Inquest declares missing mum Marion Barter deceased

Feb 29, 2024
Friends and family await answers as the unsolved homicide team takes on Marion Barter's decades-long mystery. Source: NSW Police.

Nearly three decades after her disappearance, missing mum Marion Barter has been declared deceased with the case being handed over to homicide detectives.

Barter was last seen at a Southport bus depot in Queensland on June 22, 1997. In the weeks leading up to her disappearance, a family member spotted her leaving a service station in Southport, driving a red Honda Civic Breeze with a male passenger. Barter is believed to have left Australia for the United Kingdom under the alias Florabella Natalia Marion Remakel, a name she officially changed just a month before her departure.

Authorities believe that she flew out of Australia in the company of Ric Blum, a man she had recently entered into a relationship with, having met him through a personal ad in a newspaper. Investigators suspect that she might have re-entered Australia on August 2, 1997, under the same assumed name, stating on an incoming passenger card that she was married and residing in Luxembourg. Furthermore, a mysterious individual accessed Barter’s bank account post-disappearance, withdrawing a substantial sum of $80,000.

NSW State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan delivered her findings regarding the disappearance on Thursday, February 29 accepting, on the balance of probabilities, that Barter was dead.

However, the exact location, cause, or manner of her death remains a mystery as her remains have never been found.

Describing the circumstances of her disappearance as “troubling”, O’Sullivan referred the case to the NSW Police unsolved homicide team for a thorough review.

“I recommend that the New South Wales Commissioner of Police cause the investigation into the death of a missing person … to be referred or to remain within the state crime command’s unsolved homicide team for ongoing investigation,” O’Sullivan told the court.

The inquest also shed light on the actions of Blum, who allegedly encouraged Barter to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars from her account before her disappearance.

The coroner accepted that Blum met with Barter multiple times between February and May 1997, urging her to change her name and proposing they start a new life together in Luxembourg.

O’Sullivan did not mince words when addressing Blum’s credibility, stating, “His lies and deception throughout this inquest convinces me that he does indeed know more than he’s saying.”

The revelations also cast a spotlight on the police investigation, which was deemed inadequate by the coroner. O’Sullivan criticised the lack of efforts to find Barter until 2017, stressing the urgency for a thorough review of the case by the unsolved homicide team.

As the investigation takes a new turn, the friends and family of Marion Barter are left grappling with the unsettling revelations surrounding her disappearance, hoping that the unsolved homicide team can finally provide answers and closure after decades of uncertainty.

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