Inquest into the 1975 disappearance of Juanita Neilsen 1983

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Inquest into the 1975 disappearance of Juanita Neilsen 1983

Juanita Nielsen was a prominent Sydney identity, heiress, conservationist and journalist who disappeared in Kings Cross in 1975. The great-granddaughter of retailer Mark Foy, Neilsen’s wealthy family carried a great deal of influence in New South Wales. In the late 1960s, Nielsen’s father purchased Juanita a terrace house in Kings Cross and a newspaper called Now. [1] Nielsen used her paper, published from her home, to gather support for the Green Bans movement of the 1970s. This cause was relentlessly pursued by Nielsen, whose own street was slated for demolition and redevelopment by a local construction company.[2]
[media]On 4 July 1975, Juanita Nielsen vanished. Last seen at the Carousel Club in Kings Cross, police searches for Nielsen stretched from days to months. In 1977, three men were charged with conspiracy in connection to her disappearance, despite one of them having been in Queensland at the time.[3] Two of these men, Edward Trigg and Shayne Martin-Simmonds, were found guilty of conspiring to abduct Nielsen in 1980 – by this time, however, Trigg had also vanished.[4] Despite the verdict, there had been no official establishment of the heiress’ death, with the NSW Government declining to mount a Royal Commission into Nielsen’s case or any potential cover-ups in 1977.[5]

[media]In 1982, Trigg was found in the United States and arrested in San Francisco and an inquest into Juanita Nielsen’s disappearance was finally announced.[6] The inquest formally began at the Glebe Coroner’s Court on 15 August 1983. The jury for Nielsen’s case included four men and two women in addition to the Sydney City Coroner, Bert Wilson.[7]  During the highly-publicised thirteen-week inquest, a total of 69 Sydney identities were called as witnesses, including Loretta Crawford. Allegations of widespread police and political corruption, bribes and legal malpractice were made. Ultimately, the jury determined that Nielsen had probably been killed on or soon after 5 July 1975, though there was not enough evidence to show how Nielsen died or who killed her. The inquest did note that police corruption may have crippled the investigation into her death.[8] An internal police inquiry in 1984 cleared three senior policemen of corruption allegations associated with the case.


[1] Richard Morris, 2000. ‘Nielsen, Juanita Joan (1937-1975)’. Australian Dictionary of Biography website viewed 20 November 2020

[2] Richard Morris, 2000. ‘Nielsen, Juanita Joan (1937-1975)’. Australian Dictionary of Biography website viewed 20 November 2020

[3] ‘Court Reports 30 to testify in Nielsen case’, The Canberra Times 30 November 1977,10 .

[4] ‘Man guilty of conspiring to abduct’, The Canberra Times 7 February 1981, 9

[5] ‘The Juanita Neilsen case: an establishment murder?’, Tribune 21 July 1982, 8

[6] ‘Man charged in Nielsen case arrested in US’, The Canberra Times 21 August 1982,19

[7] ‘Witnesses tell of seeing missing heiress’, The Canberra Times 30 August 1983,11

[8] ‘Criticism of police allowed by Coroner’, The Canberra Times 11 November 1983, 3