The Lady Vanishes: the strange disappearance of an Australian teacher

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  • This is the first of six weekly Dakota Spotlight Podcast stories about mysteries and crimes around the world and people dedicated to finding answers.
    In 1997 Marion Troc was an award-winning elementary school teacher. The 51-year-old divorced Australian mother of two was reliable, loving and ready for a brief sabbatical when she set out to explore the world. Marion flew to the UK, where she sent some postcards to friends and family in Australia. She also made seemingly normal phone calls to her adult daughter. But then she just disappeared.
  • No one has seen or heard of Marion Barter since 1997.

    LISTEN at Dakota Spotlight interview with the executive producer of The lady disappears podcast on the strange case of disappearance Marion Troc.

    The initial investigation

    When asked to investigate in 1997, Australian authorities told Marion’s family that she had disappeared voluntarily and wanted privacy. It didn’t make much sense to Marion’s grown children, but due to privacy laws in Australia, there wasn’t much they could do about it. The family reluctantly lived with this theory for years, hoping their mother would contact them at some point, perhaps when her children reached milestones in their lives. But Marion never did: not when her daughter got married; not when her son died; not after the birth of three grandchildren.


    Sally Leydon, Marion Barter's daughter and mother of three, is the driving force behind the effort to find out what happened to her mother.  / Seven News, Australia

    Sally Leydon, Marion Barter’s daughter and mother of three, is the driving force behind the effort to find out what happened to her mother. / Seven News, Australia

    24 years laterMarion’s daughter Sally Leydon thinks enough is enough. She hasn’t spoken to her mother since the phone rang in 1997 and her mother told her that she was still in the UK, enjoying an unforgettable trip. Sally is concerned that her mother has been the victim of a crime.

    In recent years, Sally’s further attempts to get help from Australian authorities have fallen on deaf ears and came to nothing. So she reached out to Alison sandy, reporter for the Australian network Seven News. Seven News teamed up with Sally and together they launched an investigative podcast called The Lady Vanishes.

    Lack of money, Luxembourg and a whole new name

    The case of Marion Barter’s disappearance is confusing, complex and full of surprises. While working on the podcast, Alison Sandy and her team at Seven News discovered that Marion Barter had likely returned to Australia in 1997, just three days after she last spoke to her daughter on the phone. Oddly, on this return trip, Marion noted in travel documents that she only planned to stay in Australia for eight days. It is not known if Marion left Australia again.

    What is even more surprising is that Marion seemed to have changed her name to Florabella remake. Her travel documents also indicated that Marion Barter, aka Florabella Remekel, now claimed to be a housewife living, not in Australia, but in Luxembourg. But no trace of Marion has been found in Luxembourg.


    Marion Barter worked for years as a schoolteacher before she passed away in 1997 / Seven News Australia

    Marion Barter worked for years as a schoolteacher before she passed away in 1997 / Seven News Australia

    And then there was the issue of money missing from Marion’s Australian bank account. Shortly after Marion’s apparent “secret” return to Australia, her bank account was emptied. Once a day, every day for three weeks, Marion (or someone who had impersonated her) withdrew AU $ 5,000 from her account.

    Is it possible that Marion Barter was actually planning a new life? Yes. Marion could have legitimately wanted to spend time alone. But Sally Leydon is convinced that her mother finally had to face a criminal act. Maybe Marion was coerced, manipulated, or even brainwashed. Perhaps something very sinister has prevented Marion from contacting her family again.

    Any answers at last?

    Sally Leydon, Alison Sandy and the Seven News team in Australia have been working on this story for over two years. With over 8 million podcast downloads, the story has garnered public interest across Australia. Their search for Marion Barter, who took them from their own country to the UK and Luxembourg, may be coming to an end; they might be close to some real answers.

    Finally, after much public pressure, a direct consequence of the popularity of the podcast, an official investigation into the case of Marion Barter is underway in Australia. Unpublished information is expected to be released by the Australian government. Maybe, just maybe, Sally Leydon will eventually find out what happened to her mother.

    RELATED: Other True Crime Podcasts BY JAMES WOLNER

    RELATED Podcast Home Page | Bulletin | Season 3 Videos | Season 2: 1976 Zick Murders | [email protected]

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