Siriyakorn "Bung" Siriboon
Siriyakorn Siriboon - more commonly known as "Bung" - was a teenager from Thailand, who moved to the Melbourne-area suburb of Boronia in 2008. She lived there with her mother, sister, and stepfather, and was slowly-but-surely acclimating to the new culture. However, in June of 2011, Bung seemed to disappear into thin air...
Sirayakorn (Syria-corn) Siriboon - who was more commonly known by her nickname, "Bung" - was born on December 30th, 1997.
Bung Siriboon was the second child of her parents, after her sister, Siriporn (Siri-pawn) - who also had a nickname of her own, "Pang." Pang was seven years older than Bung, but the two had a close, sisterly relationship.
The two sisters lived in Thailand, in the Ubon Ratchathani province with their mother and father. However, when Bung was really young, her parents would divorce, and both daughters stayed with their mother, Vanidda.
In 2004, Vanidda - the mother - met an Australian man named Fred Pattison in 2004, while she was vacationing in Melbourne. After meeting, the two decided to keep in-touch, even after Vanidda returned to her daughters in Thailand.
Coincidentally, Fred Pattison - who had grown up in Queenscliff, Victoria - had become enamored with Thai culture over the years. He had visited in the mid-1990's, and loved the culture.
In 2006, Fred moved to Thailand, to be closer to Vanidda - "Nid," as he called her.
While there, he got to learn more about her two daughters. Over the next several months, as his relationship with Nid blossomed, he became more of a father figure for the two. After all, their birth father was almost entirely out of the picture, and Fred took a liking to the two girls.
Soon enough, he referred to them as his "daughters," and they referred to him as their "father."
At around this time, Fred and Vanidda got married, and she officially took on his last name: Pattison. They decided to start a business, and enjoyed their time living together in Thailand.
However, within two years of moving to Thailand, the business that Fred and Vanidda Pattison had started was failing. So, with very few remaining options, Fred decided to move back to Australia - specifically, Victoria - and he accepted a job at a factory near Melbourne. He moved there ahead of time, but the rest of the young family was able to join him later on, in 2008.
When the family moved to Australia, Pang was 17 years old, and Bung was only 10. They spoke very little English at the time, but were hoping that they'd be able to pick up the language and culture quickly, and acclimate themselves in no time.
Fred and Vanidda Pattison were hoping that their move to Australia wouldn't be a lifelong commitment.
They planned to put the two girls through Australian schools, which they believed would give them a leg up, should they decided to move back to their native Thailand. As the girls went through school, Fred and Nid were hoping to pay down their debts, and then retire to Thailand in their relative youth.
It was a pretty honest, earnest plan, but it would require some hard work and some sacrifices from the family over the next couple of years.
They moved to Boronia, a small suburb of Melbourne, in southern Victoria. The town itself was named after the colorful plants, which grew naturally throughout the area.
Boronia, which is north of Dandenong and west of a large forested area, full of parks and a mountain range, is seen as an all right area. It's a decent, middle-class suburb with a low crime rate, but also features a couple of problems endemic of many similar suburbs. The area has a noticeable drug problem, especially in the area around the Boronia train station... which was in the area where the family was moving to.
Fred and Nid bought a home along Elsie Street, which was just a short walk away from the schools that Bung and Pang would be attending in the near-future. This home, which the family would live in for the next several years, was a pretty cozy little home, which they turned into their own little oasis. The family planted many trees and shrubs around the home, and began tending to a colorful garden that gave their home some noticeable life in the like-minded suburb.
Fred Pattison continued to work his factory job, which kept him away from the home during nights. Nid accepted a part-time job, which was mostly menial, but helped her provide for the family. They were preparing for a nice and quiet little life for themselves, which they hoped would provide safety and stability for their two daughters.
The home that the family had purchased - along Boronia's Elsie Street - was less than a ten minute walk away from the school that both girls would be attending.
As Fred stated:
"I wanted [Bung] to grow up feeling safe. And there was no reason why she shouldn't feel safe walking to school. There were always lots of people around, particularly in the morning - kids going to school, commuters driving to work. The main bus route is near here, and there are two arterial roads. I certainly never had any issues."
Before Bung Siriboon could begin attending school in the area, she had to first undergo an extensive English learning course upon moving to Australia.
Soon thereafter, though, she began attending a nearby school: Boronia Primary. She entered the school as a fourth-grader, and was seated next to another girl, named Dyamai Hillard.
At first, the two girls didn't get along. As Dyamai put it:
"I really wanted to get to know her, but I think she found me annoying at first!
"She put a ruler down the middle of the desk so I couldn't cross over to her side."
Bung, who was very shy with new people, was still warming up to this new country and new language, so she seemed very withholding. But the more that her and Dyamai interacted, the closer they grew. Eventually, they became best friends.
Dyamai Hillard later described Bung as:
"... a happy person, with a very kind heart and so caring... I was bullied a lot, and she was the only one who stood up for me... She could be quite shy with new people, but once she got to know them, she was very outgoing. She was always ready to talk to people and try new things. She was just so easy to be around."
Bung quickly obtained a reputation for being a great student, who excelled at anything to do with math. She was always on-time and punctual, and was rarely absent... if at all. She was described by almost all of her teachers as being very shy and polite, which she often chalked up to her traditional Thai upbringing.
Over the next couple of years, Bung and Dyamai remained close friends. They continued to bond over their love of several things, but namely, dancing and singing.
When the two girls left primary school, they excitedly moved their adventures to the next level, at Boronia Heights College, a high school that was also incredibly close to Bung's home. She often met Dyamai at a park nearby her home, and they would walk to school together every morning.
While at Boronia Heights College, the two girls expanded their friend group, and became friends with some other girls in their grade. One of the girls, named Layla Preston, was a classmate with Bung during Grade-7. She described Bung as being:
"... just so bubbly and friendly, always making people laugh, always wanting to have fun."
Now in high school, the girls continued to bond over their love of dance and song. They began rehearsing for talent show performances, and Bung became a huge fan of the music genre known as K-pop. In fact, her parents were later surprised to learn that she had been teaching herself Korean because of this.
However, Bung's one true love is one that I'm sure many teenage girls of the time period are familiar with: none other than the Biebs himself, Justin Bieber.
Layla Preston, Bung's classmate and friend, recalled this fondly during an interview some time later:
"She absolutely loved Justin Bieber. She had a crush on him, and she'd always listen to his song."
From what I've been able to learn about Bung, it seems like she was as normal of a teenage girl as you can imagine. She loved to sing, and dance, and laugh, and giggle. She mostly kept to herself, was well-regarded by all of her teachers and fellow students, she was considered shy by those that hardly knew her and considered goofy by those that knew her well.
Surprisingly unlike many kids her own age, Bung actually loved being at-school. It was often her main social outlet, and she loved being among kids her own age. Her friend Layla said as much:
"She loved school, and being at school with her friends."
In her personal life, Bung Siriboon had no real issues to speak of.
Despite the age different between her and her sister, the two were close. Not exactly "friendly," as I'm sure any teenage girls could tell you, but loving in their own way.
She was close with her stepfather; whom she had grown to consider her "father" over the last five years.
But the person that Bung had the closest relationship with was her mother, Vanidda. Bung was the baby of the family, and was the apple of her mother's eye.
Dyamai Hillard, Bung's closest and best friend, spent countless hours over at the family's house, and recalled the dynamic being very similar to any you'd see in a household:
"She loved her sister, and she loved her parents. She fought with her mum sometimes, but just over the normal teenage stuff, like not wanting to clean up the dishes."
Despite having a personality that was very outgoing and active, Bung was described as being a bit of a shut-in... she was a kid that enjoyed sleeping in her own bed at night, and enjoyed having her own space. Her stepfather, Fred, described her as an "older soul" in an interview, and I think that description fits her perfectly.
She was active on social media, but had no history of any boyfriends, and didn't seem to have reached a point in her life where that had become a pressing matter for her. After all, going into June of 2011, she was only 13 years old, and entering the time of her life where she'd figure out who she was as a person.
June 2nd, 2011 started off like any other day.
It was a Tuesday, right at the precipice of an Australian winter. The forecast was a bit chilly - right around 15-degrees celsius, 60-degrees Fahrenheit. It had been raining off-and-on through the morning.
At around the same time that the house started stirring for the day, stepfather Fred Pattison returned home from his evening shift at the factory. He laid down to sleep in a back bedroom, while Bung finished her breakfast of egg-rice soup.
Bung was wearing her regular school uniform as she prepared to step out the front door. Her uniform - a blue-and-white striped dress, with white socks and Black Dunlop Volley shoes - was complimented by a dark blue zip-up school jacket and a blue-patterned backpack.
A little bit after 8:00 in the morning, Bung bid adieu to her mother, and stepped out the front door to head to school. The timing is somewhat disputed, with estimates veering between 8:15 and 8:25.
However, we do know that a neighbor would spot Bung down the street at around 8:30 that morning, so it fits in roughly with the rest of the timeline. This neighbor, whose dog barked through a closed window at Bung, made a mental note of the girl walking to school along Elsie Street.
This neighbor noted that she was walking towards Albert Avenue, which would put her on the same path she took every day to school.
This route took her down Elsie Street, toward Albert Avenue. At the intersection, Elsie Street came to an end, and Bung would take a short right on Albert Avenue, before taking a left at Harcourt Road. There, she would walk halfway down the block, before taking a left on Moncoe Street - a cul-de-sac with a dead end. However, at the end of Moncoe Street lay the back gate for Bung's school, the Boronia Heights College.
This walk, which normally took Bung about ten minutes, is a little over a kilometer in-length.
Because it was raining this morning, several kids in the area were getting a ride to school from their parents. So there weren't many people out-and-about that morning, such as Bung's friend, Dyamai, who normally met with Bung along the walk.
Police would later note that a witness spotted Bung along Harcourt Road, at around 8:55 that morning. This sighting, which has never been confirmed, indicates that this normally ten-minute walk had taken Bung much longer than-usual. However, this sighting would also put Bung within 500 feet of the school's back gate.
This sighting has been disputed because, despite being just down the street from the Boronia Heights College that Bung attended, she never made it to school that day. In the distance between her family's home on Elsie Street and the high school she attended, something happened.
Bung Siriboon did not show up for school on June 2nd, 2011, which teachers thought was very unlike her. It was considered "out of character" for someone as punctual and reliable as she was, so staff at the school just listed her as being sick.
That afternoon - at around 4:00 PM - Bung's best friend, Dyamai Hillard, called the family home, hoping to get in-touch with Bung. She wanted to remind her that they were playing football the next day, and to come prepared. Bung's parents, who answered the calls, asked Dyamai why she hadn't just told Bung while they were at school. This is when the Fred and Nid Pattison discovered that their thirteen-year-old daughter had not been at-school that day.
Fred and Nid drove up to Boronia Heights, where they spoke to the school staff. They found out from school principal Kate Harnetty that Bung had, indeed, been absent that day; and that teachers just assumed she was ill and would be back in the next day or so.
Upon hearing this, the Pattisons drove up to the nearby Knox Police Station, where a statement was taken by police. However, police urged the family to try and reach out to some of Bung's friends and other family members, in an effort to cover every base.
Fred and Vanidda returned home, where they discovered that Bung did not have her cell phone with her. That was usual, as she complied with the school's rules about electronic devices, and almost always left it at-home.
Bung's parents began reaching out to all of the friends they knew of, including Dyamai Hillard - Bung's best friend. She later recalled getting the call from Bung's parents:
"I just sat there on the floor, crying. I gave them phone numbers of everyone I could think of. It was so scary. I was so sad and shocked. It didn't seem real."
Layla Preston, another of Bung's close friends, received a call that afternoon from a mutual friend of their's. Word was beginning to spread.
"She said: 'Bung's missing.' I'll never forget those words. I just started bawling. Then I was calling all my friends and telling them: 'Bung's missing, we don't know where she is.'"
Fred and Vanidda Pattison spent the rest of the evening calling around to everyone that they could think of, hoping that they'd find out that Bung had been expressing some teenage rebellion. But as the hours ticked away, the fear refused to leave their gut. They forgot to eat anything that evening, and struggled to get some sleep; restlessly fearing that the worst case scenario for every parent had happened to them.
On Friday, June 3rd, the parents of Bung Siriboon returned to the Knox Police Station, along Burwood Highway. They wanted to check in and see if the police had any other options for their search, which had been fruitless so far.
Following this early morning meeting with the local police, Fred and Nid began to canvas the area, and started hanging up missing persons posters in the area around their home.
Fred Pattison, Bung's stepfather, took leave from work for the foreseeable future; and he was spotted that Friday, hanging up missing persons flyers around the Boronia Mall. Their simple family functions began to fade away, instead becoming overwhelmed by a single desire: to find Bung.
In fact, Fred later told the press:
"I don't think we ate for a week."
News reports of Bung's disappearance finally hit the news that Friday afternoon, and the public became well-aware of the missing teenager.
In the wake of this news, the family was faced with a lot of public attention; and with it, came not only offers of support or encouragement, but the fears that follow the parents of every missing child. The possibility of something terrible happening to them.
And because of this, it became obvious to Fred Pattison that he was going to have to be the one to face the media, and to stand strong for the family. Bung's older sister wasn't ready to deal with a tragedy like this, and her mother, Vanidda, was an emotional wreck in the absence of her youngest child.
So Fred became the face of the family, and he became the one that had to help coordinate efforts to find Bung, as well as speak to the eager press that came to ask questions.
"Friends and workmates were dropping in and organizing search parties, and people were setting up Facebook pages and bringing us food. There were TV cameras everywhere, and reporters sitting out front and chasing you down the street.
"We were walking around in circles, in shock, trying to cope. I was beside myself, but I had to be strong to support my wife and daughter. It would have been so easy to fall apart, but instinct kicked in. It was like, 'We've got to find her, what do we do?'"
The word was out: Siriyakorn Siriboon - more commonly known by her nickname, Bung - was missing. She was a thirteen year old girl, originally from Thailand, who stood around 154 centimeters tall - about five feet. She was thin, with Asian features, long dark hair, and brown eyes.
Police almost immediately started receiving tips, and the mass amounts of it made it a mess for them to have to sift through.
As they tried sifting through the mass amounts of phone and email tips they were receiving, investigators started off far closer to home. They began asking questions about Bung's behavior in the days and weeks leading up to her disappearance. Unsurprisingly, everything had been normal. She was a relatively normal kid, who had seemed very stable and happy over the span of several months, with no major incidents.
Because of this, police almost immediately ruled out the possibility of Bung being a runaway.
Her social media accounts were gone through, including three Facebook accounts, and a Myspace page that was still active - in which her listed age was 27. However, police were able to exhaustively go through these pages one-by-one, and they found nothing out-of-the-ordinary: she had not been communicating with anyone that would warrant suspicion. That made it very unlikely that her absence was planned by an predator she met online, and that theory was quickly eliminated, as well.
Bung's stepfather, Fred Pattison, openly admits that he was one of the first people that police suspected. He doesn't shy away from it; in fact, he welcomed it. He wanted police to thoroughly investigate him, in order to clear him and move on to other possibilities as soon as possible. He stated:
"The father's always the first suspect. They searched me, searched the house, all the cupboards, the roof. They even searched under the house, because somebody said I'd been digging. I was under investigation for a long time. People were saying, 'Oh, it's got to be him.' It didn't worry me. I've got nothing to hide."
Bung's family members were cleared as suspects shortly after her disappearance, and John Potter - a Detective Inspector that worked on the case - said as much a while later.
"The family are grieving for their daughter. They are desperately in need of information. They are confident she will be OK and she will come home."
The family - especially Vanidda, Bung's mother - began to draw further from their Buddhist faith in the weeks and months to come, as the investigation began to expand outwards. They would find that faith questioned over that span of time, but they have never lost it.
By the end of June 2011, police made it know that they believed Bung Siriboon had been abducted. As such, they were shifting their investigation to focus on that more stark reality. Detectives and investigators with the Homicide Squad began working the case, and talks of a full-on task force began making the rounds during those winter months.
Police had already been conducting searches for Bung in the weeks after her disappearance, including any evidence that might have pointed to foul-play. They had created a thorough timeline of when she had gone missing, and the regular route she walked to school, which is where she had likely gone missing from. This is when they found the witness statements, which put her on the path to school early that June morning, but they were unable to find any proof of wrongdoing.
It was as-if Bung had disappeared into thin air.
Police began conducting searches of the area to the east, which included large swathes of parkland. These were large forested and mountainous areas, including the Dandenong Range National Park as well as the nearby Doongalla Forest.
While these searches were prepared and conducted, police continued to examine the tips they were receiving from the public.
One of the tips concerned a brothel, in an eastern suburb of Melbourne. The person behind the tip said that they had seen a young Asian girl matching Bung's description, a short time after her disappearance. No real details have been released, but police examined this lead, and said that it didn't go anywhere.
Some in the media began to theorize that Bung Siriboon had been abducted and then, perhaps, taken outside of the immediate area - perhaps outside of Australia itself. Rumors followed those theories to her birth father, who still lived in Thailand, but - despite police reaching out to international agencies and Federal Police for assistance - these theories led nowhere. There was no proof that Bung had left the country, and her identity wasn't used to do so.
A few weeks after the disappearance of Bung Siriboon, a couple of incidents sparked concerns throughout the Melbourne area.
On June 21st, 2011, a 16-year old girl from the nearby suburb of Ringwood claimed that she had escaped an abduction attempt in the afternoon hours of that Tuesday. The girl, a Caucasian girl, had been walking along the road, when a man drove by in a blue sedan. He stopped and tried to entice the girl into getting into his car, but she refused. The man in the blue sedan drove forward, before coming to a stop ahead of her.
As she walked by the car, the man approached her from behind, and grabbed the girl's arm. She was able to fight, claw, and scratch her way out of his grip, and ran off and hid in some bushes nearby. The man drove off shortly thereafter in his vehicle, and the girl didn't see him again.
The driver of the sedan was described as being in his 50's or 60's, with gray hair, decayed teeth, and wearing dark clothing. The girl said that he looked and sounded Southern European, but no more details could be determined based on her short interactions with him.
The location of this near-abduction - Ringwood East - was less than ten kilometers from where Bung Siriboon had gone missing. However, many pointed to inconsistencies between the victims - Bung was a 13-year old of Asian descent, and this girl was 16, and white. Not to mention that Bung had gone missing in the morning, while this girl had avoided a terrifying ordeal in the afternoon. The differences were noticeable.
However, those differences were washed away when another near-abduction was reported a little over a week later, and much closer to where Bung had gone missing.
On June 29th, 2011 - less than a month after Bung's disappearance - another girl claimed to have escaped a terrifying abduction attempt; this time, in the town of Boronia itself.
The alleged abduction attempt had happened just blocks away from where Bung had gone missing. The victim was an 11-year old, who was of Asian descent and was actually familiar with Bung; the two lived very close to one another.
The girl reported the incident to police and gave a description of the man who had attempted to kidnap her. She said that he was an older man wearing a gray-and-red sweatsuit, who was wearing glasses and a surgical mask during the abduction attempt.
Police would later provide a sketch of this culprit to the media, which is nightmare-inducing, to say the least.
The details provided by the 11-year old in Boronia were also pretty consistent with the information provided by the 16-year old in Ringwood, whose attempted abduction had happened just a week earlier.
This case sparked a large amount of panic in the area, and parents now refused to let their children out of sight. The area was on the lookout for this terrifying kidnapper, who was likely involved in one or more additional cases.
John Potter, a Detective Inspector that was working on the Bung Siriboon case, spoke about these abductions possibly being linked:
"We are looking at potential links between the recent reports of the attempted abduction in Boronia and the Bung case and also recent reports of attempted abductions in the eastern and southern suburbs."
Police continued to investigate this lead, and began to devote a lot of resources to this alleged abduction. After all, the setting and victim profile was almost identical to that of the Bung Siriboon case, and details provided from this alleged abduction could finally be the clues needed to solve the case.
However... I only call this an "alleged abduction" because the 11-year old that reported it to police admitted, just a week or so later, to fabricating the entire story. She admitted to her family, and then law enforcement, that the incident had been made up.
Now police were back to square one. They couldn't successfully link the attempted abduction in Ringwood to Bung's case, and this promising lead had turned out to be nothing more than a hoax.
Detective Inspector John Potter, who was frustrated about the investigation's lack of any serious leads, spoke to the press shortly after it was revealed that his department had been on a wild goose chase for over a week, and were now forced to admit that the Bung Siriboon case had gotten derailed:
"We have no description of an offender. It is not connected to any other abduction attempt; we have no vehicle description and we have no sightings since the day she went missing. It's as though she vanished into thin air."
Following the failure to link the disappearance of Bung Siriboon to any recent abduction attempts, those in the media began to move the possibilities back into the past.
In particular, to other cold cases from the area, including that of 13-year old Karmein Chan, who was abducted from her Victoria home in 1991.
If you are unfamiliar with the case of Karmein Chan, I encourage you to go back to one of the first episodes of the podcast, in which I discuss the cases linked to a culprit named Mr. Cruel. Mr. Cruel was an Australian boogeyman at the end of the dawn of the 1990s, who police believe was responsible for three abductions throughout Victoria.
The first two victims, Sharon Wills and Nicola Lynas, were abducted in 1988 and 1990, respectively. Both were sexually assaulted, and then abandoned in public areas. They had no idea who had been behind the attack, but provided details that gave police the indication that the culprit was methodical and sadistic.
Then, in 1991, Karmein Chan - the 13-year old daughter of Chinese immigrants - was abducted from her home in Templestowe, a suburb to the northwest of Boronia. Her body wasn't found for over a year, at which point, her case was linked to the other two abductions; perpetrated by this unknown Mr. Cruel.
Because of the location and description of the victims - both Karmein and Bung being 13-year old immigrants of Asian descent - the cases were linked in the public's eye. However, Karmain's abduction had taken place twenty years beforehand, and there was no indication that the mysterious Mr. Cruel was still active in the area.
Steve Fontana, who had worked on the Mr. Cruel investigation over the years, was a participant in the investigation to find Bung Siriboon, and he struggled to come to terms with the idea that they might be linked. Because so many years had passed with no known involvement from Mr. Cruel, he found it unlikely that Karmein's case - or Mr. Cruel - were tied to Bung's disappearance.
"I personally don't think it's related, but we certainly wouldn't write it off."
However, that didn't stop the rumors from spreading. Over the years, Bung's disappearance has been indirectly linked to the Mr. Cruel investigation - a fact I mention at the tail end of my episode about that case.
In August of 2011, a creek bed nearby Bung's family home was searched, called Old Joe's Creek Reserve. The extensive five-day searched found several items; unfortunately, none of which seemed to be related to the Bung Siriboon investigation.
John Potter, the previously-quoted Detective Inspector, said about the search:
"There's no evidence she was there."
Over the next two weeks, police would question over 500 people in Boronia itself, and a more thorough search was arranged in the area where Bung had disappeared. This search was conducted by SES - the State Emergency Service.
Bung's family received some good news in October of 2011, when it was announced that a full task force had been assembled to handle the case - the first such task force assembled since 2003.
Taskforce Puma, which included twelve detectives and was headed by Homicide Squad Detective Senior Sergeant David Snare, was organized to work on the Bung Siriboon disappearance full-time. Detective inspector John Potter, who had been working on the case for months at this point, was also included in the task force.
Potter told the media, upon the creation of the team meant to find Bung Siriboon:
"We hold grave concerns for her welfare.
"At this point we've still got quite a number of active lines of inquiry as a result of information we've received and we're hopeful that those lines of inquiry will produce the breakthrough that we're after.
"We're waiting for that one call, that one piece of information that will solve this case."
Taskforce Puma received more than 600 calls from the public within the first six months of the investigation, heading into the Australian summer months.
In March of 2012 - nine months after Bung's disappearance - investigators received a call that piqued their interest. The details of this call have never been revealed, but police encouraged the caller to make contact once again, as their call had provided valuable information. It is unknown whether this caller ever did call back.
At the tail end of 2012, police announced that they had developed a solid lead... who had actually confessed to involvement in the disappearance of Bung Siriboon.
In August of that year, 2012, police interviewed a 24-year old man from the area, who told police that he had information. He was arrested, but eventually released because police didn't have enough information to hold him.
This young man was then re-interviewed again, in October of 2012. Again, he was detained and arrested, but - again - he was released.
This man told police that he had accidentally hit Bung with his vehicle on the morning she went missing, and he had then proceeded to dispose of her body at a local reserve.
Apparently, during both interviews, police heard him out, and asked him to provide evidence of his wrongdoing. But when tasked with that, the young man could provide no definitive proof. Police followed him out to the reserve where he claimed he had buried Bung's body, but no evidence was found that she had ever been there.
This young man's vehicle was seized during the span of this investigation, but - once more - police could find nothing that pointed towards this young man's guilt.
Because there was nothing definitive provided by this man, other than a confession which investigators doubted entirely, he was released. Law enforcement continued to name him a "person-of-interest," but he has not been addressed by investigators in the years since.
Shortly after the news broke about this first person-of-interest, investigators stated that they had begun investigating a second person-of-interest. Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay told the media that this POI was "entirely separate" from the first suspect.
No details about this individual were released, but police have publicly stated that this man or woman has not been ruled out for involvement in the case.
Detective Inspected John Potter said, some time later:
"That individual remains a person of interest."
In addition to the persons-of-interest being raised by police, a suspect emerged in the media, who was theorized to have involvement in similar cases over the years.
Robert Keith Knight was a sexual offender that had lived near Boronia during the time span in which Bung Siriboon disappeared. He had allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted two schoolgirls years apart, in 1980 and 1996... although it was believed that he had committed other crimes between that span-of-time. In fact, one police official said that the odds of him not striking at all between 1980 and 1996 was "infinitesimal."
In fact, Knight's name emerged as one of the primary suspects for Australia's feared Mr. Cruel, and investigators - as recently as just a year ago - admitted that he was one suspect they were never able to eliminate.
Knight was arrested for a couple of sexual assault charges in 1997, and sentenced to a large prison bid the following year, 1998. He was then released from his sentence in March of 2009, putting him back on the streets of Melbourne in the time period in which Bung Siriboon went missing.
In 2013, Robert Keith Knight was arrested, for possession of what was described as a "large collection" of child pornography. This consisted of over 10,000 images - some of which, Knight had likely been involved in producing.
Knight was interrogated as a potential suspect in the Bung Siriboon disappearance that year, but was eliminated from the probe shortly thereafter.
A short time later, Robert Keith Knight committed suicide. He leapt from an upper floor of the Melbourne Remand Centre he was housed in, just hours before he was supposed to appear in court for charges related to his child porn collection.
Knight was 62 years old at the time of his death, making him around 60 when Bung Siriboon disappeared. He also happened to drive a white Ford Maverick, which is somewhat similar to descriptions of a car spotted in the area of Bung's disappearance - but that's something I'll get to in a bit.
Needless to say, I still consider Robert Keith Knight an interesting figure in this story, and - even though police ruled him out as a suspect - I'd love to learn more about how they did so.
Taskforce Puma, which existed for two years, investigated over 250 registered sex offenders that lived in the area, searched over 1000 homes, and collected more than 1100 pieces of evidence - all of which, police say, proved invaluable to creating a portrait of Bung's disappearance.
However, most unfortunately, still missing from the portrait was that one missing piece... the missing piece which could have helped investigators crack the case for good. One detective infamously told the media that the task force had collected "a big bag of fresh air."
In October of 2013 - two years after its creation - Taskforce Puma was dismantled. The open case of Bung Siriboon's disappearance was then handed off to homicide detectives, who had to now work on the case without the benefits that came with a task force: namely, assistance from Eastern region police and tactical intelligence officers.
Ken Lay, the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, spoke about this decision. He said that, as much as it hurt to say, there was no indication that Bung was still alive.
"I wish there was, but that's not right. Although we can't completely close the door on that... we're probably in the space where we're fearing the worst."
Commissioner Lay also stated that he didn't see a reason for Taskforce Puma to re-assemble, and he viewed the investigation to be in a good spot moving forward.
"The investigation has now been sharpened, so the Homicide Squad has picked it up. I'm confident we have the resources to get done what needs to be done."
Detective Superintendent Tess Walsh told the media that the decision to end Taskforce Puma hadn't been an easy one, but it was a necessary one.
"We've met with Bung's family and explained to them that the investigation is still very much active, and we remain committed to providing them with some answers."
At this point - in October of 2013 - Bung had been missing for over two years. She had been thirteen when she disappeared, and would now be approaching her sixteenth birthday.
In that time, a lot had changed in her family.
Fred Pattison, her stepfather, had taken weeks off from his factory job to assist in the search for his stepdaughter. About a month later, he had to return to work, but was forced to amend his schedule. He could no longer work evenings, because Bung's mother - Vanidda - had struggles sleeping on her own.
Nid, as Fred called her, was heartbroken following the loss of her youngest daughter. She originally tried to seek peace in her Buddhist faith, but even that was starting to be questioned. By the one-year anniversary of Bung's disappearance, Vanidda had returned to Thailand. She remained married to Fred, but she just couldn't handle living in Victoria any longer.
Fred talked about this in an interview a short time later:
"She went over there to get some solace with family and friends, to visit the temples, take her mind off things.
"She just couldn't handle it here. Here was where everything had happened. Bung was the apple of Nid's eye. She and Bung were very connected, very close."
Fred Pattison, to his credit, stayed in Australia. He continued to live in the family's home, on Elsie Street, and continued to speak to the press about the case. He had taken on the role of family spokesman following Bung going missing, and he continued to do so; urging those in the media to feature her story on news broadcasts and such.
With him staying in Australia, he was also able to support Bung's older sister, Pang, who was now going through university in Victoria.
Some of Bung's friends struggled in the wake of their best friend's disappearance. Layla Preston, one of Bung's friends from Boronia Heights, simply couldn't handle seeing her face on missing persons posters and billboards all through town. She ended up moving to her father's home in New South Wales, to escape the pressure.
Other friends felt the same, having to change schools or districts for their mental health.
The loss of Bung Siriboon had a profound effect on everyone that knew her; and all of them were struggling to adapt in her absence.
In February of 2014, a one-million-dollar reward was announced in the search for Bung Siriboon; as well as the possibility of immunity from any prosecution that may arise, depending on the information provided.
Homicide Squad Detective Inspector John Potter, who continued to work on the case, addressed the media during the announcement:
"One million dollars is a life-changing amount of money.
"Taskforce Puma and Homicide Squad detectives have investigated more than 1200 pieces of information since Bung went missing, but we're still missing that crucial piece that will provide some answers about what happened to her.
"We are not going to solve this on our own; we need the community's help. If you have any information about what may have happened to Bung on that morning in June 2011 and have not previously contact us, please do so.
"It's been more than two and a half years since Bung's disappearance and we desperately want to give her family some answers and bring the person or people responsible to justice."
Fred Pattison, who addressed the media shortly thereafter, spoke about what life had been like in the wake of Bung's disappearance:
"At the moment, it's always there.
"It's like living in limbo. Plans get put on-hold. Some days are a lot more difficult than others.
"You ask yourself, 'Why? Why is it us?'
"It doesn't get any easier. If anything it gets harder the longer time goes on.
"It puts a lot of strain on everything. Everyone still misses her.
"It's hard to believe someone can just vanish off the face of the Earth.
"We still believe she is alive. Every medium, card reader, or person that we believe and trust say the same thing. You get a gut feeling when someone passes by.
"We believe she's coming home. We can't believe anything else. We can't go about thinking negative thoughts. It's just a matter of someone coming forward and telling us what they know."
In June of 2014, which marked the third anniversary of Bung's disappearance, police released some information which they believed might yield some potential leads.
The information was directly tied into two sightings, which had been reported to them in the early days of the investigation. Both sightings had produced descriptions of white vehicles, as well as the drivers of both.
The first sighting came from Boronia itself, on the morning that Bung went missing. This sighting happened roughly 15 minutes after Bung had left for school, and involved a white Ford Falcon seen at an intersection along Boronia and Floriston Roads. A witness recalled seeing a young girl, matching Bung's description, looking out the back window of the vehicle.
The car, which was traveling east, was a EA to EF model, which would place the time period of the vehicle between 1988 and 1996.
The driver, as described by the witness, was a white man in his 50's or 60's, who had brown hair, which was slicked back in a "rock-n-roll" style. The man also had tattoos along his arms, including a colorful tattoo on his upper left arm. He was reportedly wearing a blue singlet, but I'm not sure what to make of that.
Detective Inspector John Potter stated about this sighting:
"We had a male Caucasian in his late 50's to early 60's driving with an Asian girl in her teens in the back seat, and, according to our information, that didn't fit - there was something odd about that, so we believe it's worth following up.
"The sighting may well be completely innocent, but it is relevant to us and we need to investigate it."
The second sighting of a white car came from an area further away from the setting of Bung's disappearance, closer to Rowville - an area roughly twelve kilometers south of Boronia.
This sighting, which took place on Napolean Road, happened sometime between 8:45 and 9:00 AM - about half-an-hour after Bung had left for school that morning.
This witness told police that they had seen Bung - or a girl matching her description - sitting in the front seat of a white station wagon, while cars made their way through traffic. The station wagon itself was described as a white Holden HQ Kingswood station wagon, which may have been a model from 1971 to 1973.
The driver of this vehicle was described as being in his late 30's or early 40's, who was either bald or someone that had very fair, light-colored hair. This man also had neck and sleeve tattoos covering both arms, which police tried to emphasize to the media.
Michael Hughes, another Detective Inspector for the Homicide Squad, spoke to the press about this lead:
"There are two specific pieces of information we are asking the public to consider: the description of the male with a large tattoo on his neck, and the description of the white-coloured station wagon.
"We are asking the public to think about anyone that may fit the description and had a similar vehicle or may have had access to a similar vehicle."
June of 2016 marked the five-year anniversary of Bung's disappearance.
Her family - who had remained splinter throughout that time - continued to hold out hope for the safe return of their daughter and sister. This was in direct contrast with law enforcement, who insisted that they had no new information to share about the case.
Vanidda Pattison, Bung's mother, still lived in Thailand. She said it was too hard for her to stay in Melbourne for any extended period of time, but she did return in 2016 to be there for her oldest daughter's university graduation.
On the five-year mark of Bung's absence, her stepfather, Fred Pattison, once again spoke to the media.
"We still hope and believe she's alive; we have to. There is no evidence otherwise; it's a feeling in our heart.
"It's been long enough, we need information, we want information about our daughter, about our angel, we want to know good or bad or bad... if anyone out there knows anything, or suspects anything, come forward and tell the police."
One suspect that I haven't seen talked about in the media, or in statements from the family or law enforcement, is a man named Gregory Keith Davies.
Greg Davies was just one of several sexual offenders that lived in the area - in particular, around Melbourne - and who had a history of violence.
In 1970, Gregory Davies - then a young man - nearly murdered a fourteen-year old girl. The girl, whom Davies admitted that he intended to rape, had been bludgeoned with a hammer and left for dead.
Davies was later charged with attempted murder, but in the end, was acquitted on attempted murder charges, due to his defense of insanity. However, because of that defense, he ended up spending over a decade in-custody, before being released in the early 1980's.
In 1984, the body of a six-year old girl named Kyle Maybury was found in a Melbourne gutter, having been kidnapped, drugged, raped, and then murdered. Davies, then a recently-released felon, was questioned by police. He seemed to have a solid alibi, and was cleared almost immediately.
The family of six-year old Kylie Maybury fractured as a result of the ensuing investigation. Both her uncle and her grandfather, who was investigated and accused in the aftermath of the heinous crime, both committed suicide as a result. Her mother, Julie, ended up struggling with clinical depression and substance abuse over the next few decades as the investigation languished.
Gregory Keith Davies, on the other hand, never had to submit a DNA sample. He was free and clear to sexually assault or abuse several children over the next decade or so, as accused by several victims - who have now since grown up. They claim that their families hesitated to bring forth charges against Davies, because they were worried about their children having to testify in open court.
In 1996, Davies was convicted for several of these sexual assault charges, which stemmed from incidents involving six different young girls. He went to prison for a little over two-and-a-half years, before finding himself on the streets as a free man once again.
In 2016, Davies - then seventy-three years old - was finally arrested for the murder of Kylie Maybury, from over thirty years prior. Police had obtained DNA samples from Davies, and linked him to the crime scene.
In 2017, Davies pleaded guilty to both murder and rape, and was later sentenced to life in prison. His conviction, which gave a minimum sentence of 28 years, assured that he would be at least 101 years old at the time of his release, all but guaranteeing that he will die behind bars.
During the trial, Davies insisted that he did not remember kidnapping, drugging, sexually assaulting, and murder six-year old Kylie Maybury; but then he later admitted that he must have done it:
"... because my DNA is a match to Kylie's killer's DNA."
In July of 2017, another inmate that was in the prison poured a pitcher of boiling water on Davies' crotch... which required extensive skin grafts and procedures to heal.
Gregory Keith Davies continues to sit behind bars, and I find him a possible suspect in this case. Not only because of the setting and the victim profile - Davies did sexually assault several girls around the age of Bung, and had a proclivity for violence - but because he also drove a white Holden, similar to the vehicle spotted by at least two eyewitnesses. And Davies, who would have been in his upper sixties at the time of the assault, might have even fit the witness description.
It's impossible to tell whether or not Davies committed other crimes in the area - in particular, between his release date in the late 1990s and his arrest in 2016 - but I definitely think it's a solid possibility.
Bung Siriboon is remembered not only in the Melbourne area - by those that have seen her face on missing persons posters, or in news broadcasts - but by the family and friends that miss her, and have felt a gaping hole in their lives since she went missing.
Bung's friends from Boronia Heights College, who were all in their early teenage years when she disappeared in 2011, have since grown up. They have graduated from high school, and have gone on to live adult lives. Boronia Heights - Bung's old school - shut down in 2015. It then merged with the area's primary school to form "Boronia K-12 College."
Bung, who would be in her twenties now, is remembered by her friends from Boronia Heights, who have tattooed her name and her birth-date on themselves, as an act of remembrance.
The friends gathered at Boronia K-12, the newly-formed school, a year or so ago to remember Bung. The school commissioned a plaque on the property, which is always illuminated to (as they say) "guide Bung home."
Layla Preston, Bung's Grade-7 classmate, spoke about her missing friend:
"Life goes on, but when I think about her, I feel so sad in my heart, because I miss her smile and her laugh and her energy and her presence."
Dyamai Hillard, Bung's oldest and closest friend from the area, says that she has struggled to find normality in her life since 2011:
"I can't walk home by myself at night time. I don't take my dogs for walks any more. I can't sleep in the dark without a light on. I've had counselling, but it doesn't help, because there's no closure... It's agonizing not knowing where my best friend is and whether she's safe. And I really cannot imagine the pain her parents have gone through. They're heartbroken."
It's true. In addition to the friends, that had to change schools or move across Australia to escape the dark cloud of Bung's disappearance, Bung's family continues to be splintered. Her mother continues to live in Thailand, returning for holidays and events, but has a permanently fractured relationship with the area, which will likely never be healed.
Vanidda and Fred Pattison are still married, with the two taking to-and-from Thailand to visit one another, but their relationship was dealt a crushing blow when their thirteen-year-old daughter went missing over seven years ago.
Pang, Bung's older sister, has since grown up. She graduated from Swinburne University in 2016, with a degree in international business. She now has a life of her own, but Fred Pattison - her stepfather, said that she:
"... isn't a big one to show emotions, but she's lost her younger sister, she misses her sister, and she's kept busy by putting herself through education."
In 2016, Pang graduated from nearby Swinburne University, with a degree in international business.
Fred Pattison, Bung's father has been, at times, both a suspect and the family's advocate in the media. Despite that, though, he continues to live in the Elsie Street home that Bung disappeared from. Fred says that he's still holding out hope for his daughter to return home, but it gets harder to deal with every single day.
"That's the hard thing... there's just nothing. It's like one minute she's there and the next she's gone. But you don't just walk down a street and vanish. Somebody knows something; they just need to have a conscience and come forward. We want to hear any information, even if it's bad."
If you know anything, please do not refrain from making contact. There is still a one-million-dollar reward for information that could lead to this case being solved, as well as immunity from prosecution. If you know of anything, please call Crime Stoppers at one-eight-hundred triple-three triple-zero... that's 1800-333-000.
As of this episode's recording, the story of Sirayakorn "Bung" Siriboon remains unresolved.
Written, hosted, and produced by Micheal Whelan
Originally published on July 22nd, 2018
Other original music created and composed by Ailsa Traves