Leslie Ralph Ball – Missing Person Suspected Murdered, But Never Reported On.
Back in 2011 Queensland’s cold case unit disclosed that they were reviewing the 1993 disappearance of Leslie Ralph Ball from Townsville after new data was passed on from interstate. It has now been 25 years since the disappearance, there have been no charges, and nearly no information has been made public. Interestingly, due to enormous police oversight, Ball was never publicly recorded as a missing person or murder victim – which has just recently been rectified – and there is no prize for information, unlike most similar cases that have a $250K incentive.
The ball was aged 71 and living with his family on Yolanda Drive at the time of his disappearance. He was last noticed on 18 April 1993 and investigations revealed that a train ticket had been received in the name of L. R. Ball for the following day to travel from Townsville to Dalby via Brisbane.
The story on Ball’s ‘missing person’s report states that Ball had left Townsville to visit his daughter at the PA hospital. It continues to describe that he had visited his daughter in the hospital on 21 April and had stated that he would come back to visit her the next day, nonetheless, he never returned. This, however, is incorrect – and is a lie told to police by the main suspect – David Phillips. Phillips was Ball’s son-in-law, who was wedded to his daughter Leanne (who had been in the hospital at the time).
Investigators shortly discovered that the signature on the train ticket was created and did not belong to Ball and the reserved seat to Brisbane was marked as ‘unoccupied’ on the day. The police thereafter believed that Ball never made it to Brisbane and believe that he went missing in Townsville – and that the story was created to direct investigations away from Townsville.
After receiving data from the public, police were able to discover Ball’s vehicle parked at the Townsville Railway Station, and a burnt-out trailer belonging to Ball was discovered in bushland off Jurekey Street on 8 July 1993.
Upon questioning, police stated that they were ‘confident of a favorable result in the investigation into the suspected murder’ of Ball, and the coroner’s court had stated that they are looking to re-open the inquest, nonetheless, processes seem to be moving very slowly with no public knowledge of the case and the family being kept in the dark.
Ball’s daughter has battled hard to find justice for her dad but has had numerous disputes with investigators due to poor investigative work and a lack of communication. This lack of police communication with the family of the missing person seems to be a theme throughout most case files – notably with the Janine Vaughn and Tony Jones cases where the family is battling hard to hold the police accountable for the lack of investigations.
Police unofficially had a strong suspect – the aforementioned David Phillips – who had been a key figure in the Melbourne underworld at the time of the disappearance, and who used to work in forensics so may have some inside understanding to prevent detection. There is no public record of this, nonetheless, and they have insufficient evidence to charge him.
Hopefully, Ball’s story will be picked up by the media with the likelihood of a new inquest, and the police will be under more pressure to get closure for the family. With little being known by the public – no intentions, no leads, and no real information – it is tough to appeal to the public and push for justice. Anyone with data that could assist police further is advised to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.