‘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

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

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

Pic­ture: Face­book

Devora Howard and her adored dog Harvey, found pin­ing on the beach.

Pic­ture: Face­book

Ms Howard would of­ten walk Harvey her dog on the beach.

Pic­tures: Fiona Kill­man

Po­lice search Terrigal La­goon for clues in Devora Howard’s death.

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