Kathryn Gray was eight years old when she last saw her mother, and while memories have begun to fade, the pain of not knowing what happened to her remains.
- On October 23, 1978, Darlene Avis Geertsema was seen leaving her family home in Devonport on the northwest coast of Tasmania – never to be seen again.
- Police say the 30-year-old Mrs Geertsema “would never, ever intentionally have left her children and would never have stopped writing to her family”
- A $ 500,000 reward is offered to anyone with credible information that can help investigators uncover the truth about what happened
“We were her world … it was out of character for my mother to leave,” Mrs. Gray said.
“She would not have gone beyond us with certainty, I know in my heart.”
“She would never have left me and my brother.
On October 23, 1978, 30-year-old Darlene Avis Geertsema was seen leaving her family home on Best Street in Devonport on the state’s northwest coast.
Two days after the mother of six disappeared, her red Holden Sunbird car was found locked and left in a parking lot on Victoria Parade, near the Devonport Oval.
At that time, an investigation was conducted into Ms Geertsema’s disappearance, but police were unable to locate the missing woman.
Officers were unable to establish a motive for her departure and her body has never been found.
No observations have been made of Ms Geertsema since the night she disappeared, and police are now offering a $ 500,000 reward to anyone with credible information that can help investigators uncover the truth of what happened.
Detective Felicity Boyd said the reward could be life-changing money for someone.
“Someone out there knows exactly what happened to Darlene that night,” Sergeant Boyd said.
“Although we have found alternative explanations for her disappearance, we have not been able to find Darlene and we need the help of the public to reveal the truth and bring her home.
For the past 43 years, Mrs. Gray has been celebrating birthdays, a wedding, and the birth of her children without her mother by her side.
She remembers her mother as a caring, loving person who loved animals.
“You have the perfect life, and then it’s gone.
“I know it’s 43 years ago, but we’re all asking for information to come forward.
“You may think it’s trivial, but if anyone can remember anything, come forward and help us get closed.”
‘More than likely dead’
Sergeant Boyd said a review of the circumstances surrounding Ms Geertsema’s disappearance began in July 2013.
She said the disappearance would remain under investigation until Ms Geertsema’s body was found or the person or persons responsible for her disappearance were brought to justice.
“We have investigated several scenarios to explain Darlene’s disappearance, and although we maintain an open mind in the circumstances, we do not believe Darlene left the family home voluntarily,” Sergeant Boyd said.
“She would never have intentionally left her children behind and would never have ever stopped writing to her family.
In December, a forensic investigation is set to investigate how the mother disappeared and consider whether she encountered dishonesty.
Last month, a court heard that Mrs Geertsema’s partner, John Shepherd, was being considered a person with an interest in her disappearance, but no charges have been filed.
Mr. Shepherd, who now lives in Westbury, first met Mrs Geertsema in 1971, and the couple began dating.
The court was told that Mrs Geertsema also had an affair with a man named Micky Rowe, who lived in Westbury and with whom she intended to marry.
It is alleged that Mr Shepherd told police that Mrs Geertsema was in “a very distressed state” before she disappeared and that she had told him she was pregnant and had cancer.
However, the lawyer who assisted the forensic pathologist said the missing woman had visited a general practitioner in the morning when she disappeared and the doctor had reported that she was “in good spirits, not pregnant and not having cancer”.
The investigation into Mrs Geertsema’s disappearance is set for 13, 14 and 15 December and will be heard in Launceston.