Police have revealed they believe people in Australia and Germany are harbouring secrets about the murder of a backpacker in a NSW town more than 15 years ago.
German national Simone Strobel had been backpacking around Australia as a 25-year-old when she vanished before her body was discovered just 100 metres from where she was staying.
It was February 11, 2005, when she had a night out with her boyfriend and friends at the Gollan Hotel in Lismore, on the NSW Far North Coast.
It would be the last night she was seen alive.
Six days later her body was found concealed under palm fronds at a sports ground, just metres from the Lismore Tourist Caravan Park where she was last seen.
Now 15 years on, police are still hunting for clues to uncover the truth of what happened and have announced a $1 million reward for any information that can help solve her homicide.
No one has ever been charged over the young teacher’s death, with a coronial inquest in 2007 ruling there was insufficient evidence to lay charges over the murder.
NSW Police said they believe there are people both in Australia and overseas in Ms Strobel’s home country who are withholding vital information.
“We know the truth is out there, and we know there are people who are holding it back,” Richmond Police District Commander Superintendent Scott Tanner said.
“Strike force detectives have worked for more than a decade, trying to piece together Simone’s last movements and who was there in her final moments.
“A million dollars is a significant reward being offered by the NSW Government to help us solve this homicide – the reward is open to any person or resident, including both Australian and German residents.
“We have continued to examine evidence and speak with witnesses over the past 15 years, but we need additional help from the public to finally determine what happened to Simone.”
CCTV shows moments before disappearance
Security surveillance footage released by police shows Ms Strobel leaving the Gollan Hotel on the last night she was seen.
The video shows her out the front of the pub with three others.
A man she is with turns back to wave to somebody still inside the pub while the group make their way across the footpath towards the road.
As two of the people walk out of the frame, Ms Strobel stands on the footpath and appears to speak with one of the people she left the hotel with.
The two people re-enter the frame to also speak with her.
The Australian reports an inquest in 2007 heard Ms Strobel had been arguing with her boyfriend, also a German backpacker, at the campsite where they were staying before her death.
Jens Martin, a friend who was with the group, told the inquest Ms Strobel’s boyfriend had urged him to lie to police about the argument.
Family ‘deserves answers’
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliot said the reward would be a substantial incentive for people to come forward.
“For 15 years, police have been determined to uncover the truth of what happened to Simone. Both the Lismore community and her loved ones in Germany deserve answers,” he said.
Superintendent Tanner added Ms Strobel’s family were still searching for justice.
“This is a crime which has stuck with many families who have young relatives travelling the world, the thought of losing them so far away from home is hard to comprehend. Help us put Simone’s family at ease,” he said.
In 2014, officers from the Bavarian Office of Criminal Investigation announced a €10,000 (A$16,000) reward for residents of both Germany and Australia who had information that led to a conviction.
That reward remains current.
Anybody with information about Simone Strobel’s murder should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 of submit a report online.
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