Police are excavating a section of the Maryborough tip in search for evidence into the disappearance of a missing Hervey Bay woman. Photo: Alistair Brightman
Police are excavating a section of the Maryborough tip in search for evidence into the disappearance of a missing Hervey Bay woman. Photo: Alistair Brightman

Police scour tip for Bay woman’s body

A POLICE cadaver dog ran a section of the Maryborough dump while an excavator dug through the earth in the background as police narrowed their search for the body of Shae Francis.

Detectives trying to piece together what happened to the 35-year-old woman honed in on an area about the size of an Olympic swimming pool Monday.

Ms Francis was last seen in Hervey Bay nearly 18-months-ago.

Wide Bay District Detective Inspector Gary Pettiford said fresh information recently come to light and led investigators to a section of the Ariadne St facility.

Despite the pelting rain, local police under the watch of Detective Senior Sergeant David Harbison, specialist teams from Brisbane and SES crews began sifting through the debris.

They are hoping to uncover human remains or any other items, like clothing, that could help solve the mystery surrounding Ms Francis' disappearance.

She was last seen in October 2018 but was only reported missing in March last year.

Her former partner Jason Cooper was arrested in Victoria and successfully extradited to Queensland in June.

The 44-year-old man is facing charges of manslaughter, interfering with a corpse and stealing.

He is due to appear in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Det Insp Pettiford said the information they received suggested Ms Francis' body was allegedly dumped in an industrial bin along a footpath at Torquay.

"That bin was then removed and taken up to the dump in Maryborough," he said.

Council records were used to pinpoint the general area where the bin was emptied.

"It's going to be a long, slow process," Det Insp Pettiford said.

Crews are expected to be on site for at least a week but poor weather conditions could hamper their progress.

Large sections of the search area were transformed into a bog underfoot and only 4WD vehicles were given access when the Chronicle visited the scene.

Excavators will continue to dig through the area of interest one layer at a time and deliver loads to a demarcated search zone.

Teams will then sift through the debris.

"If nothing is found the soil will be discarded in the dump again," Det Insp Pettiford explained.

He said "anything unusual" would be analysed.

"We want to help Ms Francis' loved ones achieve some kind of closure," det Insp Pettiford explained.



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