Mark Haines’ family hopes a $500,000 reward for anyone to come forward with new information could lead to an arrest over the death of the Gomeroi teenager in 1988.
NSW Police on Tuesday relaunched an appeal for information over the suspected murder, offering a substantial reward if it leads to a conviction.
"Someone knows something and we need those people to come forward," acting superintendent Jeffrey Budd told reporters.
The 17-year-old's uncle, Craig Craigie, says it has been a long and arduous journey for the family.
"We hope that this reward will encourage anyone living in guilt over the last 30 years to finally come forward," he said.
"Hopefully it will bring some closure and some natural justice."
The reward offer coincides with the 30th anniversary of Mark Haines’ death and occurs at a critical time in the investigation of the circumstances leading to his demise. His cold case was reopened after questions arose over the initial police investigation, which failed to assess potential evidence of foul play, by not examining an abandoned car found near the scene for fingerprints and losing a towel found underneath Mr Haines’ head.
The family has also had a small victory, as the Coroner’s court handed back 13 tissue samples taken from Mark’s body without their knowledge or consent. The tissues were cremated and spread on Gomeroi country.
What happened to Mark?
On the night of his death, Mark Haines had said goodbye to his girlfriend at 3:30 am after walking her home. A train driver discovered his body on the tracks three hours later. Despite the massive head trauma, there was only a spot of blood - the size of a 50 cent piece.
A stolen car was found near Mr Haines’ body, along with items scattered on the ground. None of this potential evidence was fingerprinted, nor collected, and the attacker or attackers have never been found.
A coronial inquest into Mr Haines' death returned an open finding, failing to identify what caused his injuries.
Mr Haines’ mysterious death has remained a cold case for the last three decades, and his family has always maintained that he was murdered.
Mr Haines’ family is deeply unsatisfied with the way the Oxley LAC has handled the case.
NSW Greens MP and barrister, David Shoebridge, began reviewing Mr Haines’ files and became passionate and committed to helping his family find justice.
In a bid to raise the profile of the cold case, Shoebridge quoted Mark's uncle during a speech, stating:
“It is sad but no-one cared about a dead Aboriginal teenage boy in Tamworth in the late ‘80s.”
A local woman came forward with a startling revelation that her son drove the car that took Mark's body out to the train tracks. Six months after his death, the man in question took his own life and allegedly left three notes detailing the crime.
The information given by that woman saw the case reopened.
Mr Shoebridge returned to state parliament and lobbied to have the case given to the elite State Crime Command’s Homicide squad.
On the 29th anniversary of Mark's death last year, the family and Mr Shoebridge staged a protest outside the local police station.
The State Crime Command is conducting a full review of the Oxley LAC's investigations into Mark's death over the past 30 years.
The family says it’s their last hope of finding out #WhatHappenedToMark and personally thanked NITV and Allan Clarke for reinvestigating the crime for his award-winning Cold Justice series, which helped spark the reopening of the case.