Homicide squad takes over after 'foul play' concerns


HOMICIDE SQUAD detectives in Melbourne yesterday took over the investigation into the disappearance of Irish woman Jill Meagher (29), who was last seen leaving a bar in the suburbs in the early hours of Saturday morning.

At 6.30am yesterday her handbag was found by a passerby near a car close to where Ms Meagher was last seen.

She had been drinking at the Bar Etiquette premises in the Brunswick area with work colleagues and was offered a lift at about 1.30am. But Ms Meagher said she would make the five-minute walk home by herself and has not been seen since.

Det Insp John Potter said the circumstances of the case were of great concern. “As a result of that, today the homicide squad missing persons unit have taken over the case,” he said.

He 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.

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 Insp Potter.

The police said Ms Meagher had not accessed her bank account and her mobile phone, yet to be found, was 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.

“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 said this had 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.

About 15 minutes after she left Bar Etiquette Ms Meagher called her brother, Michael McKeon, in Perth.  Mr McKeon, who has since flown to Melbourne, spoke briefly to his sister and said he could hear people in the background.