POLICE are remaining tight-lipped about a development in the Janine Vaughan case, refusing to comment on a handbag found two-and-a-half years after the Bathurst woman seemingly vanished into thin air.
Ms Vaughan was last seen alive 11 years ago after accepting a lift with a stranger after a night out with friends at The Tavern.
Her family last week called for her case to be reopened by police and their request was granted after Superintendent Mick Willing of the Homicide Squad announced this week the squad would take on the investigation.
Apart from confirming a full review, however, Supt Willing refused to make any further comments regarding the case.
News that a handbag containing some of Ms Vaughan’s bills
was found two-and-a-half years after her disappearance has intrigued her family, and raised more questions about her disappearance.
Not much is known about the handbag, except for the fact it’s not the bag Ms Vaughan was
carrying, and misplaced, on the night she disappeared.
Bathurst man Greg Brodie, who worked as a cleaner at The Tavern in 2001, found the handbag Ms Vaughan had left behind just hours after she left the hotel.
Mr Brodie contacted the Western Advocate after hearing of this week’s development.
“I was the cleaner at The Tavern and probably arrived at work not long after Janine left,” he said.
He said it wasn’t uncommon to find wallets, usually in the bathroom, because people would take the cash out of them and then dump the wallets.
“Every time I found a wallet the first thing I’d do is open it up
and see if there is any ID in it,” he said.
“I’d leave the wallet at the bar near the cash register – that way if they come back looking for it it’s there.”
Mr Brodie said he remembered finding Ms Vaughan’s handbag because it looked like someone had deliberately hidden it.
“I found it jammed in the corner. Someone had put packets of chips in front of it,” he said.
Like all the other bags he found, Mr Brodie put Ms Vaughan’s bag on the bar next to the cash register.
He said he recalls going back to the hotel that morning at around 10am to collect his pay, only to be told by his boss that the owner of the bag, Janine Vaughan, had been reported missing.
“I went in to get my pay and Trevor told me she’d gone missing and to go down and make a statement to police,” he said.
Mr Brodie said he did, and heard nothing more about the incident until he was contacted by the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) years later, to make a second statement.
He said he went to the spot where he found the bag and PIC officers took a video of him explaining what happened.
“I told them what I told the police – that it looked like the handbag had tried to be hidden; it was jammed up behind a pole,” he said.
Mr Brodie said Ms Vaughan’s bag wasn’t near the other bags which were often left behind a board which blocked off the staircase.
“I remember Janine’s bag wasn’t there,” he said.
“It was definitely jammed in so no one would see it.”