Melbourne police fear foul play
Police in Melbourne hold grave fears that missing Irish woman Jill Meagher may have met with foul play.
Homicide squad detectives took over the investigation into the disappearance of Ms Meagher (29), who was last seen leaving a bar in the suburb of Brunswick in the early hours of Saturday morning.
She had been drinking at the Bar Etiquette premises with work colleagues and was offered a lift at around 1.30am. But Ms Meagher said she would make the five-minute walk home by herself and has not been seen since.
At 6.30am yesterday her handbag was found by a passer-by near a car close to where Ms Meagher was last seen.
Detective Inspector John Potter says the circumstances of the case are of great concern.
“As a result of that, today the homicide squad missing persons unit have taken over the case,” he said.
Det Potter appealed for anyone with information to come forward. “We’re hopeful for the best obviously, but we have some concerns that she may have met with foul play. It’s not too late to tell us, or indeed if Jillian can hear this, please contact us,” he said. “Somebody knows what’s going on here and they should ring us now.”
State emergency services volunteers also helped with a line search of the area from where Ms Meagher disappeared.
“We’re hoping that there’ll be some indication or evidence that perhaps someone was involved or there’s something that’s happened there,” said Det Potter.
The police said that Ms Meagher has not accessed her bank account and her mobile phone, which has yet to be found, is switched off.
Ms Meagher’s husband Tom, who is also Irish, went out searching for his wife when she did not return home in the early hours of Saturday morning, and later reported her disappearance to police.
“We’ve been contacting friends and people who might have been there and people who might have known where she’s been, but we haven’t really got anything,” he said.
“We keep pushing the social media thing and we’ve had posters up around Brunswick and stuff but nothing has actually come to light yet so we’re really worried and we just, we’d love if anyone has any information at all or knows anything about that night to contact us or the police.”
Mr Meagher says being hopeful is helping him cope.
“It’s devastating. I am just trying to push on ... as much as possible,” he said.
“Hope is keeping me going; hope that somebody saw something or she will walk through the door ... Somebody has to have seen Jill at some stage.”
Mr Meagher says this has not happened before.
“We weren’t having a fight or anything, there was nothing to suggest that anything was going to happen. [It is] completely out of character and obviously heartbreaking,” he said.
“I’m really concerned that, you know, someone’s done something to her or taken her or something.”
About 15 minutes after she left Bar Etiquette Ms Meagher called her brother, Michael McKeon. Mr McKeon was in Perth at the time, which is two hours behind Melbourne time.
Mr McKeon, who has since flown to Melbourne, spoke briefly to his sister and said he could hear people in the background.
“She was just calling to see how things were,” Mr McKeon said.
“She hung up and just sounded a little worried.”
Ms Meagher works with ABC Radio in Melbourne. Her colleague, presenter Jon Faine, spoke about her on local radio yesterday, saying she is a wonderful person to work with.
“She’s the life of the office. We cannot believe that this has happened to someone to who’s one of our team here,” he said.
“So if anyone can help. It’s awful, it’s just plain awful.“