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Woman, 73, charged

over body buried in backyard

Nick Ralston and Saffron Howden

March 2, 2011

Elderly woman charged with murder

An elderly woman has been charged with murdering a teenage girl at Wollongong. Police hope to positively identify the remains on Wednesday.

WHEN Louise Maree O’Brien disappeared in late 2009, neighbours assumed the “fragile little thing” had run off to join the circus.

Estranged from her family, she had been living with carnival workers in Woonona, north of Wollongong, they said.

Shortly before the then-18-year-old stopped appearing around the home, she shaved off most of her strawberry blonde hair.

Found ... a body believed to be Louise O'Brien.
Found … a body believed to be Louise O’Brien. Photo: Robert Peet

But on Monday afternoon police believed they had located Ms O’Brien’s decomposed remains inside a bin buried in the backyard of a house in Bellambi just a few suburbs to the south.

The 73-year-old grandmother who lived there, Patricia Goddard – who Chounding Crescent neighbours say struggles to walk unassisted – has been charged with her murder.

Police believe Ms O’Brien was killed at her Wynn Street, Woonona, home where she had been staying with Ms Goddard’s daughter, Tracy Taylor, and that her body was later moved to Bellambi.

“There was one incident in Wynn Street. It would appear that the victim may have died there and was later transferred to the house [at Bellambi],” Detective Inspector Joe Mura, from Wollongong police, said.

The Herald understands various members of the extended Goddard family lived at both addresses at different times. “There were numerous people living there … [at] both addresses,” Detective Inspector Mura said. “They’re all helping us with our inquiries.”

Ms Goddard did not apply for bail in Wollongong Local Court yesterday and was remanded to reappear in court on April 20.

A former class mate of Ms O’Brien, Chenaye Colvin, said her friend was caring and had spent much of her teens searching for her father.

She did not have an easy school life, Ms Colvin, who attended Woonona High School, said.

“Sad a lot because she was teased,” Ms Colvin said. “She was very dedicated to her work. When I was at school, she really liked going on the computer.

“She was a great friend and she didn’t deserve what happened to her.”

Police said that, while there was no evidence Ms O’Brien had been seen for the past year-and-a-half, she was not reported missing until the weekend. The report came from a member of the public, police said.

Jason Stella, who lives next door to the young woman’s former home at Woonona, said: “She was such a fragile little thing. She only looked about 14.

“She shaved her head before she went missing. She hardly ever went to school. She was one of the family, like an adopted daughter. She would do all the chores like the other kids.”

A post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out on the remains found at Bellambi today when police hope to identify them and determine the cause of death.

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