Stab Magazine | How 1970's Surf Film Reignited A Cold Murder Case

How 1970’s Surf Film Reignited A Cold Murder Case

A 1970’s Northern Beaches surf film stars the missing 18-year old, Trudie Adams. 

news // Nov 1, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ahh the Northern Beaches. A region with the perks of city proximity whilst still maintaining a sandy and shoeless requisite. For decades the area has been cherished by it’s residents and adorned by jealous passersby, but now it’s been revealed that the 1970’s – as nostalgic as they may seem – were a time wrought with underlying evil within the tight-knit coastal community. 

Fourty years ago in June of ’78, an 18-year old, Trudie Adams, went missing after leaving the Newport Surf Club and was never seen again. Witnesses recall seeing her step into a beige panel van trying to hitchhike home, but that is the last known whereabouts of Trudie Adams. 

Although no body has ever been found, nor have any of the numerous suspects been charged, it’s been safely assumed for years that she was murdered the night of her disappearance. 

Ruby Jones, an ABC investigative journalist, has recently uncovered a long-forgotten surf film from the region that starred the missing teen, Highway One. A film which claimed to be ‘Australia’s first acted surfing feature’. 

It couldn’t be worse that Point Break’s remake, right?

It is hoped that the uncovering and release of footage from the film might re-ignite local interest in the case, perhaps enough so to prompt those in the know to come forward.

Trudie was a spark within the Northern Beaches community, and as the filmmaker Steve Otton recalls, “a happy person…just sparkling, bright and going off”. 

Trudie Adams kidnapping and unquestionable murder has been investigated four time since 1978. But recently, ABC’s show and podcast ‘Unravel: Barrenjoey Road’ have resulted in multiple women coming forward, with stories of rape, kidnappings, and assault all whilst hitch-hiking in the Northern Beaches region. 

Between 1971 and 1978 there are now 14 counts of alleged sexual assault, all of which have gone unsolved and bare uncanny similarities to the case of Trudie. Investigators believe that the men responsible for these attacks are likely involved or have knowledge of Trudie’s kidnapping and subsequent murder. 

Unfortunately the opinion at the time was that those hitchhiking were ‘asking for it’, so many of the abducted woman did not report their encounters. And those who did were typically brushed away from a lax local law enforcement. The 1970’s was a far cry from the #metoo movements of today. 

With the release of the ABC’s documentary in conjunction with re-released footage from, Highway One. Many are hoping it’ll be enough to encourage those with knowledge to come forward; whether that be information on the night of her disappearance or their own encounters with attempted and successful kidnappings. Surfing film’s might have little significance outside of entertaining the core, but Highway One might

ABC’s ‘Unravel: Barrenjoey Road’ airs on Tuesday nights, but can be watched over at ABC iView or listened to on the podcast. If you know anything, or know someone who might, give Crimestoppers a call on 1800 333 000. 


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