Australia

The Aboriginal trackers who saved an abducted schoolgirl will finally have their story told

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Wendy Pfeiffer says she owes her life to the two men who ended her 1966 disappearance, as their story is to be retold as an interactive true crime documentary.

WARNING: This article contains images of a deceased Indigenous person.

Wendy Jane Pfeiffer had just survived a second cold night lost in dense scrub in the Adelaide Hills when she first met Jimmy James and Daniel Moodoo.

It was 1966 and the eight-year-old had been abducted metres from her family farmhouse and dumped in the unforgiving bushland.

After an extensive search, with more than 150 police and volunteers failing to locate her, she was feared dead.

Her abductor was charged with murder and two Pitjantjatjara trackers were sent in to find her remains.

Wendy Jane Pfeiffer was the age of nine when she was abducted and left to die in dense scrub near her home in Adelaide Hills in 1966.
Wendy Jane Pfeiffer was the age of nine when she was abducted and left to die in dense scrub near her home in Adelaide Hills in 1966.
SBS TV

The pair followed her tracks through more than 20 kilometres of scrub and eventually located the schoolgirl, but she was alive.

Now aged in her 60s, Ms Pfeiffer says she owes her life to the two men.

“I walked 12 kilometres over a 42-hour period, becoming more and more dehydrated and totally exhausted. Today, I’m lucky to be alive.”

Jimmy James was one of two Pitjantjatjara trackers who located the missing schoolgirl alive.
Jimmy James was one of two Pitjantjatjara trackers who located the missing schoolgirl alive.
John Stokes

Her story is now the subject of new SBS interactive documentary Missing.

It is told through the dual perspectives of Ms Pfeiffer and tracker Jimmy James, who died in 1991. Leading Indigenous actor, Trevor Jamieson has lent his voice to the project.

Ms Pfeiffer in 2019. She  says she owes her life to the two men.
Ms Pfeiffer in 2019. She says she owes her life to the two men.
SBS

"While it is bittersweet to reflect on that time, Missing is a beautiful way to thank Jimmy James, without whom I simply wouldn’t be here," Ms Pfeiffer said.

The online documentary was developed in collaboration with the families of the two trackers who provided family archives and recordings.

Each scene includes a mosaic of photographs that the viewer must piece together to drive the story forward.

Wendy, nine, was abducted metres from her Adelaide farm house in 1966, just months after the Beaumont children were abducted.
Wendy, nine, was abducted metres from her Adelaide farm house in 1966, just months after the Beaumont children were abducted.
SBS TV

SBS’s director of television and online content Marshall Heald said: “We’re proud to be able to share this project which recognises the incredible skill and dedication of Jimmy James and Daniel Moodoo as part of SBS’s exploration of what it means to be Australian today".

Explore the documentary at sbs.com.au/missing

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