Little did I realise a pilgrimage to Burrenjim Dam and a beautiful video made by my son would open the floodgates of interest in the unsolved homicide of Melissa Hunt, our sister, daughter and the mother of two children.
Since our visit on April 25, 2019 – 25 years to the day since her badly beaten body was found in the dam – there has been almost constant momentum in raising awareness and engagement with the cause of justice for Melissa.
Keeping no secrets
In the interest of no secrets, because it is the keeping of secrets that has denied Melissa justice, here is a full account of how this story has continued to grow:
- Freelance journalist Dan Proudman, formerly of The Newcastle Herald, made contact and has been discussing with our family plans for a possible podcast series exploring Melissa’s death with the hope of uncovering new information.
- NBN journalist Georgia Maher produced a news story with us that was broadcast on the network from the Central Coast to the Gold Coast. It involved a third trip for me to Burrenjim Dam, this time with my older sister Jenny who courageously made her first visit. This is no easy feat, both physically and emotionally.
- Georgia Maher has now produced a second story, this time with Melissa’s husband, Scott Hunt, who seeks to clear his name (he was an early suspect), is calling for an inquiry into the police investigation.
- Scott and I have resumed tentative communication for the first time in 25 years and I have discovered he recently resumed his own campaign for justice for Melissa, including writing to his local MP and having questions asked of the Police Minister. We await these answers.
- Scott also appeared in an ABC story at the same time we had independently (and without awareness of Scott’s activities) begun seeking media attention to revive interest in Melissa’s life.
- The Project producer Georgia Done also made contact soon after our Anzac Day visit to Burrenjim Dam. This eventually resulted in my sister and I again visiting Burrenjim Dam (my fourth time) accompanied by Hamish Macdonald, Georgia and her crew.
- This afternoon walk to the dam through the bush near Seahampton and Stockrington followed a 75 minute, sometimes confronting, interview with Hamish Macdonald.
- It included unexpected elements but we are committed to the journey of bringing Melissa’s case to attention and so were prepared to accept that challenge.
- The Project initially expected to screen Melissa’s story last Sunday but, due to the Logies (no doubt), it will go to air this Sunday, July 7 at 7pm on Channel 10.
- And most recently, Nick Bielby of The Newcastle Herald has interviewed both Scott Hunt and myself and there is now an extensive report on the unsolved murder of Melissa Hunt in the Herald (Friday, July 5, 2019).
Alongside these developments, there has been other significant progress which at times seems to have appeared miraculously – especially when it is considered that we have had no progress of any kind since about the year 2000.
- Our family has resumed direct contact with police and while there is little they can tell us, it is comforting to again have a link, which had gradually disappeared over the long years.
- For the first time ever, I and my sister have begun openly talking about Melissa’s murder – not just to the media – but between ourselves, with other family members and friends. I’ve even shared with colleagues at work and church family and received heartening support.
- We feel empowered to be able to be open in this way although I will admit I am now exhausted from the process. Much thanks to my wife for her patience and support.
- There has been some discussion with Melissa’s children and we’ve tried to ask their permission and keep them informed as this recent journey has unfolded.
- This is the most difficult area of all and we pray that the media, government and police attention will lead to justice, and on to a measure of healing.
- Finally, the various blog posts I have written both on this new website and on utterance.com.au have received numerous comments since April this year (some prompting reports to Crimestoppers and to detectives).
- While some of this interaction has been frightening, other comments have been heartwarming and overall it has confirmed my belief that people know things, they remember, and it is time to speak up.