You Can’t Ask That: May 26

Tonight ABC meets "Families of Missing Persons."

Tonight on You Can’t Ask That meet “Families of Missing Persons.”

When Bruce Morcombe’s 13-year-old son Daniel went missing from a bus stop in December 2003, it sparked the largest criminal investigation in Queensland’s history. A father’s deepest pain was the nation’s biggest story. For eight years the Morcombes were engulfed in the all-consuming torture of the unknown.

“There was one particular time where Denise and I were searching for Daniel in bushland and we thought we could see some freshly turned soil… We didn’t have any water, we didn’t have a shovel, so we got a stick and started digging in the dirt as desperate people you could imagine would do. And we said, ‘We’re going round the twist here’.”

The Australian Federal Police estimate that roughly 38,000 Australians go missing each year. This is an episode about the family left behind.

Loren O’Keefe’s brother Dan went missing in 2011, she turned to the media at the height of her anguish to make a public plea for help. “That is one of those scenes that you see on telly and you are totally disconnected from. You feel for the people on the screen, but you never imagine that that’s going to be you… the disbelief that we were that family on that stage was just palpable.”

The people you’ll meet in this episode are everyday Australians, whose lives were changed forever on the day a loved one disappeared. Eighty-six percent of people who go missing are found within the first week, a long-term missing person is someone who has been missing for more than three months. In Australia there are over 2,600 people listed as a long-term missing person, according to the National Missing Persons Coordination Network.

Loren reflects on how she changed during the five years her brother was missing. “I think growing up I was always considered a really happy, positive bubbly person. Then Dan disappeared. Then I couldn’t be like that. I couldn’t be myself. It really messed with my identity.”

Production credits: You Can’t Ask That is an ABC Production. Series Director and Producer: Kirk Docker, Series Producer: Josh Schmidt, ABC Executive Producer: Frances O’Riordan and ABC Head of Entertainment: Nicholas Hayden.

9pm tonight on ABC.

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