SEARCH ENDS: The body found beneath palm trees in the grounds of the Continental Sports Club in Uralba Street, Lismore.
SEARCH ENDS: The body found beneath palm trees in the grounds of the Continental Sports Club in Uralba Street, Lismore.

Police confirm body is German backpacker

By ZOE SATHERLEY

POLICE yesterday confirmed the body discovered in the Lismore CBD last Thursday was that of missing German backpacker Simone Strobel.

Five days after the discovery of the badly decomposing body, police were finally able to confirm the identity after matching dental records and DNA samples.

A Sydney police media spokesperson said dental records had only arrived from Germany on Saturday night with Simone's brother, Alexander, and two other family members.

Alexander broke down on Sunday when he visited the place where Simone's body was found, concealed under palm fronds, in an overgrown section of the Continental Club's bocce court.

The body was just metres from the busy Uralba Street footpath linking Lismore Square Shopping Centre and the CBD.

Alexander laid flowers given to him by a stranger, who herself had come to pay her respects at the roadside memorial which has sprung up as evidence of the community's deep sadness over the tragic death.

A police dog handler found Simone's body on the far right-hand side of the bocce courts.

The Continental Club's bocce courts are located next to the tennis courts and cricket nets, and are adjacent to Oakes Oval.

Although the courts and clubhouse are regularly used every Sunday afternoon, no-one saw anything suspicious, or any trace of the body on the Sunday two days after Simone went missing.

Last Saturday, repairs were carried out to a hole in the club's wire fence, through which Simone's body may have been passed.

It is still not clear whether police are now treating the investigation as a murder.

No cause of death has yet been given.

Amid growing speculation, local police have handed all media inquiries about the possible murder to the Sydney Police media unit.

Detective Insp Anne Langford, who is overseeing the investigation, simply urged anyone who may have information relating to Simone's disappearance to come forward.

While dozens of questions on everyone's lips remain unanswered, police will only make a statement when they have concrete facts, the media spokesperson said.

Asked why it took so long to identify the body, the spokesperson said it was not unusual for identification to take quite a lengthy time when a body is as badly decomposed as Simone's was.

Police had to wait for dental records to arrive from Germany before they could be sent to Sydney to begin matching them.

"You cannot just go on faxed records. You must be confident that the information you are working on is the most accurate information you can get," the spokesperson said.

"Imagine how devastating it would be to all concerned if we got the identification wrong."

While the post-mortem examination was conducted last Friday, analyses of the results was often a complex process which would also take 'some time', police said.

Simone, a 25-year-old kindergarten teacher from the German university town of Wuerzburg, went missing from Lismore Tourist Caravan Park, in Dawson Street, just before midnight on Friday, February 11.

She was travelling with her boyfriend of six years, Tobias Suckfuell, 24, his sister Katrin Suckfuell, 28 and friend Jens Martins, 25.

The foursome had earlier been drinking at The Gollan Hotel in Lismore.

After returning to the caravan park Simone went for a short walk but was not seen again.



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