Victoria Police is today announcing a $1 million reward for information to help solve the 1991 murder of St Kilda woman Amanda Byrnes.
The 23-year-old was last seen alive in the early hours of Sunday, 7 April 1991.
On the evening of Saturday, 6 April Amanda and her partner, both sex workers, were at their apartment in the Esquire Motel on Acland Street in St Kilda.
They were preparing to head out to the usual area they worked together, which was around Acland, Carlisle and Barkly Streets in St Kilda.
Usually they worked together for safety reasons, however on this night Amanda’s partner had a toothache and so stayed home for a while longer.
Just after midnight, Amanda left the apartment, arranging to meet up with her partner a short time later.
A short time later she was seen by a friend of hers at the phone box opposite the Shell Service Station on Barkly Street, and they spoke briefly before the friend left.
Amanda’s partner left home and headed to Acland Street to meet up with her, however she was unable to find Amanda.
She searched for several hours before heading home and subsequently reporting Amanda missing to police.
On the morning of Sunday, 7 April, two friends were walking along the foreshore in Elwood and as they approached the Elwood Boating Club, they discovered Amanda’s body in the grassy area adjacent to the nearby oval.
She was naked and had suffered fatal head injuries.
Despite a comprehensive investigation by the Homicide Squad over the past three decades, no motive for Amanda’s murder has ever been established and no one has been charged.
Police are keen to speak to anyone who saw Amanda on the night of Saturday, 6 April or the early hours of Sunday 7 April and are urging them to come forward.
She was last seen wearing black lycra leggings, a black lycra tube top, a navy blue fleecy zip up top with a drawstring waist and a hood, black suede stilettos and black fingerless gloves.
She was carrying a tan coloured soft leather bag, with a shoulder strap.
Her clothes and bag have never been recovered, aside from a single shoe which was found on Barkly Street.
Detectives are continuing to investigate the involvement of a light coloured Morris Mini panel van in Amanda’s death.
A taxi driver reported hearing a loud band, which sounded like a vehicle collision, around the same time Amanda’s partner was out looking for her.
The taxi driver subsequently saw a light-coloured Morris Mini panel van heading south along Barkly Street, driving slowly and erratically.
Both he and a witness from a residence nearby observed legs protruding from the front passenger door of the moving vehicle.
The second witness also noticed the passenger side door swinging open and shut.
That same night, a local security guard near the Wattie Watson oval reported seeing a mini panel van enter the oval, travelling at speed.
He saw the vehicle travel down towards the vicinity of where Amanda’s body would be discovered the following morning.
Detectives believe the light-coloured Morris Mini panel van was involved in Amanda’s murder, likely abducting her from St Kilda.
Victoria Police is today announcing a $1M reward for information in relation to those responsible for Amanda’s death.
A $50,000 reward was previously offered in 1991.
A reward of up to $1M will be paid at the discretion of the Chief Commissioner of Police, for information leading to the apprehension and subsequent conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Amanda Byrnes.
The Director of Public Prosecutions will consider, according to established guidelines, the granting of indemnification from prosecution to any person who provides information as to the identity of the principal offender or offenders in this matter.
Police are hoping the increased reward will encourage someone to come forward with information.
As part of the renewed appeal and reward announcement, investigators are also releasing images of Amanda, as well as an image of a vehicle similar to the Morris Mini.
Police are also releasing two images from 1991 – a sketch of the Morris Mini and a re-created image of Amanda showing what she was wearing on the night.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.auExternal Link
Quotes attributable to Detective Inspector Dean Thomas, Homicide Squad:
“It has been over 30 years since Amanda’s death, but I would like to strongly reinforce that this is both an active investigation, and one that we believe is solvable.
“We always say that people’s circumstances can change over the years and someone who may not have wanted to provide information to police previously may now feel ready to do so.
“If you were in the St Kilda or Elwood areas on the night and believe you may have seen anything, but are yet to speak to police – please, come forward.
“I understand that some people might feel uncomfortable speaking to police about why they were in the St Kilda area that night, and I can absolutely reassure them that investigators have no interest in that particular aspect.
“I’d also like to reinforce that anyone who chooses to speak to police will be treated with total confidentiality.
“I hope whoever is responsible for Amanda’s death thinks about it every day. I hope it weighs heavily on their mind along with the expectation that one day, police are going to catch up with them.
“We know people who commit or are part of horrific crimes such as these will often disclose their actions to someone.
“For that reason, detectives are putting a $1 million dollar reward on the table for information that allows us to identify, arrest and convict those responsible for Amanda’s murder.
“While three decades have now passed, that doesn’t mean it’s too late for her family to get the justice they deserve.
“We have every reason to believe someone out there today knows what happened to Amanda and who is responsible.”