Reward for information offered when searching for Michelle Lewis

Queensland Police have offered a $500,000 reward for information about the suspected murder of a 21-year-old woman in Rockhampton 33 years ago.

Michelle Coral Lewis was last seen on her white and auburn bicycle leaving a friend’s house on Stenlake Avenue, North Rockhampton, on her way to her home on Alexandra Street on January 14, 1989 at around 10:45 PM.

The journey should have taken only a few minutes. Neither Lewis’s body nor the bicycle have ever been found.

Michelle Lewis is suspected of being murdered after she went missing in Rockhampton in 1989. (Queensland Police)

Former lead investigator and retired detective Ann Gumley said the initial investigation involved dozens of interviews and several individuals of interest, but eventually the clues “dried up.”

In 1994, a coroner concluded foul play, but it could not be determined whether Lewis was alive or dead.

Police are desperate to identify a male who called Rockhampton Police Station on Feb. 18, 1989 — about a month after Lewis was last seen.

The caller said he had information about Lewis’s disappearance, but the call ended before it could be put through to investigators.

“Not too many things have stayed with me over the years, but after 33 years, I still think about Michelle Lewis and what happened to her,” Gumley said.

“She had such a sad life and to just disappear seems so unfair.”

Retired Detective Ann Gumley. (9News)

Lewis was abandoned by her mother as a baby and cared for by her grandmother and other relatives until her grandmother died and she was taken in by a local woman Dell Salhus.

Friend Kerry Bartley said Lewis “loved living there” and never stayed out too late so as not to worry her foster mother.

“Michelle had a tough upbringing, but she had a heart of gold and lots of friends,” Bartley said.

A shirt like Michelle Lewis wore when she disappeared. (Queensland Police)

Bartley said her friend was a “animal of habit” and often spent most of the weekend at her house.

The night she disappeared, the couple had tea, watched a movie, and made plans for the next night before Lewis drove home.

She wore a pink tie-dyed shirt and board shorts.

“I know in my heart that Michelle wouldn’t just walk away without contact with me or anyone else,” Bartley said.

“Every year that goes by gets harder, not easier, because there are no answers.

“If she’s facing foul play, it would be nice to have the answers about who and why so we can close and let Michelle be buried.”

Michelle Lewis’s boyfriend and one of the last people to see her alive, Kerry Bartley. (9News)

“We believe there are people out there with information and with this important reward announced, it is now time for those people to reconsider 33 years of silence and go to the police,” Detective Senior Sergeant Tara Kentwell said.

“It’s never too late to come forward.”

It has long been speculated that the late serial killer Leonard Fraser was involved in Lewis’s disappearance.

Michelle Lewis was last seen in Rockhampton in 1989. (Queensland Police)

Fraser died in hospital of a heart attack in 2007 after complaining of chest pains in his cell at the Wolston Correctional Center.

He had served multiple life sentences for the murders of Beverley Leggo and Sylvia Benedetti, and the manslaughter of Julie Turner in the Rockhampton area in the late 1990s.

He was also previously convicted of the kidnapping and murder of nine-year-old Rockhampton girl Keyra Steinhardt.

Gumley said despite her retirement that she remained committed to justice for Lewis, saying “miracles can happen”.

“If they find Michelle’s bike, they’ll find Michelle. She never went anywhere without that bike,” Gumley said.

Michelle Lewis was rarely seen without her white and auburn bike. (Queensland Police)

The Queensland Government’s $500,000 reward is for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the suspected murder of Lewis.

This week is National Missing Persons Week.

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