It was August 19th, 1992 when Ebony Simpson was last seen getting off the school bus in the small New South Wales town of Bargo but somewhere along the 1km walk from the bus stop to her home she had disappeared without a trace. We now know that the day before her disappearance the police had given a talk at her school about stranger danger.
Usually, the routine would be that Ebony would get off the school bus and meet her mother but on this particular day, her mother was running a little late so she asked one of her sons to go and meet Ebony at the bus stop but in a sick twist of fate his bus was running late so he missed her bus and assumed she had walked home.
The police were called and they began to put together a search party to find 9-year-old Ebony but during their investigation, an older man came up to the police and informed them that his two sons had seen Ebony when she was walking home but they also saw a man with a yellow car that had its bonnet up. This was the last confirmed sighting of Ebony Simpson. Police asked the community to get involved in the search and the whole town volunteered to help in any way they could.
The next morning, detectives try to piece together who the man was with the broken down yellow car and they discover that Ebony’s mother had seen a man with a broken-down yellow car, which she believed was a Datsun 120y near the bus stop and that she had seen that particular car twice but the other time it was parked near the bus stop. Police asked the neighbours if they had seen any unusual cars around the vicinity and they also said that in the weeks leading up to Ebony’s disappearance they saw the same yellow car. Police then go and interview the older man’s two sons who had seen Ebony walking home and the broken-down yellow car but they said the car was a Mazda 808.
Ebony has now been missing for 18 hours and more and more people were coming forward to help with the search. The police, SES, rural fire service and volunteers were split into groups and they all had their areas to search around the town and bush. Police officers were coming to the town from other areas of New South Wales to help with the search and a couple of officers from Campbeltown had arrived after the search party briefing so they were given a quick rundown on what they were searching for. The officers were told they were searching for Ebony and a yellow Mazda 808, that’s when one of the Campbeltown officers turned around and said like that car over there. It turned out that the car they had been looking for was parked 50m away from them at the command post that the police had set up.
A detective spoke to Ebony’s mother Christine and asked her for a detailed description of the man she saw with the yellow car so they can put together a sketch; the detective then took the sketch to his boss who looked at the sketch and said “that was the bloke we were just talking too”, it turned out that the man police were looking for had joined the search party for Ebony Simpson. Officers then went back to Christine’s home and said I think the guy you saw is out the front and so she went out there with them to see if she could identify the yellow car. Detectives then waited to see if this mystery man would come back to the yellow car and he did, they began asking him questions about his whereabouts and the car. Police then asked if they could take photos and search the car and by all reports the man was compliant.
The mystery man with the broken down yellow car had agreed to let the police take the car down to the police station so they could conduct some testing on the car and he also agreed to go to the station for questioning. He was so cool and calm that police began to question if he had any involvement in the disappearance of Ebony Simpson. This mysterious man was 29-year-old Andrew Garforth and he and his wife and their two children had only just moved to the town within the last few months from Western Australia.
During questioning, Garforth recounted his whereabouts on the day that Ebony went missing. He said he had gone into town to return a video rental and then to the hardware store to buy two bolts then when police asked him what route he took into town he gave a very specific route but when he was asked to go over the details again, this time he gave a completely different route which put him near the bus stop where Ebony was last seen. After 15 minutes of questioning Garforth said something that took the detectives by surprise, he said “and when the young girl was walking past the car, I grabbed her and put her in the boot”.
Garforth began to calmly tell detectives about the details of what happened to Ebony, he said she even asked him if he was going to let her go and he said that he told her he didn’t know. He ended up driving down a bush track with Ebony in the boot of his car; once he stopped he tied her hands and feet together behind her back with speaker wire, then he pulled down her pants and sexually assaulted her, filled her backpack with rocks and then he threw her into a dam.
Ebony Simpson has now been missing for 31 hours and the police take Garforth to the scene of the crime, where they find Ebony’s pink lunchbox floating on top of the still dam water and then they searched the rest of the body of water until they found a lifeless Ebony who had drowned.
Andrew Garforth was charged with the murder of Ebony Simpson and he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. We still have no idea as to why Garforth committed this heinous crime.
Rest In Peace Ebony Simpson.