NSW Police have confirmed the skeletal remains found on the state's far north coast two weeks ago belong to missing woman Thea Liddle, who hasn't been seen since October last year.

Now authorities are desperately trying to piece together what led to her death.

Liddle, 42, was last seen in the Mooball area in northern NSW on October 31. Her family reported her missing in January, prompting a large-scale investigation into her disappearance.

She was known to live a nomadic lifestyle, camping at various locations along the Northern Rivers, which made it difficult for authorities to know where to start.


Officers from the Tweed/Byron Police District, the Public Order and Riot Squad and the Dog Unit joined forces for an extensive two-day search of bushland near Tallow Beach Road, Byron Bay, on July 14.

Just after 1pm on July 15, officers located skeletal remains at a makeshift camp site.

The bones have since undergone forensic examination which confirmed they are the remains of Liddle.

It is understood a post-mortem examination showed no signs of injury, leaving police searching for clues as to how she died.

State Crime Commander, assistant commissioner Stuart Smith, said the newly formed Missing Persons Registry reviewed evidence relating to Liddle's case and were able to provide local investigators with additional lines of inquiry.

"During a review of the initial investigation into Thea's disappearance, specialist investigators identified information relating to an area of bushland near Byron Bay where she may have been residing," he said.

"As a result, a co-ordinated search was conducted of the area and human remains were located, which were then analysed by forensic experts at NSW Health Pathology.

"It is this co-ordinated approach – both within the Force and with our partner agencies – that is seeing answers provided to more families and, in many cases, far quicker than we ever have before."


Superintendent Dave Roptell, from the Tweed/Byron Police District, applauded the combined effort of local and specialist police.

"While the positive identification of these remains is a good result for Strike Force Holby detectives – it is also devastating news to Thea's family and friends," he said.

"While they can now lay Thea to rest, questions around the circumstances of her death remain under investigation."

Supt Roptell is urging anyone who may have spoken to Liddle in October or November last year to come forward.

The findings come ahead of Missing Persons Week which starts on Sunday, August 2.

More than 10,000 people are reported missing across NSW every year and while most turn up safe, at least 70 become long term cases.


The development of the Missing Persons Registry last year means a dedicated team of 16 detectives and analysts are reviewing all of the state's missing person investigations, dating back to 1930.

As of June this year there have been a total of 3430 reports of missing persons, 62 of which are currently outstanding.