Outback remains to be tested for murdered backpacker Peter Falconio

Key points

  • Remains, believed to be human, have been found in the outback near Alice Springs
  • They will be tested to see if they are from Peter Falconio, the British backpacker murdered in 2001
  • For weeks, police have been looking for missing woman Angie Fuller, but it is not known if the latest discovery relates that search

Human remains found in the outback near Alice Springs will be tested to see if they are from Peter Falconio, the British backpacker murdered in 2001.

Northern Territory police remain tight-lipped on the find because the identity of the remains is yet to be established.

Multiple sources have confirmed to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that the bones have been discovered and that they will be cross-checked against the Falconio case because of their age and location.

Joanne Lees pictured with Peter Falconio, who was murdered in 2001.

The remains were found this week in a location consistent with an area where Falconio’s body was suspected to have been dumped, within a few hundred kilometres of where he was shot.

Forensic experts will use DNA and dental records to establish an identity.

The man convicted of the murder, Bradley John Murdoch, has refused to say where he left the body.

Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees.

Northern Territory Police have initiated multiple searches over the years for Falconio’s body, and have always remained hopeful of finding his remains. Several discoveries – in 2003, 2004 and 2007 – were not linked to Falconio.

“We have been down this track before so we are not jumping to any conclusions,” a Territory detective said.

Falconio, 28, was driving with his girlfriend Joanne Lees along the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs on July 14, 2001, when Murdoch drove up from behind and motioned for them to pull over, indicating their vehicle may have a mechanical problem.

Lees told police that when the men went to check the car she heard a shot and was then tied up by Murdoch. She managed to escape and hid for five hours while Murdoch hunted her. She flagged down a passing truck to escape.

Police have been searching for missing Alice Springs woman Angie Fuller for weeks.

For weeks, police have been searching for Alice Springs woman Angie Fuller, 30, who went missing on January 9 on the Tanami Road, north of the town and just off the Stuart Highway. Police believe she has been murdered.

Investigators have established that the age of the remains exclude them from being Fuller.

Police have previously searched areas off the Tanami Road looking for Falconio.

At Murdoch’s trial, the prosecution alleged that after the truck driver and drug runner killed Falconio, he bought fuel in Alice Springs then headed back to his home base in Broome along the Tanami Road. Police extensively searched sections of the bush off that road as part of the initial investigation.

About two years ago, a person contacted police to say he saw a ute that matched Murdoch’s by a bridge in the area the day after the murder.

Murdoch was sentenced to life with 28 years minimum in 2005 for the murder of Falconio and the assault and attempted kidnap of Lees.

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