When Lucy Dunn disappeared on the eve of the town’s balloon festival no one gave it much thought.
Lucy was considered a girl of low morals, and it came as no surprise to learn she had disappeared.
Many thought she’d run off or run off with one of the many truckies who came through the town. She’s often be seen hanging out at the truck stop on the edge of town.
So, for some days no one thought about her as the focus in town was the balloon festival to kick off on Saturday morning.
On the Friday afternoon, a truck driver named Barney Collins went into the Police station with a pair of sandals he’d found on the road the Nuccagong the next town to us. He said he’d heard that Lucy was missing and the sandals looked like the ones she wore.
It was clear that Barney knew Lucy, well enough to have recognized the sandals as hers.
The Police questioned him, but he was cleared as he’d been on the road a long way from town. But the interest of the police into her disappearance heightened with the discovery.
With festival about to begin and most the police resources focused on the coming weekend’s activities, the officer in charge appointed Senior Constable Will Weston to the case, to have a pole around, ask a few locals at the truck stop and see if he could unearth anything.
By the end of the weekend, he had established that Lucy had been at the truck stop on Tuesday afternoon and had left there by six in the evening.
Weston took the names of all those seen chatting with her and decided on the Monday to follow up his enquires. He like all the locals was keen to watch the balloons and so put his investigation on hold.
In a barn on the other side of town, Lucy Dunn woke up to find herself bound hands and feet. As well she was blindfolded and gagged. She determined she was on a bed of some sort and her feet although bound were also tied to the end of the bed.
She listened but heard nothing other than the wind and birds.
She tried to remember what had happened. She had begun walking home from the truck stop when she was struck from behind. She never saw her attacker, and she remembered nothing until waking up.
Then she heard a door open and footsteps. A voice she didn’t recognize told her to be quiet and removed her gag. Then a water bottle was held up to her mouth and drank greedily. Then there was the tearing of paper, and a muesli bar was stuffed into her mouth which she accepted.
Once she’d swallowed the gag was fitted again, and the footsteps retreated. She was alone again, the only sound this time was the sound of a vehicle driving away.
Then her brain told her there was something in what she had either drunk or eaten as she felt herself drifting off to sleep.
Later she awoke feeling cold. It must be evening she told herself. By now she was busting for a toilet. Holding on not knowing where she was didn’t make her feel very good.
She heard the vehicle approaching and the footsteps again.
As they approached her, she called for a toilet. She was ignored as again she was offered water and then something to eat. She called again for the toilet and was told there was no toilet. It was at this point she felt her bladder give way.
She heard the man curse her and slap her viciously. Lie in it she heard him say as he left.
Once again, she fell asleep.
On the Monday morning, the Senior Constable once again looked at what he had so far uncovered. One name stood out as a person who had spent some time with Lucy while she was at the truck stop, James Packet. His name rang a bell with Weston, and after a moments research, he discovered why. Complaints had been made about Packet in the past soliciting girls around the town.
Grabbing Packet’s address, he grabbed the junior Constable Pete Rarsons and headed out to Packet’s place.
Packet’s place was a collection of dilapidated buildings and when they arrived Packet was not there.
They walked around the old buildings noting that one was padlocked. Weston being curious forced the lock and entered the old barn. Immediately the stench set him back a step or two, and with their torches, they went to investigate the source of the smell.
That’s when they found Lucy.
Not only was she the source of the smell but she was somehow alive and dehydrated. Rarson raced out to their vehicle and found a bottle of water.
Weston radioed in for an ambulance and back up.
Lucy was lucky to survive, Packet was arrested, and Weston commended on his initiative in following up on Packet as a possible person of interest.
Thankfully Lucy recovered, she went back to frequenting the truck stop, but her story was one treated with respect by the men who used the stop. They made a pact to make sure Lucy never walked home alone again.