Daniel Sheppard was a mere 19 years old when he, alongside his twin Michael, and other companions set out to welcome the new year on the evening of Saturday, December 31, 1994. The brothers and their comrades commenced their festivities with pre-drinks at an acquaintance’s abode before opting for public transportation to explore various drinking establishments and clubs, starting at Lennies Tavern in Glenelg, SA. However, as midnight struck, Daniel, his brother, and their companions chose different paths. Daniel left Lennies Tavern in the company of a friend and his girlfriend, heading to Rave nightclub in Hindley St, followed by Empire, a billiards establishment located nearby on Rose St. While his friend and his friend’s girlfriend left Empire around 3 am, Daniel engaged in conversation with a woman for about thirty minutes. Later, the woman informed the authorities that she last saw Daniel at around 4 am.
Around 4 am, Daniel said his goodbyes to the club and walked to Adelaide Railway Station, just a few minutes away, where he met three female acquaintances from his school days. Boarding the train together at 4:13 am, Daniel intended to get off at Outer Harbor and then walk the rest of the way home. While aboard the train, Daniel expressed to two of the girls, “I am weary from the festivities… I am homeward bound for a well-deserved rest.” Shortly thereafter, he bid the girls farewell as they alighted at Alberton. At 4:35 am, Daniel disembarked at Port Adelaide Train Station and was seen walking toward Baynes Place via the southern pedestrian ramp. Daniel was reported to be moderately intoxicated, yet still in possession of his faculties.
The journey home should have taken a mere 10 minutes, but tragically, Daniel was never seen again.
The Sheppard siblings grew up in West Lakes and spent their afternoons and weekends engaged in activities such as fishing, swimming in the lake, cycling, and capturing reptiles. They possessed a deep love for football and regularly attended matches at Alberton Oval, where they fervently supported Port Adelaide. Daniel, being of slight stature, did not actively participate in sports, leaving such pursuits to his larger brother, Michael. The boys also had five older sisters, but by the time the twins were born, these sisters had already left the family home. Described as loyal, dependable, and trustworthy, Daniel was known to be a source of laughter and joviality among his colleagues. A devotee of heavy metal music, he held a fondness for bands such as Pearl Jam and Silverchair. Additionally, he ardently supported the Port Adelaide Football Club and displayed great enthusiasm for fishing.
In an effort to gather additional information from the public, the police staged a reenactment of Daniel’s last known movements, featuring his twin brother, Michael. This reconstruction was televised, resulting in a modest increase in public cooperation. Authorities diligently pursued every lead, tip, and rumor, conducting numerous searches for Daniel Sheppard. These efforts included police divers scouring the Port River and, in April 1995, conducting raids on the residences of known sex offenders after receiving information suggesting Daniel had been seen in their company. Retired detective Alan Arthur, who spearheaded the investigation, lamented, “It seems he walked into oblivion.” Presently, the police surmise that Daniel was likely abducted and met with a tragic end.
A potential sighting of Daniel occurred on Grand Junction Road in Rosewater between 6:30 and 7:00 am on January 1, 1995. Another sighting was reported in 1997 when a friend claimed to have seen him at the Norwood Hotel. Despite the authorities securing the hotel’s premises, the young man could not be located.
Police exhausted their resources investigating various leads and theories, including the possibility that Daniel fell victim to an occult group or was abducted by sex offenders. They were informed that an individual from the Port Adelaide area, under the influence of a concoction of cannabis, cocaine, and amphetamines, hinted at involvement in Daniel’s disappearance. May states, “He was suspected of drug dealing, and there was a suggestion that Daniel was purportedly buried in his backyard, concealed beneath layers of concrete. Police conducted a search of the area utilizing ground-penetrating radar, which revealed the presence of old asbestos buried there, indicating that the ground had remained undisturbed for some time. Several scenarios of this nature have been put forth, but all have been discounted.” Specifically, one hypothesis linked Daniel’s vanishing to The Family, an organization whose members abducted, drugged, sexually exploited, and murdered young men aged 14 to 25 during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Of the group’s members, only one, Bevan Spencer von Einem, is currently serving a prison sentence, specifically for the 1983 slaying of Richard Kelvin, the son of renowned Adelaide news anchor Rob Kelvin. Regrettably, all leads and tips have led to dead ends.
In 2005, South Australia’s coroner, Mark Johns, officially declared Daniel deceased. While the cause of death remains undetermined, Mr. Johns asserted that no evidence supported the numerous theories proposed, including claims that Daniel had been murdered by individuals affiliated with the occult or that he had been assaulted due to significant drug-related debts. Mr. Johns emphasized that Daniel enjoyed a positive relationship with his family, including his twin brother, and would have undoubtedly reached out to them had he still been alive. The inquest revealed that Daniel Sheppard’s bank accounts had remained untouched since the day of his disappearance.
An anonymous woman referred to as “Carol” came forward to the Sunday Mail, recounting the disturbances that occurred on Jane Flaxman Court at approximately 4:45 am. Awakened by the needs of her unwell young daughter, Carol heard agonized screams along the lines of “I do not require a ride” and “Go away!” Although the sounds conveyed distress, they soon subsided into muffled noises. Alarmed by the situation, Carol ventured outside and perched upon a stool, granting her a vantage point overlooking the street and a large, square-shaped vehicle reminiscent of a Holden Statesman or Ford Falcon. To her surprise, she observed a lone individual in the driver’s seat, with no one occupying the front passenger seat. “It struck me as odd,” she recounted, “especially when I noticed the absence of illuminated headlights. Why would they not have their lights on?”
At the time, Carol perceived the figure situated in the middle of the rear seat as a female, yet she later learned that Daniel, possessing long, wavy blonde hair, was a small-statured individual. “All of these events transpired within a minute, and it felt deeply unsettling. I struggled to process the incident and promptly approached my husband, exclaiming, ‘Something truly peculiar just occurred on our street.’ He reminded me that it was New Year’s Day and people were inebriated, engaging in foolish behavior. Nevertheless, something about the situation did not sit well with me, prompting me to contact the Port Adelaide police station later that morning.” Carol expressed bewilderment and frustration at the lack of interest demonstrated by uniformed officers and homicide detectives, despite the incident occurring a mere 10 minutes after Daniel was last seen and within a two-minute walk from his residence. She shared that she had spent years grappling with frustration, as her testimony never received public exposure or thorough examination by the authorities. This revelation came as a devastating shock to Daniel’s family, who only became aware of this information after Carol reached out to them via Facebook.
Daniel would now be 46 years old, with 26 years having passed since his disappearance. At the time he went missing, he was a 19-year-old young man characterized by a fair complexion, a slender physique, and blonde/red hair, complemented by piercing blue eyes. Standing at a height of 165cm (5’4″), he was last observed clad in blue jeans and a maroon denim shirt.
The South Australian Government has offered a reward of $200,000 for any information that leads to the identification, capture, and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for Daniel’s disappearance.
If you possess any information concerning the vanishing of Daniel Sheppard, please reach out to Crime Stoppers at 1800 333 000. Please be aware that you have the option to remain anonymous if desired, and rewards are available for valid leads.