Evil on the Road is a 4-part series on people who vanished while hitchhiking. All articles will be published on Mondays until the series is complete.
Charles and Margaret Verheyden met at a rowing club in Amsterdam and became engaged in 1954. However, Charles’ job took him to Singapore for two years, and the couple stayed in touch through letters.
On October 29, 1956, the Suez Crisis began, temporarily closing the Suez Canal. Therefore, Margaret had to sail to Singapore via a detour around the bottom of South Africa. The couple married shortly after Margaret’s arrival.
The couple had nine children over the next 11 years – four boys and five girls.
The Verheyden family arrived in Sydney, Australia, at noon on Feb. 27, 1965. Within six months, the couple had bought their first house in Guildford and later lived in Carlingford and Baulkham Hills. They found their forever home in Northmead, where they remain today.
“Charles forged a career and business in property valuing and was an expert witness in court matters for many years,” according to Catholic Outlook in a story about the couple in November 2018. Margaret became a teacher’s aide at Macarthur Girls High and worked there for 25 years.
Four years after their arrival in Sydney, Charles and Margaret’s daughter Carmen Nicole Verheyden was born. Little is known about Carmen’s childhood years, but she became addicted to drugs as an adult.
Carmen, 22, was last seen at 12:30 a.m. on March 11, 1991, attempting to hitchhike to her Westmead home along Hume Highway at Casula, near Liverpool, outside the Crossroads Hotel. She has never been seen or heard from again.
More than two years later, in September 1993, Carmen’s roommate, Narelle Joy Dummett, then 26, testified at a coroner’s inquest that she and Carmen were injected with heroin by a well-known drug offender named Sam Khoury, then 47 years old.
On March 10, 1991, Carmen and Dummett attended a sex-for-drugs party at a house in Eagle Vale, where Khoury gave them both a second injection of heroin in the kitchen. Afterward, Dummett “felt an immediate high and collapsed on the floor,” as did Carmen, but Carmen never regained consciousness. Dummett awoke half-naked with a sore vagina.
She told the court: “I felt slight discomfort as though I’d been interfered with more than once although I only remember having sex on one occasion in the shower … with a man with three or four lines of verse tattooed on his penis.”
Dummett said Carmen and Khoury went into a bedroom four times that night. Afterward, Khoury photographed them both semi-naked “in various positions” while other men at the party watched.
One witness told the court: “They were just ordinary sheilas, you can do anything you like to them.”
The man with the tattooed penis was Gregory Charles Lloyd Richards, then 32 years old. When police prosecutor Sergeant Warren Christley questioned him in the Westmead Coroner’s Court, he initially denied having the tattoo. However, he ultimately acknowledged that he had the words “Knock The Top Off” tattooed on four lines on his penis.
Richards denied being at the sex-for-drugs party. Khoury refused to answer the coroner’s questions on grounds it would incriminate him.
According to Dummet, a month after she reported Carmen missing, Khoury telephoned her.
“I told you not to get me f—ing involved. I’ve got nothing to f—ing do with anything. You’re going to be in f—ing s—. Stay out of my f—ing life. I’ll be around tonight. I’m not joking.”
Dummett initially identified Khoury only as “Dan” out of fear for the safety of her young daughter, Stacey. Police put Dummett and Stacey under police protection throughout the inquest.
Detective Sergeant Alwyn Moore of Australia’s Drug Enforcement Agency told the coroner that his team did surveillance on Khoury and used videos and phone taps to get a search warrant on Khoury’s home. As a result, Moore and his team confiscated numerous items from the residence, including heroin and an amino acid known as “El Caradine,” used to enhance the performance of athletes and horses. They also found thousands of dollars in cash and three illegal pistols, ammunition, and a gun silencer.
Sergeant Warren Christey, assisting the coroner, told the court that Khoury had “blatantly lied” on the night Carmen died and denied organizing the party.
Christey showed the court an anonymous letter sent to the Detective-Sergeant Graham Kell at Parramatta police station on Oct. 18, 1993. Kell was in charge of the investigation.
The letter read:
“She did overdose at the party and Sam Khoury was responsible for disposing of her body … unfortunately in such a manner it will never be detected. I’m sorry I haven’t said anything sooner, and that I have to remain anonymous, but Khoury is such a bastard my life wouldn’t be worth living if he found out.”Sydney Morning Herald, March 30, 1994
Someone told investigators that Carmen’s body had possibly been put in a furnace and burned.
Khoury said he felt “deeply” for Carmen’s parents, but “I know in my heart that I had nothing to do with her death, if she has died.”
The coroner ultimately determined that Carmen died from a heroin overdose on March 11, 1991, and that Khoury disposed of her body. Police never found her body.
Most agencies report that Carmen was last seen outside the Crossroads Hotel, about eight miles north of Eagle Vale, where the party was held. There is speculation that serial killer Ivan Milat might have abducted and murdered her. He had picked up seven hitchhikers along Hume Highway between 1989 and 1992 and brutally murdered them. He was captured in 1994 and sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2019.
In November 1993, detectives investigating Milat’s crimes looked at the possibility that Carmen was one of his victims. However, they never found any evidence linking him to her disappearance.
As of this writing, Carmen’s parents are alive and still reside in their Northmead home. Dummett is now in her 50s and lives in Sydney.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
There is little information available on this case. I could not find anything on it after 1994, other than one Daily Mail article talking about Covid-19 and the Crossroads Hotel and briefly mentioning Carmen.
The lack of media coverage is probably because of the circumstances surrounding Carmen’s disappearance, and the Coroner determined she died of an accidental overdose at the sex party.
While I believe that is how she died, I can’t help but wonder a little bit about Milat’s possible involvement. He picked up his victims along Hume Highway not far from the Crossroads Hotel. She is around the same age as his female victims and had a similar appearance.
I could not find anything on who last saw Carmen outside the Crossroads Hotel. It was after the party, and she was heading to her home. The sighting does not fit with Dummett’s account of what happened to Carmen.
So, who saw Carmen? What time? Was she alone? Dummett was her roommate, so where was Dummett? If this was Carmen, she could not have died at the party. How did she get to the hotel? Why would Dummett lie to the coroner about what happened to her and Carmen at the party? I don’t believe the sighting was of Carmen, but someone who looked like her.
I have so many questions about Carmen. How long had she been doing drugs? Was she ever arrested? How long did she know Dummett and Khoury?
I tried finding Khoury but had no luck. He would be in his 70s now.