Can podcast provide the missing clues for former Upper Hunter woman Janine Vaughan's family?

DO YOU KNOW: Janine Vaughan's sister, Kylie Spelde and brother, Adam Vaughan, stand near the billboard.
DO YOU KNOW: Janine Vaughan's sister, Kylie Spelde and brother, Adam Vaughan, stand near the billboard.

IT'S the early morning of December 7, 2001, in Bathurst.

A young woman, striding in front of her friends at the end of a night out, approaches a red car and is never seen again.

What happened to Janine Vaughan?

The Night Driver, a new podcast launched last Friday by multi-award winning journalist Hedley Thomas, national chief correspondent at The Australian, delves into the disappearance and presumed murder of the 31-year-old, which is one of the city's biggest mysteries.

Janine's family have spent the the past 19 years trying to find out what happened to the bubbly store manager, who grew up in Muswellbrook and attended school at Scone.

Her sister Kylie Spelde, from Muswellbrook, and brother Adam Vaughan, from Sydney, were in Bathurst on August 7 for the launch of the podcast, as well as the unveiling of a billboard to coincide with Missing Persons Week.

Mrs Spelde said "it was fantastic" to see the podcast come to life.

"It's so good to get it out," she explained.

"We're so grateful to Hedley, he did such a great job on The Teacher's Pet, we're really lucky."

Mrs Spelde said at the end of the day, they just want to know what happened to Janine, and bring her home.

Asked if she thinks the podcast will uncover the information they've so desperately craved, she added: "I hope so."


This is Thomas' second major podcast investigation, coming after the popular The Teacher's Pet, which has been downloaded more than 52 million times worldwide and led to his second Gold Walkley, the highest award in Australian journalism.

The Night Driver follows the desperate search by Ms Vaughan's family for clues about what happened to their sister.

Despite emotional pleas from family since 2001, two police strike force investigations, a Police Integrity Commission probe, a coronial inquiry and a one million reward for information, Ms Vaughan, a menswear store manager, has never been found.

Thomas uncovers a story about a young woman with hopes for the future, mired with claims of police corruption and cover-up, illegal drugs and and a family's passionate search for their loved sister.

"This is a mystifying whodunnit," he said.

"There are multiple possibilities with reputations ruined in a town that has pointed accusatory fingers of blame.

"At the centre is a family who is still searching, and a hope that with public support, we will know what happened to their sister."

A one million dollar reward still stands for information that leads to the arrest of Janine's killer or killers.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Janine's family via the "Help Find Janine Vaughan" Facebook page.