Wednesday, October 2, 1985

Susan Isenhood

Murder hunt as skeleton is identified
By Les Kennedy – SMH May 26, 2004

Robert Isenhood remembers the last time he saw his sister, Susan, almost 20 years ago.

It was October 2, 1985. She had gone to his place to wish him a happy birthday, and he later dropped her off at her home in the Newcastle suburb of Mayfield.

Within weeks Susan Isenhood, 22, was reported missing by her mother, with whom she lived on and off, but they never saw her again.

For 19 years Robert, now 48, and his family had kept hoping. "We always thought she was around, we never really thought . . . you always live in hope, always looking, looking but we never thought to go to theory Z [that she might be dead]," he said yesterday at his Merewether home.

Six weeks ago the Isenhood family learnt the truth of Susan's fate. DNA taken last September from their now 70-year-old mother, Elva, was a positive match to DNA taken from skeletal remains found 17 years ago at Possum Brush in the Kiwarrak State Forest, south of Taree.

But the identification had opened more wounds, Mr Isenhood said, as police announced that the case was a homicide investigation. Mr Isenhood said there should also be an investigation into how police initially identified the remains as a male, and how the missing persons file on investigation steps taken in 1985 cannot be found.

Mr Isenhood said it was only through the curiosity of his nephew, Dylan Walsh, 19, that the mystery came closer to being solved last September.

"Dylan was studying at university and had the computer skills and made it his project," he said.

On the internet Mr Walsh found a listing related to the unidentified skeletal remains of a young woman at Possum Brush, a listing placed on the missing persons index by police in 1998.

"We owe a lot to Dylan suggesting we contact missing persons, otherwise we still would not know what happened to her today," Mr Isenhood said.