Victim's parents want answers
THE Coronial Inquest into the murder of Brooms Head teenagerLee Ellen Stace offers her parents hope that the terrible questionsthey have been asking will finally have some answers.
Just over 12 years ago the 16-year-old daughter of Peter and Robyn Stace disappeared after she finished work at Yamba Bi Lo supermarket.
About six weeks later her body was discovered at Red Cliff, only a few kilometres from her home.
Ever since, these awful questions have tormented the couple – who did it? Why did they do it? What happened? Why has it taken so long?
“We don’t have any expectations any more,” Peter said.
“We had them before when detectives investigating the case told us they expected to solve the case quickly.
“Twelve years later we’re still waiting.
“What we hope is that someone out there has a conscience. I’m sure that someone out there knows what happened and for some reason they are not coming forward.”
The Staces know there are many people out there who fit this description.
Since his daughter’s murder many people have told Peter what they suspect.
“People come up to me and say the police should be looking at ‘so and so’. I say to them go tell the police, but they say ‘no, we don’t want to get involved’.”
Both the family and police have endured the hoaxers, who have bogged down the investigation with false leads.
“There’s been a lot of stuff said that’s just not true,” Peter said.
“People have gone out of their way to implicate people in Lee’s murder. They ring up and try to get their boyfriend or girlfriend involved in the investigation for whatever reason. All it did was make trouble.”
The Staces hope the Coroner’s Inquest will start to cut through the false leads and contradictory statements to reveal the identity of someone who could be charged with their daughter’s murder.
“There’s something like 60 witnesses. I’ve seen a lot of the statements and a lot of them contradict each other,” he said.
“For some reason people seem to want to hide things from the investigation.They’ve tried to make the case harder to investigate.
“Some people have tried to implicate me for murdering my own daughter.”
Grief has never left the Stace family: Peter, Robyn and Kylie.
“Not a day goes by when I don’t think of Lee,” Peter said.
“The anniversaries are hardest. Birthdays, 21st, marriage. There’s so much that we’ll never have.
“Lee was a normal Australian girl. She loved the beach life. You just hoped she would grow up to have all the things that normal people have.
“Instead she was stolen off the street and murdered. You can never accept that.”
The site where Lee Ellen was discovered at Red Cliff has been marked with a shrine and it has become a special place for Robyn and Peter.
There is a table at the camp site where police believe Lee Ellen was murdered and the site where her remains were found, about 40 metres away, is where the shrine has been built.
“When it was first set up whenever I was angry I would go there to get away from people,” he said.
“I’d pull out a few weeds and talk to my daughter. I would tell her we haven’t forgotten her and we’ll never give up until we get someone arrested for her murder.”
Robyn feels she is closer to Lee at her shrine than anywhere else.
“We certainly feel closer to her there than at the cemetery,” she said.
And it’s not just the Stace family who visit the memorial to their daughter.
“People – friends – come and put something – a painted rock or flowers – here,” Peter said.
“It’s comforting to know that she is not forgotten.”
The Staces are clear what they want for Lee’s killer.
“Now there’s no death penalty we’d like to see them spend the rest of their life in jail,” Peter said.
“We’d also like to hear just why they did it.”
One thing is for certain, the Staces are staying put at Brooms Head and it is Lee that keeps them there.
“Initially we thought of moving away,” Peter said.
“The murderer knows we’re still here and maybe that upsets him. We’re not going to let him beat us.”