Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Taphophile Tragics # 5 - Memorial sans body


There is no need to watch where you step at this particular grave site, as there is no body six feet below. Neilsen's body was never found!

Her disappearance, and presumed death, was a cause-celebre in Sydney. Beautiful heiress, publishing a community-based newspaper, disappears in the middle of redevelopment argy-bargy, and labour union 'green bans'. She was last seen alive on 4th July 1975, and the coroner's verdict in 1983 determined her to have been kidnapped and murdered. Her handbag and some personal effects were found strewn along a motor-way in the west of Sydney a few days after her disappearance. But no progress was ever made in bringing her assailants to justice. Police corruption is widely suspected.

This simple white marker is within the Foy Family plot in South Head General Cemetery, Sydney.


Juanita Joan Nielsen (22nd April 1937 – 4th July 1975) aged 38
She was born Juanita Joan Smith in New Lambton, NSW, a suburb of Newcastle. Her parents separated soon after her birth and she was raised by her mother in Killara, a wealthy suburb of Sydney.

Her father, Neil Donovan Smith was an heir to the Mark Foys retail fortune via his parents, James Smith (1862-1921) and his wife, Kathleen Sophie Foy (1870-1919), who was a sister of Mark & Francis Foy.

Juanita was educated at Ravenswood School for Girls, on the upper north shore of Sydney. She worked at Mark Foy's (the family retail empire) from 1953 until she travelled overseas in 1959. In 1962, she married a Dutch seaman named Jorgen Fritz Nielsen in Kobe, Japan, the marriage lasting only a few years. Juanita returned to Sydney in 1965, working at Mark Foys' for another 5 years. In the early 1970s, Nielsen was the publisher of NOW, an alternative newspaper in the Sydney suburb of Kings Cross, which we all presume was her undoing.


This post is my contribution to the Taphophile Tragics community.

27 comments:

Breathtaking said...

A sad and tragic story.

Nellies said...

Again a very interesting read, but a very sad story. Your photos, as always, beautiful Julie.

Breathtaking said...

I'm so sorry Julie but I simply
forgot to tell you that the photos illustrating your post are very
good:)

Kate said...

And it is indeed a tragedy. You do wonderful research for these photos.

Gemma Wiseman said...

(Juanita looks so much like Jackie Kennedy/Onassis in the photo on the left!)
Always felt that when this story was reported in the media that there was a "harness" on how much could be reported! Exactly who owned the harness was always in the "shady" department! To me, the story was incomplete and misdirected deliberately!
Another "spooky" connection - the Kings Cross club where Juanita apparently met with a property developer was called Carousel! So very "Catcher in the Rye"!

The last photo in your post intrigues me too! Somehow the colour is very Tuscan and the embedded pillars I am sure have Italian associations!

Dina said...

A sad end. I guess she fought too "vigorously."

hamilton said...

It is so touching to have this simple white cross for someone who was so in the media for her disappearance and death.

freefalling said...

I hadn't heard her story before.
Sad, hey?
Sucks.
And kinda makes me angry.
Bastards.

Peter said...

The ugly face of Sydney corruption- a brave voice remembered.

NixBlog said...

Great post, Julie, documented well. I'm showing my age there but I remember this story - we had a debate about it at school...

Jim said...

Sad story. Some of those family vaults really are amazing.

Ann said...

Very simpel memorial. Isn't she supposed to be under the third runway, or is that Donald Mckay (the Griffith antidrugs campaigner).

Joe said...

This is indeed a tragic story.

Mark said...

I never knew that Ms Neilson was related to the Foy's!
I agree with you about Police corruption in regard to her disappearance.
great post Julie.

Sondra said...

a tragic mystery for sure, I hope eventually the truth will come out-

diane b said...

Sorry no post again this week. Is it okay to include memorials?

Julie said...

Yes, it is okay to include memorials, Diane. I would love a bit of a story to go with images though.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Her name is of course very familiar to me but I didn't know her family history. Another nice piece of story telling Julie.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

I think it must make it so much harder for the family when there is no body to mourn properly and always that vague hope that somehow they just might be out there somewhere. Very interesting post Julie.

Gemma Wiseman said...

Back again! Thanks for your extensive comment on my 'Hollands' post! I was relieved to know that you couldn't find details about the Lady either!

Re Nareen: I didn't detail this because I felt it was too much of a sideline to the Holland story. But I did look! Just one website said that Nareen was sold by the Fraser family in 2000. It also added that Malcolm's study was converted into a billiard room. No mention of the buyer's name. Interestingly, this is now referred to as the Nareen Homestead Complex and has a whole page of detail on the Victorian government's heritage website: http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/places/result_detail/23195?print=true

Rae Walter said...

Fascinating post Julie. I wonder if this case has ever been re-investigated.

Gemma Wiseman said...

Aaaah! And now an answer! Nareen was bought by local property owners Gordon and Alexandra Dickinson for about $4 million. But the purchase date disagrees with what is on the Victorian govt website. http://sl.farmonline.com.au/news/state/agribusiness-and-general/general/barrama-sold-to-nareen-owners/5251.aspx

biebkriebels said...

A sad and mysterious story, but I love that. There must be more that we never will know but maybe somebody will speak out on his death-bed. Hope so for the family to get the mystery solved.

CaT said...

how sad.
i continue to be amazed by such stories. i still dont understand that bad people exist... its just terrible...

tapirgal said...

I also love the colors on the family crypt. Do other family members have stones on the outside, or only this tragic lady? She's so beautiful. You would look at her and think she had a perfect life. Not so.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Maybe it was developers in cahoots with the police. Developers are not beyond hiring thugs to scare withholders

Julie said...

Oops ... did not respond to you.

Sheryl: nope, there is nothing else outside the mausoleum, just this plain white cross.

Marianne, CaT & PA: the general public would agree that there is a conspiracy of silence between developers and police. We would probably lump politicians in with that, too. So much has been said and written over the years, that we would not be able to recognise the truth if we stumbled over it.