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Serial Killer

20070209: Serial killer story upsets granddad Northern Territory Serial Killer News

Reports that a serial killer in Australia's Northern Territory could be responsible for the disappearance of Jamie Herdman have angered the Whakatane man's family.

Jamie moved to Australia about 18 months ago from Whakatane but the last confirmed sighting of the 26-year-old was at the small town of Daly Waters, about 600km south of Darwin, on November 30.

He was reported missing by staff at a pub there after his Nissan Urvan vehicle containing personal possessions and some cash appeared to be abandoned.

A large air and ground search of the area failed to turn up any signs and police said they were no longer actively searching for him but would follow any leads.

The Bulletin has sparked fears of a serial killer being involved with reports of three people disappearing in the Northern Territory in the past nine months under similar circumstances, including Jamie. But Northern Territory police are playing down the fears and say they doubt a serial killer is on the loose.

The reports of similarities between Jamie's disappearance and two other recent disappearances in Australia's Tennant Creek area sparked the serial killer rumours which upset the Whakatane man's family.

Speaking from Ohope, Jamie's grandfather said the media were "blowing" up the disappearance and trying to come up with something major.

"I was so upset when the reports came in," the former Whakatane mayor said.

The family are in regular contact with police investigating Jamie's disappearance and Mr Herdman said police had not told them there was a possible serial killer on the loose.

Jamie's father, Steve Herdman, travelled to Australia from London last month to be closer to the investigation. He and his other son, Carl Herdman, 23, retraced Jamie's steps from Darwin, visiting the Catherine police station, Elliot and Daly Waters, and checked out his abandoned van.

The pair spoke to the policeman who last saw Jamie hitchhiking, stopped at road houses, truck stops and towns, and put up flyers in a bid for information about Jamie's whereabouts.

But the search failed to turn up any new information, and Mr Herdman said Jamie's father returned to London this week.

"They've done all the checking out there," he said.

"If anything more comes, they [police] will let him know."

However, he and the rest of the family will be keeping in regular contact with the police and will continue to hope for the best outcome.

"All we can do is hope and keep our fingers crossed."

Mr Herdman said something positive had come out of the disappearance, which was the amount of support he and his family had had from friends and other members of the public.

"We're overwhelmed by the support that we've had from people, support from friends that know us all over New Zealand, calls from everywhere and cards."

Meanwhile, police in Australia's Northern Territory are staying positive about the chances of finding the New Zealander alive, despite him being mysteriously missing for more than two months.

20070207: Missing Kiwi in Aussie causes serial killer rumours Northern Territory Serial Killer News
Police in Australia's Northern Territory are playing down theories that a serial killer is on the loose, following the disappearance of a Whakatane man.
26-year-old Jamie Herdman has not been seen since Boxing Day.
He disappeared in the isolated area of Daly Waters where he abandoned his vehicle, leaving behind cash and a cellphone.
Police are investigating two unconfirmed sightings and are not ruling out foul play.
Two other people have disappeared in the Northern Territory in the past nine months, sparking speculating about a serial killer from one Australian magazine.

20070207: Police damp down serial killer fears Northern Territory Serial Killer News

Northern Territory police doubt a serial killer is loose in the wild Tennant Creek area despite three mysterious recent disappearances, among them New Zealander Jamie Herdman.

Australian newsmagazine the Bulletin reports that three men, all white, all travelling alone, had simply evaporated from Northern Territory highways, in roughly the same area, a void around Tennant Creek, in the past nine months.

"In each case, they leave behind motor vehicles and possessions. At a glance, there's a common thread," the magazine said.

"But police refuse to talk in terms of a serial killer and are not linking the disappearances."

Writer Paul Toohey added: "Police are damping down talk of a serial killer but there are rising fears in this post-Falconio world."

He was referring to Peter Falconio, a Briton killed in the Northern Territory in 2001. His body was never found.

Australian Bradley John Murdoch was convicted in 2005 of murdering Falconio and kidnapping his girlfriend Joanne Lees on an outback highway.

Toohey said Tennant Creek was a place where people vanished.

"Peter Falconio is the standout example, although some vanish by choice. Think of Keith Murdoch, infamous for becoming the first All Black to be kicked off a tour [of Wales in 1972].

"Either ashamed, or angered by his harsh treatment, he abandoned New Zealand but turned up years later, in 2001, in Tennant Creek, where he was called to a coronial inquiry to answer questions about the death of a young Aboriginal man who'd been left for dead down an open-cut mine.

"Murdoch was never implicated by the coroner but he didn't like the attention, refusing to talk to journalists ... and then he vanished again."

An off-duty policeman reported seeing Herdman hitching 500m south of the Hi-Way Inn on November 26 but the New Zealander's father said there was now doubt about this.

Police are still checking reports that Herdman might have been seen hitch-hiking in Queensland late last month.

Toohey noted that Queenslander Oswald Orman, 37, who set off hitching on January 21 on the Barkly Highway, 200km east of Tennant Creek, and hasn't been seen since, had indulged in some strange behaviour. He said Northern Territory people were familiar with the phenomenon of people with problems taking themselves to the open road and losing themselves.

But he quoted Herdman's father, Steve, now in Darwin, as saying his son had no history of mental illness.

"But he had departed Broome [Western Australia] on November 24, where he had been working as a removalist, in an upset state. And in a real hurry."

His boss, the last person to see him in Broome, told his father that Jamie Herdman "was in a very distressed state" but was unable to pry out what the problem was.

"Something ... happened," Toohey quoted Steve Herdman as saying, adding Territory police flew to Broome last week to try to find out what that might have been.

"Police initially speculated Jamie may have wandered into an Aboriginal community. They appear to have gone cold on the angle."

Steve Herdman is not thinking about serial killers but considered the talk an advantage because it was getting the attention of the media to focus on missing people in the area.

Brett McGillivray, 26, disappeared in April last year. His Toyota Camry was abandoned at Attack Creek, 80km north of Tennant Creek, with its keys. His parents told the Bulletin their son was on medication but showed no sign of being unwell. "Brett [from Perth] just took off in his Camry, telling no one where he was going."

The Northern Territory seemed to be a place where people who didn't want to be found seemed to go, a place where people could disappear.

"Accordingly, police know their priority is to find the missing people, dead or alive, before they start hunting for maniacs."

The three recent vanishing acts:

* Brett McGillivray, 26, of Perth. In April last year, his Toyota Camry was found abandoned at Attack Creek, 80km north of Tennant Creek, keys still in it. Ground and air searches showed no trace.

* Jamie Herdman, 26, was at the Hi-Way Inn, 400km north of Tennant Creek on November 26. Appeared to have abandoned his vehicle, leaving personal possessions.

* Queenslander Oswald Orman, 37, set off hitching on January 21 on the Barkly Highway, 200km east of Tennant Creek. He hasn't been seen since. Orman's backpack was found at a rest stop 50km east of the roadhouse.



Copyright 1995-2006 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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