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  • Crispin Till

    Email Crispin Till

    Autopsy provides no clear answer on how Donna Steele died


    Police still don't have a definitive answer on how Cooktown mum-of-two Donna Steele was murdered.

    An autopsy on Ms Steele's body, which was found in the water at Leggett's Crossing on August 5, returned an "indeterminate" cause of death due to the time between her disappearance and the discovery of her body.

    Speaking in Cairns today, Detective Inspector Geoff Marsh said the inability to determine a cause of death was one of a number of "challenges" investigating officers were facing.

    While detectives believe someone in Cooktown is responsible for Ms Steele's death, they do not have any persons of interest or significant witnesses at this stage.

    But police are confident they are closing in on the "key" piece of information that will help find answers to what happened.


    “Someone in Cooktown knows what happened to Donna," he said.

    "The people of Cooktown have been more than helpful and you will be caught out if you are being anything less than truthful with police."

    The case has gripped the Tropical North and the nation since Ms Steele was last seen on August 2. Ms Steele was reported missing when her husband came home from work on August 3 to find their two young children, aged 8 and 10, at home alone.

    The case became a murder investigation when Ms Steele's body was found on August 5 in a remote creek off Endeavour Valley Road about 20km from her home.

    Insp Marsh said lead detectives were looking for any change in behaviour or routine of anyone living in Cooktown between the time Ms Steele was last seen and her body was found.

    "We will continue to knock on doors, and the same doors over and over if need be, to get a resolution in this case," he said.

    "There is much more work to be done and we will be in Cooktown for the foreseeable future.

    "It is a painstaking process and challenging investigation but it is what detectives are trained for.

    "We owe it to Donna, her boys and her family."

    Insp Marsh said evidence was being analysed in Cairns and Brisbane and the results of this testing would come back within the next few weeks on a priority basis.

    Officers are also cross referencing statements and sifting through CCTV and dashcam footage that had been provided by the public.

    A private funeral was held for Ms Steele on the Tablelands yesterday and Insp Marsh said it had been a trying day for Ms Steele's husband and her boys.

    "They are still on the Tablelands but their intention is to return to Cooktown and for the boys to go back to school there," he said.