Rachel Antonio: Dump to be searched for teen's remains

MYSTERY: Bowen teenager Rachel Antonio went missing in 1998.
MYSTERY: Bowen teenager Rachel Antonio went missing in 1998. Contributed

DRILLING tests will be conducted and a bones specialist brought in at the Bowen tip where missing schoolgirl Rachel Antonio's parents fear her body was dumped.

Police will today announce the first formal steps towards digging up the tip, just over a month after a Courier-Mail podcast uncovered maps showing where rubbish was buried at the time Rachel vanished.

The officer now overseeing the case, Mackay Detective Inspector Nikki Colfs, visited the tip for the first time yesterday with a forensic expert, a council representative and former tip manager Hugh Smith.

"We have commenced a detailed evaluation and plan of action in relation to the possible site excavation of the tip," Detective Inspector Colfs said last night.

"I have spoken to Rachel's family and advised them of this current course of action."

Bowen teenager Rachel Antonio went missing in 1998.Photo Contributed
Bowen teenager Rachel Antonio went missing in 1998.Photo Contributed Contributed

Mr Smith was contacted for the Searching for Rachel Antonio podcast last year and revealed he had recently discovered his old tip diaries while sorting through his belongings.

He has said the rubbish was put in its own "pocket" between layers of dirt, and a preliminary search would confirm if it was preserved and in place.

Rachel's parents Ian and Cheryl Antonio say that because of the suspected limited time a killer had to dispose of her body she may have been put in a skip and ended up at the tip.

The 16-year-old disappeared after being dropped off at the cinema by her mum on Anzac Day, 1998, but despite extensive searches elsewhere the dump was never searched.

Teenager Rachel Antonio was last seen alive on Anzac Day in 1998.
Teenager Rachel Antonio was last seen alive on Anzac Day in 1998.

The Antonios, who were visited yesterday by Det Insp Colfs and scenes of crime officer Senior Sergeant Justin Crawley in Bowen, welcomed the developments.

"We're very satisfied. It's the best information we've had for ages. We've got something positive now," Ms Antonio said last night.

Mr Antonio said: "They are going to do some drilling and they're going to do that before the end of the wet. The wet season only goes until March, so they might start that soon.

"They're going to come back up with a bones specialist and have a look at some drill samples."

Police will today say they are exploring the possibility of searching the tip in the renewed investigation into Rachel's disappearance.

Det Insp Colfs said yesterday's visit included comparing the area's current layout to the late 1990s and discussions about former refuse practices.

A coroner last year found lifeguard Robert Hytch killed Rachel and hid her body. He is appealing the findings in a case that remains ongoing.

A $250,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the recovery of Rachel's remains. Anyone who may have any information which could assist police is asked to contact Policelink or Crime Stoppers.

Topics:  bowen editors picks mackay police rachel antonio tip

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