Toyah Cordingley. Picture: Facebook.
Toyah Cordingley. Picture: Facebook.

‘Traumatic time’: Injuries suggest violent death

TOYAH Cordingley had "visible" and "violent" injuries to her body, police sources say, as detectives probe "many lines of inquiry" in the desperate hunt for her brutal killer.

Police have launched a full-scale homicide investigation to hunt down the killer of the 24-year-old, described as a "beautiful soul" with a "pure and innocent" heart.

Her body was found at a Wangetti Beach, 38km north of Cairns, in tropical north Queensland early Monday.

Toyah Cordingley. Picture: Facebook
Toyah Cordingley. Picture: Facebook

Locals told News Queensland the secluded beach is often frequented by a group of "oddbods" and vagrants.

Some had been seen naked, with reports of sexually deviant behaviour in the sand dunes in recent weeks.

It is understood the body of Ms Cordingley had visible and violent injuries.

Lead investigators declined to publicly reveal if the young woman was sexually assaulted before she was murdered.

The Cairns pharmacy assistant and animal rescue worker had taken her dog for a walk in broad daylight at the 4km-long stretch of beach, halfway between Cairns and Port Douglas, about 2pm Sunday.

"We're following any leads we can get,'' Far North Regional Crime Co-ordinator Detective Inspector Sonia Smith said.

"We've got many lines of inquiry. We want to get answers for Toyah's family.

"It's a very traumatic time for her family.''

Homicide detectives are retracing her final steps from when she was last seen at Rusty's Markets, a popular fresh fruit and vegetable ­market in the Cairns CBD, where it is believed she went shopping between noon and 1pm on Sunday.

"We're still trying to establish her movements,'' Detective Inspector Smith said.

It is unclear if Ms Cordingley was alone at the beach, if her dog was found tied up at the murder scene, or how she was murdered.

Police divers searched the water, while SERT officers and SES crews scoured the sand dunes and thick forest for missing "personal items" yesterday.

Police and SES at the crime scene at Wangetti Beach, between Cairns and Port Douglas. Picture: Anna Rogers
Police and SES at the crime scene at Wangetti Beach, between Cairns and Port Douglas. Picture: Anna Rogers

Ms Cordingley's friends at Paws and Claws Refuge and Boarding Centre in Port Douglas described their workmate's death as "devastating".

"They say a picture tells a thousand words ... it's devastating that this beautiful young soul will never have the opportunity to say another," centre staff posted on Facebook.

"Her heart was pure and innocent, and her dedication and love for animals was unmatched. She could calm the most distressed dog with grace and handle the large and boisterous ones with ease.

"To her family and friends we send our deepest condolences for the torture you must currently be feeling. She touched so many lives through our refuge both four legged and two. RIP Toyah, you won't be forgotten."

Floral tributes left at Wangetti Beach for Toyah Cordingley.
Floral tributes left at Wangetti Beach for Toyah Cordingley.

Police have fielded more than 23 calls to CrimeStoppers in a public appeal for ­information as officers specifically called for anyone with dashcam footage taken along an almost 60km section of the highway between 2pm and 7pm to come forward.

One witness, who has given a statement to police, told The Courier-Mail that he and a group of friends were at the northern end of the beach with other families totalling about 15 people between 2pm and 4pm.

They were driving back to Cairns near the southern car park when they were waved down by two scruffily dressed men "in a highly agitated state" on the side of the highway in a white 4WD drive ute with a flat tyre.

"We stopped to help, and they were in a really stressed state," the witness said.

"It might be nothing, but they were really strange, and in a real panic to get out of there."