NSW Police has confirmed that remains located in bushland near Byron Bay last month have been identified as those of missing woman, Thea Liddle.
Ms Liddle, aged 42, was last seen in the Mooball area, in Northern NSW, on Thursday 31 October 2019.
Her family reported her missing to Queensland Police (QPOL) in January 2020, who contacted officers from the NSW Police Force on Thursday, 23 January, 2020.
Detectives from Tweed/Byron Police District subsequently established Strike Force Holby to investigate the circumstances surrounding Thea’s disappearance.
Earlier this year, the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad and Missing Person Registry conducted a review of the investigation under the new unsolved homicide framework.
Following the review, investigators from Tweed/Byron Police District, with assistance from the Public Order and Riot Squad (PORS) and the Dog Unit, commenced a two-day search of bushland near Tallow Beach Road, Byron Bay, on Tuesday 14 July 2020.
About 1.20pm the following day (Wednesday 15 July 2020), officers located skeletal remains at a makeshift camp site in the bushland.
The bones underwent forensic examination and have been formally identified as belonging to Thea Liddle.
Ms Liddle’s relatives have been informed of the developments and her remains will be returned to her family.
The investigation into Ms Liddle’s death is ongoing and is under the joint responsibility of officers from Tweed/Byron Police District, the Homicide Squad and Missing Persons Registry.
State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said the newly-formed Missing Persons Registry reviewed evidence relating to Thea’s case and were able to provide local investigators with additional lines of inquiry.
‘During a review of the initial investigation into Thea’s disappearance, specialist investigators identified information relating to an area of bushland near Byron Bay where she may have been residing,’ Assistant Commissioner Smith said.
‘As a result, a coordinated search was conducted of the area and human remains were located, which were then analysed by forensic experts at NSW Health Pathology.
‘It is this coordinated approach – both within the Force and with our partner agencies – that is seeing answers provided to more families and, in many cases, far quicker than we ever have before.’
Tweed/Byron Police District Commander, Superintendent Dave Roptell, said the combined efforts of local and specialist police should be commended in providing answers in this case.
‘While the positive identification of these remains is a good result for Strike Force Holby detectives – it is also devastating news to Thea’s family and friends,’ Supt Roptell said.
‘While they can now lay Thea to rest, questions around the circumstances of her death remain under investigation.
‘As these inquiries continue, we are urging anyone in the community who may have seen or spoken to Thea in late October or early November last year, in and around the Far North Coast, to please come forward,’ Supt Roptell said.
Anyone with information about Thea Liddle’s disappearance is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Information is treated in strict confidence. The community is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.
Missing Persons Week is an annual national campaign to raise awareness of the issues and impacts surrounding missing persons. It commences tomorrow (Sunday 2 August 2020) and runs until Saturday (8 August 2020).
For more information on the campaign visit Missing Persons.