22 years ago, Mooroolbark girl Cherie Westell was last seen in Wantirna South on December 12, 2000, only days before her 16th birthday at the time.

Today, Victoria Police have announced a $1 million reward for information that will help solve the cold case.

A coroner found in 2003 that Cherie had most likely died, with police believing foul play was involved.

Despite speaking to several witnesses over the past two decades investigators are still chasing new leads, with Detective Acting Inspector Tony Combridge of the Missing Persons Squad labelling the missing person’s case “every family’s worst nightmare”.

“22 years ago, a young teenage girl called her family to let them know she was on her way home, and that was the last time they ever spoke to her,” Combridge said.

“She was loved by her family and friends, who are all hoping they can find some answers as to what happened to her.

“Those responsible for Cherie’s disappearance have had to live with this secret for over two decades. 22 years is a very long time to be looking over your shoulder.”

Police are hoping the money provides some incentive for people to come forward.

“It doesn’t matter how insignificant you think the piece of information is, it could be exactly what our investigators need to make a breakthrough in this case,” Combridge said.

“Now is the time to do the right thing and come forward. Any information received by police will be investigated thoroughly, and we will continue to search for the truth of what happened to Cherie to provide those answers to her loved ones and the community.”

The reward of up to $1 million will be paid for information leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible for Cherie’s disappearance.

After a dentist appointment, Cherrie contacted family via a pay phone letting them know she was on the way home. This was the last known contact anyone had with her.

At the time of her disappearance, Cherie was a ward of the state, which complicated the investigation initially. Her previous foster mother, Frances, tried to make a police report immediately but was told a biological family member was required for that to occur.

A missing persons report was not filed until six days later and any trace of the teen was gone.

Image: Victoria Police

This article first appeared on OverSixty.