The NSW Government, together with the NSW Police Force, has announced that the reward for information into the 1997 suspicious disappearance of Marion Barter has been increased to $500,000.
Marion Barter, aged 51, was last seen at a bus depot on Scarborough Street, near Railway Street, at Southport, Queensland, on Sunday 22 June 1997.
In the weeks leading up to her disappearance, Marion was also observed by a family member leaving a service station on Ferry Road, Southport, in a red Honda Civic Breeze with a tall male passenger in the vehicle.
Inquiries at the time revealed that Marion left Australia for the United Kingdom on Sunday June 22, 1997, under the name Florabella Natalia Marion Remakel, which she had officially changed the month before leaving the country.
Her outgoing passenger card stated that she was divorced and intended to reside in Luxembourg.
On Saturday 2 August 1997, investigators believe Marion may have re-entered Australia under the name of Florabella Remakel with an incoming passenger card stating she was married and resided in Luxembourg.
Inquiries also revealed that following her disappearance, an unknown person appears to have accessed a bank account belonging to Marion.
Family members reported Ms Barter missing to police at Byron Bay in October 1997, with detectives from the Tweed-Byron Local Area Command commencing an investigation into her whereabouts.
As part of their inquiries, detectives explored numerous leads in Australia and overseas in relation to Marion's disappearance.
In July 2019, a formal review of the case was conducted by the Tweed-Byron Police District, the State Crime Command's Homicide Squad and the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.
The Homicide Squad's Unsolved Homicide Unit subsequently established Strike Force Jurunga - in collaboration with local officers and the State Crime Command's Missing Persons Registry - to re-investigate Marion's disappearance.
A coronial inquest, presided by the NSW State Coroner, began in Sydney on Monday 21 June 2021, and will continue at Byron Bay this week.
Police will announce a reward for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons responsible for Marion's suspicious disappearance has been increased to $500,000 today.
Homicide Squad, Detective Inspector Nigel Warren, said any new information regarding Ms Barter's disappearance would be welcomed.
"We're very mindful of the coronial proceedings which are underway today, but also hopeful this reward may encourage the flow of new information regarding Marion's disappearance.
"We are still working to establish Ms Barter's movements and whereabouts upon returning to Australia in late July or early August 1997 and wish to speak with anyone close to her during that time," Det Insp Warren said.
Marion's daughter, Sally Leydon, said she has never given up her quest for answers and encouraged anyone with information to come forward.
"My mother's behaviour before leaving Australia was out of character and we know she was seen around the Southport area inside a vehicle with an unknown man," Ms Leydon said.
"She also missed my brother's birthday - something I know she would never do - and had her bank account drained in increments once she was reported missing.
"I have no doubt these bizarre occurrences were because something untoward was happening in her life, and that thing still remains a heartbreaking mystery for my family today," Ms Barter said.
Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Jurunga investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.
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