It’s been 30 years since the night Sarah MacDiarmid vanished from the Kananook railway station on Wednesday 11 July 1990. Blood evidence at the scene suggested Sarah had been attacked and may not have survived. But her attacker took her and Sarah’s body has never been recovered.

After an extensive search and a police investigation which continues to this day, Sarah’s family hope this podcast will bring a renewed focus onto her case, and that someone listening will hold a piece of the puzzle that will help return Sarah to them.

The Disappearance

On the night Wednesday 11 July 1990, Sarah MacDiarmid played tennis with some workmates after work, then caught the train home with two of them. They alighted at Bonbeach. Sarah stayed on the train for a further two stops until the train reached Kananook railway station at 10.20 pm

One witness heard a woman say, ‘Give me my keys back!’ followed by, ‘Stop fooling around!’ and then shortly afterwards, a woman’s scream.

When Sarah didn’t return home that night, her family panicked. They reported her missing when she didn’t show up for work the following morning.

sarah-macdiarmid-kananook-station

Peter didn’t want to go to – and I said, ‘You go to work and,’ I said, ‘I’ll ring up her work and see what’s … I mean by this time, we knew that something was radically wrong.

Sheila MacDiarmid

Mother

sarah-macdiarmid-kananook-station

Sarah wrote to a friend in Scotland about the car she had just bought and the trips they would take in it. Months later – before the friend arrived in Australia, that same car was left abandoned at the Kananook railway station and Sarah had vanished.

Police found blood on the ground next to her car, then discovered blood spots on the bitumen surface and followed them to a small area of vegetation and trees immediately to the western side of the car park, a short distance away.

More blood spots were found leading to the bushes. Police also found two parallel running drag marks that had slightly indented the dirt. More blood was found on the ground in the bushes. It looked like whoever had been attacked near the car, had been dragged over to the bushes.

Police also found a green-coloured cigarette lighter lying on the ground. The lighter belonged to Sarah.

A mannequin at the site of the disappearance in clothes similar to those that Sarah MacDiarmid was wearing at the time she went missing.

After an extensive investigation, the lead investigator concluded that:

Sarah MacDiarmid alighted from the Frankston bound train at Kananook railway station at approximately 10.20pm on Wednesday 11 July 1990.

At some time shortly after 10.20pm, she met with foul play and was attacked at or near her vehicle by person or persons unknown.

Sarah MacDiarmid’s body has never been recovered.

I’ve written about these moments with too many victims’ families. You’re waiting for them to come home. The clock ticks closer to the time you think they’ll come through the door. That times passes. A vague unease creeps in, perhaps first annoyance to mask it, then a feeling in your bones that something is wrong. The waiting. The act of grabbing your keys and going to have a look. More waiting. The clock ticks over the minute that is one too many for it to be ignored. The questions: Where is she? Why doesn’t she call? and not admitting that one question: Has something happened to her?

Vikki Petraitis

PRODUCER

The Disappearance

On the night Wednesday 11 July 1990, Sarah MacDiarmid played tennis with some workmates after work, then caught the train home with two of them. They alighted at Bonbeach. Sarah stayed on the train for a further two stops until the train reached Kananook railway station at 10.20 pm.

One witness heard a woman say, ‘Give me my keys back!’ followed by, ‘Stop fooling around!’ and then shortly afterwards, a woman’s scream.

When Sarah didn’t return home that night, her family panicked. They reported her missing when she didn’t show up for work the following morning.

sarah-macdiarmid-kananook-station

Peter didn’t want to go to – and I said, ‘You go to work and,’ I said, ‘I’ll ring up her work and see what’s … I mean by this time, we knew that something was radically wrong.

Sheila MacDiarmid

Mother

sarah-macdiarmid-kananook-station

Sarah wrote to a friend in Scotland about the car she had just bought and the trips they would take in it. Months later – before the friend arrived in Australia, that same car was left abandoned at the Kananook railway station and Sarah had vanished.

Police found blood on the ground next to her car, then discovered blood spots on the bitumen surface and followed them to a small area of vegetation and trees immediately to the western side of the car park, a short distance away.

More blood spots were found leading to the bushes. Police also found two parallel running drag marks that had slightly indented the dirt. More blood was found on the ground in the bushes. It looked like whoever had been attacked near the car, had been dragged over to the bushes.

Police also found a green-coloured cigarette lighter lying on the ground. The lighter belonged to Sarah.

A mannequin at the site of the disappearance in clothes similar to those that Sarah MacDiarmid was wearing at the time she went missing.

After an extensive investigation, the lead investigator concluded that:

Sarah MacDiarmid alighted from the Frankston bound train at Kananook railway station at approximately 10.20pm on Wednesday 11 July 1990.

At some time shortly after 10.20pm, she met with foul play and was attacked at or near her vehicle by person or persons unknown.

Sarah MacDiarmid’s body has never been recovered.

I’ve written about these moments with too many victims’ families. You’re waiting for them to come home. The clock ticks closer to the time you think they’ll come through the door. That times passes. A vague unease creeps in, perhaps first annoyance to mask it, then a feeling in your bones that something is wrong. The waiting. The act of grabbing your keys and going to have a look. More waiting. The clock ticks over the minute that is one too many for it to be ignored. The questions: Where is she? Why doesn’t she call? and not admitting that one question: Has something happened to her?

Vikki Petraitis

PRODUCER

Timeline of the disappearance

of Sarah MacDiarmid

Timeline of the disappearance of Sarah MacDiarmid

Wednesday, 11 July 1990

5.10 pm

Sarah MacDiarmid leaves work at Heath Underwriters located in Collins Place in the Melbourne CBD. (1)

5.25 pm

Arrives at the Tennis Centre. (2)

9.20 pm

Sarah and two friends Gavan Thorne and Dianne Wright-Smith catch the train at Richmond railway station. (3)

9.39 pm

Swap to the Frankston line at Caulfield railway station. (4)

10.15 pm

Thorne and Wright-Smith leave the train at Bonbeach railway station. (5)

10.20 pm

Sarah alights at the Kananook railway station. (6)

10.30 pm

Man observes a woman in green tracksuit carrying a tennis racquet and bag in the car park. Several people hear screams coming from the car park around this time.

11 pm

The MacDiarmids grow concerned when Sarah hasn’t arrived home.

Thursday, 12 July 1990

1 am

Alisdair goes to Kananook railway station to wait for the last train at 1.15 am. Sarah is not on it. He finds her car in the car park. Doors and boot are locked.

9 am

Sheila MacDiarmid rings Sarah’s work to see if she’s arrived. She is told that Dianne and Gavan caught the train home with her the previous evening. The MacDiarmids realise something has happened to Sarah. They call the police immediately.

2.10 pm

Police visit the Kananook railway station car park where Sarah MacDiarmid’s red coloured Honda Civic ICN 700 is angle parked. Investigators notice what appeared to be a quantity of blood on the bitumen car park surface underneath the area of the driver’s side door and further blood patches on the bitumen under a car parked adjacent to the driver’s side of the Civic.

CONTACT US

Police (and podcasters) need to work on evidence or first-hand knowledge. While we know we all spend many hours coming up with theories, it is hard evidence that takes top priority in investigations. If you know something about Sarah’s disappearance, or saw something, or found something that you think is important, please let us know. It is our greatest wish that someone knows something that will help find Sarah and give her family the answers they need. There is also a million-dollar reward for information that leads to an arrest. 

14 + 13 =

10 + 3 =