Why is McKim-Hill murder, CQ’s oldest cold case not solved?

IT looked like a slam dunk when a crucial witness emerged with information to solve CQ's oldest cold case, the murder of Mima McKim-Hill 53 years ago, but sadly this hasn't proven to be the case.

On March 9, 1967, Rockhampton resident Mima McKim-Hill was just 21 years old when she was abducted near Calliope, before being sexually assaulted, murdered and her body dumped 80km away in Collard Creek, near Biloela.

The scene where murder victim Mima McKim-Hill’s body was found in 1967.
The scene where murder victim Mima McKim-Hill’s body was found in 1967.

Frustratingly for her family and the community, the case still remains open and her killer has never faced justice.

News of the murder stunned the community and remains firmly embedded in the memories of many of the community's older residents, including Mima's friend Shirley Eldridge and former Rockhampton resident and justice advocate Trevor Sorenson, who have tirelessly crusaded over the decades to ensure justice was served and Mima's case finally closed.

Shirley Eldridge (left) with Mima McKim-Hill.
Shirley Eldridge (left) with Mima McKim-Hill.

It was in 2016 when Ms Eldridge, who was publicising her book Mima - A case of abduction, rape and murder on TV that former Mayne Nickless semi-trailer driver, Brisbane-based Geoff Smith, 81, found out about the cold case.

STAR WITNESS: Former truck driver Geoff Smith, 81, says he knows who murdered Mima McKim-Hill 53 years ago and he is wants closure for the community.
STAR WITNESS: Former truck driver Geoff Smith, 81, says he knows who murdered Mima McKim-Hill 53 years ago and he is wants closure for the community.

Mr Smith realised that now only was he was in the area at the time of Mima's disappearance, but he had a very good idea about who carried out the murder - a truck driving colleague of his named Erich Johann Seefuss.

While driving down the Detour Road (goat track) he'd spotted Seefuss' unattended tallow hauling vehicle prime mover and tanker parked up in a cleared area, near where Mima was last spotted by witnesses, with no one in sight when he stopped to investigate.

The suspect's Mayne Nickless Truck had a two tone green colour scheme.
The suspect's Mayne Nickless Truck had a two tone green colour scheme.

Through numerous failures in the original police investigation, Mr Smith was never interviewed about what he saw and Seefuss was inadvertently alerted to the police investigation, allowing him to prepare a story and foil the investigation.

When the investigation was revisited in 2008, homicide detectives were lead back to Seefuss as the prime suspect to be reinterviewed and faced with fresh and enhanced forensic evidence.

Unfortunately, Seefuss had died six weeks previously at Tailem Bend in South Australia.

He was immediately cremated, and all of his personal possessions destroyed or dumped, leaving the trail cold for the investigation which subsequently ground to a halt before the emergence of Mr Smith as a witness.

Reflecting on the 53rd anniversary of Mima's murder, Mr Sorenson said he hasn't given up hope that homicide detectives in the Queensland Police Cold Case Unit, lead by Detective Senior Sargent Tara Kentwell (who he was in regular contact with) would finally name Seefuss as the murderer and close the case, once and for all.

Justice advocate Trevor Sorenson
Justice advocate Trevor Sorenson

"It is my personal opinion, that after twelve years of intensely analysing, focusing and gathering information on this ageing Homicide Cold Case, and utilising all the 1967-68 Coronial Transcripts evidence and Exhibit Reports and original and new Witness Statements which have been available to me, that a QPS Report covering the last twelve years of review and reinvestigation and new Witness Statements, would probably enable the State Coroner to more than likely be able to bring down a finding which would enable the Cold Case File to be closed and archived," Mr Sorenson said

In March 2019, Mr Sorenson said he forwarded a second Application to the State Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Yvette D'Ath, applying for the a reopening of the original 1967-68 Coronial Inquest, or the granting of a second Inquest.

"I provided fresh information and further details to support the Application, specifically in relation to what I considered to be false, misleading, and fabricated details and information provided by an original primary "suspect" to police Investigators in 1967 and during the Coronial Inquest," he said.

Looking across to the left end of the clearing where the tanker truck was abandoned on the Detour Road near Calliope.
Looking across to the left end of the clearing where the tanker truck was abandoned on the Detour Road near Calliope.

"The second Application was refused on the grounds that the QPS had confirmed that the McKim-Hill Homicide Cold Case was still an ongoing investigation."

Mr Sorenson's hands were effectively tied awaiting the outcome of the police investigation.

A QPS spokesperson said the Mima McKim-Hill investigation remains an open and ongoing cold case homicide investigation with the Cold Case Investigation Team within the Homicide Group.

"The Cold Case Investigation Team remains committed to investigating unsolved homicides and bringing answers to the families of those victims. Any information that is provided to police will be thoroughly investigated in the hopes it will bring those answers," the spokesperson said.

QPS Cold Case Cards - Unsolved murder 1967 . Victim Mima Joan McKim - Hill
QPS Cold Case Cards - Unsolved murder 1967 . Victim Mima Joan McKim - Hill

"We can confirm this case is constantly reviewed and any new information provided to police is investigated thoroughly. This is best exemplified with the new witness coming forward to police.

"While witness information to date has been beneficial to the investigation, we encourage any person with information, however small they think it might be, to come forward. New information could lead to a breakthrough in this investigation."

They confirmed a $250,000 reward remained in place for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for this murder. "The Government reward further offers an opportunity for indemnity against prosecution for any accomplice, not being the person who actually committed the murder, who first gives such information," the said.

Given that a very similar police statement was received when The Morning Bulletin last followed up the cold case a year ago, Mr Sorenson was obviously very disappointed to learn that Mr Smith's witness testimony hadn't cracked the case.

Det Senior Sargent Tara Kentwell at Police HQ. Pic Annette Dew
Det Senior Sargent Tara Kentwell at Police HQ. Pic Annette Dew

Following up directly with Snr Sgt Kentwell, who was swamped responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was apologetic that she was unable provide more information regarding the ongoing investigation.

Despite appearing in front of the media to celebrate closing a number of cold cases in recent times, Mima's case was one of over 100 that still sat open in her books.

She was grateful that Mima's story was being told again and was hopeful that someone who knew something about case could still yet come forward to help close the case and claim the hefty reward.

If you have any information which could help solve the McKim-Hill murder case, contact the Queensland Homicide Cold Case Unit during business hours on (07) 3364 4150.