15. A Mysterious Disappearance
During the spring of 2015, a local girl disappeared from her home in Queensland, Australia. Labeled as a missing person, the police began a frantic search for the 12-year-old, hoping to find her alive and well. Unfortunately, six days into the investigation, local fisherman made a horrifying discovery that would trigger a country-wide manhunt and begin the start of a mystery that astounded and disgusted the locals.
14. Sweet and Popular
Tiah Palmer was a popular 12-year-old living in Logan City, which is close to Brisbane in Southeast Queensland. Sweet and outgoing, she seemed to be the poster child for a “happy child” to everyone who knew her.
However, her laughter and smile masked a dark secret about her family…
13. A Dark Family Life
Tiah’s mother, Cyndi, was only 18-years-old when she gave birth to Tiah. Unable to raise her on her own, local neighbors helped out whenever they could. Unfortunately, Tiah’s mother ran into trouble with the law, which resulted in Tiah being put into foster care. Over time she moved from home-to-home before finally moving in with Richard and Julene Thorburn.
Did Tiah finally find a loving and stable family?
12. A New Family
Richard and Julene had two grown sons of their own, Trent (18) and Joshua (19). They also ran a children’s daycare service. It seemed like the perfect fit for Tiah whose life had seen so many ups and downs. Now, she could finally settle in with a family who was stable and cared about her needs.
Unfortunately, things were about to take a wrong turn for Tiah.
11. Mother Interruptus
As Tiah was settling into her new home, her mother was preparing to be released from prison. She hoped to regain custody of her daughter and get their life back on track. However, according to Tiah’s grandmother, she was perfectly happy with the Thorburns and was reluctant to reunite with her mother, especially since she had grown fond of her older foster brother, Trent.
It seemed once again, Tiah’s life was on a collision course for disaster.
10. Vanished into Thin Air
Everything changed on October 30, 2015. Richard dropped Tiah off at the Marsen State High School like he always did every morning, but she did not turn up for her classes. In fact, Tiah seemed to completely vanish without a trace.
Where could she have possibly gone?
9. Reported Missing
When Tiah didn’t come home after school, Julene and Richard reported her as missing. While the police launched a tentative investigation, they decided not to go public with the case at first since Tiah had been known to run away from foster homes before.
However, many people felt her disappearance was very odd and warranted more attention.
8. The Case Takes a Turn
After sharing Tiah’s photograph on social media, police finally went public with her case on November 5, 2015. Unfortunately, that very same day, three fishermen found something that would change the course of the case forever.
On the banks of the Gold Coast’s Pimpana River was a set of decaying human remains…
7. A Horrifying Discovery
The body of the victim was found semi-naked and was in such a horrible state of decay that the investigators were unable to determine whether the body belonged to a male or female. Sadly, the next day, they were able to confirm the body was Tiah’s.
This tragic realization suddenly transformed the missing person case into a full-blown murder investigation.
6. The Search Begins
Realizing that Tiah had most likely been killed and her body dumped into the river, the police began an immediate search for her school bag, as well as missing uniform. A week later, a funeral would be held in her honor where over 600 people were in attendance to celebrate her life.
Would justice ever be served?
5. The Case Drags On
The search for Tiah’s killer would drag on for months without any leads. However, in April 2016 someone tipped off the police that Richard Thorburn was responsible for quite a few serious crimes that were not related to Tiah’s case. Realizing something was “off” the police revoked their daycare license.
Unfortunately, the next big reveal in the case would shock everyone involved.
4. A Suspicious Discovery
The case would drag on for another five months before a Ford sedan would be seized in connection to Tiah’s death. The police refused to release the owner’s name, which Tiah’s mother found very suspicious. After digging for information, Cyndi realized that the owner of the vehicle was none other than Richard Thorbun, the very man who had dropped Tiah off the morning she disappeared.
How could the man who had promised to protect Tiah end up hurting her?
3. An Arrest is Finally Made
On September 20, 2016, Richard Thorburn was officially arrested and charged with Tiah’s murder. According to the authorities, Richard’s testimony never added up and had been one lie after another. They believed he had actually killed her the day before her disappearance and made up the account of dropping her off at school.
However the big question remained: why would Richard want to harm his foster daughter?
2. Twists and Sinister Turns
In another horrific twist in the case, the police arrested Richard’s son Trent who was charged with attempting to pervert the court of justice, perjury and incest. Was it possible that the answer to this entire investigation was with Trent all along?
1. The Truth is Revealed
Soon the mounting evidence led to the arrests of both Julene Thorburn and the elder brother Joshua for attempted to cover up the murder. Relatives revealed that Trent admitted to having sexual relations with Tiah and was terrified he has gotten her pregnant. This resulted in Richard murdering Tiah in order to protect his son. As of now, both Julene and Joshua are serving 18-month jail sentences for perjury, while Trent is facing four years in prison for incest. As for Richard, he is still awaiting trial.
Hopefully, the ultimate form of justice will be served for the innocent Tiah, who lost her life way too soon.