Woman’s body floats downriver, husband detained

A man has been slapped with three different charges after his wife’s body was discovered floating down the Markham River in Morobe Province.

On March 15th, community leaders at Four-Mile Kandis Market reported to police a missing person using the Lae police emergency toll free number.

Three-Mile police attended and were told that a man and his wife had gone to their garden early in the morning, at about 5.30am, but the husband returned alone at around 10am and reported that his wife had gone missing.

A search conducted by the community proved to be unsuccessful.

Police gave them until the next day to continue searching or to wait and see if she returns home.

The next day, March 16th, they called police again to report that the woman is yet to be found.

They were then brought to the Three-Mile police station with the husband, where the woman’s relatives and community leaders told police that they suspected the husband had killed her.

The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) had to detain the man at the Lae Central police station cells to conduct their investigation and also for his own safety.

On March 17th, at about 9am, a body was seen floating down the Markham River. Police went to the Tidal Basin but the body had already been carried out to sea.

Fortunately, a passing boat saw the body and towed it to the Aigris Market, where police were called to the scene.

It was discovered that the decomposed body was that of a female and looked as if it had been in the water for a few days.

Police went back to the Four-Mile Kandis Market and notified relatives, who went to the scene. The body was identified by the daughter of the now deceased woman who had gone missing on March 15th.

CID SOS interviewed the daughter, aged 14, and discovered that the husband, who is her stepfather, had allegedly raped her twice in mid-February 2019. Out of fear, the girl did not tell her biological mother.

“The stepfather had told the daughter that he would get rid of the mother and marry her,” police reported. “The daughter had stated that on four occasions, the stepfather had tried to poison her mother by putting poison in her food but the mother had sensed that something was wrong and threw the food away.”

The man has been arrested and charged with two counts of persistent sexual abuse, abuse of trust, authority and dependency, and wilful murder.

The deceased has a four-year-old daughter with the suspect.

Lae metropolitan superintendent, Anthony Wagambie Jnr, said: “There have been quite a lot of cases reported to police where abuse of trust has occurred.”

He said the number of sexual offences cases involve suspects that are known to the victims.

“This is quite concerning and I appeal to parents to be mindful of who their children are with or attend to them if they notice something is not right.

“For this case, the young girl will go through a lot in her life having experienced this. She is not only a victim of sexual abuse but is also one of the prime witnesses in the circumstances leading to the death of her mother.

“It is now up to those responsible for counselling to attend to her. I cannot imagine how much she is going through and appeal for family and community to support her.

“I am also calling for any other potential witnesses to come forward to assist police in their investigation.”

Press release