One of the most uncomfortable things about the known details of Jill Meagher’s shocking disappearance is that this is a situation that could happen to anyone.

Missing since the early hours of Saturday morning. Photo:news.com.au

At 29, Jill Meagher is just like thousands of other young sisters, daughters, friends and acquaintances, heading out for Friday work drinks.

How many times have you heard someone confess after a night out that they “probably shouldn’t have walked that way home.” 

It’s easy to do. A couple of extra drinks that set you back a bit later than you wanted to be out and you’re checking your phone, saying goodbyes and walking out the door with your bag over your shoulder and not a care in the world.

The fact is these decisions are very often made with the false sense of confidence that comes from having a few drinks. It lets you imagine that every decision you make is a good one, or at least a relatively safe one.

Jill Meagher had a five minute walk between the bar and her home; a walk she’s probably done several times before without fear. A walk lots of other people will eventually do hundreds of other times with no recourse.

And that could be the worst thing about this unfolding story: watching Meagher’s mother, Edith McKeon make an impassioned plea from her home in Perth, compounds the hopelessness of this situation. All anyone can do right now is wait.

The other incredibly worrying element of this horrible scenario is the sheer number of people who have since come forward to report attempted abductions in the same area. According to news.com.au, police have reported 611 offences in this category in 2011-2012, 159 of those occurred on the street.

Several other complaints about the area have also been posted on the Help Us Find Jill Meagher Facebook page. Why these potential victims waited so long to acknowledge these offences is a question worth answering at some point. But at this stage the best we can hope is that the information will help speed up what must be a gruelling investigation for Meagher’s husband and family.

Follow me on Twitter: @lucyjk

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69 comments

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    • TChong says:

      10:13am | 25/09/12

      Horrible story, and I’m sure we all wish the best for her, and her loved ones .

    • Karen says:

      12:44pm | 25/09/12

      I’m with you, TChong. I hope to goodness that she is found alive and safe, and that her family will be spared the grief that so many families of missing persons go through every year.

    • Don says:

      06:04pm | 25/09/12

      They are all going through hell right now. Please may she be ok.

    • Tim says:

      10:17am | 25/09/12

      OK,
      I think people shouldn’t be hysterical about this case as of yet.
      Very little information has been released by the police (or even found) and details are sketchy.

      How many of those attempted abductions were from people who know each other and how many were random street abductions?

      I think i’ll wait to see what comes out before starting to worry about the chances of people being abducted after a night out.

    • Gregg says:

      10:48am | 25/09/12

      Thing is Tim, if Tim means you’re a fella the chances of abduction are likely far less and it is not as though anyone is getting hysterical and it is very appropriate for her family and anyone Lucy included to express concern for her wellbeing.

      I doubt that abductions would make the criminal records list if they were being done amongst people who knew oneanother.
      You are a Dick and that is not to say any sort of a D.

    • Tim says:

      11:24am | 25/09/12

      Gregg,
      convincing argument you make. oh wait…..

      People have been getting hysterical when barely any information about the case is in the public sphere. Read the facebook page and news, people are talking about all these attempted abductions is if there is an epidemic in the area.
      Can you point out where I said people shouldn’t be worried for her safety?
      No you can’t because you’re an imbecile who would rather pander to emotive beat ups instead of having a reasonable discussion involving a dispassionate analysis of facts.

      “I doubt that abductions would make the criminal records list if they were being done amongst people who knew oneanother.”

      Why? It doesn’t change the crime if you know the victim.

    • Leah says:

      11:53am | 25/09/12

      Tim, the fact that SO MANY people have nearly been abducted on that one street, and the surrounding area, suggests to me they are not by people they know. They are probably by the same group of people who regularly hang out in that area. I think normally abductions by people the victim knows often happen in the home, from schools, etc - not randomly in the street. That’s not saying NONE of them were attempted abductions by people known to the victim, but I doubt a majority of them were.

    • Tim says:

      12:42pm | 25/09/12

      Leah,
      I wasn’t claiming anything one way or the other, just asking a question.

      I’ve found the stats they’re talking about now:
      http://www.police.vic.gov.au/retrievemedia.asp?Media_ID=72176

      Of the 611 abductions:

      199 were arising from family incidents so I’m assuming they knew the perpetrator.

      413 were cases of false imprisonment.
      48 were cases of abduction - act of sexual penetration
      11 were cases of child/u16 - act of sexual penetration.
      106 kidnaps
      28 child stealing
      There are a number of other categories listed too.

      The clearance rate for this type of crime in 2011-12 was 86.6%

    • stephen says:

      04:19pm | 25/09/12

      If the Homicide Squad is worried then right-thnking people should be too.

    • Tim says:

      04:59pm | 25/09/12

      Stephen,
      the homicide squad is worried about this woman and her whereabouts.

      I don’t think they’re worried about an epidemic of abductions in the area (like some of the reporting has suggested), and the stats I’ve linked show cases like this are extremely rare.

    • M says:

      05:47pm | 25/09/12

      Thanks Tim.
      I think your clearance rate is supposed to be “clear-up” rate.
      One of the things is that, as all investigators know, a clear-up is a hell of a long way from conviction.  And a lot easier to manipulate in the face of anxious local politicians and media.

    • Mahhrat says:

      10:20am | 25/09/12

      I hope they find her safe and sound.

      Is the street we’re talking about a long one?  611 incidents in a year?  Goodness me.

    • Gregg says:

      10:54am | 25/09/12

      They’re probably referring to Sydney Road and the region around there, Sydney Road being the old main northern exit from Melbourne leading to the Hume Highway before the ring road set-up.

    • KH says:

      11:08am | 25/09/12

      That street has a lot of warehouses and closed up shops on it, from memory - so not a lot of activity after business hours or on weekends.  It wasn’t well lit either.  A rail line also cuts through it, and there is some dodgy dark space around that area too, a bit further up from where this woman disappeared.  There are some residential streets coming off it, with right of way lanes behind - I had a former friend who lived around there - I didn’t like walking there at all, even though it is really close to Sydney Road, which is reasonably busy on Fri/Sat nights…......

    • KH says:

      11:14am | 25/09/12

      I was talking about the ironically named Hope St, where her stuff was found….......I doubt she would have been grabbed on Sydney Road - too many people around, but Hope St gets dark pretty fast because of all the closed up businesses there at night….......

    • Please find her says:

      11:38am | 25/09/12

      611 incidents was for Victoria I believe. 159 incidents were Sydney Road.

    • Mahhrat says:

      03:03pm | 25/09/12

      Ah!  Yes, driven up it myself, lived in Glenroy nearby for a time in ‘08.

      I can see why anything “behind” Sydney Road would be dangerous.  Criminy.

    • Helen A says:

      10:42am | 25/09/12

      Clearly a horrific time for family & friends of Jill. What I find puzzling in the police appeals for help is the vague and conflicting info they have released. ie it appeared that Jill left Bar Etiquette talking on her mobile (and the incoming call will show that exact time), and she was with a colleague (s) who would be able to say yes we all left, or no, Jill stayed behind. So did she leave or stay? That seems so easily established yet it seems to be a puzzle.Either way it would clearly be helpful to potential witnesses to know at what time she was talking to her brother and where she was at that point (at the bar or walking) The fact she may have been at the bar on the phone after her colleagues left leaves open the fact she may have taken a lift after all.

      It would also seem the handbag was found in a really strange place, in a small space between a car and a fence, sort of hidden in direct view. It would be good if the police could clarify if that area was searched prior to its being found or not as that also seems very vague.

      To me the only way the hand bag would be found like that - intact without its contents strewn everywhere - was if Jill rang down there to hide if she was being followed and then left it there as she tried to get away - alternatively it was “planted” as it’s condition didn’t look as if it was dropped in a struggle. (And why between the car and the fence unless you were hiding?)

      It just seems to me a mass of confusion which doesn’t help any potential witnesses over things that should be straightforward such as the time Jill left
      the bar. The media reports such as “shoes have been found” hours after the police said they are not Jill’s shoes just confounds the whole case.

      It would be great if police could issue a statement of known facts (as opposed to media speculation) as then this might help jog peoples memories if they were in the area at the time.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      12:08pm | 25/09/12

      I think you’ve nearly cracked the case, Helen A. Please call the police hotline and offer your services (that is, if they have not already been frantically calling you). You could show them your CSI Yearbook, personally signed by David Caruso: Dear Helen, my hot little ozzie detective! Love, David.

      I feel terrible for Jills nearest and dearest, I can only pray she is safe and well.

    • SM says:

      10:50am | 25/09/12

      “According to news.com.au, police have reported 611 offences in this category in 2011-2012, with 159 of those occurred on the very same street.”

      Those numbers are truly remarkable.  Why haven’t the police undertaken a sting operation with a planted female officer pretending to be drunk and alone late at night on this street?

    • C says:

      11:47am | 25/09/12

      There is no point in the Police doing that as these attacks are carried out by a number of different people, not just one attacker.  There are a lot of dodgy people in that area at night and anyone who lives around Brunswick would be aware of the dangers.  This year alone there has been a fatal shooting at Barkly Square, a stabbing and another sexual assult in almost the exact same spot - and these are just the ones that have made the news.

      Police are regularly present at night on Sydney Road but unfortunately they can’t patrol every street.

    • SM says:

      12:20pm | 25/09/12

      yes C, having police patrolling the streets may stop a would be abductor from acting while those police are around, but given the sheer number of incidents in this area, why not orchestrate something that will draw the abductor(s) into action when there are (seemingly) no police around?

      It’s about getting these animals BEFORE they are successful in abducting someone.  In all likelihood it’s too late now

    • Libber says:

      07:52pm | 25/09/12

      No, I think this is a misquote.  159 incidents occurred ‘on the street’ meaning the abductions were from a street as opposed to a house, or a venue or perhaps a park.  Not meaning ‘on that particular street’.

    • Babylon says:

      11:47am | 25/09/12

      I hope they find her safe.

      She’s in my prayers.

      35,000 disappearances in Australia did I hear? annually?

      What sort of a society are we building here?

    • Fiddler says:

      12:40pm | 25/09/12

      of which virtually all turn up shortly after and are a case of the person wanting to be missing, trying to leave family or a relationship. Only a very small number are actually homicides.

    • JB says:

      12:03pm | 25/09/12

      SM, I have been thinking exactly the same thing. Put undercover female cops out there and get an idea of who these creeps are. Damn it, they’ll all be going to ground now. It’s a good idea for all cities, I think.
      I keep hoping that there will be a positive end to this story. I found it strange that she randomly called her brother at 2am to check on her father. Did she know she wouldn’t speak to them for a while? Either that, or her brother texted her beforehand and she knew he would be awake.

    • john says:

      01:11pm | 25/09/12

      Her brother was in Perth, meaning that it would have been 11pm for him when she called.

    • Ralph says:

      01:54pm | 25/09/12

      Her families in perth I think so I guess it was not so late there.

    • James In Footscray says:

      12:07pm | 25/09/12

      It’s distressing for people that know her - like all disappearances.

      However, I’m curious why this case has captured the public imagination.

    • Sarahh says:

      12:48pm | 25/09/12

      Because she’s pretty and a member of the media.  I really do hope they find some more information about this soon though.  I feel for her family, they must be going through hell.

    • KP says:

      12:56pm | 25/09/12

      So many of us, around her age, go out most weekends. Sometimes that area, sometimes other places in the city. So many of us think, regardless of whether we’ve had one drink or more, that it’s completely fine to walk anywhere alone. To the taxi rank, to the tram, down the street to the next bar to meet up with the next group of friends.

      Now, a girl our age who may have been thinking the same thing we do, has disappeared. If this is foul play, this could completely change the way my friends and I do things. We’ve already discussed our new possible rules - no longer ‘just walking the 5-10 minutes home late at night’ , no longer waving one off as they walk to the taxi rank, no longer splitting up at the end of the night.

      We’re all sensible, always looking out for each other, always ensuring we don’t drink enough to make us unaware of what is going on or our surroundings, but this has us on edge.

      James, that’s one reason this case has captured the public imagination. It could very easily be one of us.

    • Kika says:

      02:45pm | 25/09/12

      Bev - are you serious? Comparing this with Slut Walk? I don’t think KP was talking about being mindful of what they wear… Nobody asks to be raped regardless of what they wear. Sometimes I wonder whether you are a woman or not.

    • Jen says:

      03:28pm | 25/09/12

      Yeah Bev it totally puts Slutwalk into perspective. I’m so glad there are some brave women out there who think it’s a good idea to speak up and let society know that as a woman, I should have the right to walk home without fear of rape or violence. It’s just a shame that you and whoever it was involved in Jill’s disappearance isn’t listening.

    • Lil says:

      12:37pm | 25/09/12

      I hope and pray that Jill is found safe and well.  My prayers are with her family too.

    • sluggo says:

      12:49pm | 25/09/12

      Hopefully she is OK and turns up unharmed.

      I guess this guess is raised to national level because she has friends in the media who can push the barrow (unlike lots of other people who just vanish)

    • Susan says:

      01:10pm | 25/09/12

      The police have arrived at their home and it has the feeling of ‘breaking news about to happen’.  I recall when the issue first came out it was stated that a male colleague asked Jill a few times if he could escort her home but she kept saying no.  If that is correct, I hope that colleague isn’t feeling responsible.  This said, I think this a great example of not asking but insisting and that people should be in groups.  A man alone could have been in as much danger.  But once again recalling that first news I am sure the article said that the colleague was asking if he could escort her, she kept saying no and then seemed very distracted.  Was she waiting for something or someone?  Who knows.  But I never even go out to mailbox at night here given people have been beaten up entering the building.  If people drop me off they wait until I am completely inside before driving away.  This is a reminder to us all about safety.

    • Helen A says:

      01:18pm | 25/09/12

      Scotchfinger, I wasn’t trying to solve the case just wondering why info such as if Jill left the bar with her colleagues or not isn’t clear as it would seem that questions like that should be resolved pretty easily. My point was that it seems nothing is really known about Jill’s last movements at all which makes it hard for the public to assist.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      02:02pm | 25/09/12

      @Helen, I agree. While some information needs to be kept secret (information that may tip off the perp) there has really been some conflicting information, first she was to have left with friends, then she hadn’t. You of course also have the fact that the handbag wasn’t found during the search, thankfully the police appear to be not taking anything for granted.

    • Nina says:

      03:33pm | 25/09/12

      I totally agree with you and have been expressing the same thing

    • Vicki PS says:

      01:18pm | 25/09/12

      I think it is highly inappropriate to be speculating on who might be involved in this young woman’s disappearance.  I’m sure people are thinking their thoughts, but unless you can offer solid information to the police, keep it to yourself, hey?

      Lucy, I have no doubt about the sincerity of your concern, but I don’t think it’s wise to be inviting comment on what is likely to be a crime, before the facts are known or anyone has been charged.

    • Gregg says:

      01:57pm | 25/09/12

      Happens all the time via the media Vicki and it’s not about to stop.
      That said, Lucy is not specifically inviting comment on what may have happened but more pushing the publicity in an effort to help locate Jill.

    • Kika says:

      01:30pm | 25/09/12

      This is really creepy this story. The poor girl. I hope she’s found safe, but I have a bad feeling something is wrong.

      a 5 minute walk home? Seems to unreal to be true. I can remember when I was walking home from school one day a car following me slowly, except luckily I made it home and went into my house. I was terrified. My aunty almost was abducted once too - she was hitchhiking with her friend and when they realised they were going in a different direction to where they wanted to go and that this guy wanted to take them to a ‘friends house’, and there were no door handles inside the car she managed to negotiate her and her friend’s way out of the car. Freaky.

    • Giraffe says:

      03:37pm | 25/09/12

      ‘and there were no door handles inside the car’

      Oh the drama!

    • MummaMia says:

      05:44pm | 25/09/12

      Jeez Girafee..why the sarcasm ?  Let me repeat what she said:
      She was hitchhiking with a friend and a stranger picked them up
      They realised they were being TAKEN somewhere other than where they’d asked to go.
      There were NO DOOR HANDLES IN THE CAR.
      Sounds pretty dramatic to me..and she was very lucky to get herself out of that situation.

    • KimL says:

      02:28pm | 25/09/12

      I hope Jill is found soon, alive and well. It is scarey to think you can just vanish on our streets at night.

    • Phoenix says:

      03:38pm | 25/09/12

      Perhaps there could be an accurate genuine and powerful psychic on the case while it is still fresh and there is hope of her being alive…

    • Scotchfinger says:

      03:56pm | 25/09/12

      I think we already have them, here on the Punch. Lots of li’l Famous Five detectives, sniffing round, askin’ good questions and making sure the police are DOING THEIR JOB!!! Right, guys?

    • PsychoHyena says:

      04:56pm | 25/09/12

      @Scotch most of the comments have been based on what the media is presenting, if the media is presenting information that is conflicting with other information the media has previously presented then which are you to believe?

      Although I expect from now on Scotch we won’t see any suppositions from yourself as to how things should be done and leave it to the professionals right?

    • Rachel says:

      05:40pm | 25/09/12

      A psychic has NEVER solved a case, and bringing in someone who offers false hope is nothing but incredibly distressing for everyone involved.

    • Kay Fabe says:

      03:48pm | 25/09/12

      Without commenting on the specifics of this case, but more generally on the safety of women on our streets at night, why as a society do we deny law-abiding citizens the means to protect themselves?
      I’m talking, of course, about handguns. If all women were allowed to carry them and properly trained in their use, they would be much less likely to fall victim to the animals who seek to prey on the vulnerable.
      That said, I hope and pray Jill turns up safe and well.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      04:52pm | 25/09/12

      @Kay, what about self-defence lessons? mace? personal alarms (keychains that emit a loud ear-splitting noise)?

      There are other less violent ways of protecting yourself than knives and guns, at least you’re less likely to end up in court on murder/manslaughter charges with the other options.

    • Rachel says:

      05:42pm | 25/09/12

      Actually, they would just be much more likely to be shot with their own weapon.

    • CS says:

      03:53pm | 25/09/12

      It reminds me of the Gordana Kotevski abduction that happened close to my home in Newcastle many years ago when I was a young man. Unfortunately, there was no happy ending, and no one was ever charged. She is presumed dead.

      There are some truly sick, depraved men out there…

      http://www.australianmissingpersonsregister.com/Kotevski.htm

    • the cynic says:

      04:58pm | 25/09/12

      CS says:03 says
      “There are some truly sick, depraved men out there”....As you say , the case was never solved so what gives you the insight it was “some truly sick, depraved men” There are some pretty sick depraved women out there also, a certain Myra Hindley in the UK springs to mind.

    • stephen says:

      04:24pm | 25/09/12

      Her phone is apparently turned off.
      But mine is turned off too, sometimes, yet the alarm still works… in which case, why can’t her phone company, once an alarm can go off - I’m assuming that it may - might receive a signal from another source ?

    • Rossco says:

      04:44pm | 25/09/12

      Interesting. If this was a guy, or an ugly bogan woman or an Aboriginal, would it gather the same type of interest….

    • VS says:

      04:59pm | 25/09/12

      No.  Never was the case, never will be.

    • Rossco says:

      05:01pm | 25/09/12

      That being said, I hope she is alive and well!

    • Jayjay says:

      06:35pm | 25/09/12

      Laura Haworth. Missing since 2008 from Queanbeyan NSW. Happened to be a prostitute. Barely a whisper about her.  It’s sad.

    • Julie Fogarty says:

      05:08pm | 25/09/12

      This reminds me of the Anita Cobby murder.  A woman who started walking home (and never made it) after declining a lift home from friends.

    • Cheap white trash says:

      05:14pm | 25/09/12

      ALL is not what it seems?

    • miloinacup says:

      06:01pm | 25/09/12

      I live in the same building as her, and as such this case is particularly distressing. Especially given the number of times I have walked home alone from Sydney Road after a night out. At the same time Jill went missing a friend left my apartment and walked home to Lygon Street alone. She walked up Victoria Street though - Hope Street is too dark and creepy even during daylight hour
      I hope she is okay - I’ve never felt overly unsafe living here so

    • Carolyn says:

      06:32pm | 25/09/12

      It reminds me of those girls who went missing in Nightsbridge in Perth back in the late 90s. I think police were watching a taxi driver who was their primary suspect. Those abductions were near pubs and nightclubs as well.

    • AB says:

      06:36pm | 25/09/12

      If the bag was dumped on Monday or Sunday morning, there are more possibilities than just the bag being dumped as a decoy (e.g. by the husband). Sometimes killers enjoy taunting the authorities by dumping the victim’s possessions in places the police have already searched.

    • Kat says:

      06:59pm | 25/09/12

      The whole objective in an investigation is to keep as open mind as possible about what could have happened. Detectives are taught to no longer believe in co-incidences and to always be thinking of any possibility. They also consider the opposite of what the evidence suggests. Keeping or releasing information to the public is strategic and obviously they withhold information deliberately. I’m so over people thinking they can deduce what has happened when they have about 5% of the facts!

    • So? says:

      07:06pm | 25/09/12

      I guess I’m the odd one out.

      I don’t know the woman, and frankly don’t care.

      But hey, it ticks all the media “empathy boxes”; white, female, pretty.

    • valerie of warnbro says:

      07:14pm | 25/09/12

      Please God, please bring Gillian home safely to her family. Amen.

    • So? says:

      07:21pm | 25/09/12

      So, if she doesn’t come home safely we can assume either God didn’t care or isn’t there.

      Noice.

 

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