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Police continue to hunt for young mum who disappeared 22 years ago

14 Apr 2019 10:00am

There has only ever been one person of interest for SA Police in connection with the disappearance and suspected murder of Annabel Strzelecki in 1998 – her husband.

The 73-year-old took his own life two years after Annabel’s disappearance, effectively stalling the police criminal investigation, however their inquiries in a bid to locate her remains continue.

Detective Brevet Sergeant Rebecca Rayner, from the SA Police Major Crime Investigation Branch, said there is still hope police can provide Mrs Stzelecki’s two children – who are now aged in their 20s - with some answers.

They were aged just five and seven when their 28-year-old mother (pictured above) disappeared from their Clare home.

“Now, 22 years after her disappearance, her two children still don’t know where their mother is and have a lot of unanswered questions,” Detective Sergeant Rayner said.

“They have been unable to lay their mother to rest. “

Their father, Wlodzimierz Strzelecki (better known as Jim) told police that Annabel, who he met and married in the Philippines, left the house late on the night of 5 June 1998 in the company of two friends after a confrontation with him.

“There has never been any corroboration of that, and he later indicated to someone that he had killed her and disposed of her body in the far north of the state,” Detective Sergeant Rayner said.

“Unfortunately police did not have sufficient corroboration to charge and convict him. Despite an extensive investigation there is nothing to suggest that anyone else is responsible.

“There’s got to be somebody that knows something or has information about his movements around the time Annabel disappeared.”

In statement he provided after she disappeared he spoke about their marriage being unhappy and provided details of a trip he took with a rental van up to the far north of the state.

“His story involved him moving the family after Annabel left on 5 June 1998,” Detective Sergeant Rayner said.

“He said he took action to move him and the children, and that he needed a few days away after she left. He also indicated he went to the Tent Hill area and burned some rubbish.”

Photographs: Jim Strzelecki and the hire van.

Tent Hill is on Carriewerloo Station about 25km northwest of Port Augusta.

“We know the van was hired in Adelaide on 9 June 1998, and that he travelled about 1700km – of which a significant number of kilometers are unaccounted for – before it was returned on 16 June,” Detective Sergeant Rayner said.

“Unfortunately we have never pinpointed exactly where he was – although investigators expended a considerable amount of effort to determine the exact location, including taking a number of soil samples. “

SA Police continue to review long-term unsolved cases such as that of Annabel Strzelecki as part of Operation Persist – a cold case campaign under the auspices of Major Crime.

In this case a reward up to $200,000 will be paid by the Government of South Australia, at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police, to anyone who provides information and assistance that leads to the location and recovery of the victim’s remains.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at www.crimestopperssa.com.au