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Joanne Lees Peter Falconio: New lead in hunt for backpacker's body in Australian outbackl

A new lead has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the search for the body of slain British backpacker Peter Falconio (seen here with his girlfriend Joanne Lees) just hours after his mother called for help.

A new lead has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the hunt. by the body of slain British backpacker Peter Falconio just hours after his mother called for help.

Falconio, 28, was shot dead by drug dealer Bradley Murdoch in 2001, who then tried to kidnap his girlfriend Joanne Lees before she escaped and raised the alarm.

But the backpacker’s body was never found, and his mother pleaded Friday for “anyone with a conscience” to help locate his remains.

Now, a possible new witness has come forward to reveal that he saw a truck like the killer’s parked ‘in a strange place’ next to a culvert and bridge 24 hours after the murder.

A new lead has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the search for the body of slain British backpacker Peter Falconio (seen here with his girlfriend Joanne Lees) just hours after his mother called for help.

A new lead has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the search for the body of slain British backpacker Peter Falconio (seen here with his girlfriend Joanne Lees) just hours after his mother called for help.

Peter Falconio was shot to death on a remote stretch of the Sturt Highway, 300 km north of Alice Springs, and his girlfriend Joanne Lees hid in the bushes until the killer Bradley Murdoch fled the scene.

Peter Falconio was shot to death on a remote stretch of the Sturt Highway, 300 km north of Alice Springs, and his girlfriend Joanne Lees hid in the bushes until the killer Bradley Murdoch fled the scene.

The new sighting has raised hopes that it could lead to the discovery of the backpacker’s remains and put an end to the 21-year-old mystery.

The startling new evidence was revealed after South Australian politician Frank Pangallo demanded a $1 million reward for information leading police to the body.

“I received an email this morning from someone who was in the area the day after the murder,” revealed the SA-BEST member of the South Australian legislative council.

He said he had seen a vehicle similar to the one Murdoch was using and that it was parked on the side of a road near a culvert and bridge.

A possible new witness has come forward to reveal that he saw a van like the killer's parked 'in a strange place' next to a culvert and bridge 24 hours after the murder (pictured, police roadblocks in the wake of the 2001 murder)

A possible new witness has come forward to reveal that he saw a van like the killer’s parked ‘in a strange place’ next to a culvert and bridge 24 hours after the murder (pictured, police roadblocks in the wake of the 2001 murder)

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‘He recalled passing and said it was unusual for the driver to be parked in that position. He alerted the police at that time, but did not hear anything else.

“I will certainly pass that on to the police to see if they go there in person to check it out.”

The surprising development came just hours after the Daily Mail Australia revealed that police had carried out a five-day search of an inland shaft in 2019 for the remains.

They drew 15m of water from the remote watering hole, just 1km from the crime scene near Barrow Creek, 300km north of Alice Springs, but sadly found nothing.

Now Falconio’s parents, Joan, 75, and Luciano, 80, have requested new information to keep the search for their son’s remains alive.

Parents Joan, 75, and Luciano Falconio, 80, asked for new information to keep the search for their son's remains alive.

Parents Joan, 75, and Luciano Falconio, 80, asked for new information to keep the search for their son’s remains alive.

“We want to bring Peter home, where he belongs, close to his family,” his mother said. ‘Our pain is always with us. He was murdered 21 years ago, when he was only 28 years old.

“His life stopped on a lonely road: the Stuart Highway on July 14, 2001. Shot dead by the cowardly Murdoch, who will not reveal where or what he did with it.”

She added: ‘Peter has a beautiful niece and two lovely nephews whom he never got to see or meet.

“I appeal to anyone with a conscience to help me, no matter how small, to tell me where they put it.”

Pangallo revealed that he had been in contact with the family for the past three years since covering the intriguing case years earlier as a reporter on Today Tonight.

He has now demanded that the Northern Territory Police offer a $1 million reward to uncover new leads for the follow-up.

And he thinks it might be enough to persuade Murdoch’s shady fellow criminals to break their code of silence and tell police where the body was dumped.

“It’s one last roll of the dice,” Pangallo said Friday. His mother didn’t want the matter to remain cold, and she wanted it back in the public domain.

“What haunts them and has haunted them for the last 21 years is not knowing where his body is, and it will continue to haunt them until they get answers.”

“It is crucial that new information emerges to end the suffering that the Falconio family has endured for so many years.”

The renewed call comes in the week that Peter Falconio (pictured with Joanne Lees in his camper van) would have turned 50 last Tuesday.

The renewed call comes in the week that Peter Falconio (pictured with Joanne Lees in his camper van) would have turned 50 last Tuesday.

The renewed call comes in the week that Falconio would have turned 50 last Tuesday, but police are no closer to knowing where his body was dumped.

Murdoch was convicted of the murder and is now serving a life sentence at Darwin Correctional Facility, but has refused to give up where he dumped Mr. Falconio’s body.

He could be eligible for parole in 10 years, but he will never walk free without disclosing the location under the NT’s ‘no body no release’ laws.

Police believe he hid the remains somewhere in the sprawling desert between Alice Springs and Broome, 1,700km away in Western Australia.

“The Tanami Desert is a vast expanse,” said Mr. Pangallo.

Murdoch, after refueling at Alice Springs that night, is believed to have fled to Broome and across the Tanami Desert.

There are plenty of places he could have dumped the body. But he would have panicked at the time, knowing the police were looking for him.

And who knows, he may have disposed of the body before, which is why we want the well near Barrow Creek searched.

Peter and his girlfriend Joanne Lees were in a trailer when they were stopped by drug dealer Bradley Murdoch, who shot Mr. Falconio and tried to kidnap Mrs. Lees.

Peter and his girlfriend Joanne Lees were in a trailer when they were stopped by drug dealer Bradley Murdoch, who shot Mr. Falconio and tried to kidnap Mrs. Lees.

He added: ‘Murdoch could very well spend the rest of his life in prison.

He knows what happened. And he knows where he put the body and you wish he would have some kind of conscience and come forward.

That’s what Mrs. Falconio told me in the email she sent me: she hoped that Murdoch would have some conscience and reveal what he had done with Peter’s body.

Murdoch doesn’t have the guts to confess to his cowardly crime and should rot behind bars if he’s not willing to tell the truth about what he did or where he left Peter.

Someone must know where Peter is or may have some information or memory that could be useful to the police, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

“Joan, Luciano, Peter’s brothers Mark, Nicholas and Paul and their families deserve closure after all these years of grief and uncertainty.

He just hopes no one forgets about Peter Falconio.

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