Sister hopes missing soulmate is alive
LYN McMillan used to chat to her sister every day. Now she can't.
She would tell her everything from what she had for dinner, to her darkest secrets. Now she doesn't.
The pair were almost inseparable, but now they've been ripped apart.
They say time heals all wounds, but for Gail Lynch's family, it's still as raw as ever one year on.
Wednesday marked the 12-month anniversary of the disappearance of the much-loved Warwick woman, Gail Lynch, who is believed murdered.
Ms McMillan said not a day went by that she did not think about her older sister and best friend.
"I can't help thinking: what if she's not dead? What if she's just in a hospital bed somewhere with amnesia and she can't remember who she is," Ms McMillan said.
"I have been told that she isn't alive, but I'd like to say she is.
"Until they find something and I know for sure that she's not ever coming back, I will always hold hope."
Ms McMillan said the first few months after Ms Lynch's disappearance were the hardest of all.
"I was OCD - taking photos of everything in my house in case something happened to me," she said.
"It was so bad that I would tell people, 'if that's not there, something is wrong because I would never have it that way'.
"It got to the stage I would tidy up every five minutes and then take another photo."
Ms McMillan said she saw a councillor initially, but that didn't help.
"They wanted to fix me, help me get over it, but I don't want that yet; I want closure," she said.
"Something that's really hard is knowing that she will never be my older sister again. Next year, she will only be one year older than me, then the year after that we'll be the same age, then I will be older."
Ms Lynch's niece Jas McLaren said she was eager to face her aunt's accused murderer, Ian Hannaford.
"I look forward to the day I see him; I want to face him, but I'm also scared at what I will do," Ms McLaren said.
She said her aunt's ex-boyfriend was no longer a human to her, but a blur.
"I can't remember his face anymore; he's just a figure," she said.
"I started out feeling guilty, feeling sorry for him. I felt like 'why did he feel this was his only option and why did he not get help'.
"But then I hated him so much.
"Now I'm completely numb."
Ms McLaren said she was haunted by memories of her aunt's unit the day they found out she was missing.
"I feel myself walking into that dark kitchen," she recalled.
"Then it's like someone just punches me in the stomach.
"I can see the black fingerprint powder around the unit and it just feels wrong.
"But if I let myself go with that feeling, I would be a mess, so I when I start to remember that, I have to pull myself back out."
Ms McMillan said she too had days where she wouldn't get out of bed, days where she would not answer the door and took her phone off the hook.
She said the court process with Hannaford meant she was up and down constantly.
"We have been to every court date when he was supposed to appear and then it's just adjourned," Ms McMillan said.
"So you work yourself up, and then they just say his name and set another date."
She said her family was crying for a trial date so they could at least have something to work towards.
"I understand that's how the justice system works, but just a date would be nice," she said.
"I don't care if it's five years down the track, just give us a date."
Ms McMillan and Ms McLaren agreed their lives had changed dramatically over the past year.
Things they thought were once safe, they find aren't, and things they would once never think of doing, they do.
"I can't catch a cab anymore," Ms McLaren said.
"I never had a problem with it before, but now I won't get in a cab with a stranger.
"I find if I see something on the side of the road, I will stop and check it out just in case it's something.
"The moment you hear murder, or remains found, your brain is like cha-ching! You want it to be Gail, but then again you don't want to know."
They both said seeing ads for dating sites made them physically ill, knowing that was how Ms Lynch met Hannaford.
Ms McMillan said she had to change the channel whenever one came on television.
"At least if you meet someone in a pub, you can suss them out through their mates, but online they can pretend to be anyone and hide whatever they wish," Ms McMillan said.
Hannaford is scheduled to have a psychological assessment on Monday.
He is expected to front Warwick Magistrates Court on August 28.