'I hope Thea is alive': Fears for missing woman's safety
UPDATE 3.50PM: POLICE searching bushland at Byron Bay for missing woman Thea Liddle say they are not treating her disappearance as suspicious at this stage, but admit her nomadic lifestyle was hampering their efforts to locate her.
Police have fears for her safety, but would not be drawn on what they think has happened to her. At this stage they are still treating it as a missing persons case.
Commander of Tweed Byron Police District Commander Superintendent said Thea Liddle, 43, was last known to be staying at a Mooball address.
Ms Liddle was last heard from on October 2, 2019, she has not touched social media or her bank accounts since.
Her family, who reside in Burleigh in the Gold Coast reported the matter top police in late January this year.
"We do have fears for her safety but we are treating Thea as a missing person," Supt Int Roptell said.
"We have searched extensively around the Mooball and Nimbin area, and now looking at the Byron area. The search down in Byron will continue today and into tomorrow.
"We are not treating the disappearance of Thea as suspicious."
Supt Int Roptell described Ms Liddle's lifestyle as transient and nomadic and the area of Byron searched today was known to be frequented by those with a nomadic lifestyle.
"We have been working closely with Thea's family," he said.
Operational support group and rescue squad police are searching the Byron Bay bushland.
He said while cadaver dogs were not being used during this search he did not rule out using any resources available in the future.
"We are looking for any clues which can assist us with our inquiries," Supt Int Roptell said.
"We have no information to lead us to believe it is suspicious, at the moment it is a missing person."
He said there was nothing found during a previous search at a Mooball property which contributed to the search at Byron Bay, rather it was an area Ms Liddle was known to frequent.
It is understood the 46-year-old man who resides at the Mooball address searched was friends with Ms Liddle and is still assisting police with inquiries.
Supt Int Roptell said the items seized during the Mooball search were still under investigation.
"We are going through all lines of inquiry. Our first priority was Mooball, then Nimbin and now Byron Bay. To my understanding she also frequented Murwillumbah as well however we want to make sure we go through every possibility of where she frequented," he said.
Nimbin was searched in May without turning over evidence in relation to Ms Liddle's disappearance.
"I hope Thea is alive," Supt Int Roptell said.
"All I can say at this point is unfortunately we are treating it as a serious missing person."
He said the matter of whether Ms Liddle was still alive would ultimately be up to the coroner to decide.
"As you can assume it is difficult to get information from the transient population due to the fact they reside in different areas constantly but we are conducting inquiries with them, some have been pretty helpful," Supt Int Roptell said.
UPDATE, 12.15pm: POLICE are re-appealing for public assistance as they continue to investigate the disappearance of Thea Liddle.
Earlier this year, detectives from Tweed/Byron Police District established Strike Force Holby to investigate the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the 42-year-old.
Thea was last seen in the Mooball area on October 31, 2019.
She was reported missing in January.
She is known to frequent several Far North Coast locations, including Mooball, Nimbin and Byron Bay.
At the time of her disappearance, Thea was staying at a Mooball property with a then 46-year-old man.
Strike force detectives have previously searched the rural property as part of their extensive inquiries.
As the investigation continues, strike force detectives - with the assistance of Northern Region Operational Support Group officers, Public Order and Riot Squad and Police Rescue - will be conducting several searches throughout bushland in and around Byron Bay today and tomorrow, where Thea was known to have been residing in the months leading up to her disappearance.
Tweed/Byron Police District Commander, Superintendent Dave Roptell, said Thea didn't have a permanent place of residence, so detectives are searching regular locations where many people are known to set up makeshift campsites in the Byron area.
"Thea lived a very transient lifestyle - shifting from place to place, changing campsites often and would opt for places in remote bushland away from the public," Supt Roptell said.
"We are conducting thorough searches throughout these locations for any indication of Thea's presence there.
"It wasn't uncommon for Thea to travel throughout the Far North Coast, however, is it unusual for her to go this length of time without speaking to family members.
"As we have said before, we are extremely keen to speak to anyone who may have seen or spoken to Thea in late October or early November 2019, in and around the Far North Coast of NSW. Any piece of information may assist investigators."
UPDATE, 11.50am: POLICE dogs and officers from the Northern Rivers and Sydney are searching rugged bushland in Byron Bay as part of ongoing investigations into the disappearance of Thea Liddle.
They are searching from The Pass car park to the Captain Cook car park and back.
Searches are also under way in the Reflections car park to Lawson St and back.
Original story: SEVERAL searches are currently under way in the Byron Bay area, as police continue to investigate the disappearance of missing Northern NSW woman, Thea Liddle.
Tweed Byron detectives established Strike Force Holby to investigate the circumstances surrounding the 42-year-old's disappearance in late 2019.
She was last seen in the Mooball area on Thursday, October 31, 2019, but was not reported missing to police until January 2020.
As police continue their inquiries into her disappearance, officers are conducting several searches of bushland in and around the Byron Bay area which are known to frequent nomads and makeshift campsites.
Thea had been living between several campsites in the months before her disappearance.
It is understood the searches are on the coastal side of Byron Bay, very close to the town centre and in bushland near Cape Byron and The Pass.
Police have said further information will be available later today.
In March police called for public assistance to find Thea, who last contacted her family on November 4.
Today's search comes after police dogs scoured a Tweed property looking for the body of a missing northern NSW woman.
Thea has not touched her bank account or phone since she was last seen in Mooball on October 31, 2019.
It is believed Ms Liddle was unable to be contacted by family members at the time.
She is described as being female, Caucasian appearance, about 160-170cm tall, thin build, with brown hair.
Police and family hold concerns for her welfare due to no contact.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or nsw.crimestoppers.com.au