Happy Scribe Logo

Transcript

Proofread by 0 readers
Proofread
[00:00:00]

Listeners are advised that the Night Driver podcast contains coarse language and adult themes, the Night Driver podcast is brought to you by the Australian newspaper and digital site.

[00:00:24]

A family of missing Bethesda woman Janine Vaughn has made an emotional plea for information into her whereabouts, equipped with. I mean, this stuff has taught me for a long time.

[00:00:38]

It means it's a hard. Gentlemen, start your engines. Thousand a line and looking at Russell. This is an investigation into the disappearance and almost certain murder of a young woman in the shadows of Mount Panorama, a mountain which is the spiritual home of motor racing in Australia, where some of the world's best drivers risk their lives in an often breathtaking annual race, a race around a mountain at the edge of a town called Bathurst that has been keeping a wicked secret.

[00:01:24]

You've seen how the rumor mill works.

[00:01:27]

And I do. I get so consumed with it the last couple of times that I've talked to you, like you say to me, I just explain this to me. When I start talking, I sort of feel like, oh, my God, I'm lying about that, or that's not the truth, because that's just what I've heard. And so you, by questioning me, makes me realize that a lot of it is just hearsay. And we've just been saying this shit.

[00:01:57]

You make stupid. You've been doing an amazing job. I just want it to be over. I just need it to be over. Some months before that telephone conversation, I went to a hotel in Sydney to meet a remarkable woman called Kaylee's Spelled and her fiercely loyal brother, Adam Vaughn, Kylie and Adam started telling me a sprawling and almost unbelievable story about their sister, a beautiful young woman called Janine, who worked in a menswear store in a country town called Bathurst and hope to settle down with Mr Wright, marry and raise children.

[00:02:41]

Kylie and Adam told me their family had waited almost 20 years to learn the truth about the fate of Janine since her disappearance. A stone's throw from friends on one of the main streets of the town a few hours west of Sydney, Kylie and Adam disclosed extraordinary allegations of corruption and cover up in the police investigation. They talked about key evidence and even a possible murder weapon, a bloodied knife which was destroyed by police when they were meant to keep it and have it tested for DNA.

[00:03:14]

And they talk to me about illegal drugs, about cranks who claim to know where Janine was buried in forest and even links to students at the town's Charles Sturt University. I would learn how many people in Bathurst had turned almost Mobb, like on the town's senior police detective and deputy mayor. Brad Husband's painting this man as a killer as the community rumour mill rotated wildly in the months and years after Jeanine's disappearance.

[00:03:42]

Anyone that knows me knows that it's completely baseless.

[00:03:47]

Colleague wanted to know if a podcast investigation might find new evidence and expose the presumed killer who has eluded police since one fateful early morning in December 2001. We talked about Janine on a sunny afternoon in the outdoor garden bar of the hotel. The toll of the past two decades on Kylie and Adam was not obvious to me that day. They put on brave faces. In the months since, I've come to understand a little bit about how difficult it has been for them and the rest of the family.

[00:04:20]

It was only because they had to check out these different things. Like you said, you know, you're were clearly minded person and you've come in going is very far. But this is where I believe that we think, well, it could happen because the. Kailey hopes that by re-examining Janine's case in this podcast, digging into new leads, talking to numerous people and inviting help from the public, we might find her sister's body and her killer. But this is a mystifying whodunit.

[00:04:59]

Each time I think we're getting close to something new comes up and takes the investigation in another direction. I didn't know it when we first met, but this is also a story about Kylie's relentless quest for answers. It has now enveloped me and my long time friend Peter Murphy. Peter is bringing his skills as a former criminal defense lawyer and judge to this investigation to try to find Janine's killer. Which is what is needed, as well as being a busy married mom in her early 40s, Kylie is a passionate country music singer.

[00:05:44]

She performs in pubs and at weddings and special occasions in towns across the Hunter Valley, lifting the spirits of revellers. Here she is at one of those gigs. He's trying to, you know, have people down. In her spare time, she's out tracking down witnesses, turning up evidence she's dug with her bare hands into soil in thickly wooded forest near Bathurst when she's been told her sister's body was buried there. She stalks suspects and informants online and chases cryptic leads sent to her Facebook page.

[00:06:42]

And she tracks former and serving cops when she believes they might know something. Kylie tells me about most of these events, but usually she tells me afterwards because she knows that I want her to slow down. She also finds women who know very dangerous men in the Bathurst region and she wins their trust. I ask her to pose for her own safety and to let us try to catch up.

[00:07:08]

And she said to me, if you ask me, I think he's capable of doing this to your sister. She said, yes, he will understand if he. He's a monster. He would shoot at anybody that would come to the property and put his big spotlight on him and make them that scared that they, you know, they wouldn't be coming back. She said that there's a lot of mineshafts out on the property. He is a violent, fearless criminal.

[00:07:43]

Oh, I feel sick, to be honest. Every time I look at his face, I think, oh, my God, it's disgusting. You're disgusting. I sent the photo to Adam today, this morning. And he's like, I know that guy. I've mean, that guy. I thought that guy was. So he's racking his brain now thinking that he may have even seen him once when he was out with Janine.

[00:08:08]

You won't lose anything by by pulling back in, pursuing that like you want to go out to the property and look around.

[00:08:19]

And that would be crazy. He said, I'll take you out there. I said, let's just get this bastard. And she's pretty much taken back saying, but let's do that. I'd imagine if we got out there and we found something.

[00:08:33]

Just imagine a thing that you really starting to poke the bear.

[00:08:37]

Well, I'd actually like that. I'd like them to come and say to me, what the hell you been doing? At our first meeting in that hotel in Sydney, Kylie told me about the three most prominent and known persons of interest in Jeanine's disappearance. They were called as witnesses to a coroner's inquiry in 2009. We're going to look at all of this evidence and we're going to hear from each of these men. But there are others now. We've uncovered new evidence and compelling allegations about people who have not been publicly linked with Jeanine's disappearance before.

[00:09:13]

One of the depraved and cruel individual is the same man Kylie was talking about before. We'll have a lot more to say about him later in this series. In the meantime, it's important to know more about a trio of known men who are connected to each other because each has been raised in the past as a key person of interest. This three word blind person of interest is police speak, but it simply means someone suspected and perhaps on flimsy evidence.

[00:09:44]

And despite fierce denial of being possibly involved in foul play over Janine, Janine Vaughan seemed to vanish into thin air.

[00:09:54]

Steve Harvey has tracked down two former persons of interest who speak out for the first time in this exclusive.

[00:10:01]

Australia's Network 10 ran a TV news story in early 2019, briefly featuring the persons of interest. And a decade earlier, Coroner Mary Jerram, who heard the police evidence, did not make a single adverse finding about any of the three. There is local pharmacist Andrew Jones, who was single when Janine disappeared. Jones is committed to church and prayer. He kept mostly to himself while living in Bathurst. He lived in accommodation at the prestigious the Scotts School in Bathurst, and in return he gave up some of his spare time to coach the students on the sporting fields.

[00:10:39]

The pharmacy Jones worked in when Janine disappeared was in the same town shopping centre near the menswear store she managed. Andrew Jones tells friends that police have gone after him for no apparent reason, ruining his reputation and devastating his elderly mother.

[00:10:56]

Was she ever in your little red car there in 019?

[00:10:59]

Never been in my car. I didn't know her. But that's not quite true. Jones was a regular at the store managed by Janine.

[00:11:06]

I obviously shopped at a menswear store, which was a great store, and it was a I shop there. But obviously, you know, she worked there.

[00:11:15]

Jones also matches the description of a man in a little red car that stalked another woman ten minutes before Janine vanished.

[00:11:23]

They can test my car as much as they want. They won't find anything. Next, there's the former police detective sergeant and deputy mayor of the town of Bathurst, Brad Houseman's, some of the cops with whom he worked tipped him as a future head of the 20000 strong New South Wales police force because of his work ethic and exceptional abilities as a detective, Houseman's was linked to Jenene by innuendo and by witnesses. One even came forward years later to swear that she saw him driving a car with a terrified Janine in the front passenger seat, her wrists bound and a look of pleading desperation on her face.

[00:12:03]

The circumstances surrounding that disclosure were unusual. Husbands rejected it and several others connecting him to Janine. Calling them ludicrous husbands has also been the subject of town innuendo that he was connected with an illegal drug crop. Once again, he rejects that claim as nonsense. The once highly regarded officer was as surprised as Jones by Network Ten. Steve Hart turned up at his workplace in Sydney, far from his ruined career as a country cop with unlimited ambition. Brad Husbands was the leading suspect for many years, his alibi didn't stack up and a former lover was caught out trying to fabricate one for him.

[00:12:49]

But despite this, no hard evidence has ever been found to link husbands to Jeanine's murder. Janine's family lives. Two questions, Brad, do you think, today in Dallas, Brad, can you tell us about your alibi? Look, I'm sorry. This man has been well and truly gone over. Sorry, I can't help it.

[00:13:05]

As a detective, Brad Houseman's investigated and locked up dangerous criminals. He tells me that he's still looking over his shoulder because of his work on sensitive cases which put the guilty and often violent behind bars. He also went to some horrific crime scenes, like the one where Linda Andrews was blasted to death by her unhinged former boyfriend, Bruce Spatt. Husbands led the investigation into a murder and the killer's suicide. Sometimes he finds it hard to put the scenes out of his mind.

[00:13:38]

The average person just doesn't understand what goes on with those crime scenes. I just think it might be a bit of a pool of blood or something. But there were this bloke and her everywhere, and that's just one of hundreds of cases that you've gone through in your life. And is that what people remember, you know, and then you've got to sit here and try and defend yourself down the track because some dickhead thinks, oh, yeah, husbands did it.

[00:14:04]

I was a deputy mayor contributing to my community and doing a really good job for my community and trying to make it a better place, either put it in jail or trying to get parks and things and, you know, everything else. The castle is the road price. Rubbish is any good at getting remembered, not protesters with some criminal mastermind or some supposed drug dealer or anything like that. And I Brada was none of that shit. Bret Edmunds was a partner with us and ask around town.

[00:14:35]

On so many facets, trying to make that place a better place, an even better place. And and then here I am, 20 years later, still trying to call my wife out as some sort of suggestion that I was a person of interest in the disappearance of the girl I had nothing to do with, then you have to go and call this sort of bullshit and you just sit there and you sit in the end of you just saying, fuck me.

[00:14:58]

You know, it wasn't worth it was worth at 20 years old in and out and now to be subjected to this. You'll hear a lot more about Brad Houseman's in later episodes. And thirdly, there's aged care home woodsmen Dennis brings. Briggs was showing an infatuation with Janine in her workplace, the menswear store called Ed Harris. In the weeks before she went missing, he was drinking heavily and he wasn't taking his antipsychotic medication. Brigs even told his partner, Julie Kleve, and several friends that he picked Ginnane up in his car, drove her out of town, tried to rape her, stabbed her to death, then disposed of her body near a place called White Rock, south of Bathurst.

[00:15:44]

He got rid of his small, reddish coloured car. Soon afterwards, Dennis Briggs also changed his appearance, getting his head shaved and having the image of a rat tattooed on one side of his face.

[00:15:58]

I think in the family to know if you've done this and you need to pay for what you've done, you need to listen to the voice of the rope to X amount of paper. Why haven't you arrested the. You know, I asked him straight out when I went to the police station the third time, I said, look, to be quite bluntly at the moment, he said he's done it. Arrest the man. I said super. I said, I'm looking for he said it to several other people.

[00:16:32]

I said, and from what I understand, his story is consistent. And I said, oh, well, we just haven't found any traces in the car. And I said, Oh, my God, is that it? It was their excuse I had found nothing in the car to point to it. All right, well, I have to ask you straight up, Julie, do you believe that Dennis Briggs killed Ginnane warned?

[00:17:04]

At that time, yes, I did actually believe that you don't think me I'm not 100 percent sure if hypothetically, Dennis led police to a location and the siren went wrong and pointed to a mound and it was dug up and Jeanine's remains were there, would you be absolutely stunned or would you be are going to be quite honest with you?

[00:17:33]

I do not think that I would be stunned. I'd be more fun to think that I actually went out looking it. But then again, how many times I paint quite happily married to a park or near what I've been doing and the partner knows nothing about it. And I said to, would you say something like that? I said, because if you didn't kill her, I said, it's kind of like the police pin it on me anyway. We need to look into something for me.

[00:18:10]

Oh, my God. I mean, maybe was smarter than I thought that he was, but maybe he's very similar, but not least because, you know what I mean.

[00:18:22]

It's very important to stress that all three men emphatically denied wrongdoing. I've talked to two of the three over many hours. It might have seemed an open and shut case with Dennis Briggs, but he was off his medication and he said that caused him to have delusions of grandeur, false confession. Like Kiley and the rest of her family. The three men said they have been profoundly affected, too, by Jenny's disappearance and almost 20 years of investigations and public finger pointing, the accusations leveled against them.

[00:18:59]

This strenuous rebuttals and many new facts will be examined in the night driver. You heard Kiley at the start of this episode. After long weeks and months spent working together, talking constantly about the evidence and sharing new information, the pressure momentarily became too much for Kiley. But each day brings us a little closer to where we believe the truth of what really happened to Ginnane lies. It's right there. Yeah. OK. So it just seems to me that.

[00:20:09]

A medium sized red sedan has pulled up, the passenger door opened and Ginnane got in the car and we understand from that point on she hasn't been seen since from the information we've gathered in the investigation.

[00:20:23]

It would appear that Janine Vaughn has been abducted and murdered.

[00:20:27]

That's the voice of Detective Richie SIM talking about 17 years ago to a journalist from the Seven Network's Today Tonight program. Back then, SIM was a homicide squad cop on Strikeforce Toco, the official name for the police hunt for Jeanine's killer. But SIM made no secret of his view then that every avenue of the investigation to that point in time had been exhausted and all potential leads are eliminated.

[00:20:56]

This investigation has been incredibly frustrating. Probably the most frustrating in my career, circumstanced of the investigation are very thin. We don't have a crime scene. We obviously haven't found Jeanine's body.

[00:21:09]

Now, that was not long after Janene had vanished just a couple of years. But the mystery was still in the news and being talked about in Baathist colleagues. Small collection of videotapes of reports like this one are windows into earlier investigations that show how a very serious murder probe by police started quickly and early and gathered momentum. It continued over several years, and they show the Vaughn family snippets of footage of Ginnane as happy and outgoing with many friends.

[00:21:42]

I was having a great night, most of you know. Two weeks before her disappearance, Jenene had spoken at a family birthday.

[00:21:51]

After Geneen disappeared, the Vaun family endured each agonizing hour. Extensive ground and air search is failing to yield a single clue as 20 homicide detectives from Sydney and Bathurst interviewed a thousand people and recorded hundreds of statements. I was over there scouring the streets.

[00:22:11]

I was over there for three weeks and I so had. That's Jeanine's father, and now you'll hear the voice of Jenny, the woman Janine called Mum. I don't think there's a day that goes by that I don't cry, I found myself talking to to her photos.

[00:22:35]

What do you say, Jenny? Oh, I just say give me some sort of. This constant thing in our hearts and heads of not knowing anything is driving us crazy. It never leaves your mind.

[00:22:56]

You wonder every day, virtually every second of the day, which is what happened to him.

[00:23:03]

So can we assume she knew the occupant or occupants of the car? Janine's personality indicates that she wouldn't have got in the car with a stranger.

[00:23:11]

Well, I'm quite sure I knew exactly who was in that car.

[00:23:16]

Jenny had been a happy, contented wife and mother, but she died with a broken heart.

[00:23:22]

I can assure you, she's never on. If someone's mind or conscience is being jogged by this story tonight, what would you like to say to them?

[00:23:33]

Write a letter, a note, a phone call, anything just to let us know where she's please. You've got something, we got nothing. We have got to we haven't got a head time. We've got absolutely nothing. Be a man and come forward, give yourself.

[00:24:16]

I had I become pretty good yourself. Yeah, not bad. Thank you.

[00:24:22]

I've become aware of a little known fact about Jadine. Even the local rumor mill protected this personal secret, held it close, its smouldered in Jenene for most of her relatively short life. I'm going to broach it with her family and with her friend Rebecca Howe, because they believe this fact is fundamental to understanding. Janine. Janine was raised in a loving family in a small town in the Hunter Valley, a three hour drive north of Bathurst who moved from Muswellbrook to Bathurst a few years before she disappeared came after the breakdown of her brief marriage to Rudd.

[00:24:59]

Either you're going to hear from Rod shortly. The woman Janine called mum Jenny Vaughn, did not give birth to Janine. Jeanine's biological mother was young, and she gave her up for adoption immediately. Janine's father, Ian Vaughn, was away at sea at the time. So when Ian's parents heard a rumor in the town that they had a baby granddaughter and she was at the local hospital but likely to go to strangers, they stepped in. This was a selfless act of love and loyalty, but it became complicated, too.

[00:25:34]

As a small child, Janine believed that her daddy was actually her big brother. When he returned from Navy duty and married Jenny, they raised three children, Kylie, Adam and Rodney as children. These three believe Janine was a really cool young auntie. They thought she was their dad's little sister. The extended Vaun family was very tight knit. Janine lived nearby with her grandparents. She adored grandpa. She called them mum and dad. But Janine increasingly felt a special tie to her biological dad and what to do when the family decided the time was right.

[00:26:16]

Janine was set down one day and told the full story. She learned where she really came from and this part went well. Janine responded by just spending a bit more time with her father, Ian, and his young family. Everyone continued to love her at least as much as they had before the full story was disclosed. But one ongoing difficulty would play on Jane's mind until the day she died. Janine's biological mother, who had also stayed in the town, lived a short walk from Jeanine's home, and she had by then her own family.

[00:26:50]

She avoided contact with Janine. Janine wanted to meet and know the mother who had given her life. Janine's friends and family tell me, Janine joining deepened as she became a young woman.

[00:27:02]

I remember her telling me that growing up that her biological mother of a sister lived in Muswellbrook and used to live around the corner from which Janine used to catch the bus. And she would tell me that that she was really sad and she couldn't believe that hell, that she is not that far from Janine. And she never tried to reach out to Janine to make any contact with Janine. And Janine said that she used to have to walk past her place to go to the bus stop or sometimes ride her bike past where she lived and that she had never reached out to her.

[00:27:42]

We have lunch every day together. I was going through a bad time in my life, too. So we sort of we shared a lot and that probably come up in the whole dynamic. So when we used to talk about the family and and her stepmom, Jenny and Ian and Kylie and Adam and Rodney, she used to sit there with my brothers and sisters. She never used to really say they're my half brothers or, you know, same dad, but different mum.

[00:28:12]

I asked Rebecca whether Janine had told her that she definitely wanted to have a relationship with her biological mother.

[00:28:19]

That was my understanding, that she couldn't believe that she had not ever reached out or tried to make any sort of contact with Janine. And I sort of think that probably contributed to her sense of belonging, I guess. And also. Her feeling was probably in her in her relationships, what she was looking for, she was looking for that person to settle down with and to have a family of her own. It's really quite tragic.

[00:28:49]

Short life, isn't it? Not knowing her own mother and then being 31. I just can't believe the I'm can be very unfortunate.

[00:28:59]

I raised it with David, who became Janine student boyfriend after she had moved to Bathurst.

[00:29:05]

I mean, that was a huge driving thing in her life. And I guess the way she looked at things in those days was a lot of that was driven by the fact that her natural mother essentially abandoned her and she grew up in the same town as the natural mother. Her family was, you know, massively important to her, especially the brothers and the sisters, though, though, the most important thing in her life, essentially, you know, along with her dad.

[00:29:30]

So she was very much family orientated. There was no doubt about it. But there was obviously a massive underlying sadness there. All these years later, this is still a sensitive subject in Jeanine's family. It was raised awkwardly at the start of my first interview with her sister, Kylie, in a house filled with photographs and other reminders of Janine. This is the sound machine.

[00:29:53]

Excellent. And then turn it on and we'll start recording. OK, OK, we're good. I really just want to start at the beginning. I want to hear about the growing up years with your sister who used to call your auntie. Yes. Why? We were told. Well, we just assumed, I suppose, that because she grew up with my grandparents that she was one of theirs. So she had four brothers. Which one was my dad?

[00:30:25]

He was the eldest. And yeah. So I think it was one of those things that when we sort of got to an age where we would understand, we were then told that she's actually your sister, someone who was really fortunate to end up in a loving family after a bad break.

[00:30:44]

Yeah, some part of me sort of feels that it's sort of sort of like down grades, if that makes sense.

[00:30:53]

Like, I know at times, you know, people would sort of say that, oh, she's only your half sister, isn't she? Like, what difference does that make, you know? So I kind of I get quite defensive of the whole fact that she's only half and not full. I suppose so. Yeah, I do. That is something that has concerned me and I do get a little bit nervous about talking about that.

[00:31:17]

But like you said, it is part of her journey in life and and it's got her to where she is today. And where does that journey start? Kylie related some of the family history about her young father and his girlfriend in a small town where secrets like this can be hard to keep.

[00:31:38]

He obviously went off to the Navy and it was only my grandparents found out on the day that Shane was actually born that they'd become grandparents and they were just blown away. And then they being dad going, did you know about this kind of thing?

[00:31:54]

You know, we're going to be careful to not identify Janine's biological mother in this podcast. In some of the comments from those close to Janine, you'll hear a slight pause. And that's because we've edited them where they name the now elderly woman who was Jeanine's biological mum. When Detective Superintendent Peter Houlihan filed a detailed report on investigations into Jeanine's disappearance, he included a summary of this poignant part of her life. These are the detective superintendent words, but not his voice.

[00:32:28]

In November 1969, Ian joined the Royal Australian Navy and was subsequently based at HMAS Cerberus at Port Phillip Bay due to his commitment to the Navy. Ian was unable to return to Muswellbrook for the birth of Janene. He had initially heard that he had fallen pregnant to him. However, he was under the impression that hed miscarried. Janine was born at Scott Memorial Hospital gown on seven January 1970 at three weeks of age. Janine was adopted by her paternal grandparents, Ethel and Nancy Vaughan, given Ian's inability to care for her due to his circumstances at the time.

[00:33:08]

It was expressed wish and a formal condition of the adoption that she have nothing to do with the upbringing of Janine in a statement taken from her following Jeanine's disappearance. She claims that she had seen Janine as she grew up in Muswellbrook. However, they only acknowledged each other three or four times during this time. From the age of 10, Janine began calling in dead. The contact between Janine and Jenny and their other children remained regular, with them spending time together three to four times a week.

[00:33:42]

The police officer alluded to a neediness in Jenene, he wrote that she didn't cope well on her own. She constantly sought companionship and he made a nuanced connection to the circumstances surrounding her birth.

[00:33:57]

There was always the underlying discontent in relation to her birth and her natural mother's abandonment of her almost immediately after birth.

[00:34:06]

Here's Kailey again.

[00:34:08]

So Janine was in hospital for three weeks. The nurses actually called her Rebecca while she was in hospital because poor little darling had no name and nobody there to care for her.

[00:34:20]

And Janine's grandparents knew they wanted her.

[00:34:24]

She was brought up in a loving home. It's an amazing story. Yeah.

[00:34:31]

I mean, Gran, she already had four boys.

[00:34:34]

So for her to have this beautiful little little daughter, little girl come into her life like it was just.

[00:34:42]

Yeah, it completed her, I think.

[00:34:44]

What do you remember as a little girl growing up with this older girl who you thought was an auntie?

[00:34:51]

I know I've got memories of us recording ourselves on tape recorders. If we'd be singing and dancing and in the boys room and just playing and we'd gone on holidays together a few times.

[00:35:06]

And so, yeah, it was really it was really good to have her around, but it wasn't all the time.

[00:35:16]

And yeah, I would have been this annoying little sister that, you know, these boys are coming to the house and I'd be I can still remember myself being this little annoying girl that would be sitting on the boy's lap and say, yeah, it was it was good and, you know, always looked up to change. It always made herself look beautiful. And her hair was, you know, she was it was what I wanted to be when I got older.

[00:35:41]

You know, my mum had no issues at all. She loved her as if she was her own as well. And it actually got to a point where it was quite difficult because she'd had visits with my parents and they got to the point where it was kind of it was getting very difficult for Janine to then go back to grandma because she was wanting to stay with mum and dad and and my mum and dad would never have taken her away from grandpa.

[00:36:06]

Like, you know, they've raised her, you know, from a baby right through to, you know, toddler age and even a little bit older, you know, and to take her away from that would have just broken their hearts, like my parents would never have done that. So it was just something that I had to work. We just they obviously just made it work.

[00:36:25]

And it was a shared upbringing. It was a shared upbringing. And I think they've all done a great job. Yeah. And what about on the other side with her natural mother?

[00:36:36]

Jane would go to school, would see her, I would say, Janine, there was a time there where which breaks my heart that Janine used to sit across the road from our house and hope that she'd come over and talk to her. She went through a whole life just wanting that one person's attention, and she never got it.

[00:37:05]

I mean, it's a small country town, small town. Jeanine's growing up in a loving home. How far away did her natural mother live from?

[00:37:17]

Literally like you go down the end of the street and her house is pretty much right across the road from the end of that street as she would have seen her walking to school.

[00:37:26]

I know that this is something that has set with Janine her her whole life, and it made her very sad.

[00:37:34]

It saddens the rest of the family to his Jeanine's brother, Adam, telling me about seeing Janine's biological mother when he was young.

[00:37:44]

You know, and I I remember when I was sixteen, got my first job at the shoe shop and I served. She was so nice, you know, just. Because I knew that Jeanine wanted to talk to us. If you're this nice, why can't you just talk to her? But then later on, I realized that I was over the top. I was being beautiful and so nice to her and I didn't do anything wrong to up the change that you might talk to Jenny.

[00:38:29]

She probably did know I was Janine got to 31 by that point, you think that, you know, if she really wanted to know Janine, she would have reached out herself? After lunch at a local pub where Carly sometimes does singing gigs, she took me for a tour. It went past the house owned by Jeanine's biological mother.

[00:38:54]

This is the first time that I've driven past the house. I'm not a continual stalker, and that's the thing like we don't we've never had a conversation to this with this woman, so we don't know how she dealt with that, how she, you know, snuck around being pregnant with the baby and knowing full well that she wasn't going to keep this child. It must have been awful. Can we agree on this now? Can we agree that we should try this, then I will record what we say from here?

[00:39:31]

Oh yeah, are sorry. I don't know how to put it into words. I've been talking to Jeanine's biological mother off the record until now, she did not want to be interviewed for this podcast. I'm going to call her Anna, but that isn't her real name. Anna spoke to me about her decision to give Jenene up for adoption in a small country town half a century ago.

[00:39:56]

You said before that you said it was the biggest regret of your life.

[00:40:01]

Well, the situation I was in at the time, I was living with my parents. I never had any child support for the little boy that I was raising on my own because my husband had walked out. I was working full time not to try to look after him. And my parents were wonderful to me. But I knew and they said that they didn't know if I could handle another baby or child in the house. And I thought, well, how can I raise two children on my own?

[00:40:33]

And then when the family were interested in taking or looking after and I thought, well, she'll have a good home and I know where she's going. And she seemed to be happy growing up. And I regret from that very first day what would happen and the decision I made. So. I can't change that now, so what would you have done differently? Well well, if I was in a better position, I would have raised her myself or tried to raise her myself.

[00:41:05]

But I knew I just couldn't financially, and I didn't have anywhere permanently to live and. I wasn't getting any help from me, and now I just wish it didn't happen like it did. I sort of kept to myself for a long time after that. Did you want to reach out to Janine when she was a child? I did, but then I thought, well, he's been with them since he was a baby, they've read, he's happy and I thought, no, I need to fear.

[00:41:34]

It's just I don't know. All these things go through your mind and you make mistakes and bad decisions. And that's just a bad decision that I made that I didn't reach out to. But he had the opportunity to reach out to make that. And then I kept thinking, well, maybe she doesn't want anything to do with me. I have that in my mind all the time to. If she had come around, knocked on the door and said, you're my mom, I'd like to get to know you.

[00:42:06]

What do you think you would have done? Well, certainly would have I would have accepted a. I would like I've got an answer to that, I don't think that would have been a problem at all. Anna told me that whenever she saw Janine on the handful of occasions in town, she saw a younger version of herself. She identified the physical likeness in her daughter, her young flesh and blood. But each time, Anna considered initiating contact with Janine as a girl and then as a young woman in the small community, she stopped herself.

[00:42:42]

Were you curious about her growing up? Did you want to know what she was, what she was going to do?

[00:42:48]

And, you know, things like that, like like you wonder what she was going to be doing. Lots of sorts of things. Being is can you think we would have crossed paths, but we certainly never had a good trip at one time at the club, this moment must have been seared into Janine's memory.

[00:43:09]

It was the only time the young woman and her biological mother had a face to face contact and spoke to each other.

[00:43:16]

Well, I didn't know who she was with. Cymatics just came and stood at the bar and. I could I could see it with her and we just said hello and people are back and that was it, turn man and she walked off and that was it. I never seen her again for the rest of the night. And even after that, I never even. Made any effort to contact me or write to me, ring me or anything. I never heard a word.

[00:43:44]

And also their mother says she doesn't want to do with me.

[00:43:48]

If, you know, if that some people hearing this will ask why the onus was on Janine to contact you, why you didn't think there was also an onus on you to contact her. Oh, I know, right?

[00:44:03]

Yeah. I really wish that. What do you say about that? As I said, if I could go back in time when they might dispute. Can I go back in time? Did you grieve? Oh, I certainly did. And I do. Every day I think about every day. You know, if her life was different, that probably would never would have happened and always been you in your mind all the time.

[00:44:30]

You must have had strong feelings for her to have grieved and be thinking of her. Oh, definitely. Oh, I.

[00:44:37]

I definitely get out of a logical manner and that's the bit that's hard to reconcile. But you will have such strong feelings for her and think about her every day after she disappeared.

[00:44:51]

But have again I keep asking myself why. Well, I didn't know I you know, I asked myself that all the time. What's your best guess about why? I really don't know. All the things that have happened, like I know through the family, things that have happened over the years and like. I've lost three brothers. My one took his own life, and I don't think I ever got over that because I was the last person to see.

[00:45:31]

Yeah, I really don't. I'm getting sick there, sorry. Yeah, I went through a bad marriage, yeah, domestic violence and things have been pretty tough for a lot of years, put it that way. And I always was thinking, well, you know, living with them should have a good life and I'll look after her and raise her and all these things go through your mind. Then as the years go by, you wish to goodness she'd never made that choice.

[00:46:05]

Anna told me that she could not bring herself to go to any of the communities, public events such as the memorial service held to honor Jeanine's life. She did not want to cause a scene with Jeanine's family.

[00:46:19]

None of her family sort of kept in contact with me or wondering how I was going or anything like that. I just know I was just nothing, I suppose. But as I said, I was an outcast. I, I had no time to meet. Everyone knows everyone's business in town, unfortunately, tongues wagging in any way I'm okay now. She's a beautiful girl, yes. Everybody photographs of. I do. Can I ask how you got those?

[00:46:55]

Oh, I cut them out of paper. Do you have any other mementos of her? No, I don't. In sickness and in health care has provided. Rod Etha and Janine Vaughan married Young. She wanted to settle down and have children, but Rod couldn't even settle down at weekends, let alone start raising kids with his striking young wife. Rod works in one of the Hunter Valley's mining operations. We met after work one day in the house that he and Janine had bought together in the 1990s.

[00:47:37]

He can't leave it all these years later because he doesn't want to walk away from the memories.

[00:47:43]

You know, it's still a very big part of this place. It's just for myself, the way that I feel. I feel like it's done for myself because I still love the woman. We just weren't in love with me. We fell apart. But. Obviously, for me, in addition, I am now 52 years of age, she's the only woman that I really loved and but at the time, you don't know anything, so. Rod told me that Janine's unusual upbringing and her unresolved questions about her biological mother were always just below the surface, he recalled one day when they were out together and it came to a head.

[00:48:32]

Her natural mother was actually in the pub at the same time and and Janine. Mentioned, she said to me, she said, look, I really think that when I approach about why she just wanted some answers, it didn't go well.

[00:48:53]

She may come back shattered. I said I was going. She didn't want to be there anymore and heard a really bad ultimate question. Yeah, why why did you leave me at the hospital?

[00:49:05]

And from that day forward, the milestones, the 16th birthday, her 18th birthday, 21st, not even a card, not nothing on our left as my mom and I know that. She still went forward with love, wasn't going to bring it down completely. As I say, she had so much love from. Our grandparents and an nine and Jenny. Sounds like you did to yell at the beautiful family.

[00:49:39]

I love them to death and. I think every day there's never a day old guy goes by and I think about, you know, and how would you describe the marriage or how, you know, the good and the not so good.

[00:49:53]

Well. It's going to be a needed break for that. Sorry, some time. Yeah, it's. Look, when we first met, it was fantastic, I. I couldn't believe that someone like Janine. Felt the way she did about me and and I absolutely adored her as well. We were seeing each other for four years before we got married and then we were married for four years. We just new age, we're so compatible with each other, conversations, openness, the love.

[00:50:38]

When it started to go downhill, this is where. You know, I blame myself because we were of wanting to settle down, we're looking at having kids and I believe that we're married too young. Like, I blame myself for it.

[00:50:56]

Absolutely. I'm still out on a party with my friends and then has the best of both worlds. Basically, I really wish that because he's still the love of my life. Mr. Dealy. But I really wish that we had met the life like I could have got out of my system, so to speak, and being a better person, that. Oh, now I am father and son is my parents and family, absolutely adored you like everyone loved you.

[00:51:30]

She was just such a beautiful soul and I guess the only real enemies that she had.

[00:51:38]

The people are just jealous of it. Yeah, this is so wrong with someone so beautiful. Can have this happen, so whatever happens, happens. Janine. Obviously. That has nothing to do with myself, but the fact that we separated or do I blame 100 percent of myself? For sure, if I been a better person at the time we stayed together, you need to be still sitting in this lounge room and you wouldn't even be sitting there like.

[00:52:11]

Michelle Sullivan was Jeanine's close friend from their late teens until her disappearance. She was so happy, the life of the party.

[00:52:22]

Yeah, she she brought that to the room was always good sale. She was beautiful.

[00:52:29]

I know she really wanted to start off. And we were all sort of starting a family. We've got to grow up sooner or later. Let's let's start thinking about having a family.

[00:52:38]

What was she like around children of. To see around the kids. She would have been a good. Will this podcast open up wounds for you and others who knew name just talking about like we are? I have to tell the truth because I think it's been a cover from the beginning. It's been a setup. I think the saddest thing is that we we don't know. The hardest thing is we don't know. I don't know why it was her.

[00:53:19]

Did she know something that she wasn't supposed to know?

[00:53:22]

He would she would have had to have known the driver. She would have known the person in that car special. We need to find.

[00:53:46]

I'm walking across George Street in the heart of Bathurst with my friend Peter Murphy, the recently retired judge and former criminal defense lawyer from Brisbane. Early in my investigation, Peter offered his perspective on this case and then he volunteered his help. He's been examining many leads with me since I took up his offer to help find Janine and her killer. Now we are in Bathurst meeting contacts and testing various theories. Tonight, we are retracing the footsteps of Janine, her last steps outside a pub and nightclub called the Metro Tavern, otherwise known back in the day as the dirty TAV.

[00:54:25]

It was just one of those sort of turning places where instead of making the smart decision and going home because nothing good ever happens after midnight, if you wanted to keep going and go to the Metro and it was the drinking hole of last resort, essentially, that's David, one of Janine's boyfriends.

[00:54:40]

From that time, David was a decade younger than Janine. He and his student friends from Charles Sturt University adored her. You'll hear more from David later.

[00:54:52]

Back then, this was the Metro seven three thirty on a Friday morning. This place was was humming.

[00:55:00]

Well, yeah, I'm trying to imagine it's pouring rain. There are people spilling out after last drinks here. Back then, a lot of students and and of course, Janine was here with Jordan and went either. And she's lost her handbag and she's distraught. Yep.

[00:55:18]

Yep. And then to make things worse, Jordan has a good mate, was having a protest with his girlfriend, Juanita, about some some domestic issue of theirs. It was raining. It's very early in the morning. So she starts walking up this way and she says, well, let's go to the OK, which is pubs just over there. You know, that obviously they had a bit of a plan. It seems to be the pub that's open after this one.

[00:55:47]

So she starts to come across here in the rain and her friends, Jordan Morris and Nina Murphy, they follow me. So she walks her head around about here. She picks up the pace. But I think Jordan and Wanita are just distracted by the the domestic disagreement they're having. Yeah. And Jordan seems to think that Janine's giving him and we needed some space to sort of have out there domestic issue. Yeah. So he describes her as picking up the speed and moving ahead of them quite quickly.

[00:56:23]

Yeah, he's marching ahead, but Jordan was still concerned about it. So he was keeping an eye on the overall impression from Jordan that she was in a pretty fragile state in the time leading up to this night. Yeah, she's heading up here towards the end of the park here. And they get up to around about this point, I think. And by this stage, Jeanine's, she's made it probably what he says about twenty five metres or so ahead of them.

[00:56:54]

Yeah. And gets up to the gates of the park here, these ornate metal gates. And this is the last time that he sees what he sees then is the car and they yell out and Jordan describes it, he thinks is this a dam.

[00:57:10]

He thinks it's reddish in color and she gets straight it and she doesn't hesitate. Yeah. As if she knows to drive it.

[00:57:18]

At the corner, Peter and I turn into Kepel Street, so she gets up to the corner here. She must turn left. Meanwhile, Straube, who knows Janine is upstairs and he's looking down out of his window in the rain. He sees Janine. Yeah. And he'd seen earlier that night.

[00:57:39]

Strop is the nickname for Ian Bryant, a man described by his friends as a gentle giant who worked in local pubs as the security guy. They say he was very rarely stroppy. He had a sunny personality and he got on well with just about everyone. But Strop is dead. We have his statements about Janine and the red car. He saw her get in. It lives up there, actually.

[00:58:03]

And just up here in the unit above, it's called the George Now. But in those days, it was called the park. Yeah. So he's got a pretty good view from up there, right down across this roundabout, down Cavel Street. Yeah. And about the same time as Janine gets into the car, he's saying it from the rear. So he sees the rear of the car, which he thinks is a bit like a hole. And I excel.

[00:58:27]

Yeah. And Jordan gets the side on view and he gets a view across the parking of the corner of the park, he sees a car that he thinks is more like possibly a sedan, has the Magna, a Mitsubishi magnet, a bit bigger than I and I excel. But they both describe it as Redish. Yeah. And he gives a pretty expansive description despite the fact that it's ten to 4:00 in the morning. So he's had a few drinks to his girlfriend at the time that his wife went.

[00:58:56]

Either she's not much help because she's the first to admit she's had far too much. She can remember very, very little of the night.

[00:59:04]

A Baathist TV news report from Monday, December 10, 2001, carried the story of Janine, Jennifer Vaughn is filmed sobbing while being comforted by Janine's Uncle Jeff as acting inspector, Mark Gallagher raises the prospect of murder and friends at Jeanine's workplace, the menswear store Ed Harris in the local shopping centre try to make sense of what's happened.

[00:59:28]

But first, the family of missing Bethesda woman Janine Vaughn has made an emotional plea for information into her whereabouts. Most of all was last seen in the early hours of Friday morning.

[00:59:39]

Police say they fear the worst of the villains are living every family's worst nightmare, the emotional toll of her daughter's disappearance. Today, too much for on the brother in law, Jeff left to describe the family's anguish.

[00:59:54]

I think the worst two and a half days of our lives, the car has stopped.

[00:59:58]

Janine has obviously got in and she's gone. So at that point in time, there wasn't any alarm bells ringing. It wasn't till the following morning.

[01:00:06]

Janine's friends describe her as bubbly and fun loving, her disappearance out of character. It's not like her at all. We're just all totally devastated. All the shopping centers rallying together to try and do whatever they can, giving out posters, trying and trying to work out what what's going on. All eight detectives from the Chifley Command are working the case at this point in time.

[01:00:30]

It's fair to say that the police are treating it at the worst case scenario.

[01:00:34]

While there was no signs of a struggle, abduction isn't being ruled out.

[01:00:39]

A few dozen paces along the footpath next to the park, I'm looking at the spot where the mysterious red car had stopped. I'm picturing Janine in the small hours of a Friday in early December 2001, peering through the darkness and rain and headlights glow at a wet windscreen and a driver. Who is he or have we always been mistaken about this? Is that is she Janine was vulnerable at about 10:00 to 4:00 in the morning without her handbag, her I.D., mobile phone, house keys and the keys to the menswear store.

[01:01:14]

She's due to open in about five hours. Her bag was with her at the Metro Tavern and then it inexplicably vanished. When she wanted to leave. It was found by the pub's cleaner, Greg Browdy. The following morning. Greg has told me he suspected the bag had been hidden deliberately. Janine had searched for it with the dirty tabs co-owner Trevor howay before she finally walked away with her friends and got into that red car. The footage recovered from the security cameras shows her as clearly upset at the loss of her bag.

[01:01:51]

Her friend Jordan had consumed fewer drinks than his girlfriend, Wanita and Janine, and he doesn't get a perfect view.

[01:01:58]

As we stand, he looks through the park and the cars parked just up there. And Jordan says pretty much what everyone else says, and that is that she's very confident that she knows the driver. And you just think what might have been there? She hadn't lost her bag. It hadn't been raining much and walked ahead. But who was it in that car? Everyone says everyone says Janine would not have got into a car with someone she didn't know.

[01:02:29]

Everyone's adamant about it. The family, the friends, the friends that were here with her that night. Her previous partner says exactly the same thing they know are the people who know best. All say she would not have got into that car with someone she didn't like. Yeah. You know, the quarter to 4:00 in the morning, you're tired, you've lost your purse, cranky. You've had a few drinks.

[01:02:56]

I know. I mean, but we've asked plenty of people and we said to them, look, you know, you should wish you wouldn't have been tempted. And, you know, given those factors, absolutely not.

[01:03:06]

They also, since she had been targeted in a sustained series of stalking incidents in that she didn't know who was behind it. You know, as a younger woman, she had also been the target of an attempted rape. Yeah. So her radar was up.

[01:03:37]

In the next episode of The Night Drive, one of the last people to see Janine describes what happened that night and she makes a chilling prediction.

[01:03:47]

I feel like when it finally comes out, we're all going to be astounded by, oh, my God, who lived by this person because it's going to be a local person on this evening.

[01:03:58]

The Night Driver is a podcast series investigated and written by me, Hedley Thomas, with assistance from Peter Murphy. Music and audio production is by Blacksmith and Co. with additional audio support from Chris Boseley. This podcast series is brought to you by the Australian newspaper and digital site. Visit the night drive at Dotcom Dot IU for additional documentary material, as well as credits for the full team behind this multipart production. Anyone with information about the disappearance of Janine Vaughan can contact me confidentially by email by going to the night driver dot com.

[01:04:35]

Doda, you you can search for the night driver podcast, official discussion group on Facebook and join in with the exchange of ideas and information.