Australian police are investigating a new lead in the 2001 murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio after an anonymous letter claimed his body was cut up after his death and buried in the outback.
The typed one-page letter was sent from London to local newspaper the Northern Territory News – allegedly by an Australian expatriate. It claims that Bradley Murdoch, Falconio’s killer who is currently serving 28 years for the crime, rang an associate after the murder arranging to have Mr Falconio’s remains dumped in the state of Western Australia.
Peter Falconio, 28, (pictured left) was shot in the head by Murdoch after he and his girlfriend, Joanne Lees, (right) were tricked into stopping their VW camper van on a remote highway in July 2001. Miss Lees was threatened with a gun, assaulted and tied up but managed to escape. Murdoch apparently spent five hours hunting her with his dog.
Mr Falconio’s body has never been found.
The Northern Territory News said it knows the identity of Murdoch’s alleged criminal associate but has not named him.
The letter states Mr Falconio’s family and Miss Lees “deserve to know what happened to their loved one”. It says Murdoch claimed he had “murdered a guy in self-defence”.
The letter says: “Murdoch had cut the body up and put it in two large… bags that were watertight and smell proof. He told [the associate] to go straight back to Perth [in Western Australia] and dissolve the body parts in acid and put what was left in the Swan River.”
The letter claims that the associate did not follow Murdoch’s instructions, instead transporting the remains by train to an area north of Perth and “buried both the bags unopened in a nice spot and even made up a cross”.
“Later he [Murdoch’s associate] realised who he had buried and was in a bad way about it,” the letter says.
Colleen Gwynne, who headed the investigation into the murder, said she doubted the letter’s veracity.
She told ABC Radio: “The account seems pretty bizarre and not very particularly logical that you would take a body across a couple of jurisdictions on a lengthy train ride in a couple of bags – it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”