November 2, 2023
Police hold grave fears for the safety of missing Ballogie woman Helen Free, 58, who wandered away from a property on J. Hunters Road at 5:00pm on Sunday and hasn’t been seen since.
Searchers – including specialist police, SES volunteers and local residents – have been scouring the area this week without luck.
The window of opportunity for finding Helen alive is closing rapidly due to the time she has been missing and the weather conditions.
Acting Inspector Brett Everest, from the South Burnett Patrol Group, said helicopters, drones, police divers and specialist trackers had been used during the search.
Helicopters using infrared and thermal imaging technology had searched during the day and night, without success.
He again appealed to local landowners to check their sheds, outdoor structures and even abandoned vehicles for any sign of Helen.
“We have got very genuine, grave concerns for Helen,” he said.
“The area where she has gone missing is very dense bushland.
“She does suffer a medical condition which causes her to be disorientated so unfortunately we don’t have a clear, identified area where she may have walked to.”
Acting Inspector Everest said it was a very difficult area to search so police were again asking the public to help by searching their own properties.
He urged landholders to search their sheds, structures, or even abandoned vehicles, on their properties.
“If anyone who is in the Ballogie area who does have a large property … we urge you to, please, please search those sheds, those outbuildings etc and contact police with any information,” Acting Inspector Everest said.
“She may be seeking shelter in one of those areas.”
He said police were not ruling out the possibility that Helen may have been picked up by a member of the public and transported somewhere.
“In the state of mind that she was in, someone may have thought they were doing her a service and taken her somewhere,” he said.
“Unfortunately now we are talking a number of days, and given the heat that’s been out there … we don’t believe she has got any access to water.
“She certainly doesn’t have a phone, she’s got no supplies with her.
“So now we’re now really at the time where we need the public’s assistance to go and search those areas that they own.
“If you’ve got motorbikes, four-wheelers, 4WDs … please get out there. Please start searching those bush tracks. You would know those areas a lot better than the police.”
Acting Inspector Everest confirmed Helen had gone missing previously, on September 30, but on that occasion had been located within hours.