The disappearance of Tegan Lane

Updated: May 11



Note: This case takes place in Australia, and there could very well be cultural differences or other things I was unable to pick up on. This story also has to do quite a bit with professional sports, something I also know very little about. If you’re from Australia and think I missed something important or accidentally used an unreliable source, (or if you believe I got something wrong regarding the athletic aspect), feel free to let me know in the comments.

I’ve been interested in true crime since I was a child, and in that time I’ve probably heard or read about hundreds of cases. One sort of case I find especially compelling are the solved murder cases where the victim’s body has never been found. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for a family to know their loved one is dead but not have the closure of being able to bury their remains. I came across today’s case while looking into ones like it and, as far as solved cases with no body, it’s one of the most bizarre ones I’ve ever heard. This is the story of the disappearance of a two-day-old baby named Tegan Lane. But if we really want to understand Tegan’s life, we have to go back and look at the life of her mother, Keli Lane.

Keli Lane was born on March 21, 1975, the first child of father Robert, a police officer, and mother Sandra, a hospital administrator. A few years later, Keli was joined by a younger brother named Morgan.

In 1979, when Keli was four, the family moved to Manly, a suburb of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. Growing up, Keli was a daddy’s girl, the apple of her father’s eye. So it’s no surprise she ended up following in her athletic father’s footsteps. At the time, Robert Lane was an avid surfer and rugby player. He was a coach for the Manly Rugby Union Football Club, and had ambitions to play rugby professionally, though that never worked out. By the time Keli was just eight years old, she was intensely into water polo.

By her teenage years, Keli and her family were well known in the small town of Manly. As the child of a well known rugby coach, Keli was very popular and became used to getting her way. An attractive blonde, Keli dated frequently and was in quite a few relationships. While some boys were reluctant to get too involved with the daughter of a policeman, she seemed to have no trouble getting male attention. Keli was still serious about water polo and trained hard — but also partied hard.

In the sources I found, Keli’s parents weren’t painted in the best light. Keli’s father was seen as very strict, and her mother was described as tough as well as cold and distant. Keli’s mother was also the manager for the New South Wales water polo team that Keli was in, and both her parents seemed to take her water polo ambitions very seriously. The Lane family also didn’t like talking about emotions, especially negative ones, and Keli learned from a young age to suppress them. Interestingly, though, at least one of Keli’s boyfriends often slept over at her house with her parents’ knowledge, something most parents wouldn’t exactly be keen on, especially parents as strict as the Lanes.

Keli would later say that her first sexual experience was at age 15, and that it wasn’t consensual. This case has never been investigated, and nobody had ever been prosecuted. But assuming it’s true, it had to be a traumatic experience for her. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last traumatic experience she would undergo.

In 1992, when Keli was 17, she was dating a boy named Aaron Tyack. At some point in this relationship Keli got pregnant for the first time. She only told Aaron and, after discussing it with him, they decided Keli would have an abortion. Aaron would later say that neither of them particularly wanted an abortion, but in their minds, there wasn’t another option.

Abortion is illegal in New South Wales unless the mother’s physical or mental health would be in danger by continuing the pregnancy. Since Keli got on a ferry somewhere to have this abortion, I assume she travelled somewhere where abortion was legal, or at least where she wasn’t likely to face criminal charges. Aaron didn’t go with her, but met her on the returning ferry after the abortion, where she fell into his arms and sobbed.

Keli got pregnant again less than a year later. She and Aaron had either just broken up or were about to break up, so she didn’t even tell him about this pregnancy, which also ended in abortion.

Just a side note: As of 2018, New South Wales is the only Australian state where abortion is still a criminal offense. A bill introduced in August 2019 would allow abortions up to 22 weeks, and any after that would have to be approved by two doctors. I don’t tell you any of this to try and push any agenda or try to sway your opinions on the legalities of abortion. I’m writing this in September 2019, so if you’re reading this any time after that, keep in mind that abortion laws in New South Wales might be about to change or already changed.

There aren’t a whole lot of details about Keli’s second pregnancy/abortion. But she would later say that the abortions were traumatic and that she didn’t want to go through with another one.

In 1993, it was announced that the 2000 Olympics would be held in Sydney, right in the Lane’s (metaphorical) backyard. Some of Keli’s coaches have said that she never had Olympic ambitions, but others said that competing in the 2000 Olympics was her dream. This supposed Olympic dream would eventually be used against her, but we’ll get to that later.

During her late teens, Keli spent a lot of time at the Manly rugby club. It was here that she met a football player named Duncan Gillies in 1994. Duncan was tall and handsome, and known as a ladie’s man as well as a promising football star. Dating him would surely help Keli’s social status even more. They soon became a couple, and their relationship became sexual almost immediately. They never lived together but, like her other boyfriends, Duncan often slept over at Keli’s house, with her parents’ knowledge and consent.

In 1995, when Keli was 19, her life seemed to be going well. She’d failed to make the Australian women’s senior water polo team the previous year, but still seemed to be playing for the New South Wales team. She was also working part time at a surf shop and continued to see Duncan. But in her small town, people talked. And people were talking about her recent weight gain. She often wore baggy clothes and was careful about not showing her stomach when she had to wear a swimsuit for water polo. But nobody seemed to want to press her on the issue. Her mother would later point out that baggy clothes were fashionable at the time; as someone who was a child in the 1990’s, this definitely strikes me as believable. Most people ultimately assumed this was nothing more than typical weight gain, possibly due to poor eating and partying. Some people suspected she was pregnant, but nobody ever pressed her about it — or, if they did, she vehemently denied it and it wasn’t brought up again.

At some point in 1995, Duncan confessed to cheating on Keli with a friend and teammate of hers. Keli was upset, but ultimately forgave Duncan and the two continued with their relationship. Duncan had no idea that Keli was in her third trimester of pregnancy when this happened.

On or around March 19, 1995, Keli and the rest of the New South Wales water polo team played in the water polo grand finale, the last game of the season. They didn’t win, but went out afterwards to celebrate the end of the season. During the celebration, Keli went into labor and left early. People noticed that she left, but nobody thought much of it. Keli soon arrived at Belmain Hospital, about a 30 minute drive away. She was later transferred to King George V Hospital, where she gave birth to a baby girl.

Keli told the hospital staff she lived in Perth, and gave them a fake address and phone number. She would later say she picked Perth because she’d been there several times before, and because it was far away. Indeed, Perth is on the opposite side of Australia, and the trip to Sydney would take at least five hours by plane. I’m not sure how Keli explained why she was giving birth on the opposite side of the country from where she lived. She also lied to explain away why her family and friends were absent for the birth. She listed Duncan as the father on the baby’s birth certificate, though a DNA test would later confirm he wasn’t. The father of Keli’s baby was actually a man she had briefly dated right before she and Duncan began their relationship.

Two days after giving birth, Keli turned 20. She and her baby were technically still admitted to the hospital, but allowed to leave for awhile on a day pass. This was rare, but Keli was given this special privilege when she told staff she was leaving to talk to her boyfriend about placing their child for adoption. Duncan, meanwhile, had no idea Keli had ever been pregnant, let alone just given birth. While Keli was out, she celebrated her birthday with loved ones, all of whom were ignorant as to what she had just been through.

Keli ultimately did choose adoption for her new baby. She turned up to all the hearings and other appointments she needed to in order for the adoption to happen, and lied about why Duncan wasn’t there. I believe she ended up forging his signatures on the papers in order for the adoption to go through.

Tegan

After Keli’s secret pregnancy and adoption, her life seemed to return to normal. She made the New South Wales senior water polo team in 1996. She continued her relationship with Duncan, though their busy schedules made it difficult for them to see each other much. There were also more rumors of him cheating.

In March 1996, Keli celebrated her 21st birthday. At the time, it seemed like a fairly normal 21st birthday celebration. Nobody knew at the time that Keli was four months pregnant.

Later that spring, some of her teammates saw her at a training session with a towel on that she refused to remove until she got in the water. Once again, the suspicions and rumors of pregnancy began to swirl. But, once again, nothing was ever confirmed.

Later in 1996, Keli enrolled at the Australian College of Physical Education with hopes of being a P.E. teacher. In August of that year, she began working part time as a water polo coach at Ravenswood School for Girls. She was apparently well-liked at Ravenswood, where one student described her as approachable and friendly. Another student reportedly said that if she’d lost her virginity, she’d have told Keli before she told her own mother, indicating there was a high level of trust between Keli and her students.

On September 10, 1996, Keli checked into Ryde Hospital, saying she had back rib pain and that she was 42 weeks pregnant. She was released the following day. Around 8 am on September 12, she was admitted to a different hospital, Auburn Hospital, and induced later that morning. At 7:52 pm, she gave birth to another baby girl.

According to hospital records, Keli bonded with her baby, bathing and breastfeeding her. As far as I could find, adoption was never brought up, as was the case with her previous child. It seems like hospital staff was under the impression that Keli would be keeping her baby.

Keli asked to be discharged on September 14th. Hospital staff agreed she could leave, but gave her a consent form to take a blood sample from her new baby. She was also given a medicare form for the baby, and seemingly only filled it out because a staff member was in the room watching her. It was here that she wrote down the name Tegan Lee, apparently only giving her new baby this name because she had to give a name. Keli left the hospital without filling out the consent form for the blood sample; it’s even been speculated that she left via a fire escape to avoid having to go past the nurse’s desk. A follow up home visit was arranged to get the filled out form, missing blood sample and to perform a final weigh in for baby Tegan.

Hospital records said Keli left the hospital around 2 pm that day, but eyewitness statements later said it was sometime between 11 am and 2 pm. After being discharged, Keli travelled from Auburn Hospital to the home she shared with her parents in Fairlight, another Sydney suburb. She’s thought to have arrived there around 3 pm, and Duncan, who had been out of town playing in a rugby tournament, was there waiting for her. At 4 pm, Keli and Duncan (and I presume the rest of the Lane family) attended a family friend’s wedding. Tegan was also nowhere in sight during this time. This wouldn’t have appeared unusual to anyone there, as nobody knew she’d even been pregnant. But sometime between 11 am and 4 pm on September 14th, Tegan Lane officially went off the radar.

According to later testimony by Sandra Lane, she drove Keli and Duncan back to the Lane house after the wedding, and Duncan stayed the night. A week after being discharged, Keli called Auburn Hospital and cancelled the home visit, saying her midwife would take care of the things the hospital still needed. She also listed Duncan’s mother Julie, a nurse, as her midwife — but Julie, just like everyone else, had no idea baby Tegan ever existed.

After Tegan’s birth, Keli’s life once again seemed to return to normal. In 1997, she suspended her education to try and make the Australian water polo team. She had been playing for New South Wales, but I believe this was a national team she wanted to be on. I don’t think she ever reached that goal, but she did make the senior state side team in 1998. Once again, I’m not too familiar with Australian culture or professional sports, so if anyone is able to provide more details about this, feel free.

In 1998, Duncan and Keli’s relationship ended when he left her for another woman. A few months later, she started gaining weight again, and those around her assumed it was from stress. But, once again, Keli was secretly pregnant.

In February 1999, when Keli was about 25 weeks pregnant, she travelled to a Planned Parenthood in Queensland, seeking an abortion. As of 2018, abortion is illegal in Queensland up to 22 weeks, at which point it can be performed if it’s approved by two doctors. In 1999, it was illegal in all circumstances but rarely prosecuted, which might be why Keli chose Queensland. However, she was denied an abortion and she went home. Later that year, she gave birth to a baby boy and made arrangements to place the child for adoption.

Once again, Keli listed Duncan as the baby’s father, though he had no idea she was pregnant. At the time, they’d been broken up for over a year, and he was overseas when the baby was conceived, so this couldn’t possibly be true. Duncan found out about this soon afterwards and, of course, denied it. At the time, he was living in Manly with the woman he’d left Keli for. DNA tests would later confirm the father was a friend of Keli’s brother, Morgan. Keli had a brief relationship with this man after Duncan left her.

Keli also told the adoption agency that this was her first child, even though she’d used the same agency for the previous adoption she’d arranged in 1995. They also had access to records that showed Tegan’s birth in 1996. Keli would later admit to Tegan’s existence, saying she lived with a family in Perth.

Much like with the 1995 birth, Keli gave hospital workers a fake name and address. While her baby boy was in foster care, she was contacted several times in order to sign important documents to make sure the adoption actually happened. But obviously she could never be reached. After a certain amount of time, the adoption agreement lapsed and the baby became a ward of Australia’s Department of Community Services, or DoCS. (This department’s name was later changed to Family & Community Services and recently changed again to the Department of Communities and Justice).

The baby boy’s case was assigned to a DoCS worker named John Borovnik. John was on vacation when the case landed on his desk. After arriving back at work and looking at the files, his co-workers told him it would probably be an easy case. It wasn’t.

John Borovnik took a look at the files and immediately knew something was fishy. At first, he thought it was nothing more than a mother trying to abandon her child. But then he realized there was a baby born in 1996 — Tegan — and there was no record of her existing after leaving the hospital on September 14th of that year. In November 1999, he officially reported Tegan Lane as a missing person — three years after she’d last been seen.

Back in Manly, Detective Matt Kehoe was assigned to Tegan’s case. But Kehoe knew Keli’s father, Robert Lane who was, of course, a police officer at one point (I believe he was retired by this time). Detective Kehoe didn’t do much investigative work into the case and didn’t interview Keli for over a year. I’ve seen people say that Kehoe shouldn’t have been allowed to work the case at all — and he did try to get off of it but was unsuccessful. However, he says his relationship with Robert Lane didn’t affect his work on the case at all and instead blames his lackluster work on something else: Corruption.

In 1999, the Manly Police Department was under harsh scrutiny, which resulted in an investigation known as Operation Florida. Six officers were arrested for and later convicted of drug trafficking, bribery and theft. Kehoe wasn’t one of the officers charged, but the police station was temporarily shut down — and several documents went missing. It’s not clear if any of these files were about Tegan Lane’s case, but this entire situation is what Kehoe blames everything on.

Meanwhile, Keli’s life, once again, went on as normal, at least on the surface. In 2000, she moved in with a family friend named Peter (not his real name) as they were both in need of roommates. But shortly after moving in together, their relationship went from friends to more than friends. In November, just weeks into their relationship, Keli told her new boyfriend that she was pregnant, and that she was keeping the baby.

Keli, Peter and the rest of her family and friends prepared for the birth, excited about what they believed was Keli’s first pregnancy. It was actually her sixth. She eventually gave birth to a baby girl and, by all accounts, was a loving mother. She even brought her baby to Ravenswood and showed her off to her students. In 2002, Keli and Peter got engaged.

Keli and Peter would go on to marry in 2004. Only one source listed his name as Peter, and named their daughter as Macy. But his name and their daughter’s name can’t actually be publicly disclosed, so I assume these are pseudonyms.

But back to 2001. On February 14, when Keli was seven months pregnant with baby “Macy,” she was finally interviewed by Detective Kehoe regarding Tegan’s disappearance. When asked about Tegan’s whereabouts, she told him she’d given Tegan to her biological father, a man named Andrew Morris. This, of course, contradicted her earlier story that said Tegan was living with a family in Perth.

According to Keli’s new story, she and Andrew Morris met in a pub and had a brief relationship. At the time, she was still dating Duncan Gillies, and Andrew had a long term girlfriend named Mel. Despite this, Andrew and Mel agreed to take baby Tegan and raise her. They arrived at the hospital on September 14th, along with Andrew’s mother, and drove Keli to Duncan’s house.

Keli also mentioned she and Andrew celebrating his 30th birthday at a local pub a few months before she gave birth. She also claimed none of her friends knew about Andrew.

Remember, all these details are strictly according to Keli. There’s no evidence that a man named Andrew Morris, his girlfriend or his mother arrived at Auburn Hospital on September 14th to pick up Keli and Tegan. There’s also no evidence that Keli was ever at Duncan’s house at all on the 14th, as every other source says she went from the hospital to her own home. (There is one source that said she lived with Duncan during their relationship, but every other source said they never lived together and that she lived with her parents until she moved in with Peter in 2000.)

One other thing I found interesting about this interview was the medicare card. At one point, Keli pulled out the medicare card with Tegan’s name on it and presented it to investigators. She’d had it with her this whole time — but there were no records of anyone named Tegan Lane ever having been brought in for medical care.

Keli’s story was odd, but not exactly criminal, soshe wasn’t charged with anything. Detective Kehoe later searched for Tegan’s birth certificate, but couldn’t find it — because, as we’ll see later, it didn’t exist. He also searched for men in the area named Andrew Morris, but didn’t find one that matched Keli’s description. Meanwhile, nobody told Robert Lane that his daughter was being investigated for the disappearance of the granddaughter he never knew existed.

In 2002, a new detective, Detective Senior Constable Gaut, was assigned to the case. He found Keli’s story about Andrew Morris believable and went into the case thinking he’d find Tegan alive. But when he interviewed Keli again, two years after the first interview, several details of her story changed.

This time, Keli said Andrew was angry when he found out about the pregnancy, calling her a slut and accusing her of getting pregnant on purpose to trap him. Keli had also previously told Detective Kehoe that she and Andrew had drinks together for his 30th birthday. But this time, she said she and Andrew had no contact between her pregnancy news and him agreeing to take Tegan. The birthday drinks, she claimed, didn’t really happen — they were both in the pub at the same time, but she was in a different area, not actually celebrating with Andrew.

Keli had also previously claimed that none of her friends knew about Andrew. But this time around, she mentioned a friend named Lisa Andreatta who’d known about Andrew, but said she and Lisa were no longer in touch. But detectives were able to track Lisa down, and Lisa said not only had she never heard of Andrew, she’d also spoken to Keli recently. Keli’s lies were piling up.

But the most notable lie — the one everyone in this case keeps bringing up — is the name change. Remember, Keli initially said Tegan’s father was named Andrew Morris. But this time, she gave his name as Andrew Norris.

After this interview, Detective Gaut did more extensive searches. He looked for men in the area named Andrew Norris that could have been Tegan’s father. Schools in the area were notified to search records for female students born around 1996, possibly named Tegan. Medicare records were also searched, as well as passport records to see if Tegan had left and/or re-entered the country. But all these searches led to nothing.

Keli was interviewed again seven months later but, this time, her story didn’t change. Police took her to the apartment complex she said Andrew had lived at the time, and where she claimed the sexual aspect of their relationship, for lack of a better phrase, had been carried out. She couldn’t remember exactly which apartment it was, and all the neighbors interviewed at the time said they didn’t remember her.

Tegan Lane definitely existed. Hospital records showed that Keli was at the hospital on September 12th and gave birth there. The staff as well as Keli’s roommate all remember a baby. But after she left the hospital with her mother on September 14th, Tegan seems to have vanished into thin air, or at least from public record. She didn’t even have a birth certificate until 2005.

exposed

During the investigation, Keli’s friends, old and new, were contacted by detectives and began to learn that something was up. With people beginning to catch on, Keli told detectives she was afraid of her reputation being damaged, and her parents and friends cutting ties with her.

Keli told her fiancee, Peter, about her secret life a month before they were supposed to be married. He was shocked, of course, but stuck by her side, and the wedding plans continued as usual. Keli also told her mother about Tegan, but not about the other babies. The police told her father everything a few days later, and I believe they also told her mother about Keli’s other pregnancies. Her parents were also shocked, but later said they were “[D]etached to some extent, because we had a wedding coming up.” Neither her parents or husband-to-be pressed her on details, for fear of isolating her. Peter would later say: “I certainly don’t think it will benefit us as a couple for me to delve into those details.”

The official inquest into Tegan Lane’s disappearance began in June 2005. At first, investigators still believed Tegan may be alive. They searched schools, birth records, deaths and marriages nationwide, for anyone named Tegan Lane, Andrew Norris or Andrew Morris. They found a few men with those names, but eventually ruled them all out. At one point, the DNA of a 9-year-old Queensland girl named Tegan Chapman, whose father’s name was Allen Norris, was tested. But she too was ruled out. Overall, the records of more than 86,000 children were searched.

Keli’s records were also checked — medical, bank and telephone — but these too led to nothing. Keli got a cell phone in December 1996, but these records were never checked because this was several months after Tegan’s disappearance.

Investigators thought Tegan’s name might have been changed, presumably after she was given to Andrew Norris or Morris. I’ve also seen speculation that Andrew actually gave Keli a fake name. But I’m not sure how extensively this possibility was looked into. Unidentified dead children were also looked into, as well as fraudulent birth certificates.

In early 2006, the inquest concluded. The New South Wales coroner noted several things in his conclusion. One, nobody had seen Tegan since 1996. Two, there were no records of her after that. Three, Keli had told many elaborate lies about Tegan’s whereabouts. Four, nobody had ever come forward to say they had Tegan. Because of all this, he concluded that Tegan was probably dead, and had been since around 1996. But, of course, with no body, he couldn’t say how or why.

He recommended the case be passed to the New South Wales homicide squad, which it was in February 2006. The homicide squad did several of the same searches the inquest had, but in more depth. They also searched immigration records and interviewed men who had been in the country at the time of Tegan’s conception. And they looked into babies left anonymously at hospitals, churches and police stations, or on streets. All these searches led to nothing.

Cadaver dogs searched the house Duncan Gillies lived in at the time of Tegan’s birth. Bones were found on the property, but further testing determined they were animal bones. It’s thought they were the remains of a family pet buried on the property.

In or around 2007, Peter and Keli separated. In November 2009, Keli was charged with murder and three counts of perjury, the latter of which stemmed from the lies she told when she was arranging for adoptions.

the trial

Keli’s trial began on August 9, 2010. (Some sources said July, others said August, but I’m pretty sure it was August.) The case was so complex, jurors were given colored flow charts to help them follow the details.

The prosecution claimed Keli killed Tegan to avoid the responsibility of raising her, because she didn’t want to tarnish her good image and because being a parent would have interfered with her goal to participate in the 2000 Olympics.

The defense said there was no proof Tegan was even dead. Keli had already placed two other children for adoption, which suggested she could have done the same with Tegan. Andrew Morris/Norris could have been fake names, and if this man had Tegan, he easily could have changed her name as well. This might explain why they still hadn’t been found.

In the end, over 75 witnesses were called for the prosecution. The defense called none — not even Keli took the stand. However, first I want to talk about a couple of witnesses that were at the pre-trial hearing but didn’t end up testifying at the actual trial.

The first is a man named Andrew Morris. Morris claimed he had unprotected sex with Keli in a park in 1994, but didn’t pick up any babies at the hospital nine months later, and he never had a partner named Mel. In fact, Tegan wasn’t born until two years after this alleged sexual encounter. The prosecution initially wanted Andrew Morris to take the stand to show where Keli (supposedly) came up with the fake name for Tegan’s biological father. But he was later told he wasn’t needed; I believe he was dropped due to a deal between the prosecution and the defense — something like “I’ll drop my witness if you drop yours.” It’s also worth nothing that Keli denies ever meeting this man.

Another person worth mentioning is Natalie McCauley, a childhood friend of Keli. According to Natalie, Keli told her about a man she was seeing named Andrew in late 1995 — around the time Tegan was conceived. Natalie was convinced this was the Andrew Morris/Norris who Keli still claimed had Tegan. At one point, Natalie even said she met this Andrew person, but that turned out not to be true. She spoke at Keli’s pre-trial hearing, but didn’t come back to testify in the actual trial. She said in one interview that she wasn’t sure why she wasn’t asked to testify. But it is worth noting that she lived out of the country at the time and was pregnant, close to giving birth, so she wouldn’t have been able to fly back for the actual trial.

Even though they were no longer together, Peter took the stand and said Keli was a great wife and mother and that he loved her. (By this time, Keli was back together with an old boyfriend named Patrick Cogan. They got engaged at one point, but I’m not sure if they ever married or if they’re still together.)

One witness who did end up testifying at the trial is Keli’s most known ex, Duncan Gillies. Like I said earlier, Duncan found out about Keli’s third baby, the baby boy whose adoption case set this whole thing in motion, pretty early on. But he didn’t learn the full extent of what happened until much later. By this time, he was living in Ireland with the woman he left Keli for, who was now his wife. Keli gave birth twice during their relationship, but Duncan said he never knew Keli was ever pregnant, and that if he had known he would have been excited to start a family. He described their sex life as “business as usual,” but he still didn’t realize she was pregnant. He acknowledged it sounded crazy but admitted he didn’t have a clue.

The trial went on for four months before the case went to the jury. On December 13, after a week of deliberation, they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict. So the judge told them they could reach a ‘majority verdict’ of 11 to 1. Later that day, Keli Lane was found guilty of murder and all three counts of making false statements. When the verdict was read, she collapsed, yelled ‘oh no!’ and started sobbing. It was so bad, paramedics were called to attend to her.

sentencing/aftermath

In April 2011, Keli was sentenced to 18 years in prison, where she remains today. She’ll be eligible for parole in 2023. An appeal was filed, partly on the grounds that the jury should have been able to consider charging Keli with manslaughter. The appeal was rejected in 2013. (From this article, it also looks like there was another appeal filed and rejected in 2018.)

One person who spoke at the sentencing hearing was a taxi driver who claimed he drove Keli home from the hospital on the 14th. According to him, Keli told him to stop on River Road on the way to Manly. She got out and left the baby in bushland, alive. Apparently Keli didn’t know the driver saw her do this, because when she got back to the taxi she told the driver she’d left the baby with a babysitter.

Once the driver dropped Keli off for good and she got out of the taxi, he noticed a diaper bag in the backseat. He called out to her that she’d left it behind, but she said she didn’t need it and left. The driver later returned to the scene, where he found the baby and a woman. The woman said she’d look after the baby, so the driver decided not to call the police.

So at this point, you might be wondering the same thing that most of Australia wondered as all this was unfolding: How on earth could Keli have hidden three full term pregnancies and subsequent births? How could nobody around her have known?

As I’ve touched on before, a few people did have their suspicions. Keli’s friends, teammates and other acquaintances around Manly took note of her weight gains. Some people just assumed she’d adopted bad habits like too much drinking, or that her frame simply made her look bigger than some people. (Keli would later tell police:“I’m a big girl anyway so it [the pregnancy] was very wide.”) Others thought she was pregnant, were even almost positive, but either didn’t press her or didn’t press her enough for her to give up her secret.

Friends and acquaintances are one thing. But how did Keli hide her pregnancies from Duncan Gillies, who she dated for four years? Keli apparently did this by adopting certain sex positions when she was pregnant, pushing Duncan’s hand away from her stomach when he tried to cuddle, and leaving the house early in the morning before he was up (on the nights she slept over).

But maybe the most baffling people to be oblivious to her pregnancy were the people she lived with. Keli’s parents were equally as shocked as everyone else when her secret life unraveled. Keli’s mother said at one point she felt stupid for not noticing pregnancies, but later said she didn’t feel stupid because nobody else knew about them either. As I stated earlier, she also noted that Keli wore a lot of baggy clothes, as was the fashion back then, which probably helped hide it.

So even though this case is solved, so many questions remain, and a lot of people don’t think Keli should be in jail. Let’s take a look at a few of the possibilities of what happened to Tegan Lane.

theory 1: Andrew Norris/Morris

The first theory is that Keli’s latest story is true: That Tegan’s biological father, Andrew Norris or Morris, took her and is still raising her. They might have never been found because they’re living under aliases. Andrew Norris/Morris might have given Keli a fake name because he knew their relationship would be an affair and didn’t want her (or anyone else) to be able to track his actions once things were over. If this is true and Andrew has changed both his name and Tegan’s, Tegan might still be alive and have no idea who she really is.

However, this theory obviously has a lot of holes in it. For starters, Keli’s story changed multiple times before she settled on this one. She initially denied Tegan existed at all, then said she was living with a family in Perth, then finally settled on her first Andrew Morris story when interviewed by police. Even that story changed two years later, not only giving Andrew a different last name but also shifting other details around. And, the big question remains: If Andrew Morris or Norris is really out there with Tegan, why not come forward? This case was huge in Australia, so surely he’s heard about it. Does he, for some reason, think his or Tegan’s lives are in danger and wants to stay anonymous? Maybe he’s angry with Keli over something and doesn’t care that she’s in jail for a crime he knows she didn’t commit. Or maybe he never really existed.

theory 2: murder

The next theory is that the jury got it absolutely right. Keli killed Tegan after leaving the hospital and buried her body somewhere. Evidence for this theory usually includes Keli’s many lies about Tegan’s whereabouts. Being a liar doesn’t make you a murderer, of course. But it is a pretty big red flag. After all, why would you lie, especially about something as important as your child’s whereabouts, if you had nothing to hide?

However, despite the conviction, there’s absolutely no physical evidence for this. No DNA, no witnesses, not even a body. Even if Keli really is guilty of murder, whatever happened to Tegan after September 14th is up for speculation.

theory 2A: abandonment/accidental death

The next thing I want to look into is similar, but maybe not quite as sinister, and that’s the possibility that Keli didn’t physically end Tegan’s life herself, but abandoned Tegan, who who later died of exposure. Whether she did this with the intent of killing her or naively thought someone would find her, this would still be considered murder in the eyes of the law.

Something else I’ve seen a few people bring up and the theory I tend to lean toward the most is that Tegan died accidentally and Keli panicked. With the exception of her last pregnancy — the daughter she kept — Keli had no prenatal care for any of her pregnancies. Babies born to mothers who didn’t get prenatal care are five times more likely to die than babies whose mothers did get care. Did Tegan die from some complication caused by lack of prenatal care? And, if so, did Keli, who was clearly already worried what people thought of her, hide the body, afraid she would be charged with murder if anyone found out?

There was land just outside the hospital grounds that was a vacant lot at the time — is it possible she left Tegan there? The lot is now home to the Australian College of Physical Education, which moved to that location in 2016. (Interestingly, this is the same school Keli attended briefly, though it would have been in a different location at that time.) I believe there was another building there before that as well. Regardless of when construction occurred on this lot, is it possible a worker didn’t see Tegan’s remains? Her body was probably decomposed at this point — is it possible they mistook her bones for animal bones? Or was the body wrapped in a blanket or something else that caused it to go unnoticed, and is still buried there or possibly in a landfill somewhere? If this theory is true, there’s no telling where Tegan’s remains could be today.

conclusion

In 2012, the judge in Keli’s trial said he had doubts about the verdict because Tegan’s body had never been found and because, in his words, “it did not make sense to me for a mother to do that.”

Keli’s parents spoke out in 2016 and said they believed Tegan was still alive, and couldn’t believe their daughter was guilty of murder until a body was found. Keli’s mother, Sandra, said she believed Keli’s story about giving Tegan to Andrew Norris/Morris. She acknowledged it was strange, but that strange things happen all the time. At this point, The Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative at RMIT University was looking into the case.

In September 2018, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation began airing Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane. The hosts of the three part documentary delved into the case and even did a bit of detective work themselves. Their team created a composite of Andrew Norris/Morris based on the description Keli gave of him so many years earlier. They also managed to track down a man who lived in the same apartment complex that Keli said Andrew Norris/Morris lived during their affair. This man claimed to remember Keli leaving the apartment complex in the early hours of the morning, which struck him as unusual. I’m not sure how substantial this claim is, but the documentary is online if you want to watch and decide for yourself.

I also found a news report from December 23, 2018 that mentioned a possible retrial, but couldn’t find anything more recent.

One last thing I want to mention is the book Nice Girl: The story of Keli Lane and her missing baby Tegan by Rachel Jane Chin. This is a great resource on the case if you want to delve into it even further than I have here. It’s pretty hard to find a reasonably priced hard copy, but you can get the ebook at the link above.

Judging from the comments and speculation I’ve seen in my research, people both in and out of Australia are pretty divided on this case. So, as always, I would love to know what you think. Do you really think Keli killed Tegan? Do you think she abandoned her, or maybe gave her to someone else? Do you think this Andrew Norris or Morris man is a real person? Do you think Keli should get a retrial? Let me know in the comments.

#truecrime

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