Unsolved Crimes

Barbara Dawson

Date: 2002/10/4
Location: Australia


A brief telegram, missing suitcase and mysterious doctors appointment may hold the key to solving the murder of a young Tottenham woman whose death has baffled police for almost 20 years.

Barbara Ellen Dawson’s naked body was found in the Kororoit Creek at Altona Meadows on November 1, 1980.

Her throat had been slashed, she had been sexually assaulted and her body dumped with a black plastic bag over her head and her feet bound with cord.

The 20 year-old’s killer or killers were never found.

Police have reopened the investigation into her murder in the hope that dormant information that once went uncovered may, 19 years later, lead to her killer.

Barbara’s family last saw her on the morning of Wednesday, October 29, 1980.

She told her stepfather she had made a doctor’s appointment for later in the day and even asked her brother to phone the Footscray supermarket where she was employed to say she was too sick to work and would be seeing a doctor.

Later that day, about 1.30pm, Barbara’s stepfather received a telegram.

Delivered to the family’s Gwello Street home, the telegram read, “decided to be on my own for a while, Let you know where I am later”. It was signed “Babs”.

Investigators established the telegram was sent at 1pm from the Footscray West Post Office, but who sent it is unknown.

And like her killer, police were never able to find the doctor Barbara supposedly visited the day she disappeared.

Barbara also seemed to have taken a suitcase and clothing from her room when she left home for the doctor’s appointment. It was discovered $1400 had been withdrawn from her bank account on Monday October 27, 1980, two days before she was last seen.

Barbara’s case and clothes were never recovered.

Barbara Dawson was a quiet, homely girl who did not seem to have had a boyfriend at the time of her disappearance. She rarely went out or socialised with friends.

Investigators from the Homicide Squad’s Unsolved Murder Unit are now attempting to again piece together the details of the young woman’s death in the hope of bringing those responsible to justice.

They want to hear from anyone who may have seen the woman between October 29 and November 1, 1980, or recalled seeing or hearing her having an argument with anyone.

They also believe someone may be able to tell them exactly who sent the telegram to Barbara’s mother and stepfather.

Police would also like to hear from anyone who recalls seeing Barbara’s body being dumped at Kororoit Creek, or who may have found a suitcase or clothing that could have belonged to the murdered woman.

This story comes courtesy of the Victorian CrimeStoppers site