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June 20, 2024 8:02 PM

What happened to Janine Vaughan

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BY JEM ANSHAW

After almost two decades of searching, Janine Vaughan’s family have celebrated new exposure for the case in the form of a podcast by renowned investigative journalist Hedley Thomas.

Kylie Spelde of Muswellbrook is excited by the prospect of what new podcast The Night Driver by Hedley Thomas could bring to the investigation of her sister Janine Vaughan’s disappearance.

“I couldn’t have been happier with it, everyone in the family is happy, I have had good feedback from them,” Mrs Spelde said of the first episode that was released last week.

“I was really good, I highly recommend people get on and download it.

“If people are ringing in then that is generating more story, who knows when it is going to end and where it is going to take us and that is exciting in itself.”

Mr Thomas has gained a following through his work at The Australian and his 2018 podcast The Teacher’s Pet on the disappearance of Lynette Dawson received over 50 million downloads.

Mrs Spelde said she does not want to get her hopes up after 19 years of police and detectives not uncovering answers, but she does feel the case will get a boost from the series that might uncover the information they have been searching for.

On Thursday, December 6 2001, 31-year-old Janine was out with friends in Bathurst when at 3.50am (Friday, December 7) she was seen on CCTV footage getting into a red car that performed a U-turn and left.

Her frame of mind was already altered after her handbag containing her phone, keys, and cash went missing.

“You could see by her mannerisms on the CCTV that she was quite upset about it, you could hear here talking, she was quite emotional,” Mrs Spelde said.

“There is a 20 second timeframe (after she gets in the car) where the car isn’t moving so there has been some sort of conversation between the driver and Janine.

“After that, we don’t know what has happened.”

Janine had only lived in Bathurst for three years before her disappearance, and six months prior had purchased a home there.

Even after several investigations over the years, the driver’s identity is still one of the questions looming over the case.

A coroner has declared that Janine is dead and that we will likely never know what has happened to her, a comment that has made Mrs Spelde more determined to find answers.

“Every day I am texting people, getting messages on Facebook, someone is always ringing me,” she said.

“Clairvoyants coming out of the woodwork left, right and centre, which then takes me on different journeys every day, because one person might be that person, so you do go on a wild goose chase sometimes.”

The family have also put up a billboard in Bathurst during August to help keep the case present in peoples minds, holding out hope that someone will come forward with the missing pieces of the puzzle.

“Janine was in a nutshell loud, vibrant, beautiful, absolutely beautiful person, she had a really great nature,” Mrs Spelde remembers.

“We used to sing around the house, all the neighbours would say ok Janine is home because the veranda would just be so loud of her just talking really.

“On the flipside of that she still was a very nervous person and cautions person, so this is why I truly do believe she knew the person she got in the car with.”

Episode two of The Night Driver will be released today via The Australian, with exclusive information and background available to subscribers. Next week the series will hit most places podcasts can be listened to.

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