After 26 years of searching, sister still needs answers
AFTER 26 years of searching for her little brother Andrew without any answers, Barbara Anderson says it hurts just as much today as it did the day he went missing.
Barbara grew up in the small town of Valla just outside of Nambucca Heads with her three brothers and mother and father.
One day in May 1990 her younger brother Andrew, who was 21 at the time, never came home to the family property where he had been living in a caravan.
After it took her parents almost 18 months before they reported Andrew as a missing person, Barbara took it upon herself to track down her younger brother.
"I was on a mission to find him, and to find out what had happened," Barbara said. "Being the oldest and the only girl in the family it was always my duty to look out for my brothers and to ensure they were safe.
"That was my duty and I think that was what drove me to keep the search going."
Barbara said the loss of Andrew tore her family apart, causing the breakdown of relationships between siblings, parents and even her own marriage.
"It destroyed us. We were never the same after Andrew left," she said. "The loss of Andrew consumed me. It is the not knowing where he is.
"I have searched for so long but there have just been no answers. It is gut-wrenching.
"It is so hard when people pass but at least you can grieve their loss. With my grandparents and my partner I can go to the cemetery and visit them. I know where they are, but with Andrew I do not know where he is.
"26 years is a long time of not-knowing. It was not like Andrew to go missing like this, he was a good brother, a good man."
For Barbara the heartbreak of losing her brother drove her to blame those close to her for his disappearance.
"In a lot of ways I blame my parents for not doing anything when he went missing," she said. "I pushed them and pushed them but they did nothing about it.
"I am almost 99% sure he is dead and has been for years, I just want answers, I want finality."
Andrew was the focus of a coronial inquest in 1997 where he was legally declared the victim of a homicide.
There were two people who were named as persons of interest in his death after the inquest, but a lack of evidence meant that no one was convicted of the crime.
Although Barbara is sure her brother died more than 20 years ago, she still holds out hope he might be alive.
"He was my little brother, he was a funny bugger," she said.
"He just got mixed up in the wrong crowd and now someone has taken my brother away, they have taken any nieces or nephews I might have had away as well.
"I still hope that one day he will walk through my front door. I can remember when I moved house I freaked out because he would not know where I was. He would go to my old house and I would not be there.
"So much has happened over the years. So much has changed. But I still feel the same as what I did back then.
"I am heart broken that my little brother is not here with me. I miss him."