Mystery of missing pregnant mum
HELEN Munnings was just 20 years old and pregnant with her second child when she vanished from the seaside town of Burnie, Tasmania, in July 2008.
Ms Munnings' secret boyfriend Adam Taylor - the father of her then two-year-old son Donovan and her unborn child - was the last person to see her alive.
A 2012 inquest into her disappearance and presumed death named Mr Taylor as a person of interest but failed to establish how she died or where her body might be.
Now Ms Munnings' family have been given fresh hope following an announcement that her case had been upgraded to murder after police uncovered fresh leads.
Cold case unit Detective Inspector Rob Gunton said a "person of interest" had been identified and that a $100,000 reward remained in place for information leading to an arrest.
"I'm investigating this as a murder," he told reporters last week.
"This is very much an active investigation and will remain an active investigation until such time that we've resolved the matter," he said.
"I have my suspicions but my suspicions and my beliefs are certainly not enough.
"It's not about what we believe, what we think or even what we know - it's what we can prove."
Mr Taylor has always denied any knowledge of the fate of Ms Munning and their unborn child.
The builder began a sexual relationship with Ms Munnings when he was 30 and she was just 16 - one year below Tasmania's age of consent.
Ms Munnings' mother Karel Black disapproved of Mr Taylor, who was sleeping with her daughter while in a long-term relationship with another woman, Karalina Garwood.
She also tried and failed to have Mr Taylor charged with having sex with a minor.
The relationship continued in secret after Ms Munnings turned 17 and the young woman gave birth to the couple's son, Donovan.
Shortly before she disappeared, Ms Munnings told friends and family she was pregnant again and Mr Taylor was the father.
On July 23, 2008, she told her mother she was making the short walk from their home to the doctor.
Ms Black later discovered her daughter had lied about the appointment and had instead arranged to meet Mr Taylor.
"She said she had to go down to the city medical and she left her keys on the table - and that's the last we saw of her," she recalled.
Four years later, the inquest into Ms Munnings' disappearance would hear evidence that Mr Taylor was unhappy she was pregnant again and did not want her to keep the baby.
Ms Black told the ABC she confronted Mr Taylor in a furious public exchange.
"I'd been to the police, I'd been out in the street yelling at him, literally. I got charged for doing it," she said.
"Helen wanted that family unit because my children were brought up with one parent and Helen must have thought, well, it would be nicer with a family."
Mr Taylor told the inquest the pair had driven around the greater Burnie area talking and he had dropped her off on the highway near the old pulp mill about 6pm before heading home to his partner.
The family, including Ms Munnings' sister Kathryn, is still searching for answers.
"It's probably been hardest to watch my mum, to be honest. She's just heartbroken," she told the ABC.
"What do you say? 'It's OK'? Because it's not OK, what's happened, and it's just really hard."
She is now hoping that the $100,000 reward will be enough to encourage someone to break their silence.
"To sit in the sidelines and watch us suffer, literally screaming out for help and answers … I don't know how they sleep at night because I sure as hell don't," she said.
Ms Munnings' son, now 12, lives with Mr Taylor's mother Judith.
Anyone with information about the disappearance and suspected murder of Helen Munnings is urged to contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.