Jason Vance (left) on his 21st Birthday. Picture: supplied.
Jason Vance (left) on his 21st Birthday. Picture: supplied.

‘No accident’: Huge reward in cold case death

POLICE believe someone knows what happened to missing Queensland man Jason Vance and a $250,000 reward is now on offer for information that could help to crack the cold case.

The 42-year-old father-of-three entered the Barakula State Forest, near Chinchilla, in October 2013 with two other people - Alex Thorton and Megan Pitt - and was never seen again.

Despite an initial police investigation and a coronial inquiry no one has ever been charged over Mr Vance's death.

Deputy State Coroner John Lock in 2017 found Mr Vance was deceased but could not determine the cause of death.

He said it was "likely that Jason died of misadventure rather than foul play, although this cannot be excluded".

Jason Vance with his sister Rebecca. Picture: supplied.
Jason Vance with his sister Rebecca. Picture: supplied.

On October 20, 2013, Mr Vance's Rockhampton housemate said the 42-year-old told him he "had a few things to sort out on the Gold Coast" before he would return home.

Four days later, Mr Vance drove from the Gold Coast to the 260,000ha forest with Thornton and Pitt.

They allegedly planned to cook drugs and the group set up camp at an old school hut for the night of October 24 before Mr Vance went missing, the inquest heard.

After searching for him the next morning, the pair said they went to another abandoned forestry house to carry on the plan but Mr Thornton's car got bogged and he left.

Three days later, Pitt was found in a dishevelled state on a remote road with her dog.

Detective Inspector Mat Kelly. Picture: Peter Wallis.
Detective Inspector Mat Kelly. Picture: Peter Wallis.

After the inquest, Southwest District Detective Inspector Mat Kelly reviewed the case and found things "didn't add up".

Six years after Mr Vance's went missing, a $250,000 reward is now on offer for any information that could lead to a conviction over his disappearance and suspected killing.

"There are suspicious circumstances around his disappearance that need to be explored," Det Insp Kelly told The Sunday Mail.

"He is certainly deceased and how he's become deceased remains to be known.

Jason Vance on his 21st birthday. Picture: supplied.
Jason Vance on his 21st birthday. Picture: supplied.

"It's clear to me that someone knows something. There is no doubt in my mind about that. This is why we are making this appeal asking people to provide police with that crucial piece of evidence, no matter how small."

Mr Kelly said detectives were "keeping an open mind" and looking for information from people living on the Gold Coast, Rockhampton and Dalby.

"The disappearance of any person should not be judged by their social circumstances and the fact is he is missing and his remains have never been located is a mystery that needs to be solved," he said.

Debra Marriage and Lester Marriage say they want their son’s killer to know they’ll be caught by police. Picture: Richard Gosling
Debra Marriage and Lester Marriage say they want their son’s killer to know they’ll be caught by police. Picture: Richard Gosling

Mr Vance's parents, Lester and Debra Marriage, told The Sunday Mail, some people "won't sleep as well at night" knowing police were now doggedly pursuing the case.

"There is a person or persons who witnessed this and know what happened and assisted to conceal this, literally," Mr Marriage said.

"We want those people to know we're never stopping and sooner or later they'll be caught. We want them to know this hasn't gone away and we're just getting started. There are people out there living with a secret.

"It may be six years it has such a terrible ripple effect on family. He was son, brother, father, in recent years, he would have become a grandfather. It will not change the outcome with Jason but hopefully with some more information we can get someone locked up for this because it was no accident."

Any person who comes forward with information but did not commit the crime will also be recommended for an indemnity from prosecution.