Police forensics examine missing ABC staffer Jill Meagher's apartment amid claims her handbag was planted as decoy
- Erin Marie, Wayne Flower
- From: Herald Sun
- September 25, 2012 4:03PM
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At 6.15pm, two Homicide Squad detectives arrived at the Lux Way apartment Ms Meagher shared with husband Tom Meagher.
A tired looking Mr Meagher answered the door before disappearing to an upstairs apartment.
Detectives then appeared to make a trip down to the basement carpark of the apartment complex.
Twenty-five minutes later, at 6.40pm, a detective returned to his vehicle to collect large brown paper bags.
At 7pm, two more members of the homicide squad arrived at the apartment block, entering the carpark in an unmarked car.* They entered the apartment in forensic suits and were carrying a blue Esky and other evidence collection material.
Ar 8.20pm, homicide squad detectives left. They were seen carrying large brown paper bags and two small boxes.
Police have now revealed that Ms Meagher was recorded on CCTV in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Homicide squad detectives said the footage shows her walking north along Sydney Rd, Brunswick, just south of Hope Street, at 1.41am.
It was in a laneway off Hope St that her handbag was found by a passerby.
Ms Meagher was reported missing on Saturday morning after she failed to return home from a night out.
She was last seen leaving Bar Etiquette on Sydney Rd, Brunswick around 1.30am on Saturday and her handbag was found n a laneway off Hope Street on Monday morning.
“Police are still trying to ascertain whether the handbag was missed by police in the initial search or whether it was placed there after the initial search,” spokeswoman Sharon Darcy said.
Detectives and forensic officers also conducted a search today of her home address on nearby Lux Way “as part of routine enquiries.”
"Investigators are appealing for anyone with information or who may have seen GIllian in this vicinity to contact police and in particular would like to speak to anyone who may have spoken to Gillian at Bar Etiquette or Brunswick Green in the early hours of Saturday morning,” spokeswoman Sharon Darcy said.
Ms Meagher is described as being of a fair complexion, 165cm tall, slim build, long curly black hair and brown eyes.
She was wearing a blue dress, black jacket, black patterned stockings and high heels.
Jill's handbag 'may have been planted'
Earlier, police revealed they were investigating whether Ms Meagher's handbag - found after an earlier search of the area - had been planted as a decoy to distract the investigation.
Ms Meagher, 29, failed to arrive home following a five-minute walk from Bar Etiquette to her Lux Way apartment after leaving a friend in Sydney Rd, Brunswick, early Saturday.
Forensic and homicide detectives leave the apartment in Brunswick after talking to her husband Thomas. Picture: Tony Gough
Questions about the handbag have emerged as more than 60 calls were made to Crime Stoppers about the disappearance of the Irish-born woman, with other women reporting abduction attempts in the vicinity of where the ABC worker vanished from Melbourne's inner-north.
Police today are examining the calls prompted by pleas for information about the case.
Homicide Squad Det-Insp John Potter, who is spearheading the investigation, told the Herald Sun it was odd that a police search of the area on the weekend which "left no stone unturned" had failed to locate the handbag, which police were alerted to early yesterday.
"On Sunday police conducted a full line search up and around Hope St," he said.
"There's two options - the original search found nothing and then on Monday the bag was found by a local resident.
Jill Meagher, 29, was last seen leaving Brunswick's Bar Etiquette about 1.30am on Saturday.
"You've got to ask which is true."
He said the bag was found in a "clearly visible" spot on the ground in a laneway off Hope St.
"We've got to look at the possibility of the bag being placed there late on Sunday or early Monday morning," he said.
He said the bag's contents had been untouched, except for Ms Meagher's mobile phone which was missing.
"Her cards and the other contents were still inside. She hasn't accessed the bank or anything like that," he said.
A detective takes some evidence bags up to Jill Meagher's apartment. Picture: Nicole Garmston
He said questions raised surrounding the discovery of the bag had prompted investigators to re-examine whether Ms Meagher had even left Sydney Rd in Brunswick the night she disappeared.
"One would now argue that we don't know for sure if she actually walked up Hope St," he said.
"We don't know whether she made it that far.
"We hold grave concerns for Jill's welfare - the fact the bag was discovered so close to home and the fact this disappearance is totally out of character for her."
Insp Potter said it was now thought that Ms Meagher left Bar Etiquette after 1.30am, and it was unclear whether she left with by herself, with others, or got into a car.
A homicide detective escorts Thomas Meagher from the underground carpark. Picture: Tony Gough
No CCTV footage was available from Bar Etiquette, making it harder for police to piece together her night.
Det-Insp Potter urged any patrons of Bar Etiquette in Sydney Rd to contact Crime Stoppers immediately as they could "hold the key" to establishing a detailed timeline of Ms Meagher's movements before she disappeared.
CCTV examined as cops probe more kidnap fears
Insp Potter said police would also continue to review CCTV footage from nearby businesses.
The spike in reported abductions and kidnappings comes as Ms Meagher's family made desperate pleas for her return.
Members of the Victoria Police forensic team leaving Jill Meagher's apartment. Picture: Kylie Else
Ms Meagher's mother, Edith McKeon said her daughter would have fought any attacker.
"Whoever (has her) just let her go, let her (go)," she said.
"Even though she's tiny I think she would have fought."
Insp Potter said police were investigating claims women have been followed by a car in the same area that Ms Meagher disappeared.
"Some of them (the claims) have not been reported to police and we need those people to contact us," he said.
Homicide detectives arrive at missing girl Jill Meagher's apartment in Brunswick to talk to her husband Thomas. Picture: Tony Gough
The calls come as messages of support continue to be posted on a Facebook page dedicated to finding the Irish national. Help us find Jill Meagher has more than 50,000 likes.
The desperate search for Ms Meagher comes as Victoria Police figures show reported abduction and kidnap offences have skyrocketed in the region, up from 226 in the previous financial year to 291, a rise of 28.8 per cent.
There were 611 offences recorded in this category in 2011-2012, and 159 of those occurred on the street.
Police find items of missing womanPolice say they've found items they believe to belong to an ABC radio employee who disappeared in Melbourne.(1:25 / 7.8MB)
A wave of complaints has also been posted on the Facebook page.
Official reports show:
ON June 24, a 34-year old woman reported that she was attacked on Albert St in the early hours.
ON May 6, a man attempted to abduct a woman as she walked along Mitchell St towards Sydney Rd.
The man covered the woman's mouth and forced her to the ground but she was able to fight him off. Police believe he threw kerosene in the woman's face before he fled.
Police arriving at missing woman Jill Meagher's apartment. Picture: Kylie Else
IN July 2010, a 29-year-old woman walking her dog through Gilpin Park was struck on the head, dragged and thrown to the ground before a man attempted to sexually assault her at knifepoint.*
This situation sure is a mystery, so weird. I'm curious to see what the police find.