Woman's body found beside road

THE body of a woman, believed to be that of missing Ipswich pensioner Amanda Quirk, has been found just outside of Drake, west of Casino.

As touring caravans, long-haul trucks and cars passed quietly on the lonely stretch of the Bruxner Highway, forensic police scoured a rest area which was heavily shrouded by trees in the Girard State Forest, just 7km out of the village at the foot of the Great Dividing Range.

The body was found by police early yesterday morning.

Yesterday afternoon, Ipswich police charged a 36-year-old Lawnton man with murder.

The man is expected to appear in Ipswich Magistrates Court today, while Michelle Anne Mondientz, 32, appeared yesterday afternoon charged with being an accessory after the fact.

Ms Quirk’s final resting place was only metres from the side of the road, down the side of an embankment.

Her disappearance early this week sparked a two-state police investigation.

It was believed Ms Quirk, a single pensioner, was murdered at her rented home late on March 31 before her body was driven across the border and dumped.

Her distraught father, Larry Quirk, said his family was struggling to understand why someone would harm his daughter.

“She lived in that house by herself and she used to take in people who had nowhere to go – people who had just got out of prison or who were on drugs – she would give a hand to people who were down and out,” he said.

“She’d been in that situation herself a few years ago and got out of it. She had been on drugs and had seen what those people go through. I guess that’s what you get for helping people.”

Mr Quirk said the man accused of murdering his daughter had been living in the house with her.

In a bizarre twist, Ms Quirk was a friend of another woman, Dulcie Birt, whose partner has been charged with her murder, despite her body never being found.

Ipswich Detective Inspector Mick Niland said police believed an incident which occurred in the late hours of March 31 led to Ms Quirk’s death.

“Local detectives and homicide detectives have travelled to NSW to continue investigations into this matter,” Det Insp Niland said.

A disability pensioner for most of her adult life, Ms Quirk suffered from a disorder which affected her vision and stopped her working.

According to her family, she was a proud lesbian and she always kept her home spotless.

Although she didn’t have any children, Ms Quirk was very fond of cats and had a number of them living in the home.

Mr Quirk said his daughter’s cats had not been seen since she went missing last week and her family believed someone had harmed the pets.

Ms Quirk leaves behind one sister and two half-siblings in addition to her parents and grandparents.

Locals in the nearby sleepy village of Drake were shocked to hear of such a grisly find on their doorstep.

“One of our local truck drivers stopped in this morning coming from Tenterfield and he said he noticed the forensic police up there,” Drake General Store owner Joe Howard said.

“He said that they don’t normally put gloves on for nothing, so we knew something was going on.”

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