Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Kate Campbell HAYTHORNTHWAITE

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Kate Campbell HAYTHORNTHWAITE

Delivered on : 2 June 2020

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Vicker

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : On the evening of 26 January 1968 Mrs Hathornthwaite left her friends to go home. She was last seen walking towards the direction of her home. She has not been seen since that night.

Mrs Haythornthwaite was a widower who was independent and settled in her routine. She worked as a cleaner at the Boulder Shire offices and was fit from walking and had no known medical issues. She cared for her animals in the home she had occupied for many years.

On the morning of 26 January 1968 Mrs Haythornthwaite went to work as usual. She went to her friend’s house at about 8.30 am where she had morning tea, until at about 11.30 am when she left with her friend to visit the small goods store to buy bread and as it was a hot day it was decided to go to the Main Reef Hotel for a drink. Mrs Haythornthwaite then went home where she found her dog had shredded a newspaper all over her kitchen floor. She would later tell a friend that she was too tired to clean up the mess and had left the paper on the floor intending to clean it up later that evening. Mrs Haythornthwaite then left her home again to collect her wages from the Council offices. After collecting her wages Mrs Haythornthwaite went shopping before meeting a friend at the Grand Hotel around 5.00  pm where they were later joined by her friend’s daughter.

All three women left the hotel at 8.30 pm with Mrs Haythornthwaite declining to share a taxi home and advising she would be safe to walk home alone. The two women watched Mrs Haythornthwaite reach the intersection where she turned left alongside the Shamrock Hotel and presumably continued on her way home. A possible brief sighting by two young men matching Mrs Hathornthwaite’s description was reported at approximately 11.15 or 11.30 pm later that night as the two men drove home from the Drive-in theatre. Neither were certain the sighting of an elderly female in the bush beyond the intersection of Vivien and Lane Streets was Mrs Haythornthwaite.

When Mrs Haythornthwaite failed to attend work Mrs Haythornthwait’s son was contacted about her absence. At Mrs Haythornthwaite’s house it was discovered her dog was distressed on the verandah without food or water as well as the remainder of her animals. The kitchen floor was still littered with torn newspaper and Mrs Haythornthwaite was nowhere to be found.

The Boulder Police, family and the community committed to an extended search of the area including the use of Aboriginal trackers, lasting until 18 February 1968. There was media released locally and investigations in the Perth Metropolitan area. The result of the search revealed no indication of what may have happened to Mrs Haythornthwaite.

The Coroner was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt Mrs Haythornthwaite is deceased and died on or about late evening of 26 January 1968. The Coroner was unable to determine how the deceased died and made an Open Finding as to the manner of Mrs Haythornthwaite’s death.

Catch Words : Long Term Missing Person : Open Finding

Last updated: 16-Jul-2020

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