Missing Jill: Murder police called in as handbag found
Published 24/09/2012 | 05:00
POLICE in Melbourne have drafted in homicide detectives after they found the handbag of Irishwoman Jill Meagher, who went missing on Saturday night.
The bag was discovered in a laneway, 700 metres from where she was last seen in a bar with friends, and 500 metres from her home.
Police have confirmed that the phone contained all of her identification, but that her mobile phone remains missing.
Her family have said her disappearance was completely out of character, and that she was sober when last seen leaving the pub.
Police will today begin examining CCTV footage in an attempt to find out what has happened to the 29-year-old.
Ms Meagher, originally from Louth but living in Melbourne since 2009, was last seen in a bar in the suburb of Brunswick at 1.30am, before leaving to walk the short distance home.
Her husband, Tom, who is from Cabinteely in Dublin, said his wife was in good form when they last spoke.
"We've checked with all the hospitals, but I think that someone has done something to her," he said.
"We don't have any problems between us, she was very happy, so it's very tough to come to terms with her disappearance. The worst part for me is the waiting and not knowing what's happened.
"I'm not religious so I haven't prayed or involved the church but I spoke to Jill's family in Perth and my family in Dublin and they are all distraught.
"I am hoping she will walk through the door at any minute and this nightmare will be over.
"I can't eat or sleep just worrying about what's happened to her.
"She was not the type of person to go away from home and not tell me where she is."
When she left the bar, a work colleague offered to walk Ms Meagher home, but she insisted she was OK to go alone.
Her only brother Michael McKeon (26) said the last contact Tom had with his wife was a text message asking him to come to the pub where she was on a night out with work colleagues.
"Tom woke up around 2am and saw a text message from her asking him to come to the pub," he said yesterday.
"He just started calling her and she wasn't answering her phone.
"He took a walk down (to the pub) to see if she was around.
"At midday he got really worried because her phone had turned off and started going straight to message. He called all her friends before calling the police.
"She usually lets everyone know what she's doing, she's never done anything like this before.
"She wasn't drunk because her co-workers said she was fine when she left. One of her friends offered to walk her home but she said she was just 10 minutes away."
The McKeon family moved to Australia when Jill was seven. They later returned to Drogheda in Co Louth, before moving back some years ago.
Jill studied in Ireland and has lived in Melbourne since 2009, working at ABC Radio, and her parents live in Perth. However, she had visited family in Louth just a few weeks ago.
Melbourne police will today begin examining security camera footage from businesses around Sydney Road in Melbourne, where Ms Meagher was last seen in a pub called the Bar Etiquette.
A police spokesman said: "She wasn't overly affected by alcohol and we're appealing for help.
"It's unknown as to what has happened. We will have better access to CCTV footage from businesses which open today, and if there's footage that will be viewed."
A Facebook page has also been set up called ''Help us find Jillian Meagher'.
ABC Radio colleague Tom Wright said he was the last person to see Ms Meagher, and had offered to walk her home.
"I said, 'can I walk you home?', because it's late at night, and she said: 'no, no, I live around here, I know it really well, don't worry'.
"There was nothing to suggest disappearing as abruptly as she did."
Police are as yet unable to say if Ms Meagher's phone or bank card have been used in the hours since she was reported missing.
She is described as having a fair complexion, is 165cm tall, of slim build with long, curly brown hair and brown eyes.
She was last seen wearing a black dress, black jacket, black patterned stockings and high heels.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it had not been asked to provide help to the family, but would offer consular assistance if asked.
Her uncle Michael McKeon said Jill was in Drogheda at the beginning of the month, describing his niece as "bubbly and well liked.
"It is worrying for us and the fact that we are here in Ireland and not there, you just feel you cannot do any more to help," said Mr McKeon.
"We just hope that she is found and OK," he said.