She was “a pretty young girl with a spring in her step, like the world was wonderful”.
This was the vision of Gordana Kotevski recalled by one of the last people to see her before she vanished almost 25 years ago – snatched from a suburban Lake Macquarie street just metres from her destination.
A passing motorist later told police she saw the 16-year-old clutching a shopping bag as she walked from Charlestown Square on the evening of November 24, 1994, to her aunt’s house less than 800 metres away.
Seconds later, Gordana was gone.
Police are now re-examining her cold case, searching for answers her family and friends have longed for so desperately.
To help their bid, the Australian Federal Police has just released a photo-accurate image of how Gordana would likely look today as a 41-year-old woman.
Created by an AFP forensic artist, it’s a stark image – not just for its beauty, but for the way it stirs the imagination, prompting thoughts of what might have been of Gordana’s life between then and now.
So many moments missed: graduating high school, starting a career, finding love, starting a family.
Instead, Gordana’s loved ones are left with torment, with unanswered questions and heartbreaking ‘what-ifs’.
Family gatherings remain a struggle for mum, Peggy.
A recent family christening was typical, a mix of joy for those present and painful longing for the one smiling face absent for a quarter of a century.
Peggy copes when she’s there, but in those quiet moments alone, she falls apart. Who wouldn’t?
Gordana had just bought a new black dress the night she went missing – an outfit she intended to wear to an upcoming concert with her beloved cousins.
She never got to wear it. Never got to see her favourite band.
The review of her case, and of two other missing Lake Macquarie girls Robyn Hickie and Amanda Robinson, is likely to take at least six months.
Police and her family have not given up hope that someone out there knows something to provide the breakthrough they need.
If you have any information at all, please contact Crime Stoppers.
Gordana, Robyn and Amanda deserves it.