Anthony ‘Tony’ Jones was a 20-year-old Perth man that was on a 6 month backpacking trip around Australia in 1982. On 3 November, Jones phoned his family and girlfriend from a phone-box in Rosslea, Townsville where he had told them of his plan to hitchhike down to Mount Isa – where he was going to meet his brother, Tim. This was the last confirmed sighting of Jones, although it is believed that he hitch-hiked out of Townsville that night, but he never made it to his brother, his daily bank-transactions stopped, and he was never seen from or heard of again.
A number of media articles and official sources say that there are witnesses that saw Jones at the Grand Hotel in Hughenden, and one witness that says that he interacted with a hitch-hiker that was meeting his friend ‘Tony’ at the Hughenden Post Office. However, these sightings are not official and have never been given much credit and there have been no officially confirmed sightings since 3 November, when he was planning in the phone-box to travel quickly down to Mount Isa to meet his brother. A coronal inquest concluded that Jones was suspected murdered, although the body was never found. Police now believe that it is likely that Jones was killed in Hughenden, South-West of Townsville.
Photo: Map location showing where police believe that Jones was killed.
Unfortunately police refused to take the disappearance seriously. Leads were neglected, evidence was lost, and the family were kept in the dark about investigations. The relationship between the family and the investigators became hostile, and they no longer had access to the investigative officers on the case. Brothers Mark and Brian took it upon themselves to conduct their own investigation to get justice for their brother however the investigators refusal to work alongside the brothers resulted in a waste of police resources on wild goose chases.
Photo: Mark & Brian Jones conducted their own investigations into the disappearance of their brother.
During the inquest it was found that the dental records on police files were not those of Jones, but another unknown person. It appears that the original dental records were lost, and police obtained incorrect dental record to place them after remains were found about 20 years ago. There are now no dental records on file for Jones by which remains could be identified.
Photo: Missing Persons playing card appealing for information about Tony Jones’ disappearance.
The police also failed to establish the whereabouts of key suspects in the investigations for two years before the brothers were able to contact former classmates of one key suspect that had diaries damning to that suspect’s alibi.
Jones carried a dismantled rifle in his backpack while hitch-hiking. Very few people knew this as Jones was not one to brag about his firearm. In 2015 police began an investigation to find the firearm and released a photo to the public. Those that knew about Jones’ rifle however, were quick to point out that the police had released a photo of the wrong rifle – and this was not the Voere .22 calibre bolt action rifle that had actually belonged to Jones.
Photo: The Voere .22 calibre bolt action rifle that Jones had been carrying, dismantled, in his backpack when he had disappeared.
Police continued this negligence when they investigated a lead that a rifle the same as Jones’ had been given to a witness by his brother-in-law, who was a key suspect in the investigation. The police showed the witness the photo of the rifle to confirm that they were the same, and the witness didn’t recognise the rifle and it subsequently disregarded. The photo that was shown to the witness however, was the same incorrect photo that was released to the public – and was not the rifle that was being investigated.
Police are still looking for firearms carried by Jones – the Voere .22 calibre bolt action rifle as pictured above. Is it possible that Jones was shot and killed by an unknown person while hitchhiking down the ‘highway of death’ where several other victims have mysteriously been found shot?
Albury was sensationalised by the media as a serial killer and Australia’s ‘Hannibal Lector’ as he ‘boasted’ to killing 14 other people in a spree while he moved from Townsville to Mount Isa between 1970 and 1982. He became a person of interest in the Jones disappearance after he confessed to knowing about the case.
Photo: Convicted killer Andy Albury, who confessed to killing Jones and 13 others.
Albury was convicted of murdering Gloria Pindan in November 1983 and claims to have killed many more. Albury’s confession was disregarded as he was proven by experts to be severely mentally disabled – suffering from schizophrenia among other disorders. It is speculated that Albury was confessing for the glory and media attention. The murders and missing persons across Flinders Highway are suspicious, and an individual could find themselves wasting hours looking into it, but there is no evidence that the cases are linked, and there were several cases in which Albury could definitely be ruled out. For his confession to be credible Albury would also have had to have been 9 at the start of his murder spree, which would make him Australia’s youngest serial killer, and doesn’t quite seem plausible.
Finally, there is evidence to suggest that he had mistaken the missing Tony Jones as the reporter when indicating that he was responsible.
Three New Confessions:
It is now believed that Jones was killed and disposed of in an outback slaughterhouse in Hughenden after two ex-partners and one friend bravely revealed that Kevin Wright had confessed to the crime alongside his close friend, John Eastaughffe.
Wright and Eastaughffe were known around the community for drinking and fighting. At the time, Wright was 17, and worked as an apprentice at his father’s butchers and slaughterhouse. Eastaughffe was a boarder at a local school, but his family lived in Hughenden.
In 2011, three decades later, three women spoke up about Wright’s separate confessions to each of them while drunk and hysterical. The ex-partners of Wright claim that their relationships with the man were violent, and he would threaten them frequently, causing the women to live in fear. Wright would boast that he could get away with murder, and became a very different person when he was angry – beating and choking the women.
Seemingly tormented by his dark secret Wright confessed to the witnesses, on separate occasions, that Eastaughffe had punched this ‘hitch-hiker’ and broken his neck. Wright claims to have picked up the body and put it through the ban-saw at his father’s slaughterhouse. Wright’s ex-partner went to the police after hearing the confession, but was forced to by Wright to retract her statement. She went to the police station and told them the statement was made up, fearing the lives of her and her daughters if she did not. The three women stayed silent out of fear of the abusive man.
Wright was regularly cutting up animals and boiling up the bones in copper pots to dispose of them – disposing of a body would not have been a difficult task for the pair, and the remains were unlikely to ever be detected after being burned in pits. The slaughterhouse has been named a location of interest in the recent inquiry. Whether or not Jones crossed paths with these two men in Hughenden is the matter of a coronial inquest that is still ongoing. Both men appealed to the Supreme Court to avoid giving evidence, but this appeal was lost by Wright in 2016. At this point they do not have enough evidence to prosecute the two men.
The men testified last year in the second hearings, and it was revealed that Eastaughffe had head Wright apologise for including his name in the disclosures that he had been making to ‘these women’, confirming the alleged confessions that had been made.
Was Jones the victim of a one-punch kill and a coverup between two close-friends or is it possible that they had killed a different person that night? Adversely, is it possible that these men are innocent and the confessions were made up by three women bitter about their previous abusive relationships with Wright – it seems unlikely at this point that these men are innocent.
An anonymous letter – known as the ‘Lochiel Letter’ – was sent to the police saying ‘I believe body of AJ. Jones buried in or near Fullarton river bed within 100 yds southside Flinders Hwy. Lochiel’.
Photo: Anonymous letter sent to police, containing Jones’ initials.
This letter contained both of Jones’ initials which was not public knowledge at the time. The letter has not been linked to a person of interest at this point, and it is still unknown who wrote the letter and whether it is connected to this particular cold case.
Current Status on the Cold Case:
In August of this year the media revealed that the family have a new lead in the case that has yet to be made public, however it is unknown how cooperative the police are being and how seriously they will take the new evidence. Unfortunately this struggle that the family is having with the police seems to be hindering the case.
The inquest is still in progress, after being adjourned by the family pending a judicial review. Hopefully someone will come forward with further information throughout the inquest, and the family can finally have some closure and justice. There is currently a $250,000 reward for any information, and people are urged to contact CrimeStoppers if they have any information relating to the crime.