Harry Speath’s two kids, Serena and Thomas, went missing in Australia on December 5, 2014. At the time, Serena was five, and Thomas was just four. And their disappearance was only the beginning of the family’s ordeal.
Years earlier, Harry had married Jane Adare, a trained nurse, who subsequently gave birth to Serena and Thomas. Harry maintains that he was always a hand-on father. But wedded bliss sadly eluded the couple, with Harry later claiming that Jane lost interest in the marriage.
Their relationship couldn’t be saved and consequently separation was on the cards. Harry and his wife eventually divorced in October 2014. Jane had received a $275,000 settlement and the couple had agreed to share custody of their children.
So, at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, December 5, Jane came to collect the kids from their dad’s house for the weekend. Little did Harry know that this goodbye would be the final memory he would have of his children before their disappearance.
Yet maybe his son had suspected that something was amiss. According to a later Facebook post by Crime Stoppers NSW, “Thomas was particularly distressed to be leaving his father’s care on that day.” Perhaps Thomas had a sixth sense, or knew something was going to come between him and his father.
Thomas even said that he wasn’t feeling well, so it’s possible that he was looking for excuses to stay home. “He was absolutely howling and I didn’t understand why,” Harry later told New Zealand website Stuff. “He wouldn’t let go of me, he was hanging on.”
According to Stuff, Harry recalled that the kids “were in tears and kept telling him they didn’t want to leave.” He had then tried to reassure them that it would all be fine. Of course, Harry had expected to see them again in just a few days’ time. In hindsight, though, their distress seemed to foreshadow the tragic turn that their lives was about to take.
A few days later, Harry arrived at his kids’ school in Carindale, an area of Brisbane, to collect them after class. But they were nowhere to be seen. In a disturbing development, the school told Harry that the little girl and boy had not attended classes for days.
It seems, though, that the authorities may have been slow to react. In fact, it wasn’t until months later – on February 17, 2015 – that the official search for the children began. Australian police reportedly even told Harry that Serena and Thomas might not even be in the country any more. This may have come as something of a shock to him, seeing as they had no passports.
Harry didn’t have a clue as to where they were. In order to help with the search effort, he recruited a fellow Australian, Col Chapman, who is a specialist in the field of retrieving abducted children.
Harry maintained that Jane’s family may have possessed information about his children’s whereabouts, especially as his ex-wife had been living with her mother at the time of their disappearance. Determined to follow any lead that presented itself, Harry even went to Brazil in search for his kids.
Although his journey to South America proved to be in vain, Harry subsequently bought a ticket to London in the hope of finding his children in the U.K. capital. The reason for traveling to the other side of the world was that his ex-wife held a British passport.
The distressed father later traveled to New Zealand, too, because Jane had acquaintances in a city there, Christchurch. It’s a place that’s renowned for its English heritage, which was another reason for Harry’s visit, as according to him his ex-wife is a big fan of English culture.
A local news website, Stuff, reported at the time that Harry had a message for his children. He apparently wanted them to know “that their daddy loves them.” His words seemed to be intended to show his children that he hadn’t stopped thinking about them.
Despite him having to deal with a string of dead-end leads and wild goose chases, Harry’s determination to find his children seemed as strong as ever. As a result, he also decided to establish a Facebook page to spread the word about his search.
Another huge concern for Harry was that Serena and Thomas hadn’t been registered with a school. And their medical cards had not been presented anywhere, either. That seemed to indicate that even if Harry’s absent children were still alive, they might not be in the best of care. It’s also likely that Serena’s severe allergies preyed on her dad’s mind.
In 2017 efforts to locate Serena and Thomas were ramped up. In May of that year American professionals made photo sketches to depict how the children would appear in the present day. The pictures were then distributed in the hope that the public might recognize them.
Three long years to the day since Serena and Thomas had vanished, Harry posted on Facebook. “Today I am reflecting on a monumental milestone in the time line since the abduction of my children by their mother,” he wrote. “It’s been three sets of birthdays (both theirs and mine), Christmases, Easters, Father’s Days, three years’ worth of holidays, countless visits to their paternal grandmum, aunt and indeed their half-brother’s visits from his overseas work assignments. In that time, none of us has had the normal family pleasures taken for granted by normal folks.”
Days later, Australian Federal Police officers came to his home to inform Harry that Serena and Thomas were alive. They had eventually been located in the Sunshine Coast, almost 100 miles from their last known location. The police also alleged that the children had been “parentally abducted” by their mother.
Harry’s ex-wife subsequently attended a federal court hearing. In the meantime, Harry took the opportunity to reunite with his beloved children. The day after the amazing news, he returned to Facebook with a happy update. He wrote that the discovery was “the best Christmas present.” Together once again, hopefully they’re now forging ahead with their lives.