Case 163

Joanne Ratcliffe & Kirste Gordon

*** Content Warning: child victims ***

On August 25 1973, 12,000 South Australian National Football League spectators packed into Adelaide Oval to watch the North Adelaide Roosters take on the Norwood Redlegs. During the game’s third and penultimate quarter, 11-year-old Joanne Ratcliffe was given permission by her parents to escort 4-year-old Kirste Gordon to the toilet. But the girls never returned.

When a concession vendor witnesses a man dragging two girls out the oval’s southern gate, the search for Joanne and Kirste takes a sinister turn.



Casefile Presents



Research & writing – Elsha McGill

Creative direction – Milly Raso

Narration – Anonymous Host



Casefile would like to give a special thanks to Suzie Ratcliffe for her assistance with this episode.



‘Flatline intro’ and ‘Come play with me’ intro and outro –

Audio production – Mike Migas 

Scoring – Mike Migas and Andrew Joslyn



Logo and website design – Paulina Szymanska



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The Cruel City: Is Adelaide the Murder Capital of Australia – Stephen Orr

The Missing Beaumont Children – Michael Madigan

Searching for the Beaumont Children – Alan J Whiticker



Accessed via

Fears held for safety of missing SA girls – The Canberra Times, August 27 1973

Reward offered for missing girls – The Canberra Times,  August 28 1973

No links with Beaumonts – The Canberra Times, August 29 1973

Man sought in SA – The Canberra Times, August 30 1973

Boy ‘Saw Man Forcing Girls – The Canberra Times, August 31 1973

New lead in case of missing girls – The Canberra Times, September 7 1973

$10,000 Offer – The Canberra Times, September 27 1973

Parents file claim – The Canberra Times, October 12 1977

Psychic ‘sees’ missing children – The Canberra Times, March 28 1990

Accessed via

Missing girls: 12 quizzed – The Age, August 28 1973

Hunt for girls: $5000 reward offered – The Sydney Morning Herald,  August 28 1973

Caller demands $25,000 ransom for missing girls – The Age, August 28 1973

Police seek man who spoke to girls – The Sydney Morning Herald,  August 29 1973

Escaped patient sought – The Sydney Morning Herald,  August 30 1973

Man in hat took girls – The Sydney Morning Herald, August 31 1973

Dressed models of girls go on show – The Sydney Morning Herald, September 1 1973

Hopeful new lead on abducted children – The Sydney Morning Herald, September 17 1973


Accessed via State Library of South Australia 

The Evil of Arthur Brown Article – The Sunday Age, July 8 2001

Death closes the case on serial killer child suspect – The Courier Mail, July 23 2002

Secrets taken to the grave – The Australian, July 23 2002

After 29 years, Kirste’s parents have a place to grieve – The Advertiser, August 6 2002

Adelaide oval abductions: Third girl tells: he targeted me – The Sunday Mail, August 6 2006

Joanne Ratcliffe’s sister breaks her silence and reveals her life in the shadow of the unknown – The Sunday Mail, 23 July 2007

Beaumonts link: Von Einem named suspect in police report – The Sunday Mail, September 23 2007

Major Crime dismisses prisoner’s murder claims – The Advertiser, April 17 2012

Hope of breakthrough for Ratcliffe family: New clue in oval abduction mystery – The Advertiser, August 15 2012

Major crime appeal for help – The Advertiser, August 26 2013

Von Einem Ratcliffe link – The Advertiser, August 25 2013

My child will never know her Aunty Jo – The Advertiser, August 25 2013

New oval abduction claims – The Advertiser, September 1 2013

Search revived after 41 years – The Herald Sun, September 18 2014

Ace in the hand on solving crime – The Advertiser, September 18 2015

To receive information which made it clear that some evil, opportunistic predator had targeted our young daughter was absolutely gut-wrenching – The Advertiser, May 25 2016

Still waiting for you to come home – Women’s Day, August 7 2017

Abductees sister links cases – The Advertiser, January 24 2018

Welcome to the Edge of Darkness – The Herald Sun, August 18 2019

Mum of missing girl dies as hunt goes on – The Advertiser, March 14 2019

Families put grief aside to find missing loved ones when police resources dry up – ABC News, April 6 2019


Accessed via Noarlunga Library Local History Collection

Girls – 4, 11, missing; wide hunt – The Sunday Mail, August 26 1973

New lead to missing girls – The Advertiser, August 27 1973



On the 40th anniversary of the disappearance of Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirste Gordon, family reveal new connections to murderer Bevan Spencer von Einem – The Advertiser

Rewards boosted in high-profile South Australian missing children cases – ABC News

Clue’ in mysterious 1973 Adelaide Oval abduction case of Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirste Gordon – The Advertiser

Cold case breakthrough: Property owned by accused paedophile’s grandfather linked to the disappearance of two children 41 years ago’ – The Daily Mail

Search for Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirste Gordon moves to SA mid north – ABC News

Playing cards featuring murder victims given to SA prisoners in bid to solve cold cases – The Advertiser

It’s been 43 years since their daughter disappeared – Mammamia

New leads suggest 44-year-old Adelaide Oval abduction could still be solved – Lucy’s Life

Sister of abducted girl calls for urgent DNA retesting of evidence in long-term missing children cases –

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