Nearly 18 years have passed since Michelle Pogmore, 14, was found dead in a bush near the Town Center Reserve in Mount Druitt on February 22, 2004.
A $100,000 reward is still being offered for information that results in the capture and conviction of those responsible for Michelle’s mur*der.
Michelle Pogmore was a gifted, joyful, and intelligent young woman who enjoyed reading and lived in a world of fairies. She had a positive impact on everyone she greeted. The year before she passed away, she entertained her two-year-old roommate while she was in the hospital following a bike accident. She was well-known to many Mount Druitt police officers, who were devastated by her passing. Michelle struggled as a child and often hung out in Mount Druitt with older kids. She was cherished by her family and was not a runaway. But the people she spent time with in Mount Druitt may hold the key to her demise.
Michelle was ra*ped eight weeks prior, which may have been a sign of her demise. Following the assault, she spent several days in the hospital. Michelle described the rapist as a man between the ages of 50 and 60 who she did not recognize. Although there is no indication that police ever identified the attacker, they did look into the incident before Michelle vanished because she was well-known to local law enforcement and social services. She was the victim of a mur*der despite the efforts of numerous individuals and organizations to assist her.
On the afternoon of Thursday, February 19, 2004, Michelle’s mother, Kathy Nowland, last saw her daughter at their home in Bidwill, close to Mount Druitt. After school, Michelle was having a bad day until her mother gave her a brand-new pair of pink and blue running shoes. Michelle proudly put on her brand-new shoes and left the house, telling her mother she was going to Mount Druitt to shop. When she didn’t show up, Ms. Nowland filed a missing person report for her daughter. Michelle was captured on camera by CCTV in Mount Druitt early the following morning while wearing a dark sweatshirt, white track pants, and her new shoes.
No one knows where Michelle left after she was seen in the mall or what she did on Friday 20 February.
She must have seen someone or spent time with them, but they have never materialized. Michelle was spotted that evening at a street celebration in Bidwill held to advertise a Centerlink outreach program for young people. Someone claimed that Michelle got into an argument at the party on a Facebook page that Michelle’s mother created. But nothing happened next. Neither her whereabouts nor her thoughts are known. Who assaulted her in this manner?
On the morning of Sunday, February 22, her body was found close to some athletic fields at the Mount Druitt Town Center reserve. She was missing her beloved new shoes and white track pants, which have never been found, and she was completely naked from the waist down. Over the weekend, temperatures rose as high as 45°C, and Michelle’s body was so decayed that no cause of de*ath, time of de*ath, or location could be determined. One day, a match is predicted by a DNA sample that was obtained. Police looked into the matter, but it was a huge task without any forensic data or witnesses, and ultimately the case was dropped.
Michelle’s family don’t blame the police for failing to imprison a suspect; in fact, her mother brings a hamper to Mount Druitt police station every Christmas to say thank you and follow up on any guides.
There weren’t enough leads. We don’t know a great deal of things. What had Michelle experienced? Why the silence barrier? Where was she on February 20, 2004, Friday? Who witnessed her at the party on Bidwill Street? Who ki*lled her and dumped her body in the town reserve? Who approached the impressionable young girl—a member of the party, someone she knew from hanging out on Mount Druitt’s streets, or an unknown outsider? Was her death related to the ra*pe two months prior, or was it a completely separate incident?
The Coroner left open the possibility that there was no foul play involved in Michelle’s death. However, common sense will tell us that 13-year-old girls don’t strip off to their underwear, dispose of their shoes and pants in a way that makes them impossible to find, and then simply lay down and die. Why was she half-naked if her death was an accident of some sort—caused, for instance, by drinking too much at a party? The main question is why no one has come forward to ease her family’s suffering from ignorance.
The NSW police recently announced a review of all unsolved homicides in the state. I’m hoping that Michelle’s case can be looked at again. A match was discovered for the DNA glimmers her mur*derer left on her body thanks to the rapid advancement of DNA technology. Someone who knows something about her death may be motivated to come forward with the information police need to make an arrest by a high reward, a high reward, or their conscience. Anyone who has been holding back because they were worried about facing consequences for their youthful transgressions must now speak up. More time has passed since Michelle was alive than when she was alive.
That’s a long time to live with such horrible secrets. Michelle’s mother, Kathy Nowland, and father, Gary Pogmore, and everyone else who liked her deserves answers. Most importantly, Michelle has the right to justice. Who did this to a little girl? Someone must know something.