Shoe sparks new theories on Caddick’s final movements
Police are investigating the "strong possibility" Melissa Caddick was alive for weeks or even longer after she was reported missing from her Eastern Suburbs mansion.
Senior officers said despite modelling showing a body could float from Sydney to where her sneaker and remains were found on the NSW south coast, there remain serious doubts they could have drifted that far.
They believe the sneaker with skeletal remains inside appears to be in too good a condition to have been in the water for three months.
"Something in the water for that long, say a bit of flotsam or jetsam that washes on to the shore, has got green growth on it," said Superintendent Joe McNulty, Commander of the NSW Marine Command.
"At first examination the shoe doesn't appear to have been in the water for three months. The shoe needs extensive analysis to see how long it was in the water. It's a vital clue where hopefully marine biology can provide some answers."
But the 30-year veteran of body recovery from the water said he does not know of a case of someone going into the water in Sydney and being found so far down the south coast.
"It is really irregular for bodies that may have entered the ocean at the Gap or Dover Heights to end up on the south coast. Usually they wash up in the bottom corner of Maroubra Beach before the Botany Bay headland and that is normally with in a couple of days," he said.
Superintendent McNulty was in charge of the marine search for Melissa Caddick after her husband Andrew Koletti reported her missing on November 13.
That was more than 30 hours after Australian Federal Police raided their Vaucluse home during an investigation into the possible misappropriation of millions of dollars carried out by her.
WAS IT SUICIDE?
At first it was believed she left the home about 5.30am on November 12 to go for a run along the Dover Heights clifftops from which she never returned. But months of investigations have not been able to place her there or anywhere else leading to speculation she had faked her death and run off with millions of dollars. Now the discovery of a running shoe at Bournda Beach, near Bermagui, with DNA proving the remains inside belong to the 49-year-old have led to speculation she may have committed suicide only hours after the raid on November 11.
But police are now questioning that timeline for a number of reasons.
"Could Melissa Caddick have been on the run before her death? Absolutely she could have been," Assistant Commissioner Michael Willing said. "It's a distinct possibility. All the circumstances around her disappearance are now in some way going to be reinvestigated.
"Every feasible possibility will be explored. The drift modelling is not enough to give a coroner a complete picture. Ms Caddick may have entered the water at Dover Heights or she may have entered the water somewhere else, which raises a lot of other possible scenarios so we are keeping an open mind."
Supt McNulty also said further investigation has to be done as to when and where Ms Caddick went into the water. "We did a lot of vessel searching, and the air wing also covered a lot of square miles in those days after her disappearance but saw nothing," he said.
"Sometimes from a height we spot clothing which comes off the body like a top or even buoyant jewellery, but there was nothing. A body will go into the water and float for a couple of days, then the organs, such as lungs stomach, intestines, will fill with salt water which is quite heavy and it will sink and be submerged for two or three days, depending on the body mass index. Then the body surfaces again, already in a state of decomposition and it's usually twice the size."
MAKES NO SENSE
Often a bloated body makes it easier for authorities to spot from the air.
"The other thing to consider is if the body did go off the cliff in mid-November, December through to February it is the busiest time of the boating season," he said.
"There are people sailing, surf skis paddling and recreational boating all along the possible channels where the body would have had to pass, not to mention ships into Botany Bay, tugs and pilot boats.
"At Port Kembla a lot of vessels are anchored off shore waiting to offload. Fishing boats in the Shoalhaven, Batemans Bay and all the way down the coast are constantly in the water this time of year.
"I'm a little bit concerned about why didn't we find the body earlier if it did go in the water on that date in November. We are pretty good at what we do.
"We do our marine modelling and most times it's not too far off. It doesn't make sense. Take into account the currents, the ocean swells, the wind at this time of year that would blow a body eventually back on to the shore.
"We have had large easterly swells, the body would be pushed into a beach well before where it got to in my experience. There are so many possibilities. Did it go in further south, for example at Kiama or Batemans Bay, or Jervis Bay?
"We just don't know. Not in my career of 30 years have I seen anything like this."
'NEVER HAPPENED IN MY TIME'
While Supt McNulty said it was theoretically possible for a body to be swept up by the East Australian Current and drift along for 100km in a single day, it was unheard of by investigators who have spent decades working on cases of missing persons along the coast.
"That's never happened in my time in the water police," he said. "The body is not going to push out into that current because of the onshore winds, the Nor'easter would push the body inland."
Police will now prepare a report for the coroner and cannot rule out the possibility Ms Caddick had the help of accomplices to deal with the millions of dollars she is alleged to have stolen - and that could be a motive to murder her.
"We can't discount that," Mr Willing said.
"The fact at this point is we have her remains in the form of a foot, a decomposed skeletal foot, and that's about all.
"We don't know how she came to be in the water or how she came to be deceased.
"If you consider the suicide angle, that's a possibility. She has left her wallet, keys and phone and doesn't appear to have taken any clothing with her. However, you are dealing with someone who is allegedly quite clever in covering her tracks and good at deception. There are many hypotheses that span the spectrum."
REMAINS AND BONES ADD TO MYSTERY
Police were last night investigating more remains - including bones - which were found on separate south coast beaches.
A pair of bones were undergoing testing yesterday after they were found at Tura Beach, Merimbula on Saturday - just 4km from where the shoe of Melissa Caddick was located.
In a separate find about 200km north at Cunjurong Point, remains resembling human intestines were also located.
Police said at this stage there is nothing to link it to Mrs Caddick but are now awaiting the results of expert analysis.
Meanwhile, DNA testing will be carried out in the next few days on human flesh found on a south coast beach on Friday, to determine if they belong to Mrs Caddick or someone else.
The remains, which appear to be part of a torso, were discovered washed up on Mollymook Beach and have been transported to Sydney for forensic analysis.
While the remains were found soon after the discovery of Ms Caddick's foot inside her shoe, the likelihood appears the remains are not hers, but those of a 39-year-old man who disappeared while swimming at Batemans Bay.
"On January 25th we had reports of a Canberra man swimming just north of Batemans Bay with some of his family," Assistant Commissioner Michael Willing said.
The man entered the water with goggles, snorkel and flippers at Richmond Beach about 3pm but was not seen again.
INVESTORS FIGHT TO RECOUP MILLIONS
Distressed investors who were conned out of their life savings by Melissa Caddick are now considering suing her accountants and auditors, who signed off on years of what are now known to be fake documents, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
The provisional liquidator appointed to her affairs and those of her company Maliver, Bruce Gleeson, said that they had not been able to find one genuine document among the thousands they had sourced including forged bank accounts.
The con woman, 49 - who is believed dead after one of her feet washed up on a south coast beach - used at least three accounting firms over the seven years she operated.
Her investment scam raked in about $25 million from 60 investors to fund her extravagant lifestyle.
It has emerged Caddick never held an Australian Financial Services Licence.
Investors, many of them long-term friends, have been told there is no money left, with just $5600 in one of Caddick's bank accounts.
Her assets include a heavily mortgaged Dover Heights mansion, an Edgecliff penthouse apartment and Aspen ski lodge.
Their only chance to recoup their millions is to sue the accountants who prepared tax returns based on what are now known to be purported shareholdings deemed to be held by the investors which were fictitious.
Mr Gleeson, of Jones Partners, last week said the Commonwealth Bank and CommSec had confirmed the account and reference numbers on such documents did not exist.
Brisbane accountant Nicholas Morales yesterday confirmed he had been one of her recent accountants.
"I have not been her accountant all the time, there were two before that," Mr Morales said. "I have done nothing wrong. I didn't know anything about what she was doing."
Originally published as Shoe sparks new theories on Caddick's final movements