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Daniel Sheppard, Boy Disappeared Without Trace

Daniel Sheppard, 19, was reported missing by his mum on the evening of 4 January 1995. Daniel had not come back home after celebrating New Year’s Eve with his twin brother and companions. He was last noticed exiting a train by people who knew him personally at about 4:35 am on New Year’s Day 1995.

Since this time there have been several suspects, theories as to his whereabouts and nature of his disappearance, varying from being fastened and dumped in the Port River, being killed by people with connections to the occult, killed for substantial debts owed over drugs, the victim of a well-publicized pedophile ring known as The Family who was vigorous in South Australia in years before Daniel’s disappearance, attacked by a group of Indigenous Australians at the train station or killed by a group of “skinheads”.

Daniel and his twin brother Michael were born in Victoria, Australia on 4 July 1975 before shifting to South Australia with their parents. At the time of his disappearance, he was inhabited with his brother and mum (his dad had passed away in 1990). He was nearly 165cm tall (5’5″) and was wearing blue jeans, a maroon denim shirt, and black shoes on the day of his disappearance.

Disappearance Of Daniel

Credit: ABC

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve 1994, Daniel, his brother, and some friends expended time at the house of their friend Benjamin Silvani along with other friends Gavin Edwards, Simon Depauw, Anthony Silvani, Jason Leurs, and Desiree Leyton.

Together they reached a train to Adelaide and then caught a tram to Glenelg where they attended a nightclub named Lennies. At around 1 is on the morning of 1 January 1995, Daniel left the nightclub along with Benjamin Silvani and Desiree Leyton.

Daniel and his companions later caught the tram back to the city and attended a nightclub named Rave before attending another nightclub named Empire. At around 3 am Benjamin Silvani and Desiree Leyton left the club whilst Daniel stopped with a woman named Pamela Tanner, whom he had met on the night. Tanner reported last noticing Daniel at 4 is in the nightclub.

Daniel Met Many Peoples

Pic By Missing Person Page

We realize that Daniel left around this time and reached the Adelaide Railway Station and caught the 4:13 am trained to Port Adelaide. At the Adelaide Railway Station, he met many people he knew, including Eliza Noack, Ami McNeill, Nicole Slabskyj, and Nicholas Wright.

Daniel said to his friends “I’m partied out…I’m going home to crash.” Wright would later tell detectives that whilst Daniel was only barely affected by alcohol, he was hallucinating from having taken LSD on the night of his disappearance (this has intriguing implications as to whether Daniel got lost/disoriented walking home and maybe unwittingly drowned in the river or was involved in a hit and run accident, or even played a part in him being vulnerable to some attack). Daniel left the train on his own at 4:35 am to walk home (which should have only taken nearly 10 minutes). This is the final substantiated sighting of Daniel.

Investigating officers took a statement from a man called David Garwood.

Garwood stated that he was on friendly terms with an individual named Anthony Rafanelli whose house he visited in 1999. Garwood gave information that he had used cannabis, cocaine, and amphetamines with Rafanelli which were also supplied by Rafanelli. On one such circumstance at the home, he and Rafanelli went outside so that they could inoculate some cocaine in the sunlight. During a discussion that ensued, Rafanelli pointed out a region of concrete in his backyard of about two or three square meters which seemed to be newer than the surrounding concrete. Rafanelli then referred to ‘that guy that went disappearing from the train station on New Year’s Eve.’

Rafanelli then allegedly stated that the individual who ‘went missing’ had owed him $70 which he had not paid and that he had brought the person to his house and stated ‘we went a little too far.’ Garwood inquired what he meant and Rafanelli signaled in the way of the new cement region. Detective Stapleton alleged in evidence that this story was not adequately cogent to guarantee further investigations due to the conditions of the conversation (given the number of drugs taken by Garwood and Rafanelli at the time). A State Coroner in a Coronial Inquest agreed with the Detective.

No Logic

It appears nearly illogical. They think that the conversation did take place, and believe Garwood when he says that he and Rafanelli took considerable quantities of drugs, but don’t believe Rafanelli accusing himself of the killing of Daniel and so don’t bother to chase up the lead. I surprise how absolutely hard it would be for investigators to a) interview Rafanelli; b) obtain and perform a search warrant of the home which Rafanelli owns/owned where this discussion took place; c) excavate the concrete to glimpse whether there is anything there.

So Many Theories

A lot of articles refer to assumptions examined and pursued by police and detectives, but I’ve struggled to discover much detail on these concepts (aside from the Rafanelli lead).

1 – Murdered by “skinheads”

Detective Stapleton has given information that police ruled out the “skinhead” theory. This is the importance of any evidence I can discover on this theory. I would be eager to know why this theory was examined at all or who posited this concept in the first place.

2 – Attacked by Indigenous Australians at the train station

The theory regarding an attack by Aboriginal people oversaw police to interview a man called Desmond Turner (not to be distracted with the US mass murderer). Information given by Turner was not definitive but was followed up with no outcome.

3 – Murdered over a drug debt

Again, data is insufficient, but it has been substantiated by colleagues and friends of Daniel that he did participate in drug use (cannabis regularly and LSD occasionally). If Daniel did have any deficits, they were not disclosed to any friends or family. It looks rather advantageous that people who would be after him would come across him in the early hours of New Year’s Day as he strolled home alone from the station.

4 – The Family

The Family was the name given to a group of men thought to be involved in the abduction, sexual abuse, and torment of young men and teenage boys in and around Adelaide, South Australia, from the 1970s to the mid-1980s. The last killing related to The Family was in 1983, over 9 years before Daniel’s disappearance. The only suspect to have been accused and convicted of crimes, Bevan Spencer von Einem was known to pick up youthful male hitchhikers, give them alcoholic drinks laced with hypnotic drugs and then take them to his house in the Adelaide suburb of Campbelltown, where the young men would be harmed overnight and released the following day. The fact that Daniel’s corpse has never been discovered (should he be dead) does not fit into the M.O. of von Einem. There were five realized victims of The Family, and their mutilated corpses had been discovered in several, sometimes rural regions of Adelaide.


Apparent Sightings A woman named Yvonne Bugg noted that she was riding home at around 5 am on 1 January 1995 along Bower Road at the crossing of Old Port Road (near the station which Daniel alighted from). While pausing at the lights she saw an individual lying on the corner by a barrier and heard the person moaning. She took no notice of the issue because it was the morning after New Year’s Eve and inferred the person was intoxicated. When she came back along the similar route approx. 30 minutes later this person had gone.

On 28 June 1997 at the Norwood Hotel, a man named Andrew Keita reached a person whom he thought to be Daniel. Keita referred to Daniel as “Cheesy” (Daniel’s nickname) and inquired what he had been up to. The person did not answer. Kieta went to a telephone in the lobby of the hotel and called the police. A uniform patrol visited and as an outcome, the hotel doors were closed, the lights turned up and at the petition of the police, Keita stood on a minor platform and looked at the people in the dance club of the hotel, nonetheless, he was incapable to notice the person he thought to be Daniel. Keita’s girlfriend was present for this occurrence, but reported to police that Keita was uncertain and accused him of telling lies “about everything”, so the veracity of this sighting has been called into question.


The STAR Division of South Australia Police performed searches in the Port Adelaide region on 8 January 1995. They scoured the whole region between the Port Adelaide Railway Station and Daniel’s home.

Police divers also performed widespread searches in the region of the Port River on various occasions between 1992 and 1997, as well as searches performed by sonar devices on police boats. These investigations yielded no outcomes.

Land searches were also performed with dogs trained in detecting cadavers, with crucial points of attention targeted including empty land encircling the train station, vacant home, and a toilet block.

A televised reenactment of his departure from the train (by his brother) was also performed.

Interestingly, Daniel did have an unlawful history, having been recorded twice in the South Australia Police database (first in 1991 and in 1994) although I can’t discover what these two examples were about. It has been substantiated that his fingerprints have arrived in the national fingerprint database.

It doesn’t appear to me that all lines of investigation and people of attention have been exhausted by police and detectives. For instance, it appears especially odd that police have not followed up with Desmond Turner glimpsing as the data he provided was deemed “inconclusive”. Even more oddly, I can’t believe that police considered Garwood’s story not able of further inquiry. From what I’ve studied, Rafanelli was not even interviewed by police, and his house was not surveyed. Certainly, having been a cold case for close to 15 years now, they would take up any line of investigation, no matter how unlikely.

Does anyone have more data to share about the other theories? Or theories of your own? I’ve always discovered it such an interesting case. You have to feel for his mum and a twin brother who lost both their son/brother as well as their husband/father in only 4 years. There is nowadays a $200,000 reward for data leading to his whereabouts.

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