Julie Cutler inquest to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a Perth woman 34 years ago

It’s one of Perth’s most confusing mysteries, with all the elements of a best-selling crime novel.

A petite young woman disappears under mysterious circumstances after visiting an upscale Perth nightclub.

A few days later, her car was found on its roof in the ocean, just yards from one of the city’s most popular beaches.

Police believe he was deliberately thrown overboard, but no one apparently saw anything.

Eight years later, a purse, diary and pen believed to have belonged to the missing woman are turned over to police, after they were found in the sand dunes a mile south of where her car was been found.

Julie Cutler enjoyed reading, writing and socializing, according to police.(Provided: Washington State Police)

Repeated calls for public information, including a handsome reward, lead nowhere.

Even a cold case review yields little substance.

And his family is still desperately searching for answers.

These are the basic facts about the disappearance of 22-year-old Julie Cutler, and 34 years later, many are hoping an inquest into her case – due to take place later this week – might finally reveal what happened to the youngster. hotel employee. those years ago.

The staff party at a fancy nightclub

Dressed in a black evening dress with a high neck and gold buttons on the shoulder, and with her black patent leather shoes, Julie Cutler would have looked like the epitome of 1980s elegance on the last night she was seen alive.

The 22-year-old had attended a staff awards ceremony at the upmarket hotel in town where she worked, and the event took place at the hotel’s swanky nightclub, Juliana’s.

The Parmelia Hilton was one of only two five-star hotels in Perth at the time and considered a glamorous venue for high-end events.

Having finished her shift as a room attendant at the hotel on Sunday June 19, 1988, Ms Cutler took the opportunity to join her colleagues at the staff event, where nearly 200 people danced the night away in the nightclub underground.

Missing woman Julie Cutler holds a glass.  She wears bright yellow sweater and smiles.
Julie Cutler was just 22 when she disappeared without a trace. (Provided: Washington State Police)

By 12:30 p.m., however, the event was winding down and Mrs. Cutler left.

Her colleague walked her to her car, a gray two-tone 1963 Fiat sedan, which was parked in the staff parking lot, and later told police she saw the young woman leaning into the seat of the front passenger.

As she exited the car park, Ms Cutler turned left onto Mounts Bay Road, a route that would have taken her east through the city.

She was never seen again.

Fiat found floating in the sea

An avid reader and writer, like many people her age, Julie Cutler also enjoyed socializing.

Short in stature at 160 centimeters tall, Ms Cutler was described as having shoulder-length dark brown hair and green eyes.

Appealing to the public for help, her father Roger described his daughter as outgoing and, according to friends, had been in good spirits and happy the night she disappeared.

“None of this makes sense,” he told reporters at the time.

When his car was found floating in the sea near the groyne of famous Cottesloe Beach two days after he was last seen, the mystery was further deepened.

People on a beach stand and look at a badly damaged car, which is missing a roof and hood.
Julie Cutler’s badly damaged car washed up on Cottesloe beach days after she went missing. (Provided: Washington State Police)

Ms Cutler had saved up a lot for the car, which she bought earlier that year, and Mr Cutler said there was ‘no way’ she deliberately drove it into the ocean .

Beaten and badly damaged, the little Fiat contained few clues to the fate of its owner.

The only things police found inside were four champagne flutes bearing the Hilton hotel badge and a number of cigarette butts which were reportedly not the brand Ms Cutler was smoking usually.

A badly damaged car on a beach
Roger Cutler said there was “no way” his daughter deliberately drove her car into the ocean.(ABC News)

The car’s headlights were on and the keys were in the ignition.

Yet no witness has ever come forward to say they saw the car being driven into the Indian Ocean at the famous sandy beach, which is popular with swimmers and tourists all year round.

The kebab index

Police searches of the area, including the ocean and the dunes, turned up nothing, and it was not until the following year that a breakthrough was made.

Prompted by ongoing cries for help, the owner of a small kebab shop in one of the CBD arcades handed over a nondescript plastic bag to police which she had found under a table at her business in around the same time Mrs. Cutler disappeared.

A man holding a blouse
What is believed to be Julie Cutler’s work uniform was turned over to police by the owner of a kebab shop.(ABC News)

It contained a pair of black tights and a Parmelia Hilton employee blouse, one of 37 made for the Perth hotel.

Police had little doubt that the items belonged to Ms Cutler.

But after a flurry of media attention, the case went cold, and it was to stay that way for decades.

Items mistakenly destroyed by the police

It was not until 2018, 30 years after the disappearance of the young hotelier, that things resumed.

Backed by a generous government reward of $250,000 for information about the case, police announced they were launching a cold case review after realizing they would leave a tantalizing clue to Ms Cutler’s disappearance for them. slip through your fingers.

In 1996 a beachcomber made a discovery in the dunes just south of Cottesloe’s main beach, about a mile from where Ms Cutler’s car was found.

Three forensic officers standing under a temporary blanket, sifting sand through a grate.
Detectives searched Cottesloe Beach again in 2018, looking for clues.(ABC News: James Carmody)

The man had found a number of items, including a diary from 1988, a pen and a tan colored handbag, half buried in the sand.

After seeing information about Ms Cutler’s disappearance, he turned it over to the police the following year, believing it to be important.

But the police thought otherwise and the objects were destroyed.

Some 21 years later, however, detectives have changed their minds and formed the opinion that they may well have belonged to Ms Cutler.

The devastated family

Around this time, an elderly man, Mrs Cutler’s father, Roger, again appealed to the public for information about what had happened to his beloved daughter.

“It’s put a strain on my family, and I’m basically begging you to do whatever you can,” he said in 2018.

“For the family, it was devastating… it’s almost impossible to tell you what effect it had on each of them.”

It has been four years since Mr Cutler made that call and four years since the cold case was reopened.

Close up photo of Roger Cutler speaking, he looks emotional.
Roger Cutler opens up about the lingering pain his family has endured as a $250,000 reward is announced.(ABC News: Eliza Laschon)

No one claimed the reward.

And despite the clues that have come to light over the past 34 years, the police still don’t know what happened to Julie Cutler.

They won’t be the only ones hoping this week’s inquest into Ms Cutler’s disappearance, which begins on Thursday, will finally solve the mystery.

About Marco C. Nichols

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