Rahma El-Dennaoui.
Rahma El-Dennaoui.

NSW children who vanished without a trace

It is every parent's worst nightmare - you turn your back for a second and your child is gone - vanished without a trace.

Tragically, 65 per cent of missing people reported in NSW are under the age of 18.

 

Police during the search for William Tyrrell. Picture by Peter Lorimer.
Police during the search for William Tyrrell. Picture by Peter Lorimer.

As the inquest into three-year-old William Tyrrell's disappearance continues, teams of investigators are still painstakingly sifting through every piece of evidence they can to help solve dozens of other cases involving missing children in NSW.

 

William was three years old when he disappeared from Kendall.
William was three years old when he disappeared from Kendall.

While 99 per cent of missing persons are found, there are still cases of girls and boys who are never to been seen again.

Parents agonise every day about why their little ones were abducted, the guilt and shame and endless question, why?

There are cases where family members speculate about what happened, and those cases where family members are implicated.

As police chase minuscule leads, some families are faced with the fact they may never know what happened to these lost little souls.

 

Police searching for William Tyrrell in bushland at Batar Creek, 4km from where he disappeared. Picture: Peter Lorimer
Police searching for William Tyrrell in bushland at Batar Creek, 4km from where he disappeared. Picture: Peter Lorimer

 

These are five of NSW's most mysterious missing children's cases:

 

Rahma El-Dennaoui, 18 months old

Rahma disappeared in 2005, aged 18 months, from Lurnea, NSW. She was at home with her parents and seven other siblings.

She was last seen by her parents when she was put in her bed at 2am.

The room where Rahma was last seen alive. She was asleep on the double bed.
The room where Rahma was last seen alive. She was asleep on the double bed.

About six and half hours later at 8.30am, it was discovered she was not in her bed and her father noticed a flyscreen above her bed was ripped.

Her parents were unable to find her inside the house and police were contacted at 9am.

NSW Police image of the home on Hill Rd, Lurnea, where it is alleged Rahma El-Dennaoui was snatched from her bedroom window.
NSW Police image of the home on Hill Rd, Lurnea, where it is alleged Rahma El-Dennaoui was snatched from her bedroom window.

Police believe Rahma was abducted, although no motive has been proven. There is a $250,000 police reward offered for information.

 

Renee Aitken, 5

Renee disappeared in 1984, aged 5, from Narooma, NSW. She was last seen in her bed at 11.15pm and was missing by 4.45am the next morning when her mother went to her room.

Renee Aitken was five years old when she was abducted from her Narooma NSW home in 1984.
Renee Aitken was five years old when she was abducted from her Narooma NSW home in 1984.

Renee has not been seen since. A coronial inquest was told police were convinced Brian James "Spider" Fitzpatrick kidnapped Renee, but the convicted sex offender had since died in a car accident.

Brad Aitken, brother of abducted Renee Aitken, wrote this poem to her after her disappearance in 1984.
Brad Aitken, brother of abducted Renee Aitken, wrote this poem to her after her disappearance in 1984.

Paedophile Michael Guider, the man jailed over the killing of nine-year-old Samantha Knight, was interviewed by police but denied any involvement in Renee's disappearance.

 

Helen Karipidis, 10

Helen disappeared in 1988 from Marrickville. She was playing in a playground with a group of friends.

Her father noticed she had gone from the group at 8.30pm.

Helen Karipidis was aged 10 when she was abducted from Marrickville in December 1988.
Helen Karipidis was aged 10 when she was abducted from Marrickville in December 1988.

None of her friends were aware that she went missing. Helen had never previously been reported missing.

A 2012 inquest concluded the 10-year-old girl died either on December 22 or sometime after that date, but delivered an open finding about how her death came about.

The case has since been with the NSW Police Force's unsolved homicide unit.

 

Bradford Pholi, 10

Ten-year-old Bradford left his family home in Dundas, NSW intending to get on a train to Newtown to see his aunt. It was Boxing Day of 1982.

Bradford Pholi was 10 when he went missing.
Bradford Pholi was 10 when he went missing.

For reasons unknown, Bradford never arrived at his aunt's house. In fact, police believe he never arrived at the train station.

A witness drawing of the bed that Lorna Pholi burnt while Bradford was sleeping.
A witness drawing of the bed that Lorna Pholi burnt while Bradford was sleeping.

His mother Lorna Pholi reported him missing 24 hours later.

Initially, police believed he had joined a gang of runaway children, as there were some unconfirmed sightings over the New Year period.

However, at later inquests, there were a number of suspects, including his own mother (who died four years after he went missing) and the unknown man who was with Bradford's mother when she reported him missing.

Police were told by friends and neighbours that Lorna had been violent towards the boy in the past.

Bradford's older siblings still hold out hope that someone will be able to shed light on what happened to their little brother.

A $100,000 reward was offered in 2009.

 

William Tyrell, 3

William disappeared from his grandparent's front yard in Kendall, NSW on September 12, 2014.

William Tyrrell disappeared in September, 2014.
William Tyrrell disappeared in September, 2014.

Aged just three, he was playing with his sister and only out of sight for five minutes before his family realised he was missing.

However, despite extensive searching, he has not been found. Police are currently pursuing several lines of inquiry, and a number of suspects have been questioned, including those with links to paedophile groups.