Why cops believe there is 'no connection' between grim cases

POLICE have said there is no evidence to suggest any particular group of people are being violently targeted in the Byron Bay region.

The same week an ongoing hearing into the 2017 death of a woman in the Brunswick River returned to the coroner's court in Byron Bay, human remains were found in the Arakwal National Park as police searched for a separate missing woman.

Police had been searching in bushland near Tallow Beach since Tuesday as part of investigations into the disappearance of 42-year-old woman Thea Liddle.

They found remains in a densely vegetated area to the north of Tallow Beach Rd about 1.20pm on Wednesday.

With forensic analysis pending, the identity of the remains is still a mystery.

Tweed Byron Police District crime manager Detective Chief Inspector Brendon Cullen said there's nothing to suggest a particular group had been targeted.

Tweed Byron Police District crime manager Detective Chief Inspector Brendon Cullen speaks to media on Thursday, July 16, after skeletal remains were found in bushland in Byron Bay on Wednesday.
Tweed Byron Police District crime manager Detective Chief Inspector Brendon Cullen speaks to media on Thursday, July 16, after skeletal remains were found in bushland in Byron Bay on Wednesday.

Speculation has been rife since the discovery, with some residents questioning whether the find was in any way related to the May 2019 disappearance of Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez.

Also this week, an inquest into the death of itinerant woman Carley Metcalfe, 41, whose body was found in the Brunswick River in December, 2017, recommenced.

Det Cullen said there was no link between the cases.

"(There is) absolutely no link whatsoever and certainly no evidence to suggest there is any person preying on homeless people," he said.

He said there was also "no connection whatsoever" between the disappearances of Ms Liddle and Mr Hayez.

"The circumstances surrounding the location of this deceased person, we do not believe that it is Theo Hayez," he said.

"That area was the subject of searching when we were searching for Theo Hayez and this site was not located there.

He said while police were keeping an open mind, they believe it is "highly unlikely" the remains belong to Mr Hayez.

Missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez.
Missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez.

In that case, police have submitted a brief of evidence to the coroner and the circumstances of Mr Hayez' disappearance will be subject to an inquest.

Det Cullen said police were yesterday in "very early stages in the forensic examination of the crime scene".

"What we have here is an unexplained death," he said.

"We do not know at this point in time whether those remains are male or female.

"We may not know the identity of that deceased person for a number of weeks."

Ms Liddle, known to live a "nomadic" lifestyle, has not been seen since October 2019 and has not accessed her social media or bank accounts since then.

She was reported missing in January after failing to check in with her family for longer than usual and police have since searched a property in Mooball in the Tweed Valley - her last known place of residence - and an area in Nimbin, where she was also known to frequent.

Missing woman Thea Liddle.
Missing woman Thea Liddle.

Det Cullen said discussions with her associates revealed Ms Liddle was also known to stay in bushland in Byron Bay.

Forensic work on the crime scene is expected to continue today.

Det Cullen said the crime scene appeared to have formerly been a camp site.

"What we do find there will then be subject to further forensic examination with anthropologists and pathologists," he said.

He said police were in "constant contact" with Ms Liddle's family and they were aware of the current situation.

Police are still appealing for anyone with information to come forward.


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