A case that has baffled police and the communities of Gundagai, Tumut and Batlow for 20 years has been thrust back into the spotlight by a family who just want closure.
Twenty years after the disappearance of 18-year-old Armidale woman Niamh Maye, her family has renewed calls for information through two new channels they hope will reach a larger international audience.
The first is the dedicated website missingniamh.com which details the events and circumstances surrounding the teen’s disappearance; information the family hopes will draw more clues and help them understand what happened to Niamh.
The Maye family have also announced a podcast in development by producers of the award-winning true-crime podcast Casefile.
Working with Niamh’s family, Casefile will present a deep dive into her disappearance in the hope a podcast series with an international reach might bring her family some much-needed answers.
The Missing Niamh podcast is currently in development and will be launched later this year.
Niamh was the much-loved youngest child in a family of seven children who grew up in the northern NSW city of Armidale.
A highly intelligent and talented student, artist and photographer, Niamh completed her HSC in 2001 achieving the highest university admission index in her school.
After finishing school, she took a gap year before university and embarked on a working holiday fruit-picking with friends near the Snowy Mountains town of Batlow.
As Easter 2002 approached, Niamh communicated plans to travel to Sydney to meet her sister Fionnuala so that they could travel back to Armidale for Easter with their family.
She was booked to catch a bus north from Batlow to Cootamundra and then a train to Sydney.
But Niamh never made it home.
She was last seen at a campground at Jingellic with friends on the morning of Saturday 30 March 2002.
Extensive searches, appeals for information, theories about what might have happened and numerous reported sightings yielded nothing.
A coronial inquest in 2012 found that Niamh had died at or near Tumut on or around 30 March 30 2002. Nobody has ever been charged over her disappearance.
NSW Police and Niamh’s family have never stopped looking for her.
Niamh’s mother, 81-year-old Anne Maye said the family had never given up hope they might be able to bring Niamh home and give her a proper resting place.
“We hope that with new ways of spreading the word and gathering information, like podcasts, we might be able to get some answers,” she said. “She has always been with us and always will be.”
Niamh’s sister Fionnuala Hagerty said 20 years sounded like a long time, “But it is also still very fresh for our family and Niamh’s friends.”
“We still miss her every day and would love to find answers to what happened to her,” she added.
“She should have been able to travel safely home that Easter.
“Niamh would not give up on any of us, so we’re still advocating for her.
“Our hope is that by sharing her story via a website and podcast we might just reach the people who can give us the information we need to get some sort of resolution.”
The family said the impact of the past 20 years was difficult to articulate.
“While we move forward with our lives, we will never give up our search for answers to the many unanswered questions that remain,” they said.
They have urged anyone who has any information they think may help to visit missingniamh.com and get in touch.
The website details Niamh’s movements in the days leading up to and during the Easter holiday period, also offering the particulars of her belongings, hoping this might trigger a memory.
“No matter how insignificant: something you heard, something you saw, something that’s just bothered you,” Fionnuala said.
“We just want to bring her home – or bring her remains home and give her the farewell that she deserves.”
Anybody with information is also urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.