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'I refuse to go to my grave until I find out what happened to my daughter'

Pilar Mitchell |

Sandra is terminally ill but has held on for five years longer than doctors expected because she needs to know what happened to Tracey 24 years ago.


Tracey Valesini disappeared over two decades ago. She was just 20 years old, a young mother of a baby girl named Crystal.

She was in the midst of a battle for custody over her daughter and was last seen at a custody hearing.

When she didn’t turn up for the second hearing, her family knew something was wrong. Police now believe she was murdered and are offering a $100,000 reward for information that helps solve the case.


mum and babyTracey was often out of contact with family for long periods of time, but not showing up for a custody hearing was out of character. Photo: Supplied


A terminally ill mother’s plea

Wednesday would have been Tracey’s 45th birthday, and her mum Sandra McSavaney made a desperate plea to find out what happened to her child.

“There’s someone who knows what happened to Tracey. I’ve had enough. I’ve had a lot of birthdays and Christmases without my child. I want to be able to go and put something on my daughter’s grave.” Sandra’s voice broke as she started to cry.

“It’s like they’ve put their hand in my chest and ripped my heart out. You should never have to bury a child. Your child should have to bury you.”

Sandra is terminally ill with lung cancer but has held on for five years longer than doctors expected.

“I’ll be here until Tracey’s found and then I might be happy to let go,” she said.


tracey valesini“Enough is enough”: Sandra is certain someone has information about Tracey’s disappearance. Photo: Supplied


Piecing together the facts with very little evidence

Modern technology has given police more clues to what happened to Tracey, but information is thin. Blood spatter evidence, a single bank transaction and a handful of Facebook posts since her disappearance are the only leads they have.

“Tracey moved to a home at Wentworth Falls with her new boyfriend and his sister and partner, where they lived until May 1993,” said Detective Inspector Stewart Leggat, unsolved homicide team coordinator.

“They have since told the police Tracey moved out earlier in the year when their relationships deteriorated.”

William Booby, Tracey’s boyfriend at the time, is a person of interest, as are the other two housemates.


school photoPolice believe Tracey died in a Wentworth Falls home she shared with her boyfriend and two other people. Photo: Supplied


They believe the blood belongs to Tracey

Bank account activity a year after Tracey’s disappearance led to a search warrant of the Blue Mountains home that Valesini shared with the trio.

Blood spatter was found in the bathroom, and police believe it was the result of a high-velocity impact, likely a gunshot. At the time DNA analysis was inconclusive, but police hope that reanalysis with better technology will yield results. They believe the blood belongs to Tracey.


more bathroomPolice found blood spattered in the bathroom of Tracey’s Wentworth Falls home. Photo: Supplied


Mysterious Facebook posts

A Facebook group set up to gather information about Tracey’s disappearance received a strange message in 2015 telling the family to “look beyond the mountains.”

Police said they would consider the message as part of their investigation, but wouldn’t give more detail.

Tracey’s daughter Crystal has also posted on the page.

“I find it hard not knowing what happened to you,” she wrote.

“But then I think to myself that it would be even harder to know what happened.”

Crystal is 24, four years older than Tracey at the time of her disappearance.


mum daughterAlthough Sandra (above right, pictured with Tracey) has terminal cancer, she’s determined to fight until her daughter’s case has been put to rest. Photo: Supplied