Margaret Sarnek walked out the door of her George Town home one night in 1975, and never returned. The mother-of-three is one of seven missing Tasmanians featured in this year’s National Missing Persons Week campaign.
This month marks 45 years since she disappeared, and her family remain hopeful her body will be found.
Daughter Misha Blair was only 18 at the time, but still remembers the day her mum went missing.
“I spoke to her that day, she was upset, she wanted to get away, but being young and silly at the time it didn’t really stick out to me,” she recalled.
“I was living in Launceston at the time, and Dad called trying to see if she was with me, he was ringing around trying to find her.
“It was like she just walked out the door and disappeared, no coat, no purse or anything.”
There had been sightings reported on the Bass Highway, but nothing confirmed. The family thought Margaret, who was also known as Nancy, may have returned to England where she was born, but her husband Tad Sarnek called “around the world” to try and find her.
“She was one of 11 siblings, so he called around, but they didn’t know anything,” Mrs Blair said.
“We have been back in touch with a few of them this year, but they know nothing.”
Mr Sarnek has since died, not knowing what happened to his wife.
“He passed away about 20 years ago,” Mrs Blair said
“He was forever looking for her.”
Despite decades passing, Mrs Blair said she was still holding out for closure.
“I really don’t think she is alive, I don’t actually think she survived the first night to be honest,” she said.
“You hear of bodies and bones being found years later and you don’t have a lot of hope, but it is always in the back of my mind.”
Margaret would be 85 this year.
Sergeant John Delpero of the Tasmania Police Missing Persons Unit said about 125 people were reported missing in the state each year, and while 97 per cent were found, there were still open cases.
“Missing Persons Week is held annually and is a time when we aim to raise awareness and seek information that could help police to locate a missing person,” he said.
“When someone goes missing the impact on families and friends is significant.
“Those left behind always deserve answers about what happened to their loved one and police will not close a missing person case until the answers are found.”
The theme of this year’s national campaign is ‘I’ll see you later’, with the Australian Federal Police launching a digital project – featuring videos of missing Australians.
NMPCC Coordinator Jodie McEwan said she hoped the initiative would provide the community with insight into the unresolved grief and loss felt by the loved ones of missing persons.
“In telling the stories of these missing people via social media, outdoor advertising spaces and traditional media, we hope to draw out new leads and piece together these sad and enduring puzzles,” Ms McEwan said.
“The short videos illustrate these are real people, with hobbies and dreams, who continue to live in the memories of those left behind. They are more than just statistics or photos on a missing persons poster.”
Other cases highlighted by Tasmania Police this year are:
Ronald Johnstone was last seen on July 4 in 1956. The 53-year-old was working as a night watchman and was aboard the vessel ‘MV Merino’, which was docked at Kings Wharf in Invermay. His wife reported him missing after he failed to come home.
His bicycle was located at the wharf, and an extensive search was undertaken, but he was not found.
Barry Calvert was last seen at the Paterson Army Barracks on St John Street in Launceston in April, 1963.
Police believe the 25-year-old soldier may have travelled to the mainland after he disappeared, and may also go by the surname Broomhall.
Ian Nichols was last seen at Dago Point, Lake Sorell where he was involved in the construction of a shack in conjunction with the Vietnam Veterans Association.
He was last seen by two anglers heading towards the boat ramp to enquire about getting a lift to Hobart.
Dale Bellette disappeared at Geeveston on April 25 in 2004.
The 32-year-old’s white Holden Sunbird was located in the carpark at the start of the walking track at Hartz Mountain.
Helen Munnings’ disappearance has been treated as suspicious, with a coroner ruling she likely died on July 23, 2008 – the day she was last seen.
A $250,000 reward remains on offer for information leading to the conviction of a person or people involved in the young Burnie mother’s death.
Dale Nicholson was last seen leaving his home address in New Norfolk, as he did every Sunday morning, to get the morning paper and breakfast for himself and his neighbour.
He was driving a 1993 blue Ford Fairmont, registration DE8536.
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.