Twelve years after Parkerville woman Sarah McMahon mysteriously vanished, the State Coroner has declared she was murdered.
Coroner Alastair Hope this afternoon concluded the circumstances surrounding the 20-year-old's disappearance in November 2000 were "sinister" and the evidence pointed "overwhelmingly" that she was the victim of a homicide.
But Mr Hope did not make any finding about the involvement of long-time "person of interest" Donald Victor Morey, who befriended Miss McMahon and was the last person to speak to her on her mobile.
Mr Hope said he found Morey, who was jailed in 2005 for the attempted murder of a sex worker, to be a "most unimpressive" and untruthful witness at last month's inquest.
Morey, 57, has always maintained Miss McMahon is alive and living overseas but he could not divulge her whereabouts for her own safety.
"As Mr Morey is aware of the fact that he is viewed as a suspect by police he has, and has always had, a motive to claim that Miss McMahon is still alive," Mr Hope said.
After handing down his findings, Mr Hope apologised to police, saying it was regrettable he was unable to take the matter as far as would have been liked.
"The evidence is complex and there are many credibility issues which would need to be resolved in making any such determination," he said.
"It is always possible that some further evidence may come to light which could result in criminal charges being laid at some later date."
Miss McMahon has never been seen or heard since she was last seen leaving her Claremont workplace about 5.15pm on November 8, 2000.
Witness Tracy Kendrick claimed to have seen Miss McMahon's naked body in Morey's bedroom but in evidence to the inquest last month, denied this, claiming she had been confused, scared and drunk when she signed the police statement without reading it.