The Guardian Australia
Police tip-off sparks search of Newcastle home 27 years after murder of Melissa Hunt
New South Wales homicide detectives are investigating whether the murder of a woman 27 years ago in the Hunter region was a domestic violence incident.
The battered body of Melissa Hunt, 22, was found near the weir wall of Burrenjim Dam, Bluegum Creek via Stockrington, on 25 April 1994.
A $1m reward offered in December led to a tip-off which prompted police to return to the Hunter region on Tuesday.
Unsolved Homicide Squad detectives, along with forensic specialists executed a search warrant at a home at Lambton Road, Waratah, a north-western suburb of Newcastle, while police divers are scouring the Burrenjim Dam.
Homicide squad commander detective superintendent Danny Doherty said Strike Force Circulo detectives were looking for any remaining forensic evidence that could help the investigation.
“This Sunday marks the 27th anniversary of Melissa’s murder and detectives are hopeful that the new information we have received, together with today’s searches, will progress the investigation,” Doherty said.
“Police are exploring a number of new lines of inquiry, including whether Melissa regularly attended a home at Waratah and if a domestic incident took place at the residence prior to her death.”
Detectives were “leaving no stone unturned” and were in contact with police in South Australia, Queensland and Victoria in a bid to trace associates and witnesses, now living interstate.
“As our investigations into Melissa’s death continue, we are urging anyone with information to contact police so we may provide much-needed answers to Melissa’s family,” Doherty said.
Strike Force Impey, comprised of detectives from Lake Macquarie police district and the state crime command’s homicide squad, was formed to investigate Hunt’s death but no arrests were made.
Her case was sent to the Unsolved Homicide Unit following a coronial inquest in 1998.