The Unsolved Murder of Gerard Ross in Western Australia

13 min read
The Unsolved Murder of Gerard Ross in Western Australia

It was October 14th 1997 and 11-year-old Gerard Ross was walking to the local Comic Book Store with his brother in the southern Perth suburb of Rockingham.

The Ross family was on holiday in Rockingham, located 50km south of Perth, from the mining town of Newman, taking a well-earned break.

Stewart and Cyrese Ross, Gerard’s parents together with Gerard’s older brother Malcolm and younger sister Beth, traveled the 1300km from Newman on a Friday afternoon straight after school. The family drove right through the night to get to their Rockingham Holiday Home where they planned on staying for the next two weeks

The family was excited for the mini Rockingham holiday – they were meeting their Gran Ellen and their Aunty who was flying in from Scotland on Sunday.

The Ross Family was renting a holiday unit at 105A Kent Street, Rockingham, just one street back from the beach. Gerard’s Mum, Cyrese, was six months pregnant with twins. The boys had gone a bit stir-crazy in the unit, and Cyrese thought a nice walk on a quiet morning would be just what the boys needed. Cyrese gave the boys $5 each in an envelope and sent them off in the direction of the comic book store.

The boys had been at the holiday house for a few days and were familiar with the area. They had been to the beach a few times and had had ice cream nearby. It was one of these times that the boys spotted the comic book store.

Gerard’s father Stewart was fitting the family car with some brand-new car seats in the driveway of the unit, he witnessed them leave and turn into Kent Street.

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The Abduction of Gerard Ross

The two boys left the Kent Street Holiday Unit at about 9.30am. The comic book store was just 800 metres away. At the time, Gerard was wearing a black Adidas t-shirt, with blue baggy shorts, Puma basketball boots shorts, and a Blue Yankee’s cap.

Gerard’s brother Malcolm was on rollerblades so he went ahead, much faster than Gerard who was walking. Malcolm whizzed past Gerard in front of 99 Kent Street. The brothers agreed to meet at the comic book store.

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The small shops that contained the Comic Book Store in Rockingham as it looked in 1997

When Malcolm was getting close to the Comic Book Store, he stopped at a small park to remove his rollerblades and put his runners back on. He waited at the park for a while for Gerard to catch up with him, but his brother didn’t go past. Malcolm thought that Gerard had perhaps gone a different way, and proceeded to the comic book store.

After an hour of waiting for Gerard, Malcolm searched the small shopping mall for his brother, and then re-traced his steps back down Kent Street. When he arrived back at the holiday unit and his brother still wasn’t home, he alerted his parents.

The family wasn’t instantly worried. They presumed Gerard was reading a comic book somewhere and lost track of the time. The family went to the comic book store, and searched the nearby beach. But his parents knew he wasn’t the sort of kid that just wandered off, and as the hours passed, the family knew something was wrong and reported Gerard missing.

Over 150 Western Australian Police combed the beaches and shrubland of nearby Rockingham in the search for Gerard. All known pedophiles in the area were investigated, and even crews docked in Rockingham at the time were checked out.

Infrared cameras were used on small planes to search the Rockingham bushland at night for Gerard. Nearby homes in Kent Street were doorknocked and searched. Missing person flyers were dropped in the area.

On October 20th, Police started searching waterways in the area.

The Police who investigated the Claremont Serial Killings, the Macro Taskforce were called in to assist in the investigation.

CCTV cameras at the Gull Rockingham Service Station near the shopping centre proved that Gerard never made it there that day, but showed his brother Malcolm rollerblading past.

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SES Volunteers searching scrubland around Rockingham in the search for Gerard Ross

The Ross Family

The Ross Family emigrated from Scotland to Australia when Gerard was just 5 years old. The Ross’s had previously visited Australia on a working holiday and the family fell in love with the country. Stewart Ross got a job in the mining industry and the family moved to the small mining community of Newman in the Pilbarra.

The boys attended South Newman Primary School and the family was embraced by the local community.

The Ross family has since relocated back to Fife in Scotland.

Gerard’s Body is Found

On October 28th 1997, just two weeks after the disappearance, Gerard’s body was found 20km southeast of Rockingham, dumped in the Karnup pine plantation near Stake Hill Road. Horse trainer Mick Miller was exercising his horses in the area when he saw the body and called Police.

“I was riding along when my horse saw something in the bush and stopped in its tracks. I suddenly spotted there was a body lying there. I had a look and realised the lad was dead.”

Mick Miller

Mr Miller said he often saw people walking or driving around in the area:

“People would be driving through there and going on, and sometimes they’d be getting bogged and things. There were other trainers from the area over the side that used it.”

Mick Miller

Gerard was found fully clothed, but his Yankee’s baseball cap he was wearing when he was abducted, was missing and has never been found. His body has not been buried or covered up. He still had the money his mother had given him in his back pocket.

Forensics found tire marks near the body showing a vehicle with a small wheelbase had been in the area of the body.

Hairs consistent with that of a dog were located on Gerard’s body. The Ross’s did not own a dog or had recently come in contact with a dog.

Insect activity on Gerard’s body indicated he had been dumped shortly after his abduction.

Police have not released to the public Gerard’s cause of death.

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Operation Shoalwater

Police announced to the public on the 29th October that they believed Gerard’s abduction and murder to be a ‘Crime of Opportunity’. An autopsy on Gerard’s body revealed that he had been killed and dumped shortly after his abduction.

A white ute was reportedly seen in the area at the time, in suspicious circumstances.

Raids on local Rockingham suspects were undertaken on the 5th November 1997 to try and locate any clues. Police checked every house in the vicinity of the abduction, even going

When no arrests were made, the Western Australian Government offered a $100,000 dollar reward. Over 1200 different pieces of information were forwarded to Police in this investigation.

Acting Commander Rod Wilde said that the Gerard Ross Murder was the second-largest investigation in Western Australia’s history behind the Claremont Serial Killings. He stated:

“Every piece of evidence if reviewed forensically. Every lead we have is followed up again and reviewed and investigated.”

Cause of Death

No cause of death has been formally announced by the Western Australian Police, but it is believed that Gerard was brutally bashed with intense violence. Allegedly there was no sign of sexual assault.

Gerard Ross is buried in the Newman cemetery.

Suspects in the Gerard Ross Murder

There are a number of suspects in the abduction and murder of Gerard Ross. Here is a brief rundown of each:

Brett Peter Cowan

Sunshine coast schoolboy killer, Brett Cowan was an initial suspect. After all, there were many similarities between the abduction of Daniel Morcombe and Gerard Ross. Both were schoolboys abducted in daylight.

Cowan had moved to Western Australia before his conviction for the abduction and murder of 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe. However, at the time of Gerard’s abduction, Cowan was already in police custody, so he was ruled out.

Unnamed 26-Year-Old Suspect

Another prime suspect in the case admitted that he drove past Malcolm and Gerard Ross on the day of Gerard’s abduction. The 26-year-old suspect has never been named publically but he did report the sighting of the boys to Police 10 days after the abduction. The suspect was unable to provide an alibi for the day in question.

This suspect also drove a vehicle with a small wheelbase and lived alone. When Police performed a luminal test in his home, large amounts of blood that had been cleaned up were found. There was also blood found in his vehicle and in the suspect’s parents’ home. On interviewing the man about this blood, he stated that he had self-harmed due to mental health issues. There had also been a murder at the property in the past, although that had occurred outside of the home.

No DNA was able to be extracted from the blood to confirm it was Gerard Ross’.

The suspect passed a polygraph test on the matter and maintains his innocence.

On being interviewed by The West Australian, the suspect quoted:

“I was fixing some brakes on a car and doing other stuff. Just running errands. I was driving to the shop at one stage. That’s how I saw them. But other than that, I can’t really remember.”

49-Year-Old Newman Man

An anonymous tip to Crimestoppers bought to light a third suspect. A 49-year-old Newman man with children at the same school Gerard attended who happened to be in Rockingham at the same the Ross family. Detectives interviewed the man twice regarding Gerard’s disappearance, and each time his story was slightly different. His alibi for the day was that he had a psychologist appointment however he later admitted he lied about that.

The man has since relocated to Queensland and Police have advised the Ross family that this man is not Gerard’s murderer.

The Driver of a Beige or Cream-Coloured Sedan

Although never identified, Police are trying to ascertain the identity of the driver of a beige or cream-colored sedan who approached a young boy at a Kent Street bus stop in the weeks before Gerard was abducted. The man asked the boy if he wanted a lift. When the 11-year-old child declined, the driver left the area.

Bradley Robert Edwards

Bradley Robert Edwards was convicted for the murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon and is also believed to have killed Sarah Spiers although her body has never been located. Bradley Edwards is also known as ‘The Claremont Serial Killer‘.

When fibers found on the body of Gerard Ross matched those found on the body of Jane Rimmer, it was thought these two cases were connected, and at the time of Gerard’s murder, Bradley Edwards was still at large.

But it has since been proven that these blue and green polyester fibers belonged to forensic staff.

Vernon Silich

Vernon Silich is a violent criminal who was living in Rockingham and operating as a taxi driver at the time of Gerard’s murder. In 2010 he was convicted of kicking his parents to death with steel-capped boots whilst heavily intoxicated. His parents were sleeping at the time. Silich claimed he was sleepwalking at the time.

He was jailed for 13 years and is expected to be up for parole in 2023.

Vernon’s father is believed to be on the team investigating Gerard’s murder.

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Gerard Ross and the blue Yankee’s cap he was wearing when he was abducted

A Witness to the Abduction Comes Forward

Rose Jurek, a woman who lived at 72 Kent Street at the time was on her way to visit her daughter when she witnessed an altercation between two men and a boy who fit the description of Gerard. The woman was driving out of her driveway at 72 Kent Street when she saw some sort of fight or incident. She described the men as being in their mid-30s, one with blonde or gray hair, and the other with dark hair. They were in a faded maroon or brown colored station wagon.

She said that as she drove past the men, they stopped the scuffle to ‘stare’.

The woman had reported this incident to Police before Gerard had been reported missing.

The Gerard Ross Case Today

There have still been no arrests made in the murder of Gerard Ross. The $100,000 reward offered by the WA Government still stands. The case remains ‘open and active’ with the Cold Case Homicide Squad.

Despite 4700 witnesses being interviewed over the period of 25 years, no arrests have been made.

Cyrese Ross appealed to the public back in 2017 stating:

“Over the last nineteen years since Gerard’s murder, we as a family have made several appeals to the public in the hope that someone can provide information that will lead to his killer being brought to justice,”

“Gerard would have turned 31 last November, and has sadly missed out on so much of life. As his brother and sisters grow up and make lives for themselves, Gerard has been denied this opportunity.”

“He will never experience the joy in sharing his love, creative talent and sense of humour with his niece or when starting his own family.”

“His promising life, hopes and dreams have tragically been taken from him. The lives of those he met, his friends and family will never be the same without him, and will forever miss him. We make this appeal on behalf of Gerard, and ask you to provide any information, no matter how small or insignificant. Please come forward as it can make the difference to Gerard’s life and give him the justice he deserves.”

Gerard’s former school, South Newman Primary School, has a painting entitled ‘Gerald’s Flowers’ in their reception. A memorial plaque has also been installed in the school’s playground area.

A plaque has also been placed in the Karnup Pine Plantation where Gerard’s body was found.

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The plaque located where Gerard’s body was found at Karnup.

If you have any information on the abduction and murder of Gerard Ross, please call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

More Information on the Gerard Ross Murder

An eight-part documentary called ‘The Boy in the Blue Cap: The Gerard Ross Story’ has been produced by Australian journalist Kristin Shorten.


The Unsolved Murder of Gerard Ross in Western Australia Pinnable

Jody Allen
About Author

Jody Allen

Jody Allen is the founder of Stay at Home Mum. Jody is a five-time published author with Penguin Random House and is the current Suzuki Queensland Amb...Read Moreassador. Read Less

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