Sharron Phillips mystery hit Ipswich hard
IT WAS the unsolved murder case that was embedded deep within the psyche of Ipswich people.
Now that police have announced that taxi driver Raymond Mulvihill was the man who abducted and murdered Sharron Phillips in Wacol in 1986 there is both closure for members the Phillips family and the Ipswich public.
For more than 31 years Goodna-based councillor Paul Tully said the case attracted national attention and was on TV programs on a regular basis as theories were explored and anniversaries commemorated.
Cr Tully got to know Sharron's parents Bob and Dawn Phillips, both of whom are now deceased.
"Bob would go out day and night to search unsuccessfully for his daughter's body, after receiving calls and tip-offs," he said.
"It was really, really sad."
The entire community was touched.
"Even though (the abduction) happened in the city of Brisbane it was so close to Ipswich," Cr Tully said.
"There was a lot of concern because no-one was ever arrested and no body was ever found.
"There was a lot of fear in the community that there could be a madman on the loose. It was one of those enduring mysteries.
"The family lived at Riverview and because of their Ipswich connection, it was a disappearance that hit our city hard.
"The Queensland Times had ongoing coverage and the media focus just went on and on."
Cr Tully said the family placed posters up at railway stations asking for any information on Sharron's disappearance.
The Ipswich council also rallied behind the family in touching ways.
"We gave approval for a very private ceremony for the family to plant a 'Rose of Sharon' in Queens Park in Ipswich," Cr Tully said.
"I saw Bob (Phillips) a couple of years ago and the plant had either died or disappeared so I organised for another plant to be put in there.
"That was the least we could so that the family could gather at the 'Rose of Sharon'."
Sharron's disappearance occurred on Thursday, May 8 of 1986; the night of the Ipswich Show holiday.
Cr Tully said there was some speculation that a show worker may have been responsible, but added that it was "just speculation".
There was a Wacol army camp nearby and the police investigation was also the subject of discussion.
"There was speculation about whether military people had been involved," he said.
"The police got the Shell Service Station wrong.
"She had rung the family and said she had broken down (on Ipswich Rd) and was phoning from the Shell servo'.
"Police and everyone else thought it was the big Shell on the corner of where the Ipswich Motorway and Logan Motorway is now but it was a tiny Shell service station down on Wacol Station Rd.
"It was Ken Blanch, the reporter, who walked the area and was able to prove that the police were searching in the wrong area.
"There were lots and twists and angles to the whole case.
"Everyone was taking about it and there was speculation that anyone with any oddity about them, who was a bit strange or was new to the Goodna area might be the killer.
"I always thought that more than one person might have been involved because (Sharron) was a very feisty, fit and strong individual.
"So I thought that it would have taken a very powerful person to overcome her, or more than one person."
Cr Tully said news that the police had solved the case was a relief for all.
"The mystery and the speculation has continued for 31 years," he said.
"This has now provided the closure the Phillips family has deserved for the past three decades."