by Matthew Purcell
FOR more than 30 years it remained one of the most talked about cold cases in Queensland history - until a few days ago when police sensationally announced they knew who had murdered Sharron Phillips.
Taxi driver Raymond Mulvihill has been fingered as the culprit, closing a chapter in one of the state's most enduring murder mysteries.
Former lead investigator and now Stanthorpe businessman, David Danslow, described it as a "relief”.
Police said they now had enough evidence to charge Mulvihill with murder - but can't because he died in 2002.
It is understood police have spent the past year investigating details of a death-bed confession Mulvihill made to his son 15 years ago.
In it, he claimed to have murdered Sharron after abducting her from the Wacol phone box where she made two calls on the night she disappeared in 1986.
"The evidence that we have gathered, if Raymond Peter Mulvihill was alive today, he would be arrested for the murder of Sharron Phillips,” homicide Detective Inspector Damien Hansen said.
The case will be referred to the coroner.
Mr Danslow, a former detective sergeant in the homicide squad, said Mulvihill's name never surfaced during his time on the force.
"The Phillips file was one of mine, like we all had a number of the cold case ones and that was mine.
"No, look I'd never heard of that name (Mulvihill).
"I've been out of the police just two and a bit years and I'd never heard his name previously.
"The last confirmed sighting of Sharron was just after midnight at that phone box near where the taxi driver apparently changed over at that shop at Wacol so, if he was there at that time, it's just as likely he is the one.
"It's a shame they couldn't find Sharron's body or the remains for the family because I'm sure, while some of the family will accept the news, some are adamant they won't believe it. Some still suspect the father and I don't see any evidence at all of Bob (Phillips) being involved.
"Why would he kill his daughter? To me it makes no sense.
"I had a fair bit of contact with the family. I still used to keep in contact with the dad up until his passing in 2015.
"I guess as a police officer you've got to keep an open mind but I'd be really surprised if the dad had anything to do with it. I don't think he did but this (announcement) would tend to prove that was the case.
"I'm sure the current homicide squad must have really good information or they wouldn't have come out publicly with what they have.”
Late nights, long days, Mr Danslow said he spent countless hours piling over the case.
"It's certainly taken a lot of Queensland Police resources over the years. But I think it's great. It shows we never give up on investigating these matters.
"I think it would be good if they could find her remains and at least be able to have a funeral or some sort of service if they wanted to and put Sharron to rest once and for all,” David said.