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Townsville Bulletin - - Weekend Extra / Regional News -

❏ THE mys­te­ri­ous dis­ap­pear­ance of a Melbourne wo­man on the Ather­ton Table­land is the fo­cus of an in­tense new in­ves­ti­ga­tion, with po­lice ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity she was mur­dered.

Days be­fore the 12-month an­niver­sary of Katie O’Shea’s shock dis­ap­pear­ance, se­nior de­tec­tives stopped short of up­grad­ing her case to a homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tion but con­cede she may be the vic­tim of foul play.

‘‘As time goes on, we must con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity,’’ Far North­ern Re­gional Crime co­or­di­na­tor Det Insp John Har­ris said.

Ms O’Shea, 44, was last seen on De­cem­ber 29 when her son, who she was stay­ing with at Raven­shoe, gave her a lift to Jack St, Ather­ton, where she planned to play pool at a ho­tel.

She was re­ported miss­ing on Jan­uary 13 when she failed to re­turn home.

Det Insp Har­ris said it seemed un­likely Ms O’Shea would go miss­ing by choice. ❏ WHEN seven pythons be­gan crack­ing holes in their eggs on the Gold Coast this week, they em­barked on per­haps the most dan­ger­ous leg of a life filled with threats.

The trig­ger for the hatch­ing process came some time on De­cem­ber 21 when the first of the slip­pery sib­lings at Cur­rumbin Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary ex­posed its ‘egg tooth’, slic­ing a hole in its egg.

‘‘There’s a lot of tricks along the way,’’ the sanc­tu­ary’s se­nior rep­tile keeper, Ben Whit­tle, said.

The act of break­ing out of an egg is filled with risk.

Hatch­ing ba­bies can just turn around and re­turn inside the egg, risk­ing drown­ing in the yolk, said rep­tile han­dler Natalie Hill.

But each of the ba­bies of this clutch — in­fant black-headed pythons are the largest ba­bies of all pythons — pushed out fur­ther, slowly com­ing to terms with con­di­tions out­side the egg.

‘‘They come out when they feel safe,’’ Mr Whit­tle said.

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