Did Milat take these Brisbane siblings?
POLICE investigated whether two Queensland children who disappeared while hitchhiking across the country were victims of serial killer Ivan Milat.
Chad and Melony Sutton disappeared from Inala in Brisbane 25 years ago after making plans to hitchhike across the country to find their father.
They have long been viewed as likely runaways, but for the first time police have revealed there is a strong possibility the pair were abducted and murdered.
The theory is echoed by surviving relatives of the Sutton children.
Detectives can't rule out the possibility the teens ran into Milat as they attempted to make their way south to Perth - bringing them into the serial killer's territory at a time when he was active.
Chad was 16 and Melony 14 when they disappeared from their Inala home on November 23, 1992. They left with no money and only a few possessions stuffed into a schoolbag.
They had plans to hitchhike all the way to Perth to be with their father, a feat Chad had attempted once before, when he had only made it as far as Toowoomba.
To add to the mystery, a friend called police after the pair disappeared to say he'd received phone calls from Chad from both Sydney and Adelaide - but not a single person ever came forward to say they'd picked up the hitchhiking siblings.
Missing Persons Unit Detective Senior Sergeant Damien Powell said various serial killers, including Milat and Queensland's Lenny Fraser, had been looked at.
But he said police had no idea what had happened to the children.
"There's been some suggestion over the years of Ivan Milat," he said.
"He was active over that time. Of course he's not admitting to anything.
"There's some suggestion he was a trophy taker of some of his victims because some of their possessions were located inside his house."
Sen-Sgt Powell said no known possessions of the Sutton siblings had been located, but the possibility could not be ruled out.
He said the teens, while hitchhiking south, could have potentially passed through the Belanglo State Forest where Milat's victims were found.
Milat has never admitted to killing anyone - despite having been convicted in 1996 of seven backpacker murders - and police are convinced he is likely responsible for many more disappearances.
Hundreds of trophy items were found in Milat's home, some of which were identified as belonging to his known victims.
Other trophies he had gifted to relatives.
Among the few clues in the baffling Sutton case are phone calls Chad possibly made to a friend who was living in Perth at the time.
The friend, named Chris, called police in April 1993 to say he had received a series of calls from Chad - as many as eight or nine - between late November and late December.
It is possible Chad attempted to call after that, but Chris told police he moved house in late December.
Chris said that in one of the calls, Chad told him they were in Sydney. In another, about three weeks later, he had said they were in Adelaide.
Sen-Sgt Powell said that while police had no reason to doubt the information, it was "very unusual" that nobody ever came forward to say they had picked up the two hitchhikers.
The phone calls were not able to be verified through phone records.
"The time gap between the phone calls would indicate they were hitchhiking with a number of people or travelled a number of different ways," he said.
"I would have thought somebody would have come forward shortly after 1992… (that) there would be a concerned mother or father who would say why are these young kids hitchhiking by themselves - and give them a lift to help them out and then (call police)."
Sen-Sgt Powell said that without any verification of the siblings' whereabouts at any time, detectives had been left with the whole of Australia as a search area.
He said there was also a possibility the siblings had been left on the side of the road in a remote area and died of dehydration, their bodies never found.
Grandmother Jean Turich said Chad and Melony's mother had died without learning the fate of her children.
But she said her daughter never gave up hope that they'd turn up alive.
"(She was always) saying they'll turn up somewhere, sometime," she said.
"It's only a natural a mother would think that. She was terribly upset, crying."
Ms Turich said she believed it was likely her grandchildren had been abducted.
"It's either foul play they've met with or else someone's got them… into one of those cults," she said.
"I just wish someone who knows something would come forward."
Sen-Sgt Powell said anyone with information should call police.
"We're ever hopeful that somebody knows something from 1992 and is looking to come forward because it's jogged their memory, or they've had a change of heart about something that they know," he said.
"Obviously we'd look to hear from anyone who can help us out."
Information to Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000