Stephen Neville Jelfs, an Australian native of 21 years, was last seen by his partner on April 24, 1978 in Paddington. Because he frequently travelled the globe on short notice, no one reported him missing for several months. Although there is a possible suspect, Stephen’s whereabouts remains unknown.
Details of Disappearance
The birth date of Stephen Neville Jelfs is March 16, 1957. At the age of 16, he moved three hours to the northeast to Sydney. He met a man named Peter Rolfe in 1974. Stephen stayed with Peter until he was able to find his own apartment.
In 1978, Steven, who was homosexual, resided with his psychiatrist partner in a Paddington apartment on Sunderland Street. His peers referred to him as “Boppa.”
Stephen possessed exceptional horticultural knowledge. He launched his own plant shop in Edgecliff, then King’s Cross, and finally Paddington’s Plant Gallery. He was a frequent guest on the “John Laws Show” on the commercial radio station 2UW, hosted by John Laws (now known as KIIS).
Stephen’s partner last saw him on April 24, 1978 at their apartment on Sunderland Street in Paddington, an inner-city eastern suburb of Sydney.
Stephen had several shady clients, including a drug and prostitution industry figure from Kings Cross.
In 2015, his father, Neville Jelfs, stated: “Steve used to provide plants for this man and was occasionally in and out of his home.”
About a year prior to Stephen Jelfs’ disappearance, the criminal’s journal vanished from his home beside the telephone. He suspected that Stephen had stolen it. Stephen denied the notebook’s theft. He informed Neville that if anything were to happen to him, this individual would be to blame.
Stephen told Neville that he had received a few visits from the police, but not at the request of the police department. The males complied with the criminal figure’s request. He employed the police as a type of standby force, consisting of men who threatened others with physical harm in order to get their way. Stephen grew apprehensive and anxious in the months preceding his disappearance.
Stephen Jelfs was not reported missing until six months after his partner last saw him. The current chief inspector of the homicide squad’s unsolved homicide team, John Lehmann, has no explanation for the delay but speculates that it is because Stephen frequently travelled abroad at the last minute.
Stephen was suspected of being involved with drugs because he was carrying significant amounts of cash. This is feasible due to the type of clientele Stephen maintained, which included the man previously mentioned. However, he also conducted business with a multi-property-owning millionaire. Stephen assisted him in selling the properties while earning lucrative commissions.
Never were detectives able to corroborate Stephen’s participation in organized crime.
When police questioned Stephen’s close friends in 1978, they refused to speak up, something that has bothered Neville Jelfs to this day. Did they know something?
There is little information regarding the actual investigation from 1978. In 2009, a coroner determined that Stephen had perished but could not determine the cause.
Friend of Stephen
Peter Rolfe pushed tirelessly for a reward in Stephen Jelfs’ case. His companion, Stephen Dempsey, vanished in 1994. Police discovered his remains five months later.
Rolfe told the Star Observer, “Stephen used to do beats frequently, and I used to do them with him, but it did stun me that he was murdered at one – he had always been so fearless.”
“After discovering that he was missing, I was travelling by Deep Creek Park when I recalled that Stephen used to frequent the area, so I decided to check it out.”
As soon as he discovered the vehicle, he called the police, who took Rolfe to the station and then searched his home to ensure that he had not himself been holding Stephen captive. Stephen’s body had been missing for months until 21-year-old Richard Leonard attacked a taxi driver in Collaroy Plateau, not far from where Stephen had vanished (Wade 2016).
“The detective in command was observing Deep Creek, which was visible from there, and he made a remark about it to his partner,” Rolfe explained.
Soon after a torso washed up at Pittwater, a DNA test revealed that it belonged to Stephen and that he had been killed with a bow and arrow.
Leonard was in possession of a bow and arrow when he murdered Stephen Dempsey, dismembered his corpse, and then dumped the remains in the ocean.
The Sydney Gay Beat Murders
Between 1989 and 1999, 46 homophobic homicides were documented in New South Wales. Unsolved are thirty additional cases. These homicides gained the moniker “The Sydney Gay Beat Murders.”
Stephen Jelfs’s disappearance and his partner’s murder prompted Peter Rolfe to advocate for victims as president of the advocacy group Support After Murder.
As of 2015, the Kings Cross figure was still alive and residing in Sydney.
The companion of Stephen has returned to Thailand and is no longer considered a suspect in his disappearance.
In 2015, Stephen’s father, Neville, and sister, Lynette Price, made a public appeal for information about Stephen Jelfs’ whereabouts, and the state offered a $100,000 reward.
If you have any information about this case, please contact Crime Stoppers at 1800 333 000.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
I believe the thug from Kings Cross contracted someone to murder Stephen Jelfs and dispose of his body. Clearly, he was employing his henchmen to intimidate and then murder Stephen. Why did he suspect Stephen of stealing the notebook? What did this notebook contain that warranted murder? Why did he suspect Stephen? I’m sure there were all sorts of shady characters coming in and out of his residence. I am eager to learn this man’s identity.
Why dd Stephen’s friends refuse to speak with police in 1978? What did they know?
Did Stephen do drugs? Is this a hate crime? Did someone kill Stephen for being gay?
There is little information on Stephen’s partner, so I have no idea why he police ruled him out as a suspect. I’m guessing he had a good alibi.