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The disappearance of Cheryl Grimmer

Part 1

Welcome back to another blog post 🖤

I did a poll on my Instagram story asking if you guys have ever heard of the disappearance of Cheryl Grimmer, and I was honestly blown away that not one person had!

To be honest, I hadn't either until mid-2022 when I came across it on an episode of a podcast that I regularly listen to.

Although this happened in 1970, I'm still in shock that none of us have heard about it before, especially living in Australia! Despite it happening 53 years ago, Cheryl deserves to not be forgotten, and for her case to be spoken about. Her and her family deserve justice.

This case is technically still unsolved, and no conviction has been made, despite having a written confession... Yeah I'm confused about that part too!

I am going to split this up into two parts, but don't worry, the second part will be published in 2 days. There is just so much information, and so much I have to say on this case, I decided it'd be best to split it up.

At the end of part 2, I am going to link a petition that you can sign to help bring justice for Cheryl. I have also put Crime Stoppers contact number too, if you do have any information that may be relevant.

Before I get onto the written confession that I'm sure you're wondering about, we need to take it back to the very beginning of this case, starting with Cheryl's family.

The Grimmer family

Carol, Vince, and their 4 children emigrated from Bristol (UK) to New South Wales (AUS) in the late 1960s. The Grimmer family were one of hundreds of families known as 'ten pound poms', as it was the cheapest time to move to Australia.

They believed it was going to the best decision for their family, sadly it didn't quite turn out that way.

Ricki Grimmer was the eldest of his siblings (aged 7), then followed Stephen (5), Paul (4), and Cheryl being the only girl and youngest of the children, just aged 3.

Soon after landing, Vince found himself in the Australian Army, where he often spent time in the Barracks, quite a few kilometres away from his family.

Carol and the Grimmer siblings were staying in a hostel, a short distance from Fairy Meadow beach in Wollongong, NSW, when their lives changed forever.

Unfortunately, both Carol and Vince Grimmer have now passed away, without ever knowing what actually happened to their daughter.

Monday 12th January, 1970

Fairy Meadow beach

Monday 12th January 1970, peak summer in Australia, saw the beaches flooded with families to cool off on a hot day, and Fairy Meadow beach in Wollongong was no exception!

While Vince was away at his Army Barracks, Carol decided to take her 4 children down to Fairy Meadow beach, a short walking distance from their hostel.

Early afternoon that day, there was a strong wind change, which is referred to as a 'southerly buster' in NSW. Basically, a southerly buster is when there is an abrupt southerly wind change, usually on a hot day, but it can be quite severe and often results in a big temperate drop.

When this southerly buster rolled in, everyone knew it was time to pack-up at the beach and head home. Carol began packing up the Grimmer belongings and instructed Ricki to take his siblings to the shower block/change rooms to wash off and wait for her there. This shower block is literally 90 seconds away, so Carol thought her children would be completely safe, as I'm sure any parent in the 70's would!

The 4 siblings first went into the male changing block to wash off, Cheryl was then thirsty so Ricki lifted her up to the water bubbler/fountain for a drink.

I know that seems like a strange fact to include, but trust me, it'll become important in part 2.

The younger of the boys started messing around, when Cheryl joined in, and thought it would be funny to hide in the female change rooms. Ricki asked her to come out, but she just thought it was a fun game, like any 3 year-old would!

Now, a lot of people have criticised Ricki and have said he should've just gone in to collect his younger sister, but this 7 year-old in 1970 was a polite young boy, who knew he wasn't allowed to go into the female shower block.

Even to this day, Ricki agrees with those critics and thinks he should've dragged his little sister out, and I guess it's easy to blame yourself. I fully disagree with those critics, I think that Ricki, at the time, did the right thing. How was he supposed to know something bad would happen? He was just 7, he was following the rules he's always known, not to go into the girls change rooms.

Ricki decided he had enough of his sister's games, so decided to go get his mum to get her out, while the other two boys played together around the corner.

And that's all it took, just 90 seconds for their lives to change forever.

As you can imagine, panic started to set in when Carol and Ricki came back and noticed Cheryl was nowhere to be found, so they started a search, and the locals joined in. Vince was also contacted and he made his way back home, along with 500 other soldiers to help find his little girl.

Sadly, Ricki fully blames himself for his sister's disappearance, but won't give up hope that there will be justice one day.

While I can understand why Ricki would blame himself, I believe there is only one person to blame, the person who took her.

False sightings of Cheryl & a surprise ransom note

Sadly for the Grimmer family, there were numerous amounts of false sightings of Cheryl, which of course led to false hope. There were even psychics claiming to know where she was, all turning out to be fake.

In 2014, there was even a young girl who claimed she was the missing girl herself. She really believed the family she lived with weren't her biological family, and that she was Cheryl Grimmer.

She made contact with Ricki in 2014, and he agreed to meet with her, just on the off chance she really was his missing sister.

Ricki says that he knew straight away the young woman sitting in front of him wasn't his sister, and after some testing, this proved to be true.

Taking it back to the disappearance in 1970, just two days after the event, a ransom note appeared at Bulli Police Station.

It was titled 'VERY URGENT', and reads "Your daughter Cheryl is ok, but I'm not so sure about another kid, who will be knocked off if you don't do as I say. I want $10,000 and a complete pardon in exchange for Cheryl".

Without quoting the whole thing, basically the individual was stating that they will grab a random child, and head to the drop off point, and if they don't comply, they will kill this random child and Cheryl.

Now, I have a few issues (despite the obvious) about this ransom note. The writing on the inside doesn't seem to match the writing on the envelope? The inside is nice and neat, cursive, whereas the outside is very 'child-like' almost. I'm not sure if the police thought anything of this, but I definitely think it's weird.

Something that experts have commented on, and I completely agree, is that the actual note appears to be more about the writer than about Cheryl. They constantly use "I" and "me" and talk about themselves.

Using the word "pardon" when referring to the law, also seems very unusual to use. This is usually a word that a Queen or a President would use, not just any common person. Experts have said that it's not even a word an Aussies would use, particularly someone from Wollongong.

Anyway, the police set up undercover cops around the drop off point, but the individual seemed to not show. Whether this was because they were frightened after noticing police, or whether it was fake the whole time. Who knows.

The police department believe the ransom note was a very sick prank, and don't believe it to be true at all.

I think I have to agree with them and say it was a disgusting prank. Maybe this was one of the reasons they didn't follow through with the confession, maybe they got caught up in false sightings and sick pranks.

Detective Frank Sanvitale and Detective Sergeant Damian Loone

5 decades after the disappearance, two detectives decided to reinvestigate the case.

Detective Frank Sanvitale and Detective Sergeant Damian Loone, both now retired, decided to take on the case as they believe something could be done about this and they could bring justice.

The two detectives were looking through the police archives and files, and couldn't believe what they found. a written confession. Yep.. my jaw dropped too.

How on earth did nobody know about this? Not the new detectives, not Cheryl's family, and not the public. How did a written confession exist, but nobody was serving time for this crime?

I will get onto the ridiculous reason why later on (I'm infuriated about it), but for now let me tell you about this individual.

Now, the individual at the time in 1970, was 17 years old, so his identity has been suppressed. Even now, even 53 years later, his identity is still being protected, just because he was technically a child at the time.

I disagree, I don't think his name should be suppressed, but sadly I don't make the rules. This individual has since changed his name as an adult anyway.

His police code name is 'Mercury', so that's what I will be referring to him as.

I'm going to leave it there for part 1. Part 2 will be published in two days time.

Thank you for reading

Any feedback is always welcome 😊

My Instagram DMs are always open if you want to discuss anything or ask any questions!

Liv xx


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