The Illawarra Mercury reporting team is bringing you a weekly series of behind-the-scenes stories, exclusive to our subscribers. Today, crime reporter Angela Thompson shares some insight into her story on Warilla murder victim Jye McWatters.
A lot can change in three years. It's been that long since I last visited the McWatters family home in Warilla, to write an update on 19-year-old Jye McWatters' unsolved murder. As I turn onto their street Monday morning, it occurs to me that the family may have moved. The internal door swings open when I knock, but I can't see anything through the security flyscreen. I call into the blackness, "That you, Kathy? It's Angela from the Mercury. Remember me?"
Kathy McWatters looks the same. She lets me in and allows me to turn on my recorder while we talk again. She sounds weary and tells me flatly, "I've had enough". Three years since my last visit; four-and-a-half years since Jye died, and still not even a whiff of justice for the McWatters family.
Back in the office I revisit some of the stories I wrote about Jye years ago, re-discovering old details. He's frozen in time on his Facebook page - forever 19, making hand signals like a gangster in almost every photo. But I've never believed Jye was any gangster. Never mind the crime that went on in his world, the hammer attack he once suffered, the pictures of him smoking pot. He was just a kid.
I go home with my head still full of Kathy's words. That evening my partner sits on the couch with the TV muted, spooning mouthfuls of curry in as I run him through it all, no chance of him getting a word in. I'm an outsider looking in, picking up a story years later, but it's all I can think about. If it's this all-consuming for me, what must it be like for the detectives investigating? Let alone the family living it? The McWatters have had more than their share of suffering. Somewhere under all the rumours they hear, is the truth. Someone knows. Maybe that person couldn't reveal it back when I was writing those last stories, but maybe they are better-place now, or stronger. Ready to do what is right.
After all, a lot can change in three years.
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