MISSING: Lee Ellen Stace
WHILE the rest of the Clarence Valley goes about its business today, the Stace family will mark the worst anniversary imaginable.
On September 2, 1997, Lee Ellen Stace, the daughter of Robyn and Peter and sister to Kylie, went missing after finishing work in Yamba.
A month-and-a-half after going missing, Lee's remains were found by campers among bush land in Red Cliff, located just a few kilometres from her home.
It was an horrific turn of events for the family, who had moved to sleepy Brooms Head from the much larger Maitland in the Hunter Valley five years earlier in the hope it would be a safe place to raise children.
Today, while life continues as normal for other Brooms Head residents and the wider Valley region, the Stace family and their friends will go to the nearby memorial handcrafted to honour Lee's life as a daughter, sister and friend.
"We'll take some flowers up and sit there for a while," Mrs Stace said yesterday.
The family visits the Red Cliff memorial regularly.
The memories the family have of Lee are all that remain 11 years after the then 16-year old left a shift at Bi-Lo in the middle of the afternoon, but never made it safely home.
It is believed she was nabbed trying to hitch a ride from Yamba to Brooms Head.
More than a decade since Lee's death, it is no easier for the Stace family, who had their daughter suddenly and violently taken from them.
Her parents spend their lives in a nightmare one where they will never see Lee grow up.
They are doing the best they can under what remains extremely difficult circumstances.
"It's hard, but you have to keep going," Mrs Stace said.
With Lee's murderer still unknown, Mrs Stace again pleaded for anyone in the community with information about her daughter's death to come forward and tell police.
For the family, today's anniversary of Lee's disappearance is heightened by other reminders this time of year that Lee is no longer with them.
Lee would have been 27 last July. Robyn and Peter will be married for 32 years on Thursday, with Robyn's birthday a few days later.
All of them are occasions the entire family should be there to celebrate.
Instead, the focus will be on Lee's absence. Asked what she remembered most about her gentle, loving, beach-going daughter, Mrs Stace's response revealed the gravity of their loss.
"We remember everything about her," she said.
That will remain the case for the entire Stace family. Not just today, but for many years to come.