North Mackay backyard dug in search for Marilyn
POLICE have begun digging up a North Mackay backyard in the hope of finding the remains of Marilyn Wallman, who disappeared from an Eimeo road almost 42 years ago.
Marilyn's brother Rex said his family was both "excited" and "sad" at the news.
Muffled screams from the back of a cane paddock marked the last time Mr Wallman heard the sound of his 14-year-old sister's voice.
The site of Marilyn's abandoned bicycle started a widespread search and years of police investigations.
"The police are in the process of digging up a backyard in North Mackay following a lead that was originally received, I believe, through Crime Stoppers," Mr Wallman said. "... from that investigation it's a possibility that Marilyn may be buried in the backyard."
The family was "steering clear" of the site, which has been declared a crime scene, while police searched for Marilyn's remains or items of interest, but they had been aware of a new "lead" in the investigation for some time, Mr Wallman said.
"There are two emotions floating around, I suppose. We're excited to think we might finally find her but also sad that if we do find her we know that she has passed. In a way you want it to be her… but we still hope for a knock at the door one night and she'll turn up."
He said the investigation into Marilyn's disappearance had gained pace last year after a meeting with Premier Campbell Newman at a walk for Daniel Morcombe.
"I've had discussions with the Police Minister… I've had Mr Condon, the Assistant Police Commissioner, come to visit us at our home with mum and dad and the rest of the family.
"He's given us assurance that things would happen and to their credit it has, to the extent that we now have a dedicated detective focusing on Marilyn's case."
Mr Wallman said the family hoped this lead would reveal Marilyn's remains.
"We might find those who are responsible but our main focus is finding Marilyn, so we can find her and put her to rest.
"This (lead) is a big one for our family... because it's right under our nose and we can see something physically happening about it, rather than just the police investigating or interviewing people."
POLICE have confirmed they are looking for "items of interest" in a North Mackay backyard after receiving a tip-off through Crime Stoppers that may help discover what happened to Marilyn Wallman.
Mackay district Detective Inspector Karyn Murphy said a recent tip led police to the backyard, which they started excavating on Tuesday, and would likely focus on again today.
Det Insp Murphy said nothing had been found at this stage but that it was important to continue looking.
"I think it's definitely important," she said. "We've got a young girl that went missing back in 1972, a 14-year-old girl, and while this matter remains unsolved, there are still lines of inquiries (and) we'll continue to pursue those inquiries."
When asked if police were looking for a body, or perhaps a murder weapon, she said: "I'm just prepared to say items of interest might be located at that location."
A detective has been based in Mackay and has been working full-time on the case to try to find out what happened to Marilyn.
"... They'll continue to work on this matter," Det Insp Murphy said.
She said it was "definitely" a case that was close to the town.
"... You've got a young girl who set off to school on a pushbike and she hasn't been seen since, so of course that is of concern and a matter that is close to public."
Det Insp Murphy also denied rumours that police had uncovered a bag of guns at the location.
RESIDENTS of Bassett St were shocked yesterday to find police digging up one of their neighbour's backyards.
One neighbour told the Daily Mercury the rented house was often visited by police but it was never this extreme.
"There's always been different tenants in there," she said.
The resident, who has lived on the street for more than 20 years, was shocked to learn police were there searching for the body of Marilyn Wallman. "I've got goosebumps," she said.
FORMER Daily Mercury editor Rod Manning remembers reporting on the disappearance of Marilyn Wallman in 1972.
Mr Manning said the disappearance of the 14-year-old gained a lot of attention because she was the granddaughter of Arthur Shepherd, a well-known cane farmer with roles in the sugar industry and local government.
"It widened the number of people who mourned for her and felt the loss of the girl," he said.
A reporter for the Daily Mercury at the time of her disappearance, Mr Manning remembered how widely police and volunteers searched for Marilyn, only to come up empty-handed.
About 20 years ago, when Mr Manning was editor, the then director of public prosecutions reopened the case.
"They knew the longer the case went the harder it would be to solve it," he said.
"A number of police did tell reporters then that this was sort of the last chance.
"There was great disappointment when nothing came from that."
7.42am: Marilyn Joy Wallman, 14, left home on a bicycle and began her ride to the Rural Youth Hall, at the junction of Wallmans and Eimeo roads, in Mackay, to catch the school bus at 8am.
7.52am: Marilyn's two brothers Rex and David Wallman left home, following the same route as their sister.
The brothers found Marilyn's bicycle and school port by the side of the road, approximately one kilometre from home.
7.53am: David Wallman raced home and returned with his mother while Rex Wallman waited on the roadside near Marilyn's abandoned bike.
Rex Wallman heard "muffled screams" from the other side of a nearby cane paddock while he waited.
8am: David, Rex and Daphne Wallman split up to search for Marilyn.
The brothers walked to a creek nearby and discovered two sets of tracks leading through long grass.
Shortly after Marilyn disappeared, community members arrived to help with the search, trampling any evidence of the tracks Rex and David had found.
Later that day, police arrived to begin their investigation.
The case was first treated as a disappearance and later changed to a murder investigation.
Police start digging up a North Mackay backyard on the basis of a new lead received through Crime Stoppers.
The Wallman family is waiting anxiously for the results of the investigation.