During this year’s International Missing Children’s Day, the sister of an abducted girl over 40 years ago from a sports oval and still not found has requested Australians to remember and assist families living with the unspeakable pain of having a child missing for many months, years, and even several decades.
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Suzie Ratcliffe was not yet born when her sister Joanne Ratcliffe, who was 11 years old at the time, and a family friend, Kirste Gordon, who was 4 years old, vanished from Adelaide Oval in 1973.
The girls went to the restroom, and according to the witnesses’ accounts, a man took them away.
In spite of rigorous investigations and a $1 million prize made available in February 2014, no clue was found that could lead to the discovery of either Kristine or Joanne.
Joanne and Kristine were abducted from Adelaide oval on August 25, 1973.
Those who saw them reported a man carrying a little girl and an older girl trying to allow the man to free the little girl.
International Missing Children’s Day Awareness
Suzie Ratcliffe came to Canberra to publicize International Missing Children’s Day on May 25, 2016, an event she named Forget Me Not. She also talked about her own nonprofit organization Leave a Light On, which assists families of missing American children and their loved ones.
Suzie said that at a very young age, she saw the pain in her parents’ eyes every time they remembered her sister and how they never had any idea of where she was and how she was doing. She shared, “My early memories are hearing my mum and dad crying in their bedroom of a night time because they didn’t want to upset me or my brother.”
Suzie’s father, who was a bread carter at Tip Top, died of cancer in 1981, but even in his last days, he never gave up on the possibility of seeing Joanne again, although he was still very much in pain over her disappearance. “My dad would go to work and then come home of a night time, have a shower, and get changed and a quick bite to eat and then be off driving around, looking for signs of Jo or anything that might lead to finding the girls,” Suzie said during International Missing Children’s Day.
Joanne’s parents as well as Kriste’s grandmother were at the oval when the girls vanished. Joanne took Kriste to the restroom earlier in the match without any problem, but at the second time, neither of the two girls returned.
As the months, years, and decades rolled by, her mother, who is close to 75 years of age now, was highly disturbed by the incidence but was understandably protected by Suize and her big brother. ”I couldn’t go to a friend’s place one house away unless she watched me walk through the gate and then mum would run home and ring to make sure I got through the back door,” Suzie declared.
The families attempted to find children through publication. A statement after the abduction published in papers including The Canberra Times stated that one 13-year-old boy saw a man compelling two girls toward an exit at the Adelaide Oval. The man was carrying a little girl, and the older girl was trying to help the little girl, kicking the man on his legs and dragging his coat.
It says a lot about the courage of the older girl, whom Suzie knew only from other people’s accounts of her. Joanne was mischievous and liked basketball, but above all, she loved her family.
“I’m extremely proud of her for trying to look out for Kirste and do all she could for that little girl,” Suzie said. “She wouldn’t have let Kirste go on her own. She was given a responsibility, to take Kirste to the toilet, and beyond that she would have never left her on her own. She would have gone along so she could protect her. ”