Ebony Simpson was only nine years old when she was abducted, raped, and murdered. Her murder shocked the nation of Australia – and we have never forgotten her.
Ebony Simpson was the daughter of Christine and Peter Simpson. She had two brothers, Zack and Tas. The family moved to Bargo, a small country town in New South Wales about 100km south of Sydney 11 years before. They had renovated an old farmhouse and had a beautiful comfortable home in the country.
On the 19th August 1992, Christine and Peter Simpson were running late to pick up her only daughter Ebony from her rural bus stop. The couple had gotten caught in traffic, Christine called home and spoke to her son Zack to see if he might have caught the same bus. But Zack told his Mum that they had caught different buses that day and that his bus took an alternative route home.
But Zack hadn’t seen Ebony. Christine asked Zack to jump on his bike and go up to the bus stop that was located at the corner of Bargo Road and Arina Road to see if Ebony was still there waiting. The bus stop was located only 400 metres from their home.
Ebony wasn’t there. Zack called his parents to let them know. Christine had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. She hurried to get home. In the weeks prior, Ebony had been trying to negotiate to walk the 400 meters home from the bus stop, but Christine wasn’t thrilled about this idea and insisted that she or her husband Peter pick her up or she caught the bus with her brother.
Christine got home a few minutes later. She looked on the verandah to check to see if Ebony’s shoes were located where she usually left them, but they weren’t there.
Peter Simpson called all of Ebony’s friends to see if perhaps a friend’s parent may have picked up Ebony. But nobody had seen her. Christine and Peter didn’t hesitate and called the Police.
The Search for Ebony Simpson Begins
Police soon arrived the home of the Simpson’s and began to question the couple, asking if it was possible that Ebony had run away. The Simpson’s insisted that Ebony wasn’t that type of kid and that it was unusual for her not to be waiting at the bus stop.
The Police searched the home. The Simpsons started searching the area. They called the family to come and help. Soon, the Police, SES, volunteers and the dog squad were all looking for little Ebony Simpson. A Police Helicopter was engaged to help look for the little girl over the vast rural area. Police started to intently interrogate Peter Simpson, who was offended that he had anything to do with his daughter’s disappearance.
A Break in the Case
At 8.30pm a local teenage boy approached the searchers advising that he had seen Ebony walking home along the side of the road towards her home. He had also noticed a car parked on the side of the road, not far from where Ebony was walking. The boy took the Police to where he had seen Ebony, and the vehicle was still located there. The car, a dirty yellow Mazda 808 was parked with its bonnet up and its boot open.
At 10pm, Police released Peter Simpson from questioning so he could join the search for Ebony.
But no one could find her.
Early the next morning, the search continued. Police continued to interrogate Peter and Christine Simpson. They asked about their family circumstances, any fights that may have occurred, or any reason why Ebony may not want to come home. They then asked the couple if they had noticed anyone suspicious in the area.
Christine remembered that a week before, she had noticed a cream or yellow car on the side of the road that looked like it had broken down with a man leaning over the bonnet. That very night, Christine had a talk to Ebony about stranger danger, and that you shouldn’t be rude to strangers, but you should be sensible. Christine described the man next to the yellow car. She described him as 18 – 20 years old, of medium build with shoulder-length mousy brown hair and a mustache.
The Dirty Yellow Mazda
The Police conducting the search were speaking to each other about the strange sighting of this man when a vehicle that matched Christine’s description of the car was noticed parked not far from where the Police were talking. The car was parked with others who were assisting in the search for Ebony. Police ran the number plates and they came back to a man called Andrew Garforth, an unemployed laborer with a defacto-wife and three little children.
Police looked over the vehicle and noticed that it was strikingly clean inside and out for an older-style vehicle. Clean as if it had just been meticulously detailed. Suspiciously clean.
A Police check on Andrew Garforth revealed that he had a criminal history of theft, and driving misdemeanors. Police waited at the vehicle for Andrew Garforth to return, and when he did, they took him to the station.
Meanwhile, Police took Christine and Peter to the location of the vehicle to see if this was the same one Christine had witnessed last week. She believed it was. The vehicle was taken to the Police station for further investigation.
The Suspect: Andrew Garforth
At 5.30pm that afternoon, Police started to forensically search Garforth’s vehicle. They also decided to search Garforth’s home for any possible soiled clothing.
Police asked the public for anyone that sighted a ‘dirty yellow car’ in the vicinity on the day of Ebony’s murder to speak up. The Simpson’s neighbor, Iris Proctor, had seen such a vehicle driving up and down the road where Ebony’s bus stop was on the day of her murder.
Fresh blood was located in the boot of Garforth’s vehicle, he was now their top suspect. They bought him in for questioning.
Andrew Garforth denied any involvement in Ebony’s disappearance. He said he had helped try and find her, why would he do that if he had anything to do with her going missing? The blood in the boot he put down it being from a sheep’s carcass. But what he couldn’t explain was the small child’s handprint found by investigators, right back up behind the wheel well in the boot of his car.
Knowing he was caught, Andrew Garforth explained the young girl was walking on the road and passed his car, when he grabbed her and put violently shoved her into the boot of his car. He then drove to a wildlife reserve seven kilometers down the road, and threw her into a dam.
Police rushed to the dam in the hope to find Ebony still alive.
Ebony Simpson’s Body is Found
It was midnight when Police shone their headlights over the dam on the beaten track where Garforth had directed them. Floating in the light, was a pink lunchbox.
Two Police Officers volunteered to wade into the freezing dam to try and find Ebony. After 20 minutes, Constable Morris felt something in the water. It was the body of Ebony Simpson. She had no signs of life.
At 4am on Friday 21st August 1992, Christine Simpson saw a police car arrive at her home. Christine screamed when she found out her beautiful young daughter had passed.
Later that day, Garforth attended court. Over 200 locals hurled abuse at the man responsible for Ebony Simpson’s death.
Details of the crime when they came to light were even more horrific than anyone could have ever imagined. Andrew Garforth had laid in wait for Ebony Simpson just down the road from the bus stop. He had been watching her for a few weeks. On that particular day, when there were no signs of her parents picking her up or her brother accompanying her, he pounced.
Garforth bundled Ebony roughly into the boot of his car. Garforth drove the seven kilometers to the remote dam where he bound her hands and feet with wire, repeatedly sexually assaulted her, and then weighted down her school bag which he tied to her feet, and threw her into the cold dam water to drown. He then drove home to his defacto wife and three young sons.
The next morning, news of Ebony’s disappearance was everywhere. Garforth’s wife insisted that he go out and help look for her. So he went and joined the volunteers in the hunt for Ebony.
Garforth showed absolutely no remorse for his crime.
The Sentence and Aftermath
Andrew Garforth was sentenced to life imprisonment. Justice Peter Newman ordered that he was ‘Never to be released’. Andrew Garforth is serving his imprisonment at Goulburn jail. He will die in prison.
Garforth hasn’t had an easy time in prison. He has been attacked by other inmates, including an attack by a group of 10 inmates in October of 1993, resulting in bruises, a cut to one of his eyes, and blows to the back of his legs and back, he was also repeatedly kicked whilst on the ground.
Andrew Garforth is also suspected of the unsolved murder of Western Australian teenager Felicia Marie Wilson.
On the 7th December 1994, Garforth appealed his sentence in the High Court, stating that because he was only aged 29 at the time of his crime, he should be able to apply for parole after a certain period. Thankfully the case was dismissed.
In July 2015, Garforth applied to the Serious Offenders Review Council to lower his prisoner classification from A2 (Maximum Security) to B (Medium Security) so that he may apply for work, rehabilitation courses, and television in his cell. The Simpson family rallied and gathered 30,000 signatures and presented these to Corrective Services Minister David Elliott. His original A2 status remains.
Peter and Christine divorced after Ebony’s death. But the couple together with the parents of Anita Cobby, started the Homicide Victims Support Group which helps support families in their grief.
In December 1995, the couple opened Ebony House, which is a two bedroomed beautiful cottage surrounded by bushland that is a recovery center where people affected by homicide can go and escape from everyday life. The couple plans on opening a similar rehabilitation center for children affected by homicide.
The Disappearance of Felicia Marie Wilson
Felicia Marie Wilson failed to come home on the 10th January 1979 and her parents, Bevis and Colleen Wilson of the Perth suburb of Orelia were worried. It wasn’t like their 19-year-old daughter. Felicia had recently started a new position at the Kwinana Community Health Centre, and the trip home was only a few minutes drive.
Her fiancee James Bryce started looking for Felicia but didn’t find any trace of her. By 9pm that day, the Wilson’s called the police.
Felicia’s body was found by workmates on the path to the carpark at the Kwinana Community Health Centre. Her body was found naked laying in a fetal position. Her clothing and handbag were found nearby. Felicia had died from massive head injuries caused by a blood-covered 27kg boulder found near her body.
Although Felicia was found naked, there were no signs of sexual assault. Criminal Profilers believe that her murder was so brutal because of the assailants’ inability to perform sexually.
Garforth would have been 17 years of age at the time of Felicia’s death and his features closely matches those of a man seen in the vicinity of the murder. He was also living in the area at the time.
Andrew Garforth moved to Bargo a few months before Ebony’s murder with his defactor wife and children.
- The Daily Mail.co.uk: He Shown No Mercy Just Like Daughter
- The Herald Son: Ebony Simpsons Abduction and Murder by Andrew Peter Garforth
- The Daily Telegraph: Ebony Simpsons Abduction and Murder by Andrew Garforth
- The Sydney Morning Herald: Ebony Simpsons Murder Remembered 25 Years On