WHEN Sutherland Shire teenagers Kerry Joel and Elaine Johnson went missing more than 33 years ago, Malcolm Fraser was Australia's prime minister and Azaria Chamberlain hadn't even been born.
It may seem like a long time ago, but for Miss Joel's mother, Judy Rose, the scars of losing her only daughter have not healed.
"I don't usually talk about it because it brings back too much pain," she said.
"Every time I see someone dug up in the bush on the news, I wonder if it's Kerry.
"The only way to cope is to put it out of your mind."
Police said Miss Joel, 18, and Miss Johnson, 17, disappeared on February 1, 1980. They were last seen together at Cronulla.
At the time, Miss Joel was working on the register at Taren Point's Half Case supermarket.
She had attended Woolooware High School while Miss Johnson had been a student at Cronulla High School.
"Kerry had a boyfriend, Robert, and she didn't take any of her possessions," Ms Rose said.
"She had a lot of friends and what scares me is that no one has been in contact with her."
Ms Rose said her daughter was a vibrant, cheeky and confident teenager.
"She had such a lovely personality. You couldn't help but like her," she said.
"Kerry was the apple of my eye."
The day of Miss Joel's disappearance, Ms Rose found her car damaged.
"The car was in the garage all smashed up; Kerry must have taken it while I was at work. She never came home."
After reporting her disappearance to police, Ms Rose went searching for her daughter with her two sons and some friends.
"A group of us went looking for her at Woronora Caravan Park and someone said they may have seen her at Kings Cross, but none of the [leads] proved [true]," she said.
In the wake of the 25th anniversary of National Missing Persons Week, which runs until Saturday, Ms Rose said she was hoping someone would come forward with information about the disappearance of her daughter and Miss Johnson.
"I don't think she is dead and I find it hard to believe that she ran away," she said.
"I really don't know what happened."
Each year about 35,000 people are reported missing in Australia; that's one person every 15 minutes.
More than 95 per cent are located within a week but some, like Miss Joel and Miss Johnson, remain missing for decades.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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