A convicted murderer accused of killing a Perth teenager who disappeared almost three decades ago has died in hospital from cancer.
- Radina Djukich was last seen alive in May 1992 leaving North Beach
- Ronald Joseph Buckland was charged with her manslaughter
- Cold case detectives had recently conducted a new search for remains
Ronald Joseph Buckland, 70, was due to stand trial in December accused of injecting 14-year-old Radina Djukich with a deadly substance before burying her body in bushland.
He denied the allegations.
Ms Djukich was last seen alive in May 1992 leaving her home in the Perth suburb of North Beach.
Buckland was understood to have been living with her at the time, and he reported her missing to police claiming she had run away interstate.
A year after Ms Djuckich’s disappearance, Buckland murdered his 18-year-old girlfriend Victoria Robinson, after an argument, and buried her body in bushland near Yanchep in Perth’s north.
He was jailed for life with a 20-year minimum, and it was when he became eligible for parole that police charged him with killing Ms Djukich.
Information from deathbed sparked yesterday’s search
Buckland was charged by cold case detectives with her manslaughter after police received fresh information about her disappearance.
Today Buckland’s lawyer Patti Chong confirmed her client had died in Fiona Stanley Hospital.
He had been ill for some time and at his last court appearance earlier this month, Ms Chong said she did not believe he would be well enough to stand trial.
Buckland’s death comes a day after cold case police officers conducted a new search of bushland at Yanchep to try to find Ms Djukich’s remains.
It is understood the new search was a result of Buckland providing further information to detectives.
It was the second search conducted by cold case officers since Buckland was charged.
Inquest told of similarities between cases
An inquest was conducted into Ms Djukich’s suspected death in 2001, with police telling the inquest her disappearance had “similarities” to what happened to Ms Robinson.
Buckland gave evidence at the hearing and denied having anything to do with either Ms Robinson’s death, or Ms Djukich’s disappearance.
In his findings the then-state coroner, Alastair Hope, said he believed Ms Djukich was the victim of a homicide, and that Buckland may have been involved in the killing or in disposing of her body.
However he found there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Buckland was the killer.
At the time, Ms Djukich’s mother said she “had no doubts” Buckland was responsible.
“Why, I have no idea what the motive is, I have no idea,” she said.
“I just want my daughter back, and I’m just praying to God that he [Buckland] does come clean and gives me back my girl.”