Reward as remains identified in cold case breakthrough

John Crouch |

Police have identified human remains in the central Queensland gemfields as belonging to a man believed to have been murdered almost 15 years ago.

The son of Francis Patrick Foley pleaded for public help to find his father’s killer as detectives announced the DNA breakthough and a $500,000 reward for help with their investigation.

Mr Foley, known as Frank, was last seen at his home in the Reward Fossicking Area near Rubyvale, west of Rockhampton, about December 23, 2008.

A neighbour went to his home to check on him a few days later following a flood only to find an exploded gas bottle and Mr Foley’s wallet but no sign of the 62-year-old.

Police later found Mr Foley’s blood at the home and determined a shotgun blast damaged the gas bottle and the property’s front door.

Neighbours said they heard gunshots about the time Mr Foley was last seen.

An inquest in 2013 found Mr Foley was likely dead but it did not link anyone to his demise.

The breakthrough into his disappearance began in July last year when a gem fossicker found human remains in Sheep Station Creek about 1km downstream from Mr Foley’s property.

DNA analysis, with help from the Australian Federal Police, identified the remains as those of Mr Foley.

Police said Mr Foley, who was born and raised in Western Australia, moved to Rubyvale in 2003 and was a caretaker of a fossicking lease.

Detective Senior Sergeant Tara Kentwell said police were examining Sheep Station Creek for more evidence, with searchers and an excavator at the site on Tuesday, and officers were re-interviewing neighbours.

“We do believe that with public assistance, irrespective of the passage of time, this crime can be solved, offenders can be brought to justice and we can provide some closure to friends, family and friends,” Det Sen Sgt Kentwell told reporters on Tuesday.

Mr Foley’s son Shaun Charlton said his family hoped someone had information to provide answers.

He made a direct appeal to Rubyvale residents, saying “I’m from a small town, I know that sort of town Rubyvale is and I know people know”.

“I’ve missed my dad now for 15 years … please help me find my dad’s killer and my family help find my father’s killer,” he said. 

Police do not believe Mr Foley was a gem miner, but he was known to own a number of valuable gemstones.

Det Sen Sgt Kentwell said police had a number of people of interest and they were approaching some of them again. 

“We’re keeping an open mind and that’s why we’re here today to appeal to the community to provide us information so we can progress our investigation,” she said.