A $250,000 reward has been offered for information into the suspicious disappearance of Gold Coast woman Marion Barter.
The 51-year-old was last seen at a bus stop in Southport on June 22, 1997, the same day she left Australia for a working holiday to England.
In the weeks leading up to her disappearance, Marion was also observed by a family member leaving a service station on Ferry Road in a red Honda Civic Breeze with a “tall male passenger” in the vehicle.
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An inquest into the former teacher’s disappearance on Monday heard that before leaving, Ms Barter had officially changed her name to Florabella Natalia Marion Remakel without telling anyone.
“Her outgoing passenger card stated that she was divorced and intended to reside in Luxembourg,” police said.
Investigators believe Marion may have secretly re-entered Australia just two months later, with an incoming passenger card stating she was married and resided in Luxembourg.
“Inquiries also revealed that following her disappearance, an unknown person appears to have accessed a bank account belonging to Marion,” police said.
Ms Barter was reported missing to police at Byron Bay in October 1997 by her daughter Sally.
Despite detectives exploring numerous leads in Australia and overseas in relation to Marion’s disappearance, she still has never been found.
In a bid to finally work out what happened, a $250,000 NSW Government reward has today been announced as part of a renewed appeal to the community to come forward with any information that may assist detectives with their inquiries.
A coronial inquest into Ms Barter’s suspicious disappearance began in Sydney on Monday and is expected to continue at Ballina and Byron Bay next week.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, said Marion’s case has left her family and friends with many unanswered questions.
“For 24 years, family and friends of Marion have lived without any understanding of why she disappeared so abruptly,” Mr Elliott said.
“Marion’s daughter, Sally, has never given up her quest for the truth.
“The NSW Government hopes this new reward will encourage anyone with information, particularly in the timeframe that police believe Marion returned to Australia, to come forward and speak to detectives.”
Police are particularly eager to hear from anyone who may have had any interaction with Marion Barter or Florabella Remakel from June 1997 onwards, particularly in late July or early August.
“Marion’s behaviour leading up to June 1997 and following her departure from Australia has been described as out of character,” Homicide Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said.
“We are trying to piece together some of the missing links in Marion’s movements and her close connections to create a full picture of exactly what has happened”.