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Family of murder victim wait for answers

Marnie Dean, 40, sister of Mandy Lee Yodgee, who was murdered in 1984. Photo: Glenn Hunt Marnie Dean, 40, sister of Mandy Lee Yodgee, who was murdered in 1984. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Cold-case evidence bungle

Mandy Lee Yodgee was days from turning 18 when she was flung from a car being driven between Sassafras and The Basin.

Two boys wandering in the Dandenongs found her body one lunchtime, lying in an embankment and covered in scrub, near the Mountain Highway. That was on May 8, 1984. She had been there for weeks.

A post-mortem found no cause of death. Police believe she may have been poisoned, but nothing was certain.

That was 30 years ago, and uncertainty lingers.

Mandy’s sister Marnie Dean was told by The Age on Thursday that police had destroyed cold case evidence, and not even detectives knew which files were complete.

The file might not have anything missing – after all, the only evidence in there is likely to be remains of her clothing. But it is another uncertainty that will weigh on Ms Dean until the killer is found.

“There was a lot of weirdness about the whole case, and I don’t know if evidence was destroyed because it has been years since I spoke to police,” she said.

Ms Dean is 40, and lives in Brisbane. She sells cars from a car yard in the eastern suburbs. She was 10 when her sister disappeared.

When you search Mandy’s name online, it doesn’t take long to come across posts from Marnie: on psychic forums asking for help in the case, commenting on the Victoria Police Facebook page about a reward offered in another 30-year-old cold case.

She is in contact with one of the boys who found the body on Facebook.

He told her that he had kept newspaper clippings of the case for years, fascinated about what had happened to the teenager he found.

Then, one day, the clippings disappeared. He doesn’t know who took them. Another uncertainty.

Ms Dean was told that on the night her sister vanished she had been drinking at a pub with an older man.

“He was with his nephew and she went to his house in Prahran, which was near where she was living, and that’s where she was last seen.

“The police spoke to them, but for whatever reason let them go, and when some of the family went there a few days later, there was a girl exactly the same as Mandy – same height, weight, age, everything.

“They told the police again, and when they went back the whole place was empty.”

In 1999, Mandy’s mother Lois Yodgee was quoted in a newspaper article about a police squad that was set to investigate unsolved homicides. She said she knew who had killed Mandy and the squad had given her hope that justice would be done.

Lois and Mandy lay together now, in Clunes cemetery.

“Lilac trees are blooming, for mother and daughter’s reunion,” the plaque reads.

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