A DETECTIVE has said he KNOWS where the body of a murdered British backpacker is buried as cops launch a fresh search on the 20th anniversary of his death.
GettyGirlfriend Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio[/caption]
Handout – GettyFalconio had been driving with Lees along the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs[/caption]
Small-time drug runner and lorry driver Bradley Murdoch was convicted in 2005 of killing Falconio and assaulting his girlfriend Joanne Lees at gunpoint and he was jailed for life.
Murdoch is believed to have hidden Falconio’s body, which has never been found despite extensive searches.
Police have now issued a fresh appeal for information to locate the body of Falconio, from Huddersfield, on the 20th anniversary of his disappearance.
Detective senior sergeant Karl Day said: “Police are urging anyone out there, with any information that may assist Peter’s family in gaining some sort closure, to come forward and contact police.
“We are thinking of Peter’s family and friends on this anniversary and remain hopeful that such a milestone may jolt some information and progress the investigation.”
Northern Territory Police said the missing person’s case remains open.
But John Daulby, 70, who ran the probe into the disappearance of Falconio in 2001, already believes he knows where the backpacker’s body is buried.
Daulby said Murdoch was spotted on CCTV at a petrol station in Alice Springs – some 190 miles south of the crime scene – in the hours after the brutal attack.
He is then said to have driven 800 miles across the Tanami Track, reaching Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia at about 8pm.
“Murdoch returned to the Shell truck stop but whether he was game enough to leave Peter’s body in the back while he got fuel I’m not too sure,” Daulby told the Mirror.
“My personal theory is the body has been buried on the way across the Tanami Track or between Barrow Creek (near the crime scene) and Alice Springs.
“There were two searches conducted by the Territory response group in the first few weeks, several kilometres north and south of the crime scene.”
But Daulby said Tanami is “just so huge” – spanning 184,000 square kilometres.
“It was our belief at the time it would be more probable he buried Peter in those areas I referred to,” the former assistant commissioner of Northern Territory Police said.
“I would like to think at some point in time Peter’s body will be found, but of course the only person who knows where it is, is Bradley Murdoch.”
Falconio had been driving with Lees along the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs, when Murdoch drove up behind them and indicated for them to pull over, claiming their van might have an engine problem.
Falconio went behind the car with Murdoch to investigate. Lees heard a gunshot and Murdoch returned, cable-tying her and covering her head.
She escaped and hid for five hours while Murdoch searched for her with his dog, before she managed to flag down a truck driver and escape.
Lees was initially arrested as a suspect in the case.
Speaking last year, Falconio’s mum, Joan, said she had fresh hope that her son’s remains could “one day be found” after a new theory suggested his body could have been dumped down a remote well.
Politician Frank Pangallo claims police did not check a well near to the spot where the couple were stopped because it was flooded at the time — even though a van similar to the killer’s was spotted next to it.
Joan told the Sun Online: “We’re aware of this area and it has been searched before but we didn’t know there was a renewed interest in the site. It is encouraging and very welcoming.
“We hope he will finally be found one day. We’re doing alright, we’re okay as a family.
“We’re still in contact with Joanne, we get on, we still see her but our conversations remain private.”
Lees returned to the Outback for the first time in 15 years in February 2017 in the hope of finding the body.
The 43-year-old, from Huddersfield said she wanted to “bring him home” as she returned to the scene of the shooting for an Australian television show special.
She fought back tears as she added: “It’s because I love Pete so much and I want to bring him home and I need to bring him home.”
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A memorial to Falconio was finally put in place at a spot in the vast Outback in summer 2016.
A Channel 4 documentary series, Murder in the Outback, revisited the notorious case last year, following the campaign of former lawyer Andrew Fraser to get Murdoch’s conviction overturned.
It featured previously unseen footage of Joanne being confronted by detectives over seeming inconsistencies in her version of the attack and raises a number of unanswered questions about a case which continues to haunt many Australians.
AFPBradley Murdoch at Darwin airport in November 2003[/caption]
GettyLees returned to the Outback for the first time in February 2017 in the hope of finding the body[/caption]
Getty – ContributorLees escaped and hid for five hours while Murdoch searched for her with his dog[/caption]