Warwick properties searched in ‘cold case’

AFTER 40 years of dead ends and unanswered questions, all eyes have turned to the Rose City in the hunt for clues into the disappearance of a Brisbane mother and her two daughters.

Homicide Cold Case unit detectives with sniffer dogs descended on two Warwick properties yesterday, as investigators ramped up their search for evidence into the disappearance and suspected murder of Barbara McCulkin and her daughters Leanne and Vicki.

The properties were owned by Vincent O'Dempsey, who was initially charged with the murder in 1980 before he was acquitted in 1981.

Mr O'Dempsey is believed to be an associate of Barbara's partner, Billie McCulkin, who was not a suspect in the disappearance.

Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicki (left) and Leanne (centre) disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974.
Barbara McCulkin (right) and her daughters Vicki (left) and Leanne (centre) disappeared from their home on January 16, 1974. Contributed

Investigators trawled over an alpaca farm on Glengallan Rd, removing a number of items, and a home on Frees Rd, where computers and other items were seized.

The case into the 1974 disappearance of the McCulkins was the focus of a full review in January, after investigators received significant new evidence as a result of an appeal made by Barbara's family.

Focus of the investigation continues to be on information and suspects identified in the original investigation and coroner's inquest from 1980.

Homicide Group Detective Superintendent Steve Holahan said investigators believed the search of the Warwick properties could help support crucial information gathered in the renewed investigation.

"Detectives have interviewed potential witnesses across Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria and have uncovered compelling new evidence surrounding events that took place on the day of their disappearance and subsequent murders," he said.

"Based on the evidence collected, we now believe we have identified several motives for their murders. Barbara McCulkin may have had knowledge about serious crimes and the young McCulkin girls may have been sexually assaulted."

Barbara and her two daughters Leanne and Vicki disappeared from their Highgate Hill, Brisbane residence on the night of January 16, 1974. They have not been heard from since and their bodies have never been located.A $250,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Barbara May McCulkin, Vicki Maree McCulkin and Barbara Leanne (known as Leanne) McCulkin has been offered by authorities.

In addition, an appropriate indemnity from prosecution will be recommended for any accomplice for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for these murders.

Any person who has information in relation to this matter should contact the Homicide Squad direct or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Topics:  barbara mcculkin cold case editors picks raid warrant warwick

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