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  • Crispin Till

    Email Crispin Till

    After more than 60 days, lead officer says pressure is building in protracted investigation


    For more than 60 days, detectives from across TNQ as well as Brisbane-based homicide detectives have been in Cooktown working to solve the mystery of who murdered mum-of-two Donna Steele.

    Today, the police made a fresh appeal for people to come forward in the hope they hold the vital piece of information that will lead to an arrest in "one of the most protracted cases in TNQ in recent years", with Detective Acting Superintendent Geoff Marsh saying police were focusing on August 2, the day Donna was last seen in the community.

    "We want to talk to anyone who was in the Cooktown IGA from 11am to 1pm on August 2," he said.

    "Also, we want to talk to any person who was driving, or trying to hitch a lift, in the vicinity of Poison Creek Road, Oakey Creek Road or the Endeavour Valley Road on August 2 to come forward and make themselves known to 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.

    Ms Steele's body was found on August 5 at Leggett's Crossing, a remote creek off Endeavour Valley Road about 20km from her Poison Creek Road home.

    An autopsy on Ms Steele's body returned an "indeterminate" cause of death due to the time between her disappearance and the discovery of her body.

    Police have previously made a number of calls for people to come forward with dashcam footage, CCTV footage or to talk to officers about their movements in Cooktown from August 2 to August 5.

    SOMEONE KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED

    As rumours continue to swirl within the small community, police are confident the ongoing investigation will be resolved, with Acting Supt Marsh saying pressure is building on whoever is responsible for Ms Steele's murder and it was time for someone to do their civic duty and provide answers.

    "We firmly believe that someone in Cooktown knows what happened to Donna," he said.

    "There are a lot of rumours going around the community as to who is involved.

    "We have run out more than 1,000 lines of inquiry and the people of Cooktown continue to support our investigation.

    "The pressure is such that we hope whoever is responsible comes forward and tells detectives what happened.

    PRESSURE ON WHOEVER IS RESPONSIBLE

    "Cooktown is a small location, people know what happened and it is only a matter of time before someone comes forward and does the proper thing and tells us what happened.

    "The pool of people police are investigating is getting smaller and smaller, we are taking DNA and fingerprints from everyone we talk to.

    "The pressure will eventually fall on a few individuals who have knowledge of this crime.

    "They may not be directly involved, but might be implicated by their actions in protecting a friend or colleague.

    "They have the opportunity to come forward now and tell us what happened."

    Acting Supt Marsh said police had no plans to wind down the investigation centre in the town and officers would stay for the foreseeable future.

    BROTHER VISITS REMOTE SITE

    Also on the weekend, Donna's brother Jason Steele visited Cooktown to hold a memorial at Leggett's Crossing and speak with officers at the investigation centre.

    "The family are devastated by this tragedy," Acting Supt Marsh said.

    "Donna's father is a Vietnam veteran and the last thing he needs is to see his daughter's murder go unsolved.

    "We advised Jason of the investigation and he supports our fresh plea for information from the community.

    "Forensic evidence continues to be examined in Brisbane and returned leading to fresh lines of inquiry.

    "At this stage, we have no firm suspects and no evidence that will lead to an arrest or prosecution."