Inquest set to start into one of WA's most baffling cases


Answers. All Cathy McDougall and her family want are answers. For 10 years, they've had very little.

It was over a decade ago that Ms McDougall's grand-daughter Leela vanished without a trace, along with her mother Chantelle and two other men.

Leela was just five-and-a-half years-old when she and her mother, Tony Popic and Simon Kadwell, disappeared from the picturesque WA town of Nannup in July 2007.

They left behind wallets, credit cards and dirty plates on the table at their Roberts Road property, about 11 kilometres south of the Nannup town-site.

A note reportedly left at the home said they were moving to Brazil. They have never been seen or heard from since.

Ten years on, a coronial inquest into their baffling disappearance will begin in Busselton next Wednesday.

The three day inquest is expected to focus heavily on Kadwell's links to a bizarre and disturbing underground cult.

Kadwell - who was was also Leela's father and Chantelle's partner - was reportedly linked to a cult based on a doomsday book called Servers of the Divine Plan, which called on "servers" to take up their positions on Earth before the world's imminent end and rebirth.

It has also emerged in recent years Kadwell's real name was in fact Gary Felton.

He, Chantelle and Leela lived in a small weatherboard house, while Popic lived in his own caravan parked adjacent to the house.

Ms McDougall, who lives in Victoria, told WAtoday she hoped the three day inquest would finally give her and her family some answers as to what happened.

She will fly into WA next week with her husband Jim to listen in on the hearing.

The last time Ms McDougall saw her daughter and grand-daughter was in May 2007 at their Nannup home, shortly before they disappeared.

Ms McDougall recalled how several visitors came to the home during her stay and how a package arrived at the house, which she thought might have been Leela's passport.

"When I was there in May they had visitors and they did not have visitors very often, so I reckon someone must know something," she said.

"While I was there a package came and that was apparently Leela's passport.

"I could not quite hear, but Gary came in and Chantelle asked 'what was the package' and he said 'oh its Leela's passport.'

"That's what it sounded like to me...he took it and he put it away.

"I started to think that was a bit strange.

"I was very worried because everything seemed a bit out of the ordinary."

Earlier this year an age enhanced photograph of Leela - who would be 16 now - was one of six images put together by forensic artists from the United States National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

The image was released as part of International Missing Children's Day.

"She (Leela) loved to dance around and play jokes and do all sorts of funny things," Ms McDougall said.

"Her mother was like that when she was little."

A fresh appeal on the case was made by police in 2013 through a Channel 10 television program.

In the program, detectives revealed how a man calling himself Tony Popic checked into the Underground Backpackers in Northbridge on July 15, 2007.

The next day, the same man is believed to have caught a train from Perth to Kalgoorlie.

Its understood the Missing Persons Unit within WA Police has been handling the case file recently.

Ms McDougall said although she had not been subpoenaed at this stage to give evidence at the inquest, she hoped to read a statement which she had written.

"There's got to be someone who knows something," she said.

"We are just hoping someone knows some clue, that can perhaps lead to another clue."

- WAtoday

This story Grandmother's hope for answers: Inquest set to start into one of WA's most baffling cases first appeared on WA Today.