Australia’s leading forensic expert has weighed in on frenzied social media theories that a female body that washed up at Sydney’s Bronte Beach could be missing conwoman Melissa Caddick.
Police were called to the northern end of Bronte Beach in the city’s east around 5.45am on Wednesday after a call from a member of the public who made the grim discovery.
Online rumours immediately began circulating that it might be the 49-year-old fraudster whose foot washed up on a South Coast beach in February 2021, after she stole millions from investors.
It comes as horrified surfers reveal they saw something floating among the waves the night before.
The northern end of Bronte Beach is closed after a woman’s body was found washed up
Wild social media theories circulated that the body (pictured being carried away by police on Bronte Beach in Sydney) could be missing conwoman Melissa Caddick
Melissa Caddick (pictured) stole about $30millin dollars from investors in a Ponzi scheme
‘Melissa Caddick? Is it missing a foot?’ one person wrote.
Another said: ‘I thought of Melissa too’.
Dozens of other commenters also appeared convinced the washed-up body was Caddick.
Police, who cordoned off the beach and declared a crime scene, said the corpse appeared to have been in the water for a lengthy period of time.
Professor Johan Duflou, who is the former clinical director of NSW’s Department of Forensic Medicine, said he cannot speculate on the case of Caddick but added there’s little chance a body that’s been in the ocean for over a year would be intact.
‘I think it would be highly unlikely there would be anything at all remaining after nearly 18 months in the ocean,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘That’s because of animal predation and the effects of water on the body, along with decomposition.’
Police (pictured loading the body into a van) said the corpse appeared to have been in the water for a lengthy period of time
Police cordoned off Bronte Beach (pictured) and declared a crime scene immediately after the grim discovery
Another factor making it unlikely the body is Caddick is that police believe the deceased is aged in her 20s or 30s – although at this stage they are not sure due to the state of decomposition.
Forensic testing will be needed to determine her exact age.
Detectives are currently treating the case as ‘not suspicious’ and are scouring missing person’s records to uncover her identity.
Bronte beach was closed this morning but has now reopened after police dissembled a forensic tent and began to pack up as rain began to fall.
Police would not comment on whether the body was missing a foot.
Caddick is pictured during the ASIC-AFP raid on her Dover Heights home on November 11
Caddick is likely dead after her foot (pictured) washed up on a Bournda Beach, south of Tathra in in February – about 400km from her Sydney home where she was last seen
Caddick was wanted by police after going missing in November 2020 with $30million of her clients’ life-savings, until she was declared dead four months later when her decaying foot drifted ashore 400km south of her home in Sydney at Bournda Beach.
Justice Brigitte Markovic ruled on November 22 that Caddick had provided unlicensed financial advice between 2012 and 2020 under the Maliver banner.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission have been trying to recover some of the life-savings her 72 clients poured into the scam.
But it’s feared most of the money was spent on funding Caddick’s lavish lifestyle of luxury clothes, real estate, jewellery, supercars, real estate and overseas holidays.
Melissa Caddick (pictured with husband Anthony Koletti) ripped off more than 70 investors – mostly made up of family and friends
HORRIFIED SURFERS WITNESS THE BODY FLOATING IN THE WATER
While the body washed ashore early on Tuesday morning, local surfers revealed to Daily Mail Australia, they saw something floating among the waves the night before.
Local Max Vemeer said he went for a surf at about 5pm on Tuesday as the sun was going down.
‘I went in and there was another guy out and we thought we saw a body nearby,’ he said.
‘We weren’t 100 per cent sure, so we didn’t call it in. But it was floating towards the beach so we thought whatever it was would eventually wash ashore.’
Mr Vemeer arrived at Bronte around 9am for a morning surf and upon seeing the crime scene, realised what he had witnessed the day before.
‘It was pretty shocking,’ he said. ‘It wasn’t nice to see. It was face down so I could see the back. It was weird. It was naked so we thought it must be a dummy.
‘It was hard to see, but the hair looked dark. It looked like a woman, and pieces of the skin looked like they were… gone,’ Mr Vemeer added, pointing to his arms.
Surfer Max Verneer has relived the horrifying moment he wittingly found himself alongside the rotting remains of a woman’s decomposed body drifting in the sea off a popular Sydney beach
Another revealed the surfers had looked on in horror and disbelief when they spotted the remains on Tuesday evening, but the dark and stormy conditions had prevented them from confirming exactly what it was.
‘We saw what we thought was a body, but no one wanted to get close to it [to check],’ he said.
‘It was really close. We were like surfing with it. Its head was down, so all you could see was what looked like someone’s butt. It was really weird.’
The surfers had assumed it just a shop dummy until the news broke of the body’s discovery on Wednesday morning.
‘We thought it was a mannequin or a dead animal or something,’ added the surfer.
‘We were going to tell the lifeguards, but when we came back to shore they were all gone.
‘We thought about calling police, but given it was late and dark, we thought there was no way they would be able to find it.’
Another bystander, Hamish, added: ‘It’s pretty shocking. [As a local] you’d like to know what happened.’