Blue Mountain Stories - 47 Years Ago Today - Juanita Nielsen

Forty-seven years ago today - Juanita Nielsen

Blackheath resident Kylie Tennant once observed: "If there is a place you want to dump a body, well, the Blue Mountains is the handiest place to Sydney bar the South Coast.’

The most famous person possibly buried in the Mountains is Juanita Nielsen, who by coincidence was an heiress in the family of Mark Foy the younger, who created the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath. It’s melancholy to consider she might be buried somewhere in the Megalong Valley, in sight of this establishment.

Nielsen worked in the Mark Foys department store for a while, and later bought NOW, a local newspaper in Kings Cross. She lived in Victoria Street, where developer Frank Theeman was planning to replace many beautiful old houses with apartment towers.  Nielsen led a campaign to stop the development, which delayed the project. By mid-1975 Theeman was paying $16,800 a week in interest, and getting desperate.

Like all newspaper publishers, Nielsen spent a lot of time chasing advertising. On 3 July she received a call from the Carousel Club, a local nightclub owned by Abe Saffron and run by former Scottish marine and hard man Jim Anderson. Apparently, the club wanted to advertise in the newspaper for the first time, and Nielsen dropped in the next day to discuss this with one of Anderson’s employees, Eddie Trigg.

Nielsen was never seen again by any known person.


Blue Mountain Stories - 47 Years Ago Today - Juanita Nielsen


Three days later, her handbag and some of its contents were found by a road crew along the side of the western freeway near Penrith. The crew threw all this away, but one later realised there might be a connection with Nielsen, and the items were retrieved and given to police. A schoolboy found some other items belonging to Nielsen further up the road. Everything found was on the side of the road running east, leading to the theory Nielsen had been buried in the Mountains and her killers, realizing the bag was still in the car on their way back, had thrown it and its contents out on the side of the road, expecting them to be dispersed by the wind. But it had rained, and the items sat pretty much where they’d landed.

Just what happened to Nielsen in the Carousel is uncertain, not least because of the changing stories told over the years by receptionist Loretta Crawford.  Eddie Trigg and Shayne Martin-Simmonds, another club employee, were eventually convicted of kidnapping Nielsen, and received short prison sentences. There was no evidence to charge them with killing Nielsen, although it’s worth noting that they knew the Mountains well. They used to go shooting here, and Trigg sometimes took his mother to visit relatives in Lithgow. Murderers are creatures of habit, like the rest of us, and if they wanted a stretch of wilderness in which to bury someone, the Mountains would surely have been front of mind.

There was an inquest in 1983, at which it was revealed Jim Anderson, who swore he was in Queensland when Nielsen was abducted, had personal and business connections with the Theeman Family. The inquest concluded that while Nielsen had been killed, there was not enough evidence to say by whom.

Jim Anderson later fell out with Abe Saffron and provided evidence that saw his former boss go to prison for tax evasion. In 1995 Anderson had a heart attack and retired to Katoomba, of all places. In 2002 he was diagnosed with cancer, and died the next year of avian pneumonia caught while feeding rosella parrots. Interviewed by reporter Neil Mercer on his death bed, Anderson denied yet again that he’d had any involvement with the death of Juanita Nielsen.

Today Juanita Nielsen is the state’s most famous missing person. Peter Rees concluded, in his book Killing Juanita, that, ‘Every time skeletal remains are found in the New South Wales bush – especially in the Blue Mountains – there is speculation that it could be Juanita.’ In 2021 the government upped the reward for information on her disappearance to $1 million.


Blue Mountain Stories - 47 Years Ago Today - Juanita Nielsen
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