Reward for unsolved cases

The State Government has announced a $1 million dollar reward for 64 cases of unsolved homicides and long term missing people in WA.

It is the first time a reward has been offered for some of the cases.

Some case have remained unsolved for more than 60 years.

Police Minister Paul Papalia says “every one of these cases are as important as the next.”

The minister stated the Special Crime Squad brought to the attention of the commissioner their desire to ensure each case was offered the same reward. 

Minister Papalia says it was important each case received an equal amount.

“The West Australian police force have always treated each case as equally important, sadly, our rewards system has not reflected that approach,” he says.

“It is a wrong that we are righting today.”

Hear more from Paul Papalia. Audio: Eleanor Forte.

Police Commissioner Col Blanch says it is important justice is served for victims and believes the reward will help people with information to come forward. 

“There are people in our community who know who committed these crimes, who know what happened to these victims.”

Police Commissioner Col Blanc

“There is now a million reasons to come forward with information if you’ve got it,” he says. 

Police Minister Paul Papalia and Police Commissioner Col Blanch were joined by the families of victims. Photos: Eleanor Forte.

Nicole Morris is the Register Director of the not-for-profit group, Australian Missing Persons Register.

Ms Morris says she is in support of anything that helps bring justice to victims of crime.

“If there is even a slight chance that the reward might be the tipping point to someone coming forward to tell what they know then it should clearly be offered in all cases of homicide and suspected homicide,” she says. 

While the reward may not bring forward new information about each case, Ms Morris believes it will put the cases back in the spotlight.

“If nothing else, this new system shines a light on many forgotten cases, some from 50 years ago, and that alone gets people thinking and remembering,” she says. 

In 2015, Ray and Jennie Kehlet went missing near the WA town of Sandstone. A week after the couple were announced missing, Mr Kehlet’s body was found down a mine shaft.

Ms Kehlet has still not been found. 

The Kehlet case is one of the 64 cases receiving the $1 million reward. Supplied: Dave Kehlet.

Ray Kehlet’s brother, Dave, says the $1 million reward offers a great incentive that could help with the investigation of Jennie Kehlet.

“If there is anyone with information that hasn’t come forward before, then this obviously offers them a greater incentive to do so,” he says.

“The previous reward was $250,000, so it’s quite a substantial increase.”

Mr Kehlet says the reward will ensure all missing cases are treated equally but doesn’t believe families will ever receive closure.

“When there’s this sort of occurrence that happens, it just changes your whole life.”

Dave Khelet

“It shakes you to the core.”

Perth-based Private Investigator James Milligan says the management of information received by the police needs to be improved. 

“It is one thing to seek public support, but that must be credibly backed by unbiased, assumption-free, respectful and credible action,” he says. 

Mr Milligan believes the threshold for payments should be raised, given rewards are very rarely paid out.

“A strong, motivating and absolutely professional media campaign, a substantial reward and exceptionally well-managed police intelligence are needed to reduce investigations costs.”