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Not Missing, holidaying. Sorry everyone. By Dan Oakes

From the Sydney Morning Herald 11th March 2008


The homicide squad had called the media to the home of Roy and Heather Ostell. The news, it seemed, was grim.

The couple had vanished, and their daughters had not heard from Dr Ostell, 63, and his 58-year-old wife since last Thurs¬day. On Sunday one of the daughters had gone to her parents’ small property on Melbourne’s semi-rural fringe, at Narre Warren, and the scene that greeted her was alarming: the front door unlocked; a full cup of tea by the kitchen sink, prospecting equipment, including a new metal detector, piled on the floor; bedding on the coffee table; the couple’s 1975 Volkswagen Kombi missing. And their beloved dog, Gabi, had escaped and been found wandering the streets by a neighbour.

From 2am yesterday, police were poring over the property, searching for evidence of a murder. They checked the couple’s bank accounts.

By 11am the media had gathered outside the brown brick home. Detective Senior Sergeant Charlie Bezzina, of the homicide squad, was preparing to brief them and hand out photographs of the couple.

Suddenly, an ageing orange Kombi puttered up the Ostells’ driveway. A young woman dashed across the vacant lot next to the house, shouting:

"Where have you been? Where have you been?"

In the Kombi, bewildered, were the Ostells. Here they were, gate-crashing the press conference on the matter of their feared deaths. This news, all now realised, was somewhat premature.

The woman hurdling a drain¬age ditch to get to die Kombi was their daughter, Angela, who had been sitting in a car just down the road. Next to appear was Senior Sergeant Bezzina, who looked distinctly nonplussed as he emerged from the front door and surveyed the scene.

As the visibly furious Angela stood next to the Kombi with her head in her hands, Dr Ostell, who has a medical practice nearby, and his wife were ushered inside by police and asked to explain.

When Mrs Ostell emerged from the house 10 minutes later, she was sheepish.

"We went to Lakes Entrance," she explained. "It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. We decided Friday morning. We did let a couple of people know we were going, and we’ve come home to this." A nervous laugh.

But their four children were not among the people they had kept in the loop. They did mention to one of their daughters on Thursday that they intended to going fossicking for gold at Dunolly, in central Victoria. But the Ostells changed their mind. Instead they went to the eastern Victorian holiday spot for a couple of days of relaxation.

They organised for someone to feed the dog while they were away, but did not tell any of their children.

The hasty change of plans explained the prospecting gear, gumboots and bedding, and the unlocked door, through which the dog escaped.

"I’ll blame my husband for that," Mrs Ostell said. "We’re pretty security-conscious, but, as I said, it was a pretty spur-of-the-moment thing. Get on the road and get out of here."

Mrs Ostell said they left their mobile phone charger at home, so nobody could call them.

"We haven’t had the radio on," she said. "We’ve just been bumming down at the beach having a wonderful time."

She added; "I want to thank the police. They’ve been marvellous. I just can’t thank them enough and I’m so sorry they were put to all this trouble, and indeed the media. I’m so sorry you’ve all been put to this trouble. I’m sure there are so many better stories out there.

"At least they picked out a nice photograph. I thought, well, if I was dead, at least they picked out a nice photo."

Mrs Ostell said the next task awaiting her was repairing relations with her daughter, who was still angry with her, judging by the shouting later coming from the house.

Senior Sergeant Bezzina said: "All I can say is, these are the good news stories we like. I was just happy to see that Volkswagen pull in the driveway... I’d rather be inconvenienced nine times out of 10 than get bad news."

Catching up

That was an interesting reaction from their daughter wasn’t it?! Her parents were supposed to be dead. Now they were alive, and she was just catching up. There were a lot of differences between the events. They weren’t dead (just thought to be) whilst Jesus definitely was!

But there are some parallels for the followers of Jesus. Over the next day and weeks they had to catch up with what had happened, and the implications of these things for them. And Jesus gave them the time that was needed to understand what had taken place.

Some took longer than others