Home

Vanishing Cousins: New leads in Raelene Eaton and Yvonne Waters missing person case

Headshot of Jay Hanna
Jay HannaThe West Australian
CommentsComments
VideoThe disappearance of two teenage girls from Scarborough in 1974 remains one of Australia’s most baffling mysteries. The West Australian’s exclusive video series investigates what happened to cousins Raelene Eaton and Yvonne Waters.

It has been almost five decades since Lynne Caporn, Sue Kneller, and Ali Russo last saw their best friend Raelene Eaton, but they still have vivid memories of the “fun-loving, fearless” girl they called “Rae”.

Raelene Eaton was just 16 years old when she and her 17-year-old cousin Yvonne Waters went missing. The teens were last seen attending a Sunday session at the White Sands Tavern in Scarborough before disappearing without a trace.

Initially dismissed as runaways, the missing cousins failed to attract much interest from police and the media, and while family and friends never gave up hope of finding answers, with each passing year, it seemed less likely.

But now a documentary series from The West Australian sheds new light on the five-decade-long mystery. In Vanishing Cousins: Evil by the Beach, investigative journalist and series producer Melenie Ambrose delves into the case, unearthing new leads, witnesses and potential bikie links.

For Ms Caporn, it has cast doubt on her long-held suspicions about what happened to Raelene and Yvonne — suspicions she shared with Raelene’s late mum, Jean, whom she fondly refers to as “Mum Eaton”.

LISTEN to the new podcast Court in the Act

Inside the courtroom with Tim Clarke.

Find out more

“I know where Mum Eaton’s suspicions lay, and that’s where mine lay initially as well, but Melenie has uncovered some really interesting information that has taken things in a whole new direction,” Ms Caporn said.

Ninety-year-old Jean Eaton with newspaper cuttings from the 1974 disappearance of her 16-year-old daughter, Raelene Eaton and cousin Yvonne Waters from near Scarborough's White Sands Hotel.  Picture: Bill Hatto  30 June 2014  The West Australian   ***  ***
Camera IconNinety-year-old Jean Eaton with newspaper cuttings from the 1974 disappearance of her 16-year-old daughter, Raelene Eaton and cousin Yvonne Waters from near Scarborough's White Sands Hotel. Credit: Bill Hatto/WA News

The three women, who, along with other family members and friends, appear in Vanishing Cousins, said they have been waiting almost 50 years to share their stories and hopefully find the closure they so desperately seek.

Ms Russo said the friends are so thankful the series has brought the case to light again because it had never been given the attention it deserved.

“Obviously, the police view, in particular, but also the society view at the time, was that they’d probably just run off, but I knew from the start that wasn’t the case,” she said.

A 2015 cold-case review found the file languished with missing persons for “six to seven months” before being passed on to the homicide squad.

“It would have been obvious pretty early if it had been properly investigated that these were not runaways,” Ms Russo said.

Despite being at a Sunday session with Raelene the week before she went missing, during which Raelene revealed plans to go to the White Sands the following week, Ms Russo was never interviewed by police.

“The thing I found difficult was that the police didn’t even interview me, nor was (my boyfriend) Mario, yet we’d been with Raelene the week before,” she said.

“That’s why I am speaking now because there didn’t seem to be any effort in the beginning. It just seemed so unfair that these beautiful girls didn’t have the full force of the law behind them investigating this case.”

There is now a $2 million reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.

Pictured are Ali Russo, in blue, Sue Kneller, in green and Lynne Caporn, in purple. They were friends with Raelene Eaton, one of two cousins who disappeared from Scarborough in April 1974.
Camera IconPictured are Ali Russo, in blue, Sue Kneller, in green and Lynne Caporn, in purple. They were friends with Raelene Eaton, one of two cousins who disappeared from Scarborough in April 1974. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

The three friends hope the exposure that comes through Vanishing Cousins might encourage someone to come forward to help provide answers for those who knew and loved Raelene and Yvonne.

“Someone knows something, I’m sure of it,” Ms Russo said. “It might be almost 50 years on, but there are still people grieving. Raelene and Yvonne still matter to people.”

Ms Caporn said Mum Eaton held out for answers, giving interviews in the hope of finding her daughter and niece, until a year before her death in 2018 at the age of 95. Yvonne’s mother, Alice Waters, also lived a long life, dying at 100 in 2021. But sadly, the mothers never found out what happened to their girls.

“The best outcome I could hope for is to find who did it and find Raelene and Yvonne,” Ms Caporn said. “They deserve to be put to rest. I know there is a place for Rae beside her family.”

WATCH THE FIRST EPISODE HERE

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails