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(AUSTRALIA) Cold Case Murder Report: For the first time, Victorian homicide detectives are sharing details of their most baffling cold cases in the hopeo someone will come forward to help solve them #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.24: For the first time, Victorian homicide detectives are sharing details of their most baffling cold cases in the hope someone will come forward to help solve them:

VICTORIA: Detectives seek public help to solve the state’s most puzzling cold cases: ‘Information on five unsolved murders has been published on the Victoria Police’s new cold case hub, and at least two new cases will be added each week’

Posted 4h ago

Helen Magill, an elderly woman, speaks at a police press conference.
Helen Magill has spent decades wondering about what happened to her daughter.(ABC News)

“The point is, if you’re not the Homicide Squad investigator then you’re not going to know the real facts.

“Now you can hear case details directly from the investigator, see photos, and watch video snippets,” he said.

The first five cases include the murder of Jane Thurgood-Dove, a 34-year-old mother who was shot in front of her three children in the driveway of her Niddrie home in 1997. At the time, her youngest child was two years old; she is now 26.

On Sunday, Thurgood-Dove’s elderly parents appealed to anyone with information on their daughter’s death to come forward.

An archive image of Jane Thurgood-Dove released by police
Jane Thurgood-Dove was shot dead in front of her children outside their home in 1997.(Supplied: Victoria Police)

“Please, as the mother of a murdered daughter, if you were in the same situation, I’m sure, I’m 100 per cent sure, that you would want to have this solved, the same as we do, so we can go to our graves knowing, which is not that far away,” Helen Magill said.

Police believe Thurgood-Dove was a victim of mistaken identity. Two persons of interest to the investigation have since died, but police believe whoever organised the shooting is still at large.

“We strongly believe it is solvable and someone in the community has the answers we need,” Detective Inspector Day said.

Police are also seeking public help to find the killer of two teenagers, Fiona Burns and John Lee, who were last seen hitchhiking on the Western Highway between Adelaide and Melbourne in early October 1990.

Their bodies were found later that month at a truck stop south-west of Adelaide with stab wounds. They were aged 15 and 14 at the time, and despite many calls over the years, and a reward of $1 million, police have not identified a suspect.

Decades-old unsolved cases 

The murders are among more than 200 unsolved crimes still on the Victoria homicide squad’s files.

The number sounds high, but Victoria Police said its “solve rate” is above 90 per cent, one of highest rates among police forces worldwide.

The unsolved cases date back to 1951, though the oldest currently on the site is from 1989, the year 42-year-old Christopher Phillips was found dead in his Cheltenham home.

An archive image of Christopher Phillips
Christopher Phillips was found dead in his home in 1989.(Supplied: Victoria Police)

Police said there were signs of forced entry through the back door, and the home appeared to have been ransacked, but nothing was stolen.

Phillips suffered significant head wounds police believe were inflicted by a sharp blow from behind with a heavy, blunt object. Two knives were found near him, covered in blood.

The cold case hub is a first for police in Australia and is based on a model used by the Toronto Police Service in Canada.

“It’s about providing a single source of truth and also reaching people who don’t watch the news or pick up a newspaper anymore,” Victoria Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Robert Hill said.

“Many people are now on social media and we need to particularly leverage that medium to assist us in investigating these cases.”

Significant rewards are being offered for information in some cases – including $100,000 for details that lead to a conviction over the death of Christos Saristavros.

Saristavros was shot dead by an unknown gunman who approached him as he sat in his car with his wife after a charity night at the Athenian Tavern in Box Hill in 2000.

An archive image of Christos Saristavros
Christos Saristavros was shot twice after an argument with an unknown man in 2000.(Supplied: Victoria Police)

After an argument, the gunman shot him once in the abdomen, before fleeing. Saristavros chased him but was shot again, this time in the head. Police have not established a motive.

Victorian detectives are also searching for the man who beat and sexually assaulted Samantha Mizzi in 1994.

Mizzi had left her children with a friend to earn some money in St Kilda when she was seen talking to an unknown man.

Later that evening, local residents heard a woman scream and a passerby soon found Mizzi seriously injured. She was taken to hospital but died the next day.

“These are some of the most serious and violent crimes in the state, which cause significant harm to our communities — and long after they have faded from newspapers or TV bulletins, our investigations continue,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Hill said.

He said solving the crimes was important to give the victims’ families some closure.

“I can assure you that none of the victims in the cases you will see on this website have been forgotten — not by police or by their families and loved ones,” he said.

Members of the public are urged to check the site and phone CrimeStoppers if they have new information.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.24: 2021:

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