Police have announced a hefty reward for information on the mysterious disappearance of a teenager who vanished from a rural NSW town more than 20 years ago – just days before her 19th birthday.
Rose Howell, 18, was last seen walking east on Perrys Road in Repton, south of Coffs Harbour, shortly after 6pm on April 11, 2003.
Police believe Ms Howell was at the time walking in the direction of her home in Bundagen, a small town 25 south of Coffs Harbour.
Ms Howell’s mother, Malila Howell, told police she believed her daughter had intended to meet with friends in the Bellingen.
She said it was not unusual for her daughter to spend the night at a friend’s home, but raised alarm bells only two days later.
Ms Howell was reported missing to police on April 13 when she failed to return home and meet her mother for an appointment.
At the time, Ms Howell was only days away from her 19th birthday with celebrations planned with friends ands family.
Police revealed on Monday – 20 years after Ms Howell’s disappearance – they would offer a $750,000 reward for information about the disappearance.
Ten years ago, a coronial inquest ruled Ms Howell had likely died in the Bellingen or Coffs Harbour area.
The 2012 coronial inquest found Ms Howell had been hitchhiking that day, but fell short of ruling how or where she died.
Deputy State Coroner Magistrate P. A. MacMahon determined it was unlikely Ms Howell would have left to start a new life elsewhere.
“I am satisfied that had she been alive, (Ms Howell) would have been in contact and would certainly have attended her birthday party,” he said.
“It is therefore more probably than not that she died at or about the time of her disappearance.
“And, that her death occurred in the vicinity of where she was last seen.”
Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty and Malila Howell are due to address the media on the announcement later today.