Detectives investigating the disappearance of Jill Meagher hold fears that she may have been abducted, following the release of CCTV footage yesterday that shows her talking to a man.
The footage shows the Louth native and six other individuals captured by a shop camera on the night of her disappearance.
Ms Meagher, 29, can be seen outside the Duchess Boutique on Sydney Road, Brunswick around 1.40am on Saturday night.
The footage also shows six other people walking along Sydney Road, over a short time span.
In particular, detectives are seeking to speak to the man in a blue hoodie top who appears to speak to Ms Meagher.
“We’re very keen to talk to that man in the hoodie. There may be a rational explanation as to what’s happened but he certainly could help us,” Detective Inspector John Potter told media yesterday.
“He’s walked past the camera twice and he engages in a conversation with Jillian so we’re obviously extremely keen to speak to that man.”
“We don’t know whether she knows the man but it appears to be a casual conversation struck, by looking at the footage,” he said.
Detectives believe Ms Meagher is holding her mobile phone to her ear in one section of the footage, where she appears to speak to a man in a blue hoodie.
Detectives believe this may correspond to a phone call to her brother, Michael, at 1.43am.
Det Insp Potter said police hold ‘grave concerns’ for the Drogheda woman.
“She hasn’t been heard of since the early hours of Saturday and it’s now Wednesday,” he said, yesterday.
He said police have not ruled out the possibility she may have been abducted.
Detectives still consider the handbag found in the lane way off Hope St on Monday to be “a crucial piece of evidence” and are still pursuing the possibility it may have been planted.
However, the investigation has no suspects as of yet, according to police.
Police have enquired with taxi companies, local hospitals and are continuing to examine CCTV from the area.
“We are adopting a methodical approach to this investigation and we need to get it right and make sure everything we do is right,” said Det Insp Potter.
Ms Meagher was reported missing on Saturday morning by her husband Thomas after she failed to return home from a night out on Friday.
Police today set up a mobile unit in Brunswick, with plain clothes detectives, bike patrol members and uniformed members conducting foot patrols.
:: Hearts and minds
Ms Meagher’s friends have said that she remains in their “hearts and in our minds”, on a Facebook page set up to help find her.
“Hi everyone,” they wrote late last night.
“Thanks for your support for Jill, Tom, their family and friends. Thank you for all the kind words and for re-posting the CCTV footage too. Its been wonderful to know that so many people out there are praying for Jill’s safe return.
“We have postered Melbourne and some parts of Australia with Jill’s image … she is in our hearts and in our minds. If you would like to assist in postering please email us at email@example.com.”