TOMORROW is the 30th anniversary of a crime that sent shockwaves through the Kwinana community – and remains unsolved to this day.
On January 10, 1979, 19-year-old Orelia resident Felicia Wilson was walking home from work at the Kwinana Community Health Centre when she was brutally murdered in bushland just hundreds of metres from her home.
The tragic loss of someone so young and vibrant shocked the rural-industrial community of Kwinana and changed attitudes forever.
Described by those who knew her as warm-hearted and beautiful, Felicia was to be married that February after a whirlwind romance.
Instead, her family buried her in her wedding dress, the jeweller rushing to finish a custom-made wedding ring in time.
Felicia’s story will feature in a collection of 110 of Australia’s most intriguing unsolved crimes, spanning 1889 to 1989, due out next year from Sydney author and historian John Godl.
Mr Godl said he first heard about the case in 1983, when he was at high school in Sydney, and never quite forgot it.
He rediscovered the story several years later when he came across a set of The West Australian newspapers from January, 1979, at the Library of NSW.
“My picture of Felicia is that she was an accomplished young woman who did her parents proud in every aspect of her brief life,” he said.
“She was likely just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think the reason her murder resonates 30 years on when dozens of unsolved murders have been forgotten is the gross unfairness of it all. She had so much to live for and didn’t deserve to die the way she did.”
After she failed to return home that night, her concerned parents began a search that would last until the early hours of the morning.
About 8am the next day, the health centre secretary and two nursing sisters retraced Felicia’s footsteps along the footpath that would have carried her home and discovered her body in the scrub.
Although witnesses came forward to identify two men seen leaving the vicinity about the time of the murder, police never laid any charges.
Mr Godl said police officers and detectives who took part in the investigation had never forgotten the case.
At the time, investigating detective Ivor Thomter told journalists his greatest wish was that it would be solved.
Mr Godl said he believed there might be residents who held a clue that could still lead police to Ms Wilson’s killer.
“The case may never be solved unless someone who knows something, and I’m certain someone in the area does, comes forward,” he said.