vanishing of Jill Gamblin
(A true story)
week was cold and wintery, so I holed up in the office with the heater
on and picked through my old file on the Jill Gamblin case.
coming up on 20 years since Jill vanished. Twenty years. Somewhere out
there there's an undiscovered killer. Perhaps a serial killer. Or perhaps
a serial killer already locked away who hasn't confessed to this one.
had been a regular at French's Tavern on Oxford Street where I dropped
in to listen to rock music from time to time. She was a lively English
girl of about 30, living in a shared house in Bellevue Hill. She worked
as a punchcard processor, made jumpsuits she sold at the markets and
hunted the singles scene for a partner. I remember her as a wild space
the night of Sunday 2 December 1979, she left Bellevue Hill with about
$9 in her purse. She turned up at the old Paris Theatre on the corner
of Wentworth and Liverpool, wearing her lurid, spangled, 'Queen of the
Night' makeup. The Boy's Own Macbeth, starring Graeme Bond, was
playing there, and Jill's boyfriend was doing the lighting.
spent the evening there but left by herself, for whatever reason, at
about 10.15. The theatre crowd had dispersed. According to her boyfriend
she said "Strange things could happen tonight, it's a full moon".
She left him standing there and crossed Liverpool Street to catch a
cab -- to Bellevue Hill, he thought. It was the last time anybody claims
to have seen her.
the following Tuesday a flatmate found a note to Jill from her boyfriend
lying on Jill's bed. She realised that Jill hadn't been with her boyfriend
since Sunday evening. The bed hadn't been slept in, and presents for
her family in England were packed but unposted. Her flatmate raised
the alarm and her friends reported her missing and began to search.
That was when I got involved.
organised the usual stuff. Her friends put up posters with her photo
around her old haunts and questioned her acquaintances in Martin's Bar
at Taylor Square. The denizens of the bar took it pretty calmly. Jill
had probably just met some bloke with a bag of dope and headed off for
Queensland, they said. I saw Missing Persons, but they took it pretty
calmly too, which was understandable. She was after all, an adult, and
the vast majority of missing persons turn up eventually. Maybe, they
said, she was fleeing an abusive relationship, and they asked how we
were related to Jill.
it would be taken more seriously, but in 1979 'serial killer' wasn't
a household word.
I interviewed her friends and checked the morgue, the hospitals, the
psychiatric hospitals, the Wayside Chapel and the Balmain Markets, where
she sold the clothes she made. We even visited the gay bars on Oxford
Street where smart arse barmen asked me if Jill was my boyfriend.
went through her room carefully. There wasn't much to show for her years
in Australia. We fitted it all in a couple of green garbage bags. There
was a bank account with $120 and $4.80 in cash. There were also some
new leads. It seemed that Jill had been mixed up with a group called
Cabaret Conspiracy and a shadowy bunch of mystics called The Temple
of Ra. I tried hard, but I never did find anybody who claimed to be
passed and I used my contacts to check her bank account. There had been
no withdrawals. She never registered with Social Security either, and
she never again paid taxes. She never rang anybody and her family never
heard from her. Eventually the case was put in the hands of Homicide.
trail is very, very cold now. The Paris Theatre was pulled down a few
months after Jill disappeared and the Bellevue Hill place went too.
Martin's Bar and French's closed years ago and punch cards have gone
the way of all technology. Jill's friends got married and had kids and
moved to the suburbs.
every few years I get out the file and make a phone call to the cops,
or somebody in the media, and on a couple of occasions they've run the
story. And I've waited for a call, but nobody has ever rung.
If you have any information about Jill Gamblin CLICK
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