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SHOES FROM DANIEL MORCOMBE FOUND AT SCENE

For the first time, the Morcombes are finally able to think about planning a funeral for their son Daniel eight years after he went missing.

Bruce Morcombe has spoken to media after the police confirmed the shoes found at the Sunshine Coast search site are the same Globe brand as the Sunshine Coast schoolboy was wearing when he disappeared in 2003.

Deputy Queensland Police Commissioner Ross Barnett told reporters the shoes found last week were consistent with Daniel’s footwear, although forensic tests were under way.

Bruce Morcombe addresses the media on Monday for the first time about the discovery of human bones, possibly Daniel's, at the Beerwah search site.Bruce Morcombe addresses the media on Monday for the first time about the discovery of human bones, possibly Daniel’s, at the Beerwah search site. Photo: Robert Shakespeare  

“If that hasn’t been confirmed [publicly], we can say they are the same brand [Globe] as those we believe Daniel was wearing at the time of his disappearance,” he said.

He said the exact size of the shoes was yet to be confirmed, but their characteristics were consistent with Daniel’s shoes.

And Mr Barnett said the forensic testing of three bones found yesterday was likely to take weeks rather than days. However, he said it was a top priority.

Second major breakthrough ... search teams have found human bones.Authorities have suspended the search for Daniel Morcombe’s remains due to bad weather. Photo: Getty Images 

Police today suspended the search for the remains of missing schoolboy due to bad weather.

Rain set in on the Glass House Mountains bushland search site over the weekend and has continued this morning.

The search will not resume today, but police said they would continue to monitor conditions so the search can recommence as soon as practical.

Search for Daniel Morcombe’s remains

Denise and Bruce Morcombe talk to the media, thanking the public for their support, on Monday, August 15, 2011, two days after a man was charged with the murder of their son Daniel. They are outside the Daniel Morcombe Foundation headquarters on the Sunshine Coast. Photo: Michelle Smith

The scene will continue to be guarded by police who found human remains at the site over the weekend.

It could take “anywhere from days to weeks” for DNA analysis of the bones, with the analysis depending chiefly on the condition of the bones and the resources available at Queensland Health’s Forensic and Scientific Services at Brisbane’s John Tonge Centre.

Mr Barnett said today authorities would do “whatever it takes” to get the forensic examination done as quickly and professionally as possible, but would not rush the work.

He did not rule out getting help from interstate or overseas forensic experts if such assistance was needed.

Mr Barnett said the search was suspended today purely because of the heavy rain overnight, which made the site muddy and water-logged.

However, this meant police and SES volunteers were getting a well-deserved break.

Mr Barnett was hopeful of finding more evidence at the same site when the search resumed.

“Having found what we’ve found in relatively close proximity to each other, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t find further evidence,” he said.

Daniel’s parents were in Melbourne for Denise’s parents’ joint 80th birthday party when they learned bones had been found.

They decided to keep the news to themselves to avoid overshadowing Denise’s parents’ party but Mr Morcombe said it was hard to contain the emotion.

“All this time I have not known what to call Danny and how to receive any news,” he said.

“And now we are thinking ‘is this going to be the final chapter or not?'”

But for the first time last night, the Morcombes thought about making funeral arrangements after learning of the discovery of three bones in the dense bush in Beerwah.

“Certainly the significance of the find is not lost on the family,” he said.

“We were choked with emotion.

“We are really hopeful it is him.”

Peter Boyce, the solicitor acting for Daniel’s parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe, said he hoped the forensic testing process would be expedited in this case.

“Police have not given us an indication as to how long the DNA testing might take,” he told brisbanetimes.com.au.

“At the end of the day, we would hope that it is given some priority. It should be able to be done within one week or two weeks I understand.

“They’ve been waiting such a long time and now, in a week, three major finds of significance have been taken by police from the site.

“The sooner they find out the answer as to whether it is Daniel’s DNA or whether DNA can be obtained from each of the samples, the better for them.”

Yesterday, investigators scouring bushland at Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast, just 40 kilometres from where the 13-year-old went missing eight years ago, uncovered the bones in the primary search area at the end of Kings Road.

Police confirmed just hours after the discovery the bones were human, but cautioned the find might not be related to the investigation.

The breakthrough followed the discovery of the two matching shoes at the site – one was found last Wednesday and the other was uncovered on Saturday.

Mr Boyce described the agonising process as “putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle”.

“Who knows what’s next on the agenda?” he said.

“[The Morcombes] are experiencing a mixed bag of emotions at the moment,” Mr Boyce said.

“While this is a very significant event in the case it is still pretty tough on Bruce and Denise. It brings up memories from the very first day Daniel was [reported] missing.”

Mr Morcombe spoke of the four ‘monumental’ phone calls he has received in the past eight days – the arrest, the discoveries of the first and second shoes, and the discovery of three bones.

He hoped the fifth call would be to report police had discovered an entire skeleton.

“The feeling that the bones are potentially Danny’s is one of relief,” he said.

“It’s not good news or celebratory, just sheer relief.”

A DNA analysis of the three bones will be compared with Daniel’s DNA profile, which was created immediately after his disappearance from items including his clothes and shoes.

Claude Roux, director of the Centre of Forensic Science at the University of Technology Sydney, said DNA analysts would be inclined to be more cautious under the circumstances.

“It all depends on the quality of the biological material. It could take days or weeks,” he said.

“In a case like this it would be cautious to take a bit more time. First [analysts] would want to identify the remains … but they would also want to reconstruct what happened to the person.”

He said the best chance of identifying remains was analysing dentistry or traces of clothing.

More than 100 State Emergency Service volunteers and police officers have been scouring the muddy bushland near Coochin Creek since the arrest of Brett Peter Cowan on charges of Daniel’s abduction and murder on August 13.

The findings come after it was revealed Mr Cowan was monitored for months at a Perth caravan park before his arrest.

He had almost every second of his life monitored by detectives who were living just metres from him at Crystal Brook Caravan Park.

The former truck driver reportedly acted as an unofficial handyman for older residents in the park, before heading to Queensland in early August.

Mr Cowan will fight the charges of murder, child stealing, deprivation of liberty, indecent treatment of a child and interfering with a corpse when he faces Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 26.

The Morcombes are determined to continue their work with the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, which helps educate children on how to keep safe, provides financial support to young victims of crime and kept the search for Daniel on the public and authorities’ agendas.

– with Marissa Calligeros


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