“I remember Maureen looked so pretty that day, wearing a red dress and white boots,” her sister Lynie Ireland Butterworth tells New Idea. “And Allan was such a nice lad, she was always happy when they were together.”
Little Lynie – the second youngest of 10 Braddy children – was just 8 years old when her big sister vanished.
“When they left the dance at around 8.30pm, Allan’s brother, Kevin, invited them to a party, which they politely declined,” Lynie explains. “Allan said he was going to take Maureen home, but they never returned.”
Allan had a big family too – 14 siblings – and when both families realised the pair hadn’t returned home, they raised the alarm the next morning.
In the days following, it sadly appeared that their disappearance had been brushed under the carpet, with the police branding them as runaways.
Time passed and the case remained unsolved – and it eventually went cold.
But Lynie refuses to believe her sister – who they affectionately remember as being a happy, headstrong teen – simply left them.
“Us kids had a tough time growing up,” Lynie admits. “We were weary of dad and not close to him, but we adored our mum and my brothers and sisters were thick as thieves! Maureen was so protective of us and she had high standards and morals, she was the kind of person that would always do the right thing – she’d never just leave us.”
Disappearing with only the clothes on their backs, Maureen failed to collect her wages from the Crystal Egg Company, where she worked, and Allan left behind the new car he’d recently bought. His bank savings were also untouched.
With little to go on, time marched on and all too quickly the teens became nothing but a memory. It’s a nightmare for any family, and one that has tortured and tormented the Braddys and the Whytes for years.
In 2014, a Victorian coroner ruled the pair likely met with foul play – it was a ruling Lynie was disappointed to hear.
“I want answers during my lifetime,” Lynie says, resolute. “Mum’s no longer with us, we’re not in touch with dad, but we believe someone who lived in the local area at the time can unlock the key to their fate.”
Taking matters into their own hands, the family have not left a stone unturned – even pushing for a $1million reward, which was put in place in 2017.
While they longed for it to lead to crucial information, once again hopes were dashed and the teens’ disappearance that has gripped the Bendigo community for decades has reached a stalemate.
“We’re frozen in time,” Lynie says. “The rest of the world has moved on, but for us, the longer there are no answers, the harder it gets.”
Yet Lynie and her family – as well as Allan’s – will never give up and have been trying to retrace the pair’s last-known steps to piece together the timeline of their movements.
There have been many theories, sightings and reports over the years.
One witness report states they saw Maureen and Allan sitting on the steps outside the YMCA that night, and overheard them planning to run away.
Another witness believes they saw them going home on the tram after the dance.
“We’re begging for help – especially from those that lived in Bendigo at that time. Please cast your mind back to landmarks or streets they could’ve passed that night,” Lynie says.
“Did you see them on Vinton Street or by the well on our property on Vinton Street, were they on Mundy Street, by the YMCA, on the tram or near the Sandhurst pub?”
Lynie misses her big sister every day – a work colleague even crocheted the 60-year-old mother and grandmother a doll of Maureen to bring comfort that she was always by Lynie’s side.
“Maureen was always someone who would do the right thing,” Lynie says. “So if you know something, please, do the right thing by her and speak out and let us know where my sister and Allan are.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
To contact state and territory Missing Persons Units, visit missingpersons.gov.au/report/missing-persons-units.
For more information, visit:
Australian Federal Police National Missing Persons Coordination Centre: missingpersons.gov.au,
Missing Persons Advocacy Network: mpan.com.au,
or Leave A Light On Inc: facebook.com/LeaveALightOninc.
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