The mother who says she spotted her partner in a shopping centre car park 11 years after he vanished without a trace says they had only had a "tiny argument" before he walked out.
Sandie Gillette had not seen Russell Jenkin since September 2006, when he got up from watching the football with just his work bag and left their Werribee home in Melbourne's south-west.
But on January 27, 1800 kilometres away from their home, Mr Gillette and her two young sons found themselves walking towards a man they believe is Mr Jenkin by complete chance at a Sunshine Coast shopping centre.
Ms Gillette said she was left in complete shock and was unable to speak, but said they both stared at each other as they crossed paths.
Sandie Gillette said she spotted her partner Russell Jenkins 11 years after he vanished. Photo: Victoria Police
"He ended up watching us just as much as we were watching him," Ms Gillette told 7 News Online.
"Neither of us said anything, but the moment he took his sunglasses off... That was Russell."
The mother-of-two said she then got into her car, but saw Mr Jenkins speaking with a woman behind a dark coloured utility vehicle while she was stuck in traffic trying to leave the Caloundra Stockland complex.
She said she couldn't make note of the numberplate as the pair were standing at the rear of the ute.
When they got home, Ms Gillette's son's Ethan, 15, and Charlie, 12, looked up the missing persons photo distributed by police of Mr Jenkins to compare.
When they got home, Ms Gillette's son's Ethan, 15, and Charlie, 12, looked up the police photo and said it was "100 per cent" their father. Photo: Supplied
She said besides having put on a tiny bit of weight and had gone grey, it was "100 per cent" Mr Jenkins.
The mother-of-two said Mr Jenkins simply got up and walked out of their home following a small argument in 2006.
"He was watching the football and I went to the room to watch a movie with the boys," she said.
"I heard the door closing and that was it."
Ms Gillette said she said the father of her children near the Kmart at the Stocklands shopping centre in Caloundra. Photo: Google Maps
Mr Jenkins left in his Toyota Yaris with just one bag, but both the car and the bag were found abandoned the following day about 40 kilometres away at the Lara football ground.
Ms Gillette and her sons now live in NSW, but said it would be extremely easy for Mr Jenkins to find them if he wanted to.
She said the children have questions and for their sake, she would allow him to get in touch.
The mother admitted if she were to have the chance again, she probably would have tried to speak to Mr Jenkins.
"Unfortunately that didn't happen," she said.