EVERY year when Missing Persons Week focuses on the never ending search for answers there are old wounds and old puzzles re-opened in many communities.
These mysteries continue to linger in the communities in which they occurred, forever forcing residents to question and face the reality that these people could have simply disappeared without a trace.
In Lithgow older residents in particular pause to again wonder just what happened in two of our most memorable missing persons cases, the disappearance without trace of Portland schoolboy Robert Mulhollan and industrial chemist Ervin Toeroek.
With the passing of the years it seems there may never be answers.
Nine year old Robert Mulhollan, also known as Robert Mulhollan-Green, signed the roll after Portland Central School sports day at the town's swimming pool on the afternoon of November 17 in 1967.
To all intents and purposes he then simply disappeared, leaving Portland with its most enduring mystery.
The only clue was the discovery of his schoolbag in the front yard of the family home, not far from the pool.
Over the following days and weeks police, military, sniffer dogs and civilians conducted a massive search and members of the public phoned in discoveries of suspected 'bush graves' as far away as Lithgow's Scenic Hill, all of which led nowhere.
More than half a century after the events of that year memories are still raw for many in Portland and it was just a few years ago that police received a tip off from a local resident that led them to carry out a major excavation in the back yard of the former family home.
Police were convinced that a member of the family knew what had happened to the little boy but hopes of a death bed confession were fruitless.
Perhaps some day.
THEN there was the baffling case, also in the 60s, of Ervin Toeroek who also vanished, never to be seen again.
Ervin was an industrial chemist employed at the then busy Glen Davis shale oil refinery and was building a home in Glen Davis in preparation for an intended marriage.
He was residing at the time at the Littleton Hostel, former wartime accommodation for munitions workers that straddled the area between today's Curtin Place and Rifle Parade.
Ervin travelled to Sydney to attend a soccer match involving the visiting Hungarian Rapide side and returned that night to the hostel.
Next morning he was gone, leaving behind his vehicle and belongings and the half complete home at Glen Davis.
Ervin seemingly had no known personal issues that would cause him to willingly disappear and the case triggered a popular conspiracy theory that he had been abducted by a foreign power. But he had no special skills that would interest foreign agents and the theory was quickly dismissed.
So, with no abduction, just what did happen to Ervin Toeroek.
Perhaps next Missing Persons Week.
If you have information that may assist police, please contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.