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NT Police had phone data of German tourist Monika Billen days before body was found

By Steven Schubert, Thursday January 17, 2019 - 19:35 EDT
ABC image
The body of German tourist Monika Billen was found on Wednesday. - ABC

Northern Territory Police had the crucial phone data which led them to find the body of missing German Tourist Monika Billen for days before they were able to use it to pinpoint her.



The crucial data was provided by Ms Billen's German phone company through Telstra to NT Police early on in their investigation, which began on January 8.

But it wasn't until January 14, almost a week later, that they were .

"We had initial information quite quickly and then it was just about being able to interpret that information and that's not an area of expertise for police," Superintendent Pauline Vicary said.

"As a result of that we were able to refine our search yesterday and we sent a helicopter up and they located her."

Earlier search missed body

Police had already flown over the area where they found the body days earlier, but missed finding her.

They went back to search the area, 2.9 kilometres west of Emily Gap in the East MacDonnell Ranges, after using Ms Billen's mobile phone data to narrow down her location.

"It was actually an area where there was a lot of trees and foliage, so we had flown over there but we had missed it," said Superintendent Vicary.

She said Ms Billen's body was located away from any of the normal walking tracks in the area.



Witnesses had spotted Ms Billen walking on the road to the tourist spot from Alice Springs.

She was seen on CCTV footage leaving her hotel in town on New Year's Day, which hit 44C.

Superintendent Vicary would not comment on the suspected time or cause of death, saying that was a matter for the coroner.

She said police had made contact with Ms Billen's family in Germany.

NT Government 'having a look' at apps

Ms Billen's death comes just two months after the NT Coroner handed down his findings into the death of two German tourists at Trephina Gorge, also in the East MacDonnell Ranges.

Coroner Greg Cavanagh recommended the NT Government advise tourists to use GPS technology and mobile phone apps which could provide locations without phone signal when visiting remote sites.

"We're having a look at recommendations that were made recently," Tourism Minister Lauren Moss said.

"[We're] looking at other locations apps and things that could be looked at more generally, across people who choose to go walking across our parks estate in the Territory."

Ms Moss said the most important thing was for

"We need to make sure that people are educated about how much water to take out with you," he said.

"It can feel, how it feels is not necessarily how dehydrating it is for your when you're out and walking."


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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