Police in Australia are offering a $1 million reward and the chance of immunity from prosecution for information that leads to a conviction over the disappearance of a schoolgirl who has been missing for 2½-year years.
Detectives continue to investigate two men of interest in the vanishing of Siriyakorn "Bung" Siriboon, but believe a member of the public may hold a vital piece of information that could close the case.
Siriboon’s family is expected to announce the reward with homicide squad detectives on Tuesday.
Dressed in her blue and white school uniform, the then-13-year-old Bung left her home on Elsie Street, Boronia, about 8.30am on June 2, 2011. The last confirmed sighting of her was moments later when a neighbour saw her walking towards Albert Avenue.
Bung, a slim girl of Thai origin, had only been in Australia four years before she vanished.
Police have investigated more than 250 registered sex offenders, searched parklands and followed up on more than 1200 pieces of information.
One man who has not been ruled out as a suspect is a 24-year-old who last year claimed he accidentally killed Bung with his car then panicked and disposed of her body in a nearby park.
He was interviewed by police in August and October, but has never been charged.
"Aspects of what he's told us have been closely examined," Homicide Squad Detective Inspector John Potter said. "At this stage we're not in a position to lay any charges in regards to what he's told us, but he does remain a person of interest in this case."
In August police conducted an extensive search of Old Joe's Creek Reserve, but no trace of the missing girl was found.
Other suspects have been brought to the attention of police by callers to Crime Stoppers or through analysis of the sex offenders' register. "There have been a number of these people and one other remains a person of interest to us, we're not able to rule him out either," Detective Inspector Potter said.
Bung's family still clings to the hope that she is alive, he said. "But they are extremely distressed over not knowing what's happened to Bung over the past 2½ years".
Detective Inspector Potter said it was possible vital information had been missed in the early days of the investigation. The homicide squad took over the week after Bung was reported missing.
"We think this time is the best time to launch the reward because we think somebody out there has the piece of information that's crucial to solving this case," he said. "One million dollars is a life-changing amount of money."
A reward of up to $1 million will be paid at the discretion of the Chief Commissioner for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.
The Department of Public Prosecutions will also consider granting indemnification from prosecution.
Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.
- The Age