Deirdre “Donna” Cunningham has been missing since 1994.
Deirdre “Donna” Cunningham has been missing since 1994.

‘It's killing me’: Son gives up search for missing Mum

WHEN Dwayne Cunningham moved to the Sunshine Coast, he vowed to stay until the mystery of his mother's disappearance was solved.

But the stress and anxiety associated with his mother Deirdre "Donna" Cunningham's disappearance 21 years ago has taken its toll.

LEFT IN THE DARK: Health problems are forcing Dwayne Cunningham to move while the mystery of what happened to his mother remains unsolved.
LEFT IN THE DARK: Health problems are forcing Dwayne Cunningham to move while the mystery of what happened to his mother remains unsolved. Che Chapman

In poor health, Dwayne is preparing to leave the Sunshine Coast without the answers he came for.

"After 21 years, you'd think it would be easier but it's not, not at all," Dwayne said.

"For me, it's like it was yesterday.

"The public think it gets easier over the years. I wish it did but it doesn't.

"I don't want to leave. I really, really don't want to leave, but I have no option.

"It's killing me to stay."

Ms Cuninngham has not been seen since she left a party at Hinley Ave, Maroochydore, on June 12, 1994.

Dwayne was married and living and working in Canberra when police called him to say that his mother was missing.

He struggled to keep his marriage and work going while to-ing and fro-ing between the Sunshine Coast and the ACT during the following months.

The marriage eventually ended and he moved to the Sunshine Coast in the hope he would find the answers he needed if he were closer.

He lost hope when he learned in 2013 that his mother's de facto, Colin Rossow, had died two years earlier.

Mr Rossow had refused to answer questions at an inquest into Ms Cunningham's disappearance.

The panic Dwayne felt when his mother disappeared switched to disillusionment when Mr Rossow died.

"When Rossow died, I felt the whole case died with it," he said.

"I don't think I'll every find out what happened now."

Dwayne, who lives only streets from where his mother was last seen, is haunted by dreams about her every night.

His anxiety became overwhelming when health problems - osteoporosis and a fall - forced him to give up work, leaving him with too much time to think.

Occasions like Missing Persons Week this week make him even more sensitive to the situation.

A doctor recommended he move to put the past behind him. He plans to head to the Northern Territory but will not let go altogether.

"I'll never give up. I'll always stay in contact with the police, but me living on the Coast, it's just not working for me. It's killing me."



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