Kirste Gordon and Joanne Ratcliffe – Missing from their families since 25th August 1973
Two families although unknown to each other before the 25th August 1973, now share a bond no family would ever wish for. A connection that for 48 years has stayed with them, day in and day out….
On the 25th August 1973, 4 year old Kirste Gordon and 11 year old Joanne Ratcliffe were at the Adelaide Oval, South Australia watching an SANFL football match with their families when they went missing.
Both girls had gone to the female toilets in the 3rd quarter of the match and failed to return to the stands where they had been sitting. Kirste and Joanne were sighted leaving the oval with a tall, stooped man and several sightings were witnessed over a 90 minute period following. Several witnesses reported seeing Joanne appearing distressed and tugging on the man’s arm. One witness even went so far as to slow down to check on the girls, but believing they were with a family member did not want to intrude and drove on.
Numerous appeals were broadcast after the girls went missing, with hundreds of calls to South Australian police being lodged. But despite extensive research and investigations by SAPOL and private investigators over the ensuing years, both Joanne and Kirste remain missing. Joanne and Kirste’s disappearance, and presumed abduction and murder, remains one of Australia’s leading unsolved child abduction cases. The girls abduction is one of 13 cases in South Australia included in the announcement of a $1 million dollar reward announced in February 2014.
At the time of their disappearance the girls were described as:
Kirste – standing 101cm tall with blonde shoulder length hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion with faint freckles. Kirste was last seen wearing a white pleated skirt, purple jumper, white pantyhose and brown lace up shoes. Kirste also features several distinguishing marks, including a slight scar above the bridge of her nose, birthmark at the base of her spine and below the hairline. Kirste would now be aged 52 years old.
Joanne – standing 127cm tall with a medium build. Joanne had brown hair in pigtails, with brown eyes and a fair complexion. Joanne was wearing a white blouse with mustard coloured tank top, black jeans, white shoes and white socks. Joanne would now be aged 59 years old.
The suspected abductor has been described as standing approximately 177cm with a stooped appearance, wearing a brown hat with a wide brim, a grey checked sports coat and brown trousers. (sketch of suspect below)
Joanne’s mum, dad and brother have now all passed away, not knowing what happened to their girl, but hoping right up until the day they each passed away, for answers.
I will never give up hope of locating Kirste and my sister, of bringing the girls home so both families can lay them at peace.
If you have any information which may assist both families and police to locate Kirste and Joanne, please make contact with Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000