stace have felt every single day.
Because every day that goes by is another 24 hours they don't have justice for their teenage daughter Lee Ellen Stace, whose murder in 1997 remains unsolved.
On the day the blonde, beach-loving 16-year-old was last seen alive, September 2, 1997, it is believed she attempted to hitch-hike home to Brooms Head after finishing a shift as a checkout operator at Yamba's BiLo supermarket, a job she had started just a week earlier.
Had she made it home safely that day, she would now be 36-years-old.
Instead, the schoolgirl's remains were found by campers in sand dunes at Red Cliff just over a month later.
Although a cause of death could not be determined, there were strong indications she had been brutally murdered.
"Twenty years on, I think it's a disgrace no information has come forward from the public," her dad Peter told The Daily Examiner yesterday.
"I think someone has to know something and is covering for someone."
At a coronial inquest into Lee's death in 2009, the officer formerly in command of the homicide investigation, Detective Senior Constable Tony King, said there was a possibility Anthony Charles Apps and convicted sex offender John George O'Leary had knowledge of circumstances surrounding Lee's disappearance.
Apps is currently serving a sentence in Goulburn Jail for the murder of acquaintance Christopher Lamb, who he shot in the back of the head in 2003.
He may be eligible for release this year.
A third person of interest, Gregory John Davis, was also named at the inquest.
To this day however, no arrests have been made in relation to Lee's suspected murder.
Unsolved homicide team coordinator Detective Chief Inspector Chris Olen said the investigation into the 1997 murder, under Strike Force Delaware, was currently being examined by detectives from the unsolved homicide team.
"Grafton detectives conducted a thorough investigation at the time, but despite pursuing numerous lines of inquiry, no one was charged with her murder," Det Ch Insp Olen said.
"During the 2009 coronial inquest into her suspected murder, a number of suspects were named, and the Coroner recommended the investigation be referred to the homicide squad for future investigation.
"As our inquiries continue, I remind the community that the NSW Government is still offering a $100,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for Lee Ellen's death.
"Today marks 20 years since the Stace family last saw Lee Ellen, which is a long time without answers.
"It's also a long time to keep a secret - I can't imagine how heavy that burden must be on those who know what happened to Lee Ellen.
"Whether motivated by possible financial gain or the weight of conscience, we just want that information so we can bring justice for Lee Ellen and answers for her family," Det Ch Insp Olen said.
Information that may assist detectives can be provided to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.