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Tracy Marshall case: missing woman's body found three years after Tropical Cyclone Carlos hit Karratha

Gian De Poloni, Thursday June 26, 2014 - 14:15 EST
ABC image
Tracy Marshall went missing as Karratha braced for Tropical Cyclone Carlos in 2011. - ABC

The body of a woman who disappeared during a cyclone more than three years ago has been found in scrubland in Western Australia.

Tracy Marshall, 35, was being treated for depression when she left a Karratha hospital on February 21, 2011.

The former high school teacher's unoccupied car was found later that morning 47 kilometres east of Karratha as the region was bracing for Severe Tropical Cyclone Carlos.

A search involving a helicopter, police officers and the State Emergency Service (SES) failed to locate her.

Last month, a man conducting maintenance on power lines close to where her car was found stumbled across a human skeleton lying in scrubland.

Inspector Martin Voyez said forensic tests proved the remains were those of Ms Marshall but it was unclear how she died.

"A fair bit of forensic work is still going on in relation to that," he said.

"She went missing at a time when a particularly nasty cyclone went through and that hampered the original search.

"Nonetheless, a great of effort was made by the local police at the time but unfortunately they didn't discover Tracy's body there and then."

Father baffled body wasn't found sooner

Ms Marshall's father, Quinton Bricknell, said he was baffled his daughter's body was not found sooner.

He said he hoped a fresh coronial review could determine how her body was missed during the search effort.

"She was in the search zone and how they missed her I just don't know because the vegetation around the area was extremely low," Mr Bricknell said.

"She wouldn't have been hidden by vegetation of anything like that. It's just baffled us as how she was missed in the first instance.

"From where her car was found, if you stepped about back one kilometre towards Karratha, you could have almost have seen her from the road if it wasn't for a couple slight rises in the earth."

Inspector Voyez said information collected in a coronial inquest in 2013 would be reviewed.

"The original coronial file and all the information we have to date will be collated by myself," he said.

"I personally attended the scene on Tuesday and made myself fully familiar with the site.

"I'm now using that knowledge plus the original file and the original witnesses to piece together if anything is different from what we were first told in 2011, to what we now know today.

"Myself and other police officers here in Karratha will make every effort to get to the truth of this matter."

Family launched own search for Tracy

Mr Bricknell and Tracy's husband, Iain Marshall, launched a search of their own in August 2011, scouring northern WA.

Mr Bricknell said he was recently able to visit the site where his daughter's body was found.

"Police have been very good and we went straight up to Karratha once we were told," he said. 

"They took us out the site and we were able to have a moment at the site where she passed away.

"Of course it's very hard but it's relieving to know that she is now back with us. 

"We've just got to deal with Tracy now and make funeral arrangements.

"I don't think you can ever have closure because the memories go on forever. 

"Now that we know what the situation is - Tracy won't be coming home - that's the way it is."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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