Joanne Lees Peter Falconio: New lead in hunt for backpacker’s body in Australian outbackl
A new clue has sparked hopes for a breakthrough in hunting in front of the body of murdered British backpacker Peter Falconio, hours after his mother pleaded for help.
Falconio, 28, was shot dead in 2001 by drug runner Bradley Murdoch, who then attempted to kidnap his girlfriend Joanne Lees before escaping and raising the alarm.
But the backpacker’s body has never been found — and his mother on Friday begged “anyone with a conscience” to help locate his remains.
Now, a possible new witness has come forward to reveal that 24 hours after the murder, he saw a car parked as the killer was parked “in a strange place” near a culvert and a bridge.
A new lead has sparked hopes for a breakthrough in the hunt for the body of murdered British backpacker Peter Falconio (seen here with girlfriend Joanne Lees) just hours after his mother pleaded for help.
Peter Falconio was shot dead on a remote stretch of Sturt Highway, 300km north of Alice Springs, and girlfriend Joanne Lees hid in the bush until murderer Bradley Murdoch fled the scene
The new sighting has raised hopes it could lead to the discovery of the backpacker’s remains and end the 21-year mystery.
The surprising new evidence was revealed after South Australian politician Frank Pangallo demanded a $1 million reward for information leading police to the body.
“I received an email this morning from someone who was in the area the day after the murder,” the SA-BEST member of South Australia’s Legislative Council revealed.
“He said he saw a vehicle similar to the one Murdoch was using parked on the side of a road near a culvert and a bridge.
A possible new witness has come forward to reveal that 24 hours after the murder, he saw a vehicle as the killer was parked ‘in a strange place’ by a culvert and a bridge (photo, police roadblocks after the 2001 murder )
“He remembered passing by and said it was unusual for the driver to be parked in that spot. He alerted the police at the time, but heard nothing more.
“I’ll be sure to pass that on to the police to see if they go there personally to check it out.”
The astonishing development came just hours after Daily Mail Australia revealed that in 2019 police mounted a five-day search for an outback source in the hunt for the remains.
They pumped 15 meters of water from the remote well just 1 km from the murder scene near Barrow Creek, 300 km north of Alice Springs, but unfortunately found nothing.
Now Mr Falconio’s parents Joan, 75, and Luciano, 80, have appealed for new information to keep the hunt for their son’s remains alive.
Parents Joan, 75, and Luciano Falconio, 80, have appealed for new information to keep the hunt for their son’s remains alive
“We want to bring Peter home where he belongs, close to his family,” his mother said. “Our pain is always with us. He was murdered 21 years ago, only 28 years old.
“His life ended on a lonely road – the Stuart Highway on July 14, 2001. Shot and killed by cowardly Murdoch, who won’t reveal where or what he did to him.”
She added: ‘Peter has a beautiful niece and two sweet nephews whom he has never seen or known.
“I appeal to anyone with a conscience to help me—however small—to tell me where it’s been put.”
The surprising new evidence was revealed after South Australian politician Frank Pangallo (pictured right) demanded a $1 million reward for information leading police to the body
Mr. Pangallo revealed that he had been in contact with the family for the past three years since covering the intriguing case years earlier as a reporter on Today Tonight.
He has now demanded that the Northern Territory Police offer a $1 million reward to tease new leads to follow up.
And he believes it may be enough to convince Murdoch’s shady criminal friends to break their duty of silence and tell the police where the body was dumped.
“It’s one last roll of the dice,” Mr. Pangallo said Friday. “His mother didn’t want the case to stay cold and wanted it back out into the open.
“What has haunted them for the past 21 years and haunted them for the past 21 years is not knowing where his body is — and it will continue to haunt them until they get answers.
“It is crucial that new information emerges to end the suffering the Falconio family has endured for so many years.”
The renewed call comes in the week that Peter Falconio (pictured with Joanne Lees in their camper) would have turned 50 last Tuesday
The renewed call comes in the week in which Falconio would have turned 50 last Tuesday, but the police do not know any better where his body was dumped.
Murdoch was convicted of the murder and is now serving life in the Darwin Correctional Center – but he has refused to specify where he dumped Mr Falconio’s body.
He could be eligible for parole in 10 years, but will never go free without disclosing the location under the NT’s “no body no release” laws.
Police believe he may have hidden the remains somewhere in the vast desert between Alice Springs and Broome, 1,700km away in Western Australia.
Bradley Murdoch is said to have hidden the remains somewhere in the vast Tanami Desert between Alice Springs and Broome, 1,700 km away in Western Australia.
“The Tanami Desert is a vast expanse,” Mr. Pangallo said.
“It is believed that Murdoch, after refueling in Alice Springs that night, would have fled to Broome and passed through the Tanami Desert.
“There are any number of locations where he could have dumped the body. But he would have panicked at the time, knowing the police were looking for him.
“And who knows, maybe he threw the body out before, which is why we want the well at Barrow Creek searched.”
Peter and friend Joanne Lees were in a motor home when they were apprehended by drug runner Bradley Murdoch who shot Mr Falconio and attempted to kidnap Mrs Lees.
He added: “Murdoch could very well spend the rest of his life in prison.
“He knows what happened. And he knows where he put the body, and they wish he had some kind of conscience and come out.
“That’s what Mrs. Falconio said in her e-mail to me—she’d hoped Murdoch had some knowledge and would reveal what he’d done to Peter’s body.
‘Murdoch doesn’t have the nerve to confess his cowardly crime and he should rot behind bars if he isn’t willing to tell the truth about what he did or where he left Peter.
“Someone needs to know where Peter is, or maybe he has information or memories that could be of use to the police, no matter how insignificant they think it is.
Joan, Luciano, Peter’s brothers – Mark, Nicholas and Paul – and their families deserve closure after all these years of grief and uncertainty.
“She just hopes no one forgets Peter Falconio.”