SA-BEST urges NT Government to offer $1 million reward for recovery of Peter Falconio’s body
The Northern Territory Government has been urged by SA-BEST to post a $1 million reward for the recovery of Peter Falconio’s body.
SA-BEST MLC, Frank Pangallo, has written to the NT Chief Minister, Natasha Fyles, and Minister for Police, Kate Worden, requesting the reward be offered to bring closure to the family of Mr Falconio, who was murdered in the Northern Territory in 2001 at the age of 28, in a case that attracted world-wide attention.
Despite several extensive police searches, Mr Falconio’s remains have never been found.
Frank’s plea comes after he was approached this week by Mr Falconio’s mother, Joan, 75, who broke a long silence on the eve of what would have been her son’s 50th birthday (20 September) to issue a heart-felt plea for the NT Police to renew their efforts to locate Mr Falconio’s remains.
In an emotional email, Mrs Falconio, appealed to “anyone with a conscience” to reveal where her son’s remains are.
Mrs Falconio said she and her husband, Luciano, 80, feel like the NT Police have given up on them.
In her email, Mrs Falconio writes: “We want to bring Peter home where he belongs near his family. Our pain is always with us.
“He was murdered 21 years ago, aged just 28 years.
“His murderer Bradley Murdoch is as far as I know in Darwin Prison.
“Peter has a beautiful niece and two lovely nephews who he never got to see or know.”
“I am appealing to anyone with a conscience to help me however small to tell me where he (Peter) was put.
“His life stopped on a lonely road - the Stuart Highway on 14th July 2001. Shot dead by cowardly Murdoch, who will not reveal where or what he did with him.”
Peter Falconio would have turned 50 on Tuesday (20 September). His girlfriend at the time, Joanne Lees, is now 47 years old and lives near Huddlesfield in the UK.
Bradley John Murdoch is serving life imprisonment in the Darwin Correctional Centre after being convicted of the 2001 shooting murder of Mr Falconio, and the abduction of Ms Lees on a lonely stretch of the Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek in July 2001.
Ms Lees managed to escape by hiding in surrounding bush.
DNA on bloodstains on her clothing later linked Murdoch to the crime after he was arrested in Adelaide in 2003 on an unrelated rape charge, which was dismissed.
Despite police searches near the scene of the murder, no remains have been found.
The murder remains one of Australia’s most intriguing and baffling outback mysteries.
Murdoch is believed to have disposed of the body somewhere between Alice Springs and Broome, 1700 kilometres away in Western Australia – an area covered by a vast expanse of desert.
Mrs Falconio reached out to Frank, a former investigative journalist who had covered the disappearance with the Seven Network’s Today Tonight program, after he was elected to SA Parliament in 2018.
In 2014, Frank revealed on the program that an eyewitness had seen a vehicle like Murdoch’s distinctive white four-wheel drive with a canopy, near a well on Neutral Junction cattle station in the NT on the night of the shooting.
The well – which Frank inspected and filmed with a television crew - is located about a kilometre from the crime scene and the eyewitness believed the body and other evidence could have been disposed there.
Frank said: “The well contained more than 15 metres of water so it was not possible to pump it out or check it out thoroughly in the time we were there.
“When the story was raised again by British media three years ago, Mrs Falconio contacted me and asked if I could convince NT Police to undertake a full search of the well to eliminate the clue,” he said.
“I then arranged an affidavit from the eyewitness, a truck driver who had been contracted by the cattle station and sent it to senior NT Police.
“NT Police found him to be credible and emptied the well in a five-day operation in 2019 but unfortunately found nothing. It was the right thing for them to do and I can only praise their efforts.”
Frank believes Murdoch either disposed of the body on Neutral Junction or in the Tanami Desert after he filled up his vehicle with petrol in Alice Springs and fled to Broome.
Murdoch will be eligible for parole in 10 years but will not be released under the Territory’s “no body-no release” policy for convicted murderers.
Frank said he is contacting the NT Police urging them to roll out a new media campaign about the case in the hope it turns up fresh information.
He will also ask the NT Government to offer a $1 million reward for information that leads to the recovery of Mr Falconio’s remains.
He also wants NT Police to consider engaging specialised forensic archaeologists with expertise in locating gravesites to conduct fresh searches of likely burial places.
“Murdoch hasn’t got the guts to confess to his cowardly crime and he should rot behind bars if he is unwilling to tell the truth about what he did or where he left Peter that night,” Frank said.
“Somebody must know where Peter is or might have some information or recollection that could be useful to police, no matter how insignificant they might think it is,” he said.
“Joan, Luciano, Peter’s brothers - Mark, Nicholas and Paul – and their families deserve closure after all these years of grieving and uncertainty.”