THE INTERSECTION OF ART AND GRIEF! One man’s non-fiction narrative of his brother’s outback murder

EXCLUSIVE: The grieving brother of WA outback murder victim, Raymond Kehlet, is speaking out following the state DPP’s decision not to prosecute the killing. Dave Kehlet tells Nour Ahmad how the disappointing investigation inspired him to create a literary newsletter and Facebook group where he conducts his own inquiry into what happened that fateful day.

Seven years ago, Perth local Dave Kehlet was having a meal in an apartment in South Korea when his wife phoned him with life-changing news. He would find out his older brother, Raymond, 47, along with his brother’s wife, Jennie, 49, had been reported missing after travelling to the remote town of Sandstone for a prospecting trip.

Two days later, Mr Kehlet took a flight back home and, a couple of days after on April 8, 2015, a decomposed body was found at the bottom of a mineshaft not far from the Kehlet’s campsite. The body would later be identified as Raymond Kehlet.

What followed was a turbulent time for the deceased’s family. There was good news when a 2020 inquest finally acknowledged that Mr Kehlet was, indeed, murdered. But then, there was the recent news that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would not lay charges in the event the murderer is found.

Mr Kehlet told True Crime News Weekly that the decision was “absolutely devastating.”

“We just sort of assumed the guy responsible would be charged within weeks or months [of the inquest findings] ….but then they made that ultimate decision,” he said.

Mr Kehlet firmly believes WA police could have done more for the case, given that they had seven years to compile information and evidence.

“We’re more concerned with what detail or lack thereof that the police have actually provided because it seems pretty clear cut what happened to Ray and Jennie.”

The mineshaft the late Raymond Kehlet was found in (Image: Supplied / Substack)

In 2020, concerns were raised in Parliament over whether the WA police minister, Michelle Roberts, had been doing enough to ensure there were sufficient police numbers in the region.

When asked if he believed police had enough resources in regional areas to solve crimes, Mr Kehlet responded yes.

“I think per capita there is more than enough police resources. Perhaps it is merely their abilities that let the public down,” he stated.

In the midst of the disappointing investigation, Mr Kehlet found solace in writing.

In July last year, two months after the coroner agreed Raymond Kehlet was murdered, Mr Kehlet started a Substack newsletter titled “The Man in the Hole.” He would go on to create a Facebook page under the same name, which has amassed hundreds of members.

In one of his entries, he details how he and his brother Mal decided to carry out their own investigation at Sandstone. The two tried to recreate the scene, and came to the conclusion that there was no chance their street-smart brother climbed down the mineshaft without proper gear.

In another, he opens up about his childhood escapades with his brothers – together they were “The Three Amigos” who vigorously hunted rabbits and played pretend navigators and drivers. Raymond was also the one who taught Mr Kehlet how to write before he even went to school.

Brothers Mal, Dave and Ray, who went by “The Three Amigos” (Image: Supplied / Substack)

Mr Kehlet explained that writing the newsletter is cathartic for him and that, surprisingly, he had never done any formal writing before creating the newsletter.

“I was trying to keep my thoughts contained in a way but also to hopefully get the message from the family’s point of view of what happened and why,” he said.

The grieving brother revealed he shares his page with three or four different Australian “Cold Cases” Facebook groups, as he wants people interested in the true crime genre to be on board with it.

“The more people that are involved, the more public pressure is put on those that are making the decisions.”

However, this has sometimes proven challenging for Mr Kehlet, as a Cold Cases admin once rejected his page after deeming his newsletter to be a “blog.”

Mr Kehlet said this decision was illogical and caused him to feel upset.

“It didn’t make sense because people share YouTube stories and when I sort of questioned them they blocked me,” he informed.

In spite of this, Mr Kehlet still continues to spread the word in hopes that both the DPP and Police will take accountability.

“The DPP always tell us they have no powers of investigation, that’s their favourite catchphrase, and the police deflect to the DPP … so ultimately no one’s held responsible,” Mr Kehlet said.

An “Outback Mystery?

In Australia, over 53,000 missing persons reports were made to police in 2021 alone.

One such recent case was four-year-old Cleo Smith, who disappeared from her family’s remote campsite on Coral Coast, WA, in October last year. Cleo was fortunately found alive and well 18 days later, but there are many other cases in the mysterious Wildflower state that remain unsolved to this day.

Notorious WA cold cases include that of 33-year-old Desmond Carr, who was last seen in 1979 south of Broome, and Glenyce Rae McGowan, who disappeared in 1975 from a campsite in WA’s North West.

Learning about these may dissuade some from travelling to the outback, but Mr Kehlet views the outback as something to be respected rather than to be scared of.

“If people are prepared and have emergency contingencies, including personal locator beacons, then there is no need to find travelling in the outback daunting,” he said.

Dave Kehlet swats flies while investigating Sandstone (Image: Supplied / Substack)

Mr Kehlet said the media touted the case as the “Outback Mystery” in 2015, but Jennie’s family and friends who were there all advised the police otherwise.

He believes the area Raymond and Jennie were camping in was not difficult terrain, and that he now refers to it as the “Outback-lite.”

“For [Raymond and Jennie’s] abilities and experience in the outdoors it should have been deemed inconceivable that they were simply “missing” from the start,” he said.

Mr Kehlet stated that, although the area was remote, the prominent roads, tracks, fence lines, and communication towers meant the circumstances were not as mysterious as was claimed.

“The man made landmarks are all prominent … as well as the natural elements that Ray in particular knew how to read from a very young age,” he said.

True Crime News Weekly contacted the WA Police for comment and they responded that the investigation remains with the Special Crime Divison and is active and ongoing.

About Nour Ahmad 14 Articles
Nour Ahmad is a journalist with True Crime News Weekly. She is a journalism graduate from Macleay College, and recently reported on the 2022 Budget for Dynamic Business. She is interested in politics, local issues, true crime and popular culture.

Be the first to comment

Have Your Say