The suspected cold case murder of teenager Stella Farrugia
Posted on 22/10/2020
Stella Farrugia was reported missing on Thursday 18 October 1984 by her boyfriend.
He told police that he last saw her at their home address on Seaview Road, Henley Beach, the day before. There has not been a confirmed sighting of Stella since.
The 18-year old has been described as outgoing, kind, and generous, but also a little naïve and easily led.
The teenager had been raised in Sunshine, Victoria, and was the youngest child of Michael and Rose Farrugia who immigrated to Australia from Malta in the late-1950s.
Her parents held strong beliefs on family matters arising from their traditional Maltese origins, with these conservative views often in conflict with those of the wider Australian community at the time, which often resulted in conflict within the family, particularly between Stella and her parents.
It was against this backdrop that in late 1983 Stella unexpectedly moved to Queensland to stay with her older sister Christine who was newly married and living in Cairns.
Stella got into a relationship and the young couple moved to Adelaide in 1984.
The couple stayed at a number of addresses before moving to Henley Beach. After the relationship became strained, they split up and Stella moved in with another man, Wojciech Kubale, who reported her missing in October that year.
Mr Kubale, who died in 2010, told police that he had been out for the day and came home to find her dog, bank books and personal possessions all at the flat – but no sign of her.
Initially police didn’t consider the matter suspicious – they conducted inquiries but thought she had simply taken off.
There was a suggested history of domestic violence in connection with both relationships, but there were no reports to police so it is hard to gauge to what extent
During this period she had written to her sister, demanding she make contact by a specific date and saying if she didn’t she would cut off all ties.
That date came and went before her sister got around to replying but sadly did not receive a response from Stella.
It wasn’t until her boyfriend contacted the family to ask where she was that her disappearance was considered in a more concerning light and some weeks later they also reported her missing to the Sunshine Police.
Another mysterious element to the case was that for several years after her disappearance Stella’s family received irregular phone calls where the caller did not speak when the phone was answered. The number of calls each year tapered off over time, finally stopping five or six years after she disappeared.
Police have examined a number of properties, including the one at Mt Torrens where she stayed with her first boyfriend before moving to Henley Beach, but found no sign of her.
Police believe there are two possible explanations in this case – that Stella deliberately chose to move away and break all ties with her family, possibly with the assistance of someone who had offered to support her; or that she had met with foul play.
With pleas for information spanning many years, it seems more likely that she is deceased, given that she has not made contact with police or her family.
Both of her boyfriends from around that time remain persons of interest in the case, albeit that one of them is deceased.
A reward of up to $200,000 is on offer to anyone who either provides information leading to the recovery of her remains or information leading to a conviction in the case.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at www.crimestopperssa.com.au