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Burnt torso: science, police work paints picture of victim

Detectives are relying on medical science to identify a man whose burnt, dismembered torso was found on the side of a rural Queensland road last year.

In a significant step forward in the case which has baffled police, forensic analysis determined this week that the John Doe was at least 40-years-old.

No one has yet come forward to identify the man, or report a person who might fit his description missing, leaving police to depend on a painstaking process of forensic analysis.

The charred torso was found decapitated, with both arms removed below the elbow. The lower part of the man's body, beneath his rib cage, was also missing.

Rural firefighters made the grisly discovery after extinguishing a grass fire along Cedar Pocket Road near Gympie, about 170 kilometres north of Brisbane, on September 19.

Police are yet to determine whether a skull found last week in a pine tree plantation near Tin Can Bay, about 30 kilometres north of Cedar Pocket, belongs to the same victim.


"We believe the two might be linked, but it's too early to say at this stage," Detective Inspector Bruce McNab said.

Any DNA retrieved from the skull, which is being forensically examined at Brisbane's John Tonge Centre, will be compared with DNA samples taken from the torso.

Dental impressions will also be cross-referenced with the dental records of missing persons reports in Queensland.

And the skull will also be used by an interstate facial reconstruction expert to form a likeness of the person to whom it belongs.

Inspector McNab said forensic analysis had determined the torso belonged to a man aged between 40 and 80 years.

Investigators have also determined the man was more than six feet tall with a solid build.

"His bones suggest he performed hard, manual labour for the majority of his adult life," Inspector McNab said.

"And he had no tattoos on his torso or upper arms."

It is believed he was wearing a size 2XL shirt.

The man's DNA sample does not match any on the Queensland police database, making it unlikely the victim had a criminal record, Inspector McNab said.

Tests of the man's torso have so far revealed he was taking Quinine, a medication commonly used to treat cramp, restless leg syndrome and malaria, as well as the antihypertensive drug Irbesartan for high blood pressure.

"It suggests he would have regularly visited a doctor," Inspector McNab said.

Detectives contacted GPs across the country in December, via the Australian Medical Association, asking for doctors who may have concerns for a patient to whom they prescribed Quinine to come forward.

"This person might fit the profile of a patient that they have not seen since September last year," Inspector McNab said.

Detectives have also contacted every pharmacy in Queensland - some 1100 stores - in a bid to identify any person who may have purchased Quinine last year, but has not been seen since September.

Officers have also compiled a database of scripts for Quinine issued across Australia, which they are now cross-referencing with the information known about the victim's age.

However, detectives are still appealing for any member of the community with concern for a family member, friend, neighbour or work colleague to come forward.

"We are working from scratch here," Inspector McNab said.

"This person might have kept to themselves, but they still interacted with the community, whether it be through a social group or work or their doctor.

"We know he was very tall with a solid build. We know he would have worked in hard, manual labour. We know he had no tattoos. We know he has probably not had many dealings with police. We know he would have regularly visited a doctor. We know he would have interacted with the people around him."

Late last year police released a short video graphic of the man, which highlighted the location of possible vaccination marks on his right upper arm and a three centimetre scar on the right side of his back from a previous injury or surgical procedure.

In October, police released an image of a burnt beach towel found at the scene.

Initial investigations revealed witnesses saw a small orange, gold or bronze coloured hatchback in the area prior to body being found.

A woman aged between 30 and 50 with shoulder length hair was also seen in and around the vehicle.

“We have identified the vehicle was parked in very close proximity to the area the deceased was located. We believed the woman was connected to the deceased,” Detective Inspector Damien Hansen said at the time.

The woman was wearing ¾ length dark gym pants and a top.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.