Boyfriend Charged in Australia’s Notorious Backpacker Cold Case Murder

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Boyfriend Charged in Australia’s Notorious Backpacker Cold Case Murder

A man charged with murdering his German backpacker girlfriend on the Far North Coast of New South Wales in Australia more than 15 years ago has been arrested as police reveal they are seeking two more international suspects in the gruesome murder.

Tobias Moran, who was known as Tobias Suckfuell at the time of girlfriend Simone Strobel’s death, was extradited from Western Australia and subsequently charged with her murder following a break in the case.

Simone, 25, was last seen at the Lismore Tourist Caravan Park on Feb. 11, 2005, after a night out with her then-boyfriend and friends.

The German kindergarten teacher’s body was found six days later concealed under palm fronds at an athletic field less than 300 feet from the caravan park.

Family members of Simone Strobel at a makeshift memorial near where her body was found in the center of town in 2005.

Fairfax Media via Getty

In the most recent development, strike force detectives traveled to Western Australia on Tuesday, where—with assistance from Western Australian Police Force—Moran, 42, was arrested at a home in Perth.

According to a statement from NSW Police, Moran was taken to the Magistrates Court of Western Australia where detectives were granted his extradition to NSW.

On Wednesday, strike force investigators escorted the man on a flight, took him to the police station, and charged him with murder and committing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice.

Moran will remain in custody until a bail application on Aug. 3.

Speaking to the press, police revealed that arrest warrants have been issued for two others in Germany.

“Police believe there are other people who have knowledge of this murder and I appeal to those people to come forward and give their information to police,” said Supt. Scott Tanner, commander of the Richmond police district.

“We are in the process of talking to our German authorities in regards to two arrest warrants for two persons currently in Germany.”

He said the others “have been persons of interest from the very beginning and we believe they’ve got information that will be able to assist with this investigation.”

Authorities “know where they are,” Tanner said, and police are working with their German colleagues on extradition. They were known to Strobel and were in Australia at the time of her murder, he said.

“We believe there is enough evidence to lay charges of accessory after the fact and of course pervert the course of justice.

“Clearly those two people know who they are, it would be in the best interest for those people to make contact with the German authorities.”

Lismore locals at the scene of the murder.

Anthony Johnson/Fairfax Media via Getty

Tanner said a “plethora” of information and investigative strategies have allowed authorities to bring the charges. When asked by The Daily Beast, NSW Police “could not confirm” if new DNA evidence was used to crack the case, but Tanner confirmed DNA will “play a part.”

“This murder occurred in 2005 and obviously 17 years later there has been some substantial advancements in DNA technology. DNA will play a part as it does with most investigations that we currently undertake,” he said.

Strobel’s family remains “very distressed” by her murder, he said.

Strobel “was on an adventure of a lifetime in a foreign country and they never got to say their goodbyes. They’ve gone through the last 17 years wondering what happened.” He said there is a “sense of relief from the family” and thanked them for “persevering and assisting with the police in what has been a very, very lengthy investigation.”

The accused has declined to be interviewed in custody and has always denied any involvement in his girlfriend’s death.

After the murder, Moran relocated to Western Australia and “settled into life quite comfortably,” according to police.

At an inquest in 2007, Coroner Paul McMahon ruled there was insufficient evidence to impose charges over Strobel’s death.

Detectives from Richmond Police District established Strike Force Howea in February 2005 to investigate Strobel’s murder and in October 2020, the NSW Government announced a $1 million reward, which is still up for grabs.

At the time, Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott pleaded for help from the public. “For 15 years, police have been determined to uncover the truth of what happened to Simone, both the Lismore community and her loved ones in Germany deserve answers,” Elliott said.

Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Howea detectives is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.

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