Family?s desperate search

By LYNDAL GAWEN

AS THE television and radio microphones were set out in front of Nicole Lieske's parents, the stark reality of the nightmare reflected in their eyes ? and the question: How could it be happening to them?

Their daughter is missing and police believe she is in grave danger of foul play.

"Nickie it's mummy,'' Colleen Whiffen gasped between sobs, "please come home safe to us and your beautiful babies. "Please if anyone knows ? we miss you so much,'' Mrs Whiffen cried.

This was all Nicole's mother was able to say during the press conference held at Rockhampton Police Station yesterday.

Mrs Whiffen was present with her husband, Graeme, both from Wollongong, New South Wales, and Nicole's dad, Lou Lieske and his wife Christine, both of Emu Park.

"I last spoke to her (Nicole) about Christmas,'' Mr Lieske said, "Boxing day was the last time I saw her.''

"She was her normal self, things were good, you know, it was around Christmas time ? the festive season,'' he said.

At the age of 13 Nicole moved to Blackwater from Wollongong, to live with her dad and younger brother, Troy, who was also at yesterday's press conference.

As a workplace health and safety officer, Mr Lieske began work at the mines, and Nicole started school at Blackwater State High School.

"She was a bright student,'' Nicole's stepmother, Mrs Lieske, said.

"She did not overly like school, like many teenagers,'' but Nicole completed and passed her year 10 certificate before leaving to start work, she said.

Because of the five-year age difference between Nicole and Troy, they only shared school when they were younger.

But like most older sisters, she looked after her younger brother and "was very mature and responsible toward'' him, he said.

"Just come home or ring someone,'' he pleaded, "it doesn't have to be up here it can be down in NSW, we don't care.''

After finishing year 10, Nicole worked at Red Rooster in Blackwater before moving to Wollongong for about 12 months where she lived with her aunt Jenny Hazelton.

Yesterday Ms Hazelton was in Rockhampton to support the fam- ily and continue the plea for Nicole's safety.

"She's a massive, big family down in the Wollongong area,'' Ms Hazelton said, all of whom miss her and want to hear from her.

Mrs Lieske was the last family member to speak to Nicole when she called to say happy birthday to her son on his seventh birthday.



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