‘If only the dog could talk’
HARVEY THE DOBERMAN WAS FOUND PINING ON THE BEACH. HIS GLAMOROUS OWNER WAS FOUND DEAD IN THE SEA. POLICE ARE TRYING TO UNRAVEL THE RIDDLE, WRITES RICHARD NOONE
DEVORA Howard was known to be the life of the party and outwardly she had it all — confidence, beauty and affluence which allowed freedom and a beachside home, with a yacht moored up north.
“I thought she had the perfect life,” a friend said.
But behind the sunny smile was a darker side. The willowy blonde 56-year-old had a history of alcohol and substance abuse and her marriage, of just three years, to Peter Howard had broken down.
Ms Howard remained in the $1.7 million marital home on Pacific St in Wamberal on the central coast, where she cared for her elderly mother.
It was a poorly kept secret among neighbours that she was seeing an “eligible bachelor” who lived nearby. She was also known to invite younger men back to her home for “beers and bags” of cocaine.
Neighbour Kim Shepherd said she saw Ms Howard talking on the phone on her home’s second-storey balcony at 5.45pm on September 2.
“She left a neighbour’s place at 10pm to go back to her place,” she said of Ms Howard’s last known sighting.
At 7.15am the next day a fisherman pulled her body from the water about 250m north of the Terrigal boat ramp near The Haven.
An hour-and-a-half before her body was discovered, Terrigal-based personal trainer Jordan Green had found Ms Howard’s beloved doberman Harvey pining at the water’s edge at Wamberal, the northern end of the arc of golden sand which starts at Terrigal.
“When I got there, I found the lady’s dog on the beach but couldn’t see anyone else around,” he said.
“I knew something was not quite right when the dog was on the shore and barking and looking out to the water.
“He was distressed. He had his lead on and there was a bumbag on the sand.”
Following his training session he rang police and took Harvey home after finding the dog’s address on his tag.
The bumbag on the sand near where Harvey was found was Ms Howard’s.
When the fishermen found Ms Howard, she was wearing a bra and the same white jeans she was seen in the previous evening, but there was no sign of the grey woollen jumper she had been wearing.
She had bruising to her neck but an autopsy found she died from drowning.
Detectives have no suspects and there’s no suggestion that anyone mentioned in this article had any involvement in her disappearance. While the autopsy has all but ruled out suicide, the results have failed to produce a smoking gun — raising more questions than answers.
Toxicology results will not be available for another six to eight weeks.
Detectives have been piecing together her last movements, who she spoke to and, using CCTV from people’s homes, attempting to place her whereabouts between the hours of 10pm and 7.15am.
Police have since identified her from CCTV between those hours but are refusing to disclose where or when. Next week police divers are expected to re-enact Ms Howard’s disappearance to test sea currents and rips in an effort to pinpoint where and when she entered the water.
Despite divers scouring Terrigal Lagoon and general duties offices searching the shoreline and rocks around Terrigal Skillion, the grey jumper has not been recovered. Police are urging any members of the public who discover the jumper to come forward.
“If only the dog could talk,” a source close to the investigation said.
Ms Howard’s sister Karen Wardle Bacic, meanwhile, has posted of her family’s heartbreak on social media.
“She was gorgeous inside and out, and just wanted to help everyone,” she wrote.
“We don’t know what happened to her either … She was happy, vibrant and healthy … now she’s gone.”
Friends and family who knew Ms Howard spoke highly of her and her love for her dog. “She walked her dog every morning,” a close friend said. “I thought she had the perfect life … She was so beautiful.”
Ms Howard had married Peter in a lavish, beachside ceremony in Port Douglas in 2016. The pair met on an online dating site in 2013 and quickly bonded over their love of sailing and cycling, according to a story about their wedding. Mr Howard was interstate for work on Tuesday, and there is no suggestion he had anything to do with the death.
While Ms Howard did seem to have the “perfect life”, living in a beautiful, coastal home and walking her beloved dog on the beach every morning, her social media told a different story.
In June, accompanied by a sad face emoji, Ms Howard wrote: “When you lose all trust in someone you have nothing else to lose.”
‘She walked her dog every morning. I thought she had the perfect life … she was so beautiful ‘
FRIEND OF DEVOR A HOWARD
Devora Howard and her adored dog Harvey, found pining on the beach.
Ms Howard would often walk Harvey her dog on the beach.
Police search Terrigal Lagoon for clues in Devora Howard’s death.