Home » Victoria Cafasso 1995 Beach Murder Still Unsolved as Tasmania Police Conduct New Searches, Release Images of Car
Crime East Coast US Environment Global News News

Victoria Cafasso 1995 Beach Murder Still Unsolved as Tasmania Police Conduct New Searches, Release Images of Car

Police have conducted new searches and released descriptions of a man and reconstructed images of a car seen near the scene of the long-unsolved murder of a young Italian tourist.

A young, smiling blonde woman in a garden.
Victoria Cafasso was found murdered on Beaumaris Beach in 1995.(Supplied)

Victoria Cafasso, 20, had been staying with family in Tasmania for barely a week when she was stabbed 17 times — in broad daylight — on Beaumaris Beach.

The young traveller had deferred her law studies in Italy, and, after spending time in England, had travelled to the seaside town to stay with her cousin — only arriving in Tasmania on October 6.

She had limited contact with locals during that time — but her brutal death sent a shock wave throughout the small coastal community.

Fifty people visited that beach on the day of her death on October 11 — but no-one has come forward saying they saw or heard the crime.

No charges have ever been laid — and her father Giuseppe died only six weeks after the murder, never getting answers.

A group of people at a beach, with one man on his knees sobbing.
The family of Victoria Cafasso visited the scene of her murder in 1995.(Supplied)

Earlier on Thursday, police released descriptions of a person of interest and images of a car, similar to the make and model seen near the scene.

Detective Acting Inspector Andrew Hanson said the renewed call for information came as the result of a recent digitisation of the investigation’s evidence.

“During the process of the review and after speaking with the witnesses and conducting those inquiries, we discovered there was now a more strong link with a description of a man that was seen running across the beach at 11am on the day Victoria was found and a driver of a vehicle that was seen in the area at around that time,” he said.

The reconstructed images and video show a “distinctive” car — a light-coloured Subaru station wagon — parked near the beach, which police said was “spotted at various locations in the Beaumaris area including at Freshwater Creek at the time of Victoria’s murder”.

A Tasmania Police re-enactment video made for the Cafasso investigation.

Police said witnesses had told officers that the driver of the vehicle at the time was a man who looked like a “surfer” aged in his 20s, about 182 centimetres (six feet) tall with a “slim build, but very fit”.

Acting Inspector Hanson said both the car and the man seen running were points of investigation at the time, but that the potential link between them was now in more focus.

“There were obviously inquiries done at the time around this specific vehicle … but to date I’m not confident that we’ve identified the driver of this car,” he said.

A light-coloured old-style station wagon parked on the side of a dirt beach road.
Police think the car belonged to a surfer who was at the beach.(Supplied: Tasmania Police)

Acting Inspector Hanson said police believed the style of car was a popular choice around the time of the murder, but it was hoped the images would assist in jogging memories and assisting the investigation.

A young woman smiles at the camera.
Victoria Cafasso had been in Tasmania less than a week when she was killed.(ABC News)

“We’re hoping that maybe after its road use expired, this vehicle may have been sold or passed on and may have even been used on a farm or is sitting somewhere down the east coast,” he said.

“The second aspect is to try and ask the local community there, or anybody that was involved around the time in 1995, if they actually have any knowledge of a person matching the description I’ve previously given who might have been using one of these cars.”

‘A number of properties’ searched recently

Acting Inspector Hanson also confirmed that searches on the east coast and elsewhere in the state, including at properties, had been conducted in recent months.

“We’ve searched a number of properties throughout the course of the investigation, and obviously one of the focuses is to try and locate this vehicle,” he said.

The confronting case has had many persons of interest over the years — with more than 1000 information reports recorded across the course of the investigation, and over 300 people having been nominated as potential suspects.

Acting Inspector Hanson said there were still several persons of interest in the case.

“The people of interest that we identified back then, I’ve got to say they still remain persons of interest because we simply haven’t been able to rule them in or rule them out.

“And I realise after such a period of time, people that may not have had any involvement in this crime may feel a bit aggrieved by that. But the reality is, we’re not prepared to rule anything out or anything in until we get a resolution to this.”

Police initially followed a lead suggesting Italian mafia involvement, but Interpol could not find any evidence of organised crime.

The disappearance of German tourist Nancy Grunwaldt two years earlier created rumours a serial killer could be living in the area — but that was eventually also ruled out.

Beaumaris Beach on the idyllic Tasmanian coastline
Beaumaris Beach is on Tasmania’s east coast.(ABC News: Mitch Woolnough)

Closure needed for Cafasso family

How the police handled the crime scene has been widely scrutinised, including in the 2005 coronial report handed down by Donald Jones.

While Mr Jones acknowledged the Tasmania Police Service had “devoted considerable time and resources” to the investigation, he said “some aspects” were “open to criticism especially in the early stages of the investigation”.

These included the non-attendance at the scene by the state forensic pathologist, a delay in attendance of specialist crime scene examiners, the fact that only one suspect footprint at the scene was cast in plaster, and the scene not being documented on video.

Police at the murder site of Victoria Cafasso
A review found fault with several aspects of the initial investigation.(ABC News)

Mike Wicks, a former detective inspector with Tasmania Police, was involved with the case, overseeing a review into the investigation in 1996.

He said these kinds of crimes stayed with you — particularly in a small community like in this town on the east coast.

“You have neighbours looking at neighbours, wondering ‘could it be him? Could it be that one?’ or whatever and that certainly unsettles the local community,” Mr Wicks said.

“It was very difficult, very challenging.

“Many witnesses were re-interviewed and taken back to the scene. There were, at the end of those months that we looked into it, certain persons of interest — but unfortunately, at the end of my tenure in it, we still didn’t have a result as to this horrific crime.”

He said while there were times where it felt like answers might be within reach, ultimately, that didn’t eventuate.

“In reality, it was that we did have suspects and it’s like those old crossword puzzles — there were just those few pieces that wouldn’t come together.

“It’s extremely frustrating, because you’re the ones there that are working not only for Victoria, but especially for her parents. And at the end of the day, when you haven’t got a result for them, it’s very disappointing.”

A blonde woman sits at a table with her chin resting on her fist.
A detective who worked on the case is hopeful new technology may play a part in solving the crime.(Supplied)

Mr Wicks said he remained hopeful that with advances in technology, there may be a breakthrough.

“I certainly hope that it does get closer and that there’s a fruitful resolution for the family. With the technology that has evolved over all these years, there is a much greater possibility of solving this.”

$500,000 reward on offer

Acting Inspector Hanson said, as with all unsolved matters, police were continually reviewing any information they received, and that they remained in irregular contact with Ms Cafasso’s family.

“Victoria’s family deserve closure, and our detectives continue to work to try and provide that,” he said.

“This has obviously had a significant impact on Victoria’s immediate family, and has done for quite some time.

“The important thing is that we know how to contact them … and if there are any significant developments, then we’ll definitely be in touch with them.”

Anyone with information related to the case is urged to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

A $500,000 reward is available for information that leads to a conviction.

Source: ABC News