In 1940, the disappearance of a 20-year-old Sydney doctor’s daughter captured the headlines of newspapers around Australia.
Lucy Brown Craig, a happy, reliable and popular young woman, was last seen on Friday evening, April 11 getting off a tram at King’s Cross and walking towards Darlinghurst Rd. She had left her workplace in Macquarie St in the CBD and was assumed to have been meeting someone. The last person to see her an hour later (described in the newspaper as “…the son of one of Svdney’s best known professional men and who knew Miss Brown Craig well..”) said she was “…with an athletic-looking man of about 22 with a small toothbrush moustache and dressed in a grev suit”.
Miss Brown Craig, who was often referred to in newspapers as a “society girl” was never seen again. Police appeals for this man “in a grey suit” to come forward were unsuccessful. Dr Brown Craig personally offered a reward of 200 pounds (he offered this reward several times over the years) for any information on the whereabouts of his daughter.
A Sydney woman, Ruby Gladys Evelyn, 27, appeared in court on April 27 after she rang Dr Brown Craig and demanded 1000 pounds for the return of his daughter. Evelyn knew nothing of Miss Brown Craig and was trying to menace money from the family.
Her family said it would be out of character for their daughter to disappear to “start a new life” and her father strongly refuted claims she had eloped. Newspapers reported that “…the whole of her wardrobe, except the light clothes she was wearing, is intact and it is believed that she had only a few shillings in her handbag…”.
There were several alleged sightings of miss Brown Craig, including from a man who said he was certain he saw her, a week after she disappeared, in a car in Northern New South Wales at a petrol station. The witness said the girl “strikingly resembled Miss Brown Craig” and was with a man, around 35, with a thick toothbrush moustache. Another man rang police with a top that he had seen her hiking with a man, aged around 40, at Orbost, Victoria. Cruelly, one called rang police to say that the young woman was dead
The family and police were convinced Miss Brown Craig had met with foul play.
A photo of her was shown at cinemas before movie screenings in the hope it would jog someone’s memory and police around Australia conducted inquiries into the disappearance.
But there was never any solid leads on what happened to Miss Brown Craig.
In 1943, a handkerchief with her name embossed on it was found it a toilet block in Toronto, NSW. For a brief time this renewed hope for the family that their daughter wa sstill alive. However, the mystery was cleared up when it was discovered that Miss Brown Craig’s clothing had been given to a woman who had worked for the doctor. This employee had given the clothes to her daughter, who told investigators that she lost the handkerchief. (It seems strange to me that someone would use a handkerchief, let alone clothes from a missing woman, but then it was a different time).
In 1945 it was reported that her disappearance was still unsolved. The last report I could find on the case was in 1953 when she was mentioned as part of an article on a missing Perth man.
In her day, Lucy Brown Craig’s disappearance was probably the highest-profile missing persons case in the country.
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