This month’s missing person’s post takes us to new territory: Australia! On a summer night in December (remember, it’s summer in the southern hemisphere when it’s winter in the northern), a 25 year old man went missing from Armidale, New South Wales. The man had told his family and friends that he was involved with a group of witches at the time, and that he had angered them during a misguided joke. That’s right – this is another case involving a supposed curse from a witch. So, what happened to Bill Roach on New Year’s Eve, 1993? Let’s explore.
Who Is Bill?
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information online regarding Bill’s life before his disappearance, so I will have to stick to the basics here. If you know Bill, or have more information that we could share so that he can be remembered as more than just his disappearance, please feel free to reach out. William Roach, who goes by Bill, was born in 1968. His younger sister Kim describes him as being a very friendly, kind, and smart young man. He was in university at the time of his disappearance, and had recently become interested in Dungeons and Dragons.
At the time of his disappearance, Bill was living in an “alternative community” with his significant other, who self-identified as a practicing witch, in a group of witches. It is unclear whether this community they lived in was centered around these practicing witches or not. Shortly before his disappearance, Bill attended a ceremony with his significant other and this group of witches. They were allegedly going to initiate him into the group as a wizard. As a part of this ceremony, Bill was supposed to cross a river without touching the water. As a joke, he jumped right in. A witch in the group then put a curse of death on him for this folly.
Bill was last seen on New Year’s Eve in 1993, walking down Barney Street in New South Wales. His mother had been told about the alleged curse, but told news outlets that he had brushed it off. She knew he had been dabbling in witchcraft and drugs at the time, and had some worries that he may have harmed himself.
Bill was reported missing in the early days of 1994. There were initial searches and inquiries to those deemed to be close to him, but details regarding early investigations are murky. In 2004, the New South Wales Police created a task force called Strike Force Annan to examine the details of Bill’s disappearance, after ten years of the case being cold. The task force offered $50,000 for information regarding what happened to Bill. If any tips or information was received as a result of this initiative, it does not appear to have been made public.
Next, in 2010, a Coronial Inquest was held, during which it was determined that Bill had likely died. This is a strange ruling for a number of reasons. First, no remains have ever been discovered in relation to this case. Second, the coroner listed the cause of death as undetermined. And third, this ruling seems to be based on no solid factors apart from the amount of time that has passed without any sign of Bill. However, it is interesting to note that the Coronial Inquest did examine a few persons of interest who lived in Armidale at the time of Bill’s disappearance – including one who never spoke to police about it.
The next step forward in the case came in 2016, when investigators officially reopened the investigation into Bill’s disappearance. A warrant was carried out to search a property near the edge of Armidale, which was thought to have been a crime scene, but nothing was found at that scene. Alongside this warrant being carried out, the reward in the case was increased to $100,000.
So, we’re back to the question from last week’s post. Are curses real? Did Bill truly believe he was cursed? Based on his actions during the alleged ceremony and his behavior afterwards, it doesn’t seem to me that he took the witches and their practices that seriously. Regardless of whether magic is real – and, as I have stated, this is a statement I am beyond unqualified to make – I don’t think the curse itself played into Bill’s disappearance. What I think is far more likely is that the person who cast the curse, or someone close to them, is involved. It’s clear that they held a grudge against Bill for his joke at the ceremony. We know that this person was close with Bill’s significant other. Meaning they would have had access to him to play out their curse in a more hands-on way.
There is also the officially endorsed theory that Bill was somehow involved in the drug scene in Armidale, and that involvement led to his still undiscovered murder. Investigators have come to believe that there are people who were involved in the witchcraft scene in Armidale that were also involved in a drug ring, and this is likely how Bill became entangled. In addition to this, Bill was said to have been living in an alternative community with his significant other at the time of his disappearance. Alternative communities are most often established when they have ideals that clash with the mainstream society – in this case, it could be the witchcraft practices, drugs, or both. These communities are incredibly insular and take drastic action to keep members from leaving and possible telling outsiders what goes on inside the community.
There is currently a $1 million reward for any information regarding the disappearance and likely murder of Bill Roach. Those with information should reach out to the New South Wales Crime Stoppers at 1 800 333 000 or report online via their website. It has been nearly 28 years since anyone has heard from Bill. Unfortunately, his mother passed away with no answers, but his sister is still searching for the truth. If you know anything, or know someone who does, reach out to the proper authorities.
As always, I can’t cover everything in these posts, but I do want to point out that the New South Wales did a two part series on Bill for their podcast earlier this year. Here’s a news article about it.