Today on the front page of The Newcastle Herald I called for the reopening of the inquest into the violent 1994 murder of my sister, Melissa Hunt (Hallett).
How long is long enough?
Inquests are suspended or closed when the Coroner believes charges should be laid against a known person for a crime such as murder. This is what occurred in March 1998, less than four years after Melissa’s death.
We were present when the inquest was suddenly closed and handed to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). At the time, the available evidence pointed very strongly at Matthew Henderson, a former boyfriend of Melissa’s.
As you can see from the newspaper report from the time it seemed to me even then that we had been waiting a long time for answers as to Melissa’s death. And more importantly, justice for her and her children and my parents. Now it is 25 years later and the inquest officially remains ‘suspended’ and yet no charges were ever-laid.
The DPP proved an impenetrable edifice – we could never find any information as to what was occurring and eventually the case was quietly handed back to police to pick up the pieces.
The question then seems powerfully relevant – why not complete the inquest that was never finished and at least allow us to hear testimony from witnesses not heard before, hear the latest summary of the case from police and perhaps even look Matthew Henderson in the eye.
I’ve asked police if they know of his whereabouts, as he is not easy to track down. They have refused to answer. An inquest would answer some of these questions…
The police make a public statement
If nothing else, the police have finally broken silence and made a statement for Nick Bielby’s article today:
The State Crime Command’s Unsolved Homicide Unit confirmed on Thursday it was reviewing the case and re-testing evidence collected from the scene – though it was not specific as to what was being examined.
Homicide Squad commander Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Henney said the process would be overseen by senior investigators and involve three separate assessments that focussed on “triage, review and quality control”.
Detective Acting Superintendent Henney said on Thursday the Unsolved Homicide Unit was “a finite resource” but that NSW Police had a wealth of skilled investigators that increased the capacity to “put fresh eyes on cold cases”.
“We are committed to ensuring the most effective and efficient allocation of resources in order to maximise our capability to provide justice for victims and answers to their families,” he said.
Justice for victims, answers for their families. You can help by praying or if you know anything, coming forward to police.