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Mystery surrounds 1986 cold case murder

Written by on May 20, 2024

One of Queensland’s longest murder mysteries remains unsolved after the State Coroner was unable to determine who killed 20-year-old Sharron Phillips nearly 40 years ago.

Ms Phillips vanished from Wacol in 1986, after her car ran out of petrol on Ipswich Rd – about 10km from her home – just before midnight on May 8 that year.

Ms Phillips called her boyfriend about 11pm to ask for help from a payphone nearby.

She called shortly again after midnight but his housemate told her he was already on his way to collect her.

In 2021, State Coroner Terry Ryan was tasked to investigate the young woman’s disappearance after a second coronial inquest was opened.

In his findings, Mr Ryan found Ms Phillips was dead and that the “circumstances surrounding her death” were “suspicious and indicate a third party” was involved.

However, Mr Ryan was unable to be satisfied from the evidence heard during the inquest that a man who was suspected of being the alleged murderer was involved.

The inquest had heard taxi driver Raymond Peter Mulvihill had been in the area Ms Phillips was last seen.

Mr Mulvihill’s son, Ian Seely, had accused his father of the murder after the man made a deathbed confession in 2002.

During his evidence at the inquest, Mr Seely said he had told police he’d helped move an unconscious Ms Phillips from his father’s taxi into the boot of his own car the night she vanished.

Mr Seeley was dropped home by his father, who drove away with Ms Phillips in the boot of his car.

Mr Seeley has never been charged with any wrongdoing in relation to Ms Phillips’ disappearance.

Further investigation determined Mulvihill would park his taxi behind the group of shops where Ms Phillips had stopped to use the phone and that he had done so on the night she disappeared.

However, Mr Ryan found he was not able to conclude that Mr Mulvihill or his son had played a role in Ms Phillips death because Mr Seeley’s evidence had many “inconsistencies and a lack of credibility”.

“(Sharon’s death) remains with the cold case investigation for timely review and monitoring of any new information,” Mr Ryan said.

“The identity of the deceased was Sharon Phillips.

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“How she died and the precises circumstances of her death is unknown.”

Ms Phillips body has never been found.

More to come.

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