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Monday, May 10, 2021

Detectives, divers return to conduct investigation into murder of Melissa Hunt

Unsolved Homicide Squad detectives and police divers have returned to the Hunter today as inquiries continue into the murder of Melissa Hunt nearly 27 years ago.

The body of Melissa Hunt, then aged 22, was found near the weir wall of Burrenjim Dam, Bluegum Creek via Stockrington, on Monday 25 April 1994.

A post-mortem examination revealed she died from severe head injuries.

Strike Force Impey, comprised of detectives from the Lake Macquarie Police District and the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad, was formed to investigate her death.

However, no arrests have been made.

Following a Coronial Inquest in 1998, the matter was sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for review and referred to the Unsolved Homicide Unit.

A formal review of the investigation was conducted under the new unsolved framework and is now under re-investigation by detectives attached to Strike Force Circulo.

In December last year, the NSW Government, together with the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad, announced a $1 million reward for information and renewed their appeal to the community to come forward with any information that may assist detectives.

Following the announcement, police received information relating to the investigation and have subsequently returned to the Hunter on Tuesday 20 April.

Unsolved Homicide Squad detectives, assisted by the Forensic Evidence and Technical Services Command (FETS), executed a crime scene warrant at a home at Lambton Road, Waratah, while Police Divers conduct a secondary search of the Burrenjim Dam.

Homicide Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said Strike Force Circulo detectives are specifically looking to locate any remaining forensic evidence that could assist 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,” Det Supt 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 are also continuing to liaise with interstate law enforcement partners to make contact with associates and witnesses, who are now residing in other states – including South Australia, Queensland and Victoria – to ensure no stone is left unturned.

“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.”

Investigations under Strike Force Circulo are continuing.

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