Hunt for a killer, 17 years after woman’s body found near Gerroa

Police have revived their hunt for a killer, 17 years since a woman’s burning body was discovered near Gerroa.

Rachelle Childs was 23-years-old when she perished in a shallow ditch off Crooked River Road in the early hours of Friday June 8, 2001. 

“We know that when she was found, she was discarded by the side of the road, well alight. Burning,” said Homicide Squad Commander Scott Cook, issuing a fresh appeal for information in Wollongong on Friday. 

“Her horrible death remains unsolved, and we’d like to make a fresh appeal today, on the anniversary of her death, for witnesses to come forward.” 

Miss Childs, a car saleswoman, told friends she was meeting someone at the Bargo Hotel after work on June 7, 2001, but didn’t say who, and the person has never come forward. 

Police have been unable to account for her whereabouts from about 6.30pm June 7, until when she was found early on June 8. 

Renewed police attention has now focused on her car, a dark blue 1978 Holden Commodore, registration GV-2000, in the hope it might yet jog someone’s memory.

The car was located at the hotel on June 9 but police don’t believe it remained there the entire time. Miss Childs was a “car fanatic” who kept the interior set-up a certain way.

The state the car was found in suggested someone else had recently been behind the wheel, Supt Cook said. 

“We believe that that Commodore may have travelled between Bargo and Gerroa, where she was found, on the evening that she went missing,” he said. 

“I would call for any witnesses who may have seen that vehicle at any time between 6.30pm on the 7th and about 2pm on the 8th of June, 2001 ... to let us know where they saw that vehicle. 

“We’re particularly interested in whether the vehicle was at petrol stations. Rachelle was burned, and there was accelerant – we believe to be petrol – all over the place. 

“We call on people who may have a memory of that evening to come forward, even if they saw a blue Commodore in a garage somewhere” 

Police identified several persons of interest in the wake of Miss Childs’ death. Those people remain in police sights, Supt Cook said.  

“There are a number of theories around this crime. We’re not progressed well enough on any of them to prosecute anyone. There’s a number of theories around her workplace, around the Bargo Hotel, about relationships, about other things, but what we really need to explore further at this time is where that car went.” 

A $200,000 reward remains on offer for information that leads to a conviction. Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000

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