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Reward offered to help find Donna Steele's killer

Published on 28th February 2018

A bounty has been offered by authorities in a bid to find the person who killed Cooktown mother Donna Steele.

It has been almost six months since the 42-year-old’s body was found in Isabella Creek at Leggett’s Crossing, just on the outskirts of Cooktown.

Police have spoken to virtually everyone in town, but have been unable to find the crucial piece of evidence to make an arrest.

Detective Inspector Geoff Marsh said the offer of $250,000 to the person who helps police arrest and convict Donna’s killer could be the incentive needed to coerce information from a local resident.

He believes that not only does someone know who killed Donna, but that the person responsible had help to move her body.

“The nature of the crime, it’s not impossible, but it would have been difficult to achieve without the assistance of others,” he said.

Detective Inspector Marsh said “misguided loyalty” to protect the killer was likely preventing police from making an arrest.

Those likely to have information were “a small group of interconnected people in the Cooktown area”.

Ms Steele was last seen alive at the Cooktown IGA on August 3, three days before her body was found in Isabella Creek.

Her husband Tony Brown has been ruled out as a suspect as he was working away.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said he hoped the $250,000 reward would help detectives get the information they need.

“I offer my sincere sympathy to Donna’s family and friends who still have to endure this ordeal as the investigation continues,” Mr Ryan said.

“I urge anyone with information to contact police immediately, if not for the sake of justice, for the sake of Donna’s family and friends.

“Simply contact Policelink on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

“Police are doing everything in their power, and I commend each officer involved for their hard work and dedication.

“I hope this reward will help identify the person responsible for this horrendous crime and ultimately bring this investigation to a close.”

Detective Inspector Damien Hansen from Homicide Group said investigators from the Far North District commenced Operation Papa Thorium and over the past few months had worked through a number of leads and enquiries.

“This has been a thorough and extensive investigation and while there has been information of significance provided to police, we are hoping the offer of a sizeable reward will help us with the missing piece of this puzzle,” Detective Inspector Hansen said.

Following these enquiries, police now believe Ms Steele was murdered between August 2 and August 6.

“What is particularly important about this reward is the inclusion of an indemnity from prosecution,” Detective Inspector Hansen said.

“Essentially anyone who was involved with the crime, but who did not actually commit the offence, can be eligible for this indemnity.

“This is worth serious consideration to anyone who has this information and has not yet come forward to police.”

The $250,000 reward is offered at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police.

The reward is offered for information which leads to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Donna Louise Steele.

In addition, an appropriate indemnity from prosecution will be recommended for any accomplice, not being the person who actually committed the crime, who first gives such information.