Desperate bid to solve 15-year-old mystery of missing NQ mum
SOMEONE has likely been clinging on to a deadly secret in the Far North for exactly 15 years.
December 29, 2005 was when Lily Parmenter's world broke apart, when her mum Katie O'Shea was dropped off to play pool at an Atherton pub and was never seen again.
Those 15 years have been littered with rumours, leads and innuendo.
Not knowing what happened is what rips apart Ms Parmenter, who was 19 when her mum disappeared, and can still leave her crying herself to sleep.
But a new podcast, titled Missing or Murdered, released this year left listeners suspicious and sad over a series of events that just did not add up.
The mother-of-five, described by many as a free spirit, was living in Melbourne in 2005 but travelled to Millaa Millaa, where her oldest son, Alan O'Shea, was living, to await the birth of her first grandchild.
Ms Parmenter, now 34 and a criminology student, remembered she was happy and excited - laughing that she was expecting to hear her mum had forced her way into the birthing suite to be part of the action.
One day during her trip, Mr O'Shea dropped his mum off near the Atherton Hotel, where she planned to play pool. The last thing anyone remembered from there was seeing her leaving with two unknown men.
Bizarrely, it took Mr O'Shea two weeks to report her missing, despite her failing to show up when the baby was born and Ms Parmenter urging him to call police when others finally realised she had disappeared.
Those 14 days are moments and evidence police can never get back, says Tablelands Detective Senior Sergeant Brett Devine, who has led the case from the start.
"Without doubt," he said.
"It's fair to say that in a lot of investigations, you can get a huge per cent of information evidence in the first 24 hours," he said. "Without that, it is a lot harder."
Mr O'Shea has never spoken to police and did not give evidence at the 2014 inquest into Ms O'Shea's death, where Coroner Jane Bentley ruled she had likely been murdered by "unknown person or persons" and her body hidden.
During the inquest, counsel assisting the coroner, Stephanie Williams, said during submissions that there was no direct evidence linking the cold case to anyone.
According to Ms Bentley's inquest findings, "it became evident during the inquest that Alan was very angry about the early stages of the police investigation".
"He believed that police were treating him as a suspect," she said.
"It may be for these reasons that Alan has refused to co-operate with police (since the interview) and refused to participate in the inquest.
"As Alan was one of the last persons to see Ms O'Shea … his evidence may have been very relevant."
A name raised as a key "person of interest" at the inquest was Frank Wark, who would later serve jail time for brutalising and sexually assaulting a woman for hours in his Millaa Millaa home, which was a short distance from Mr O'Shea's property.
Ms Parmenter and Mr O'Shea have not spoken in years, despite now both living in Melbourne. "I have moments where I have to remind myself that I'm a good person," she said.
"He was the best big brother. I don't know where it all went wrong."
Most of all, regardless of who did it, Ms Parmenter just wants answers and a chance to bury her mother "with a bit of dignity".
"I can't live with not knowing what happened to my mum, so I don't know how someone who does know what happened lives with it," she said. "We lost our mum 15 years ago and I'm still broken hearted about it …"
Anyone with information should call Police Link on 131444 or anonymously Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Originally published as Desperate bid to solve 15-year-old mystery of missing FNQ mum