Simone Strobel: The murder that broke Lismore's heart

German backpacker Simone Strobel was found murdered in Lismore in 2005.
German backpacker Simone Strobel was found murdered in Lismore in 2005. Contributed


TEN years ago today, a German backpacker and kindergarten teacher named Simone Strobel arrived in Lismore.

She was reported missing the following morning and her body was found six days later, concealed in long grass and palm fronds next to the old bocce club in Uralba St.

Nobody has ever been charged with her murder, yet the case has attracted interest across the world and last year German police offered a €10,000 reward for information leading to a resolution of the case.

A book by Virginia Peters called 'Have You Seen Simone? - The Story of an Unsolved Murder' also re-ignited interest in the case, particularly when Simone's former boyfriend Tobias Suckfuell (now Toby Moran) tried to have an injunction placed on the publication on the grounds that it defamed him.

However the judge hearing the injunction case in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, Kennet Martin, found there was "reasonable suspicion" that Tobias was behind her death.

FROM MISSING TO MURDERED: The Northern Star’s coverage in 2005 of Simone Strobel’s disappearance in Lismore, on February 14 (above left) and 16 (above centre) and, on February 18, the discovery by police of a body 90 metres from her campsite.
FROM MISSING TO MURDERED: The Northern Star’s coverage in 2005 of Simone Strobel’s disappearance in Lismore, on February 14 (above left) and 16 (above centre) and, on February 18, the discovery by police of a body 90 metres from her campsite.

Looking through the archives from The Northern Star from the weeks after Simone's disappearance and the discovery of a body, you get a sense of a city in shock.

A candlelight vigil was held near the bocce club "for the young woman whose death has broken the heart of a city".

There was a sense of fear that it was no longer safe to walk the street at night.

Police released a comfit image of a man seen hanging around the caravan park where Simone was staying with Tobias, Katrin Suckfuell and her boyfriend Jens Martin.

A man was taken in for questioning at Maclean, but released without charge.

There was CCTV footage of Simone leaving the Gollan Hotel about 11.30pm on Friday, February 11, 2005.

The four Germans then returned to the caravan park and Tobias claims that Simone then went for a walk on her own, wearing no shoes, with no money, ID or phone.

A search failed to find anything in the days following. A police dog later found a decomposing body about 90 metres from where Simone had been camping.

No definite cause of death has ever been established, but a coroner's report in 2007 found it was most likely she died of suffocation or smothering asphyxia, possibly from a pillow or plastic bag.


Looking back 

LISMORE mayor Jenny Dowell said her thoughts went out to the family of Simone Strobel on the anniversary of her death.

"They have lost someone far too young, far too soon and there is no way of knowing what happened," she said.

Cr Dowell was one of the organisers of a community fund to help Tobias get home to Germany, along with the Simone's body.

"I think we felt a level of community guilt that this terrible thing happened here. It was our way of saying 'we will help you' and expressed our sorrow."


Our readers reflect

Kate Olivieri: I remember the time. I was visiting my parents (was living interstate) and my mum told me about it. She felt it was part of a bigger trend of violence and strange things happening at the time. I felt terrible for her, and sad this happened in an overall beautiful town.

Bek McNamara: Yep, I was walking around town with some friends the night it happened. Too close to home.

Mel Davies: Yes remember that time. We had only recently moved to the area from Sydney. Our family took part in the candlelight vigil. I often think about her family.

Lynne Reynolds: We were staying in the caravan park, waiting to move into a rental property. (I) would have walked past her a few times. The gossip was horrific and 

the atmosphere in the park was strange. Was not a good introduction to Lismore and I didn't stay long. We moved back later though.

Grace Cahill: One of the worst things to happen in Lismore.

Jade King: I remember the spot. I remember when they found her body. I remember driving past the spot every day on the way to school.

Tracey Lea Hunter: Will never be forgotten! I still have all the newspaper articles from it.

Hazel McAuslan: Feels like yesterday the police were knocking on my door asking if I heard anything. Can't believe it has been 10 years.

Topics:  editors picks

WATCH: As Knitting Nannas arrest 'Kevin Hogan'

The Knitting Nannas at Kevin Hogan's office in Molesworth St and, below left, Knitting Nanna Dororthy Moller with an 'arrest warrant for Kevin Hogan.

Group storms office in brazen stunt

Guilty plea to hidden hydro weed operation

epa03462089 (FILE) A file photo dated 31 August 2010 shows a worker tending to cannabis plants at a growing facility for the Tikun Olam company near the northern Israeli town of Safed, Israel. Reports on 07 November 2012 state that Colorado and Washington became the first US states to legalize cannabis for recreational use, while medical marijuana initiatives were on the ballot in Massachusetts, Montana and Arkansas.  EPA/ABIR SULTAN ISRAEL OUT

Operation employed a gang of "trimmers" to cut and package cannabis

Insight into Lyme disease on SBS

Paralysis tick

Insight will look at the controversy over Lyme disease in Australia

Local Partners

Craft beer comes to Beef Town in new festival

TONY Hennessy explains how the Northern Rivers Craft Beer and Cider Festival came about.

The Living End are coming to Byron Bay

The Living End

The Living End are going on the road in 2017 for a regional tour

November will be a big month for NORPA

ARTS: NORPA has added new shows to the Dreamland season from November 23 to December 10.

Peter Garrett, Dreamland and the 2017 Season Launch, among others

The Superjesus: Back with Love and Violence

DOWN AGAIN: The Superjesus are Paul Berryman on drums, Sarah McLeod on lead vocals and Stuart Rudd on bass guitar.

The Superjesus are back after 13 years

Steve Irwin's final days through dad's eyes

Bob Irwin with his son Steve.

'You never expect that’s the last time you’re going to see your son'

Kristie doesn't mind being the third wheel in Survivor final

Kristie Bennett in a scene from Australian Survivor.

SOLO player will take on Survivor's power couple Lee and El tonight.

Scary hoping Posh and Sporty will re-join The Spice Girls

Mel B

Mel B hoping Victoria Beckham, Mel C will re-join The Spice Girls

REVIEW: Michael McIntyre has Brisbane in stitches

Michael McIntyre in a scene from his TV series Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

BRITISH comedian is in the country on his Happy and Glorious Tour.

Cliff Richard doesn't need Rod Stewart's help with legal bills

Sir Cliff Richard

"'Don't worry, I'm loaded. I won't keep you to it.' "

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.