SUNDAY July 12, 1987. This was the start of an enduring muder mystery that to this day hasn’t been solved.
Police were alerted by a Krambach couple who found a human skull in Kiwarrak State Forest. Taree detectives, led by Sergeant Warren Thompson, conducted a full scale search of the area and located the bulk of the skeleton scattered over a 50 metre area.
It was believed the body was dumped naked as no clothes were found and there was no indication of a gave. The only leads were pieces of jewellery found nearby.
Initially detectives believed the remains could be those of Bondi schoolgirl Samantha Knight, who went missing in August 1986.
However, by July 15 another theory had emerged. Police were almost certain the skeleton was that of a ‘strange and unkempt girl spotted by Central North Coast Sporting Car Club members more than two years ago,’ according to a front page report by Sue Stephenson in the Manning River Times.
The information was provided by Taree couple, Mr and Mrs Trevor Young, who were managing a checkpoint during a car rally held in the forest. They recalled speaking to a young woman (in her late teens) who appeared to have been living in the forest for some time.
The unkempt woman, described by the Youngs, morphed into a forest nymph running naked through the bush according to one tabloid report.
But these theories were thrown out when forensic results indicated the remains were that of a young man. Despite extensive investigations, there were no further leads.
However, in 1998 detectives were notified that following DNA testing the sex of the remains were clarified. Detective acting inspector Lee Falson, the crime manager for Manning Great Lakes Local Command, said his detectives were reviewing everything connected to the earlier investigation following information from an anonymous caller. By 2004 the murder investigation re-opened because DNA testing revealed the remains belonged to a Morisset woman who was reported missing in 1985. However, the case has never been solved.
Throwback Thursday revisits the start of the investigation in 1987 with photos taken by Dale Haberfield. Look for a young Stephen Bromhead, then a Taree detective. Check our website.