Marion Barter Vanished. A Podcast Listener Found a Clue

Inside the significance of the last name 'Remakel'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2022 10:00 AM CST
Her Mother Vanished in 1997. A Big Clue Came in 2011
Money had been pulled from Marion Barter's bank account.   (Getty Images / jax10289)

It's a convoluted missing-person story, one that has been turned into a podcast called "The Lady Vanishes" that's been downloaded some 14 million times. In a lengthy piece for CNN, Hilary Whiteman digs in to what's known about Marion Barter, a thrice-divorced mother of two who in June 1997 left Australia for Europe and hasn't been seen since. Daughter Sally Leydon says her then-51-year-old mother called her the following month from a payphone in the English countryside.

When months passed without word from Barter, she called her mother's bank, and the first oddity emerged: A bank worker revealed someone had been coming in daily for the last three weeks or so and taking 5,000 AUD (roughly $3,370) from the account. Leydon called police—but didn't get any answers until 2011. And they were only half answers: It turns out her mother had flown back to Australia on August 2, 1997, under the name Florabella Natalia Marion Remakel. The Australian immigration entry card did indeed feature Barter's handwriting, says her daughter, but it described her as a housewife from Luxembourg on a visit to Australia.

Fast forward to 2019, when a podcast listener poring over old Australian newspapers found an ad from an "F. Remakel" looking for a relationship. She, along with the podcast producers, then turned up a Fernand Remakel living in Luxembourg and tracked down his ex-wife, who had a relationship with the Australian F. Remakel, real name Ric Blum. They took an odd European trip together in 1999 that seemingly ended with deceit on Blum's part. Then, another twist: During an inquest into Barter's disappearance, Blum admitted to having a four-month relationship with her that he said ended in June 1997. (Read the full story.)

Stories to sink your teeth into.
Get our roundup of longform stories every Saturday.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.