EXCLUSIVE: Secret five-day search for missing backpacker Peter Falconio is revealed as his mother issues a desperate personal plea for ‘anyone with a conscience to help me’ uncover one of Australia’s most compelling mysteries
- Peter Falconio’s mother has begged to know where her son’s body was dumped
- He was shot by drug-runner Bradley Murdoch near Barrow Creek, NT, in 2001
- Murdoch also tried to abduct Joanne Lees but she escaped and raised the alarm
- The fate of backpacker’s body remains a mystery more than two decades later
- Peter’s 50th birthday this week sparked demands for $1million reward for info
A plea from the mother of murdered British backpacker Peter Falconio sparked a five day police search of an outback well for his remains more than two decades after he disappeared.
Joan Falconio, 75, has broken her long silence to beg for information about the location of her son’s body on what would have been his 50th birthday.
The grieving mother is still tormented by the loss of her son 21 years ago in the middle of the night on a remote stretch of road between Alice Springs and Darwin.
Peter and girlfriend Joanne Lees were in a campervan when they were pulled over by drug-runner Bradley Murdoch who shot Mr Falconio and tried to abduct Ms Lees.
She managed to escape, hiding in the bush for hours until she flagged down a truck and raised the alarm – but no trace of her boyfriend’s body has ever been found.
Daily Mail Australia can reveal police emptied an outback well in 2019 where Mr Falconio’s body was feared dumped after a personal plea from his mother.
The mother of missing British backpacker Peter Falconio has broken her long silence to beg for the location of her son’s body to be revealed on what would have been his 50th birthday
Peter and girlfriend Joanne Lees were in a campervan when they were pulled over by drug-runner Bradley Murdoch who shot Mr Falconio and tried to abduct Ms Lees
But the five-day search proved fruitless.
Now Ms Falconio’s plea for information has been backed by a demand for Northern Territory police to put up a $1million reward to revive the hunt and end the mystery.
‘We want to bring Peter home where he belongs near his family,’ Peter’s mother said on Friday. ‘Our pain is always with us. He was murdered 21 years ago, aged just 28 years.
‘His life stopped on a lonely road – the Stuart Highway on July 14, 2001. Shot dead by cowardly Murdoch, who will not reveal where or what he did with him.’
She added: ‘Peter has a beautiful niece and two lovely nephews who he never got to see or know.
‘I am appealing to anyone with a conscience to help me – however small – to tell me where he was put.’
Joan Falconio (pictured with Peter’s father Luciano) is still tormented by the loss of her son 21 years ago on a remote stretch of road between Alice Springs and Darwin
The grieving mother’s plea has been backed by a demand for Northern Territory police to put up a $1million reward for the vital information about where her son’s body is located
Ms Falconio and husband Luciano, 80, spoke out after they relived the tragedy on Peter’s 50th birthday on Tuesday, September 20.
Former girlfriend Joanne Lees is now 47 and living in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, in the UK, and still remains in contact with Peter’s parents.
The couple were on a trip around Australia in 2001 when Murdoch drew alongside and signalled them to pull over, claiming there were flames coming out the back of their van.
When Mr Falconio went round the rear to inspect it with Murdoch, he was shot dead.
Murdoch then grabbed Ms Lees, tied her up with cable ties and bundled her into the back of his ute.
Bradley Murdoch grabbed Joanne Lees, tied her up with cable ties and bundled her into the back of his ute
Joanne Lees managed to wriggle free as he disposed of Mr Falconio’s body and their van, and hid in the bush to avoid Murdoch’s dog while he searched for her
She managed to wriggle free as he disposed of Mr Falconio’s body and their van, and hid in the bush to avoid Murdoch’s dog while he searched for her.
Murdoch eventually gave up and drove off with Mr Falconio’s body before Ms Lees then flagged down a truck and was taken to a nearby roadhouse in Barrow Creek.
The police hunt for Mr Falconio and his killer then began 21 years ago and finally led to the arrest of Murdoch after DNA from Ms Lees’ t-shirt matched his.
He is now serving life in Darwin Correctional Centre after being convicted of the murder – but he has refused to give up where he dumped Mr Falconio’s body.
Bradley Murdoch is believed to have hidden the remains somewhere in the vast expanse of desert between Alice Springs and Broome, 1,700km away in Western Australia
Bradley Murdoch is eligible for parole in 10 years – but will not walk free without revealing the location of Peter Falconio’s body under the NT’s ‘no body no release’ laws
Murdoch is eligible for parole in 10 years but will never walk free without revealing the location under the NT’s ‘no body no release’ laws.
He is believed to have hidden the remains somewhere in the vast expanse of desert between Alice Springs and Broome, 1,700km away in Western Australia.
Daily Mail Australia can reveal police emptied an outback well in 2019 where Mr Falconio’s body was feared dumped – but failed to find any trace of him.
Detectives were led to the location at Neutral Junction cattle station about 1km from where Mr Falconio was shot after an eyewitness came forward to say he saw a ute there like Murdoch’s on the night of the attack.
A TV crew led by Today Tonight reporter Frank Pangallo – now a South Australian state politician for SA BEST Party – first explored the site in 2014 but the well contained 15m of water and was inaccessible.
But police returned to the site in 2019 after a personal plea from Mr Falconio’s mother and conducted a full investigation… but turned up nothing.
‘Mrs Falconio contacted me and asked if I could convince NT Police to undertake a full search of the well to eliminate the clue,’ Mr Pangallo told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I then arranged an affidavit from the eyewitness, a truck driver who had been contracted by the cattle station and sent it to senior NT Police.
‘NT Police found him to be credible and emptied the well in a five-day operation in 2019 but unfortunately found nothing.
‘It was the right thing for them to do and I can only praise their efforts.’
Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees were on a trip around Australia in 2001 when Murdoch drew alongside them and signalled to pull over before his deadly attack
South Australian politician Frank Pangallo is now demanding NT Police offer a $1million reward to tempt someone to come forward with the key information needed
Mr Pangallo is now demanding NT Police offer the $1million reward to tempt someone to come forward with the key information needed.
‘Murdoch hasn’t got the guts to confess to his cowardly crime and he should rot behind bars if he is unwilling to tell the truth about what he did or where he left Peter that night,’ he added.
‘Somebody must know where Peter is or might have some information or recollection that could be useful to police, no matter how insignificant they might think it is.
‘Joan, Luciano, Peter’s brothers – Mark, Nicholas and Paul – and their families deserve closure after all these years of grieving and uncertainty.’