An argument over a boyfriend is believed to be the reason Tanya Nicholls took off from her family’s Fairy Meadow home in September of 1988, never to be seen by them again.
Tanya – one of four children – was aged 16 at the time and had fallen in with the wrong crowd, according to her mother Dianne Parker.
“Unfortunately the day she went missing her and I had an argument over a boyfriend that I didn’t approve of,” Ms Parker said.
“He was someone who had a criminal record, not the sort of person you want your 16-year-old daughter hanging around with. So we had a huge argument, and that was the last time I saw her.”
More than 10,000 people are reported missing each year across NSW. The plight of their family and friends is being highlighted by authorities for National Missing Person’s Week.
“The thing with a missing person, there are so many unanswered questions – you don’t know where, how, when,” Ms Parker said.
“Sometimes your mind can go off into places you don’t want it to go. You have nothing and no-one can give you any answers to that, so it just remains a big hole you can’t fill.”
Thankfully, around 98 per cent of people reported missing are found withing a week. Though there are still more than 2,600 people listed as long-term missing persons in Australia.
The families of friends Kay Docherty and Toni Cavanagh are still left wondering what happened to the Bulli teenagers after they were supposed to head to a disco in 1979.
Jane Neville is still searching for her brother Grant, after he left Albion Park for work in Thirroul in 1989, who said his disappearance was out of character.
“If Tanya’s out there and is alive, I want her to know she has nothing to fear by saying ‘hi, here I am’,” Ms Parker said.
“I know some people they go missing they think the hard work is to come back because they think ‘that person has forgotten about me’ or ‘I can’t just show up again, here I am’ but for her I want her to know she can.”
Ms Nicholls was also known to use the alias Marie Ann Owen and has two distinctive tattoos – a dragon on her right shoulder and a small insect on her right shoulder blade.
NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said friends and family members of those missing a loved one do not need to suffer alone.
“Counselling from trained professionals is available from the Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit which does an incredible job supporting people as they deal with the stress of not knowing what has happened to a loved one,” he said.
If you have information on a person reported missing, contact your local police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
For more information on National Missing Person’s Week, visit: www.missingpersons.gov.au