TWO teenagers might have been missing for 50 years but their case is far from cold, a group of family and friends reexamining their last known evening say.
Yet the clock is ticking. Witnesses are getting older there are concerns vital information could eventually die with them.
Maureen Braddy and Allan Whyte disappeared on November 23, 1968 after leaving a dance at the YMCA Hall on Mundy Street.
A coroner in 2014 said their sudden, unprepared disappearances “indicated the existence of foul play”.
Jodie MacDonell, who is married to Maureen’s nephew, believes some people have not told authorities they know about the disappearances.
She believes they may be scared of retribution from those with something to hide, or could be protecting people who might have been involved in the young teens' disappearance.
Others, Mrs MacDonnell believes, could be walking around right now, not knowing they held information potentially of use to those searching for answers.
Earlier this year, Mrs MacDonell was talking to someone about the case. It had been in the news.
“She mustn’t have known Maureen and I were related,” Mrs MacDonell recalled.
“She said that she had seen them (Maureen and Allan) that night. I said ‘what!?’ I nearly fell over.”
“She said she was standing next to Maureen and Allan and that they were talking, that they were in turmoil about what to do, that Maureen was in a situation at home she had to get out of,” Mrs MacDonell said.
Mrs MacDonell immediately passed the woman’s contact details to police.
One thing that struck Mrs MacDonell, and what is now pertinent to the family’s search for answers, is that the story concerned Maureen and Allan’s movements while at the dance at the YMCA.
It could tie in with a new ‘alternate timeline’ of Maureen and Allan's movements on the day they disappeared.
Family members and their friends have pieced together a timeline of Maureen's movements after the dance.
Understanding Maureen and Allan’s movements could help build a case to convince authorities to dig up a well at the Braddy’s then-home in Vinton Street and also a nearby mine-shaft, Mrs MacDowell hoped.
A number of witnesses told a coronial inquest they believed bodies might be secreted in the well.
Authorities have so far declined to dig, citing a lack of evidence.
Deputy state coroner Iain West’s inquest into the disappearances found that the last positive sighting of Maureen and Allan was between 8pm and 9pm at the dance.
The pair had a brief conversation with Allan’s older brother Kevin, the coroner said, where they declined an invitation to another party. Allan told Kevin he wanted to take Maureen home.
Peter Horvath is a friend of a number of Braddy family members and is among those working on the case.
He says there are other witnesses who sighted Maureen at the dance later that evening.
Why, Mr Horvath asked, would the teenagers go home about 8.30pm, when events like that often did not fully kick into gear until later in the evening?
A witness came forward earlier this year saying they remembered seeing Maureen and Allan on a tram to Eaglehawk, perhaps at 11pm.
That, however, could be inconsistent with Judith Paynting’s account at the coroner’s inquest of hearing shots and screaming between 9pm and 10pm in the Vinton Street area, Mr Horvath said.
Perhaps, he proposed, Allan left early and went to the Vinton Street residence, but Maureen stayed.
Ray Jelbart said he met Maureen for the first and only time the night of the dance.
On December 14 this year, he agreed to sit with Mr Horvath and others investigating the case to discuss his recollections.
“Why I remember the day so precisely was that it was the only time I came to the Y (YMCA) ... I used to go to the Pacific (Ballroom) every single Saturday night,” Mr Jelbart said.
That night, he arrived at the Pacific Ballroom to find the atmosphere was dead. He went to the YMCA, estimating he first saw Maureen standing by herself at 9.55pm.
Mr Jelbart asked if she wanted to dance, to which she agreed.
“I said ‘what’s wrong’ and she said ‘I just broke it off with my boyfriend about half an hour ago’,” he said.
Some people who knew Maureen and Allan believed they were in a relationship, others described them as friends.
Mr Jelbart said he danced with Maureen until midnight, before they went for a drink at a cafe and he drove her home.
Mr Horvath says Mr Jelbart may very well be the last person to see Maureen alive.
Family members and their friends are vowing not to stop until they uncover what happened that night, hoping for closure to the long running mystery.
A petition calling for authorities to take action now has nearly 2700 signatures.
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