Police search Canberra forest for new clues linked to Keren Rowland’s death 50 years ago


Detectives have begun searching a forest just outside Canberra where the body of a pregnant 20-year-old woman was found almost 50 years ago.

ACT Policing says it never closed its investigation into the death of Keren Rowland, who went missing in 1971.

But the officers working on the case now hope forensic advances will help them uncover evidence that may have been missed in earlier decades.

Ms Rowland had been driving to a party in the suburb of Deakin on February 26 1971, the night of the Royal Canberra Show, but never arrived.

Soon after her family reported her missing, the vehicle she had used — a white Mini Morris — was found on Parkes Way in Campbell with no petrol.

However, it took three months before her body was found several kilometres away, in the Fairbairn pine planation near the ACT’s Air Disaster Memorial.

Keren Rowland was 20 years old when she disappeared en route to a party in Canberra.(Supplied)

Ms Rowland had been five months’ pregnant.

Police focus on finding missing bracelet

Detective Senior Constable Emma-Lea Beere said on Tuesday their latest efforts focused on finding a bracelet Ms Rowland was wearing.

“It is believed that Keren had a unique silver or gold bracelet at the time, and this was never recovered,” Senior Constable Beere said.

Ms Rowland had bought the bracelet, which was inscribed with the word “Lynette”, earlier that night.

Police had recovered everything else Ms Rowland was known to have with her, including her clothes, watch and a handbag, which were scattered near her body.

Senior Constable Beere said detectives had been “very surprised” the body was not found earlier, “as it was an area that was frequented by many walkers”.

Soil samples were taken at the time from where Ms Rowland’s remains were found, but Senior Constable Beere said today’s technologies might provide deeper insights.

Forensic teams had consulted historical maps and believed they could locate the precise area Ms Rowloand’s body was found, despite changes to the forest in recent decades.

“We’re now conducting a search with equipment that wasn’t available in the 1970s,” Senior Constable Beere said.

A woman stands in a forest surrounded by microphones.
Detective Senior Constable Emma-Lea Beere says police remain determined to find out how Ms Rowland died.(ABC News: Emma Thompson)

Senior Constable Beere said police had kept Ms Rowland’s family informed of their plans leading up to the 50th anniversary of the death next year.

Reports of the earlier investigation in the 1970s, published in The Canberra Times, say several witnesses had told police they saw Ms Rowland entering a dark blue car on Parkes Way on the night she disappeared.

Police identified “several persons of interest” at the time but did not lay any charges.

Anyone with information about Ms Rowland is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via its website.

Police with shovels and other tools search a forest.
Police are refocusing on Fairbairn pine plantation, where Ms Rowland’s remains were found in 1971.(ABC News: Emma Thompson)



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