29 years on, the horrific crime a country town never forgot
ALMOST 30 years after Roma was rocked to its core by the news that nine-year-old Stacey-Ann Tracy had been sexually assaulted and murdered, the mother of a former school friend of Stacey-Ann can still remember how it changed the town.
Jenny Hewitt said she and every other parent in the town was haunted by the sickening crime that took place in their tight-knit community on May 22, 1990.
"It was a rainy day, I'll never forget it," she said.
"It was frightening.
"We actually had a trophy business in town and (Barry Hadlow, the perpetrator,) often came in there and I often had my daughter Angela in there as well after school.
"He worked at Woolworths and founded the darts association and often purchased trophies from us.
"He was a real member of our society.
"What stood out about Stacey-Ann's murder was the fact she was just an innocent girl going to school, and that there was a creep among our midst that nobody knew about.
"Our children used to walk to school. We always thought it was safe, but it wasn't.
"Stranger danger really came in after that. It sent shockwaves around town and there was a lot of disbelief."
The crime that haunted the Roma community
STACEY-ANN was walking to school on the morning of May 22 when Barry Hadlow abducted her, committing his vile crimes before dumping her body in Bungil Creek.
He was out on parole after 22 years for the murder of Townsville girl Sandra Dorothy Bacon.
"Hadlow never told anyone what he had been to jail for previously, but he should never have been out on parole," Mrs Hewitt said.
Hadlow was among the townsfolk who spent four days searching for the young girl before she was found near Miscamble St on Saturday, May 26, 1990.
He was charged with her murder, forcibly detaining a child under 14, and indecently and unlawfully dealing with a child under 12 years of age.
Hadlow pleaded not guilty to Stacey-Ann's murder, but the jury disagreed.
He was sentenced to life in prison and his file was marked never to be released. He died in 2007 at the age of 65.
Inspiring action from murderer's stepdaughter
HADLOW'S stepdaughter, Sherele Moody, founded the Red Heart Campaign as a memorial to Stacey-Ann, and other women and children who have lost their lives to violence.
On Wednesday, Ms Moody reflected on the crimes committed 29 years ago and how they impacted her life.
"Today, I woke up with a deep sadness, as I do every time May 22 rolls around," Ms Moody said.
"Twenty-nine years ago, the husband of my mother and stepfather to myself and my seven siblings prepared for his day ahead.
"It was a day that would see him rape and murder a child.
"Not far away from my mother's home, another mum - Janet Mills Clarke - helped her two daughters Elizabeth Tracy and Stacy-Ann prepare for their day at school.
"When Janet said goodbye to her children, she had no idea that was the last moment she would spend with her eldest daughter.
"I was around 19 years old. I did not know Stacey-Ann, but my stepfather's heinous actions had a profound impact on my life."
Ms Moody said not a day had gone by without thinking of Stacey-Ann, or of the "cruel and callous" disregard Hadlow showed towards the young girl.
"Janet Mills Clarke has spent the past 29 years now mourning her daughter," Ms Moody said.
"She and I are tied together by this tragedy.
"Despite the fact a person connected so strongly to me killed someone connected so strongly to Janet, we speak from the same page about the impact of murder."
Ms Moody said Ms Clarke had told her she would like to see a national memorial for all victims of violence, so that victims would never be forgotten.
For more information on the memorials, visit Australian Femicide & Child Death Map:
Memorial to Women and Children Lost to Violence: