Oldest unsolved homicide arrest made
Sixty-one year old man arrested in connection with the disappearance and suspected murder of Mary Wallace in 1983. It is the oldest unsolved homicide case leading to an arrest in NSW.PT2M28S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2zpbk 620 349 December 20, 2013
The best friend of missing Sydney nurse Mary Louise Wallace did not realise the pair would never speak again when she hung up the phone on a September afternoon in 1983.
On the day Ms Wallace went missing, she called Pauline Biddle and spoke of her plans to share a Chinese meal with colleagues from Hunters Hill Private Hospital.
The known party girl went to the dinner and then decided to continue her night out with friends at the Alpine Inn at Crows Nest.
Pauline Biddle holds a picture of her friend Mary Louise Wallace, who disappeared in September 1983. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
After a long night of eating and drinking, the 33-year-old became unsteady on her feet and decided to go home.
In the early hours of September 24, a stranger offered to drive her home to Drummoyne.
The pair walked onto Willoughby Road and she was never seen again.
Mary Louise Wallace disappeared in the early hours of September 24, 1983 at the age of 33.
Her parents died with broken hearts, not knowing what had happened to their daughter, or where her body was.
But after the force's biggest-ever homicide investigation, coronial inquests and excavations, police have been able to give Ms Wallace's remaining friends and family some of the answers they have so long been waiting for.
On Friday morning, the head of the unsolved homicide squad picked up the phone and called Ms Biddle at her home at Berowra, in Sydney's north.
Detective Chief Inspector John Lehmann said police had arrested Robert John Adams, 61, and charged him with the murder of Ms Wallace.
Mr Adams was arrested at his Gladesville home and refused bail at Parramatta Local Court the same afternoon.
“I was relieved in some ways,” Ms Biddle told Fairfax Media.
“But also it felt really surreal because it's been 30 years since she disappeared and it's a long time."
After hanging up the phone, Ms Biddle said she thought of how much her friend had missed out on.
“I've been thinking about Mary and that her life was cut so short and she never reached her dreams. We were just girls together. Mary would have liked to have enjoyed her career and do more things.”
The pair had done their nursing training together, travelled to Britain and spoken about those dreams that Ms Wallace never had the chance to fulfil.
Her accused killer married and fathered four children to his wife, Linda.
Mr Adams, who worked a garbage truck driver, previously told a coronial inquiry that he had sex with Ms Wallace in a car and then fell asleep.
When he woke, she was gone.
Witnesses told the same inquiry they had seen the New-Zealand born man hosing out the boot of his car and washing his clothes the morning after her disappearance.
In the 1980s, police received an anonymous letter claiming that Ms Wallace's body was buried under a rock in the Lane Cove National Park.
Yet after two operations in the national park, including extensive geo-radar testing and excavation in 2010, they found nothing.
The police investigation was revived by the unsolved homicide team in 2008.
In an appeal for more information in 2012, Ms Wallace's sister Anne Fraser said the fact that no one had ever been charged over the disappearance of her sister had haunted her.
"I think that's why I'm so emotional," she said. "Because we have never known. If even 20 years ago it had been cleared up, it would be different. I wouldn't be here, a quivering mess, because there is resolution and then you grieve ... and it makes it much easier."
Mr Adams is expected to make an application for bail when he next appears in court on January 13.