REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Cold case arrest offers hope to families of the missing

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Vanished in the NSW Central West: Michelle Bright (left), Jessica Small (top right), Janine Vaughan and Andrew Russell.

Vanished in the NSW Central West: Michelle Bright (left), Jessica Small (top right), Janine Vaughan and Andrew Russell.

Milestones have been reached for families in the Central West of NSW who have struggled, in some cases for decades, with a missing or murdered loved one.

Luckily, for many of us, we have no idea what it must be like for someone close to us to go missing or to be murdered with no killer found.

It must be extraordinarily heartbreaking, no last words, so much loss and so many unanswered questions.

Earlier this week NSW Police upped the reward to $1m for information into the murder of missing teenager Michelle Bright.

The 17-year-old was last seen on February 27, 1999 when a friend dropped her off on a street in Gulgong, near Mudgee in the NSW Central West, after a birthday party.

From the Fire and Rescue NSW Station 312 Gulgong Facebook page.

From the Fire and Rescue NSW Station 312 Gulgong Facebook page.

Three days later her body was found in long grass by the side of a road not too far away.

For 21 years her family have struggled with no killer found and no answers to so many questions.

Yet, less than 48 hours after the reward was increased a man was arrested for Michelle's murder.

DO YOU KNOW: Janine Vaughan's sister, Kylie Spelde and brother, Adam Vaughan, stand near the billboard.

DO YOU KNOW: Janine Vaughan's sister, Kylie Spelde and brother, Adam Vaughan, stand near the billboard.

The next day Michelle's home town of Gulgong burst into pops of yellow and purple balloons to celebrate her life.

The arrest of this man has given three separate families in Bathurst hope who are each searching for a missing loved one.

In the early morning of December 7, 2001, Janine Vaughan was last seen striding ahead of her friends after a night out in Bathurst, she jumped into a red car and was never seen again.

The mystery has been turned into a podcast, The Night Driver, which was launched days ago by multi-award winning journalist Hedley Thomas.

Its launch, plus the arrest of someone for Michelle Bright's murder, has give the Vaughan family renewed hope.

The breakthrough has given two other Bathurst families hope that Jessica Small, who was last seen aged 15 on October 26, 1997, and Andrew Russell, then aged 23, who was last seen June 2, 2009.

MISSING: Andrew Russell, then ated 23, was last seen in Bathurst on June, 2, 2009.

MISSING: Andrew Russell, then ated 23, was last seen in Bathurst on June, 2, 2009.

Nationwide, more than 38,000 missing persons reports are received by police each year.

While most people are found within a short period of time, there remain around 2600 long term missing people; those who have been missing for more than three months.

If you have any information on a missing person call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

This newsletter is written by journalist Nadine Morton.

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