Latest News

‘My Sister Has Been Missing For Nine Years’

In 2008, 22-year-old Sally Cheong disappeared from her home in Oakleigh South, Melbourne—without saying a word to her family. Nine years on, Sally has still not been sighted. To mark Missing Person’s Week, her sister, Helen Cheong, shares her story

Sally was always very family-oriented. She was the big sister of five children, and took a lot of responsibility, so I could rely on her to do most things.

Translating was her role, organising events was her role. I’d be a bit scared of her, but she’s an older sister, so that’s normal.

The night before Sally disappeared, we had played tennis. In terms of the interaction, I don’t remember anything being out of the ordinary. That was the last time I saw her.

I woke up the next day and I had all of these calls while I was at work, saying that she hadn’t turned up for work at my parent’s place. After I got the phone calls, honestly a lot of it was a blur. It was just so hectic and so emotional that you forget the details.

People started panicking later in the day when no one could reach Sally. Her phone was still active, so we were constantly ringing her phone.

Sally Cheong
Sally (right)

Towards night-time, we started rummaging through her room, we contacted the police, but they had a 24-hour policy for missing people so we went back the next morning.

We checked her Facebook, logged in to her computer and tried to contact all her friends. We also drove around the neighbourhood hoping that she was just out or around the streets, hoping we could see through the houses. When I look back, we were just really desperate.

My sister Wendy had seen a silhouette outside her room the night that Sally disappeared. The police looked at Sally’s bank account and her phone, which hadn’t been used, so they weren’t able to track her location from that.

Sally also took her favourite blanket that she had since she was young, and it was really tattered. That blanket would suggest she did run away, unless someone knew about it. I don’t see why she would bring it unless she knew that she was going to go permanently.

But she had left her passport at home, so the suggestion was that if she did run away, she had somehow managed to get a fake passport from someone. They do believe that someone else was involved, or someone out there had done something, because of the silhouette Wendy saw.

Sally Cheong
Sally Cheong in Beijing in 2007

Before she disappeared, Sally had just come back to Melbourne from a one-year trip to Beijing. At the time she probably didn’t know what she wanted to do in life. She was a bit confused with her career, because she studied Computer Science and couldn’t really find a job, so perhaps she was looking at helping mum and dad with the business.

When she came back, I felt like she had changed a little. We knew that she had made a lot of Chinese friends and her Chinese dramatically improved.

She sounded like she wanted more freedom. I had one or two conversations where I remember her saying something like, “Don’t you feel like you just want to get out?” I remember we were in the car, we had just finished tennis, and it was the first time she indicated that she wanted to get out and be free.

For me, that was really, really unusual because she was always the one who had a stable boyfriend and wanted to help out with the family, and just do everything by the family traditions.

Sally Cheong

Nine years on, Sally is still missing. I do hope she’s out there and that she’s just lost her way a bit and hopefully will come back. I don’t want to say that I don’t have any hope, but it just feels more distant, the chances are lower now. Obviously, the fear is that she has met with foul play along the way. 

I think investigators have exhausted a lot of their options, but I’m sure they’re still monitoring bank accounts and all that. The Victoria Missing Persons Unit have been really good in getting Sally’s face out there and creating more awareness.

As a family, we don’t really discuss [her disappearance] a lot, so as time goes by, it becomes more distant. Every year I get reminded, and I’m always the person who speaks about it. I look at my family, and everyone looks very happy, but inside I don’t know what they’re feeling


As for my dad and my mum, they get very emotional when they see her picture. That happened when I got married, I put up a picture of my sister on the screen and my dad was in tears.

My sisters, they’ve been good, and I think my brother was too young to be able to know my sister.

My sister Anna—the third one—she probably was the closest after me with Sally. She’s hard to read, let’s put it that way. We watch her closely because the quiet ones, the ones that don’t tell you how they feel, are the ones that keep a lot inside. So I do try to talk to her about it.

When people ask me how many siblings I have, at one point I told them there’s only four of us. If they’re close to me and they want to know, I will tell them we’ve got five and explain what happened with Sally. It’s hard.

Sally Cheong

Growing up, I don’t think I ever really told Sally that I love her, or indicated that I appreciated her at all. Ever. It was like I took her for granted as my older sister, and just wanted her to suffer all the responsibilities.

If I had the chance again, I’d definitely tell her how much I appreciate her and how much I love her. Now, I live through each day telling everyone how much I appreciate them and love them, and it just comes more naturally, whereas before it didn’t.

You just never know when you’re going to get the chance again, so you cherish the moment.

Anyone with information relating to a missing person is urged to contact their local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

To view Australia’s national register of missing persons, visit the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre website at, where information about support services across Australia can also be found.

Related stories