NOT A day goes by when Yvonne Roach doesn’t think about her son, who vanished without a trace near Armidale more than 22 years ago.
William, or Bill as he was known to everyone, disappeared from Armidale on New Year’s Eve, 1993, leaving so many questions unanswered for his family.
Now, detectives are probing the historical missing-persons case once again, re-establishing a dedicated strike force of police who are trying to find out what happened in the hours after Bill was last seen walking out of Armidale on Grafton Rd on December 31, 1993.
In an exclusive interview with The Leader, Mrs Roach says she’s never given up on her Bill, even after all these years.
“I don’t know how or why the information has come to light now, but if anyone has a conscience, who knows something, please come forward,” she said.
“That’s all I can hope for.
“Any answer is helpful.
“Any information could help me find answers. I just need to know.”
Strike Force Annan was relaunched by New England detectives earlier this year, after fresh information came to light, and culminated in a search of a new property on the outskirts of Armidale last week.
For Mrs Roach, it might be bittersweet, but it’s a relief. She’s never given up hope of finding out what happened.
“Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
“It’s not a cold case anymore, that’s a good thing.
“I know he is gone, but I still need to know what happened.”
Police didn’t say what sparked last week’s crime scene warrant at a rural property just out of Armidale, but said the area had never been searched by officers in years gone by.
Yesterday, New England Detective Inspector Ann Joy said police were examining new and old avenues as part of the police investigation.
“This is fresh information and a search of a different property that has not been conducted before. It is a significant development,” she told The Leader.
Excavators, specialist geographical experts, as well as police and a cadaver dog, combed the property on the outskirts of town over four days.
Several areas were excavated and a homestead and outhouses searched, and items of interest seized for forensic testing.
“We want to speak to people who have information relating to the disappearance of Bill Roach,” Detective Inspector Joy said.
“Whether that is information that those people thought wasn’t relevant previously, or people out there that haven’t previously come forward that could provide us with information.”
An inquest in 2010 determined Bill Roach had died, but the coroner was unable to say how, why or where it happened, with the case marked to remain open.
Mrs Roach said her son was “a bright boy”, but didn’t use it to his full potential in school and later dropped out of university when he was studying commerce at the University of New England.
“He was just happy-go-lucky. If someone said go jump, he would probably have said ‘How high?’” she said.
She last saw Bill after having a family lunch on Christmas Day, 1993, and never got to say a final goodbye or lay him to rest – something she hopes can happen one day soon.
“I’m relieved that it is open again. I didn’t want the case to sit on the shelf. The whole family is happy it is being investigated again,” she said.
“I know that he’s not going to come back – I’ve resigned myself to that – but I’m just pleased that the detectives are looking into it.
“And this information that has been given to police, whatever it is.
“I just hope that if there is someone out there and they know, or they could help, I just want them to speak up.”
Detectives from Strike Force Annan remain in constant contact with Mrs Roach and the family, and despite the previous investigations, detectives are hoping someone has the missing piece of the puzzle.
“Any individual who could help us with this investigation, we urge them to contact detectives,” Detective Inspector Joy said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Armidale detectives on 6771 0699 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.