The dad of a young woman murdered on holiday has revealed his biggest regret after getting news he waited four years for.
The dad of a young woman murdered on holiday has revealed his biggest regret after getting news he waited four years for.

Twist in dad’s hunt for daughter’s killer

One of Paul Warren's daughters was dead. The other had to deliver the devastating news.

Over the phone on November 9, 2016, Kristy Warren told her dad Paul that his 20-year-old, fun-loving daughter Elly had likely been murdered in a picturesque tourist village on the other side of the world.

Her body had been dumped behind a toilet block in the seaside resort town of Tofo, Mozambique.

This week, almost four years after the phone rang, he received the news he had been waiting for. The Australian Federal Police had been ordered by a coroner to travel to Africa's southeast coast to find out what happened.

 

Melbourne woman Elly Warren, 20, was volunteering in Tofo, Mozambique, in 2016 when she was found dead.
Melbourne woman Elly Warren, 20, was volunteering in Tofo, Mozambique, in 2016 when she was found dead.

 

The news, though welcome, is raises an important question: Why did it take this long?

"If you had a daughter who died from suspicious circumstances in a Third World country, you would expect Australian authorities to investigate properly," Mr Warren told news.com.au.

"Most Australians would expect that. Everybody I've spoken to asks me why the AFP didn't go straight in. What did we get? F** all. We were on our own."

Mr Warren said he trusted that authorities in Mozambique and in Australia would co-ordinate on the investigation.

But the African police ruled her death was an accident despite a crime scene photograph showing Elly on her stomach with her face in the sand. Her shirt had been ripped and her underwear were pulled down to her knees.

Australian authorities who had that photograph but did nothing. Which leads Mr Warren into his greatest regret - not travelling to Mozambique sooner.

 

Elly Warren’s killers are still out there, her father says.
Elly Warren’s killers are still out there, her father says.

 

"They were telling us the Mozambique authorities were investigating. In the end, I got so frustrated, I went over myself. If this ever happens to another family, they've gotta get over there. I can tell you now, through diplomatic channels, it takes time and if they don't do that you'll lose everything."

Mr Warren says he also regrets getting Elly's body cremated because potential physical evidence was lost.

But he isn't focusing on that now. He has turned his attention to what comes next.

"The ball is now bounced and we're in the first quarter," he said. "I've been lobbying for the coroner to have an inquest since I got back from Mozambique (in 2018)."

Victorian Coroners Court documents, seen by news.com.au, show Mozambique is willing to co-operate.

 

Behind the toilet block where Elly was found dead is now a memorial.
Behind the toilet block where Elly was found dead is now a memorial.

 

"On Friday, December 11, 2020, a Mozambique government official indicated that it is possible for the AFP to apply to hold a joint investigation," the documents read.

Among Mr Warren's backers is seasoned former Victorian police detective Charlie Bezzina. In a statement, seen by news.com.au, he said there are obvious signs of a struggle in the crime scene photograph.

It is an opinion shared by many who have reviewed the circumstances of Elly's death.

On the night before her body was found, she had been out with friends from Casa Barry Beach Lodge and was dancing in the street.

Sometime after 2am, a man watched her walk from the Pariango Beach Motel towards the Tofo De Mar Hotel and a street clustered with snack bars.

Three hours later, a fisherman found Elly's body near the toilet block, the location of the town's only public freshwater taps where fishermen went daily to prime their boats.

 

Elly Warren with her father Paul.
Elly Warren with her father Paul.

 

Multiple forensic examinations revealed the fit and healthy young woman died from asphyxia, after inhaling sand into her lower airways, and had no drugs in her system.

It would prove, however, the sand was a golden yellow, the kind found at the beach, and not the black sand around the toilet block.

Elly's body had been moved. The fisherman who found her had taken a clear photo which indicated a struggle.

But police said she had simply fallen over into the sand and her death was an accident.

Mr Warren is still seeking his daughter's torn black T-shirt - clearly visible in the fisherman's photo of her - but not bagged and tagged by police, who neither kept evidence nor any crime scene photographs.

This week's news is the start Mr Warren needs. But he knows results won't come unless the AFP buys in.

"The important thing now is that it is confirmed Elly was in fact murdered," he said.

- With Candace Sutton

Originally published as Twist in dad's hunt for daughter's killer


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