Since her disappearance, investigators suspect that Simone Strobel’s boyfriend, who was with her on a road trip to Australia, killed her.
Who killed Simone Strobel, a 25-year-old German tourist who was found dead in Australia in 2005? For 17 years, authorities have been trying to unravel the mystery. Over the years, a task force was created and astronomical sums were offered – up to $ 1 million – in exchange for any information that would improve the investigation. The case has not seen major progress so far. On Tuesday July 26, the death of Simone Strobel blackened the columns of newspapers again when a 42-year-old man was arrested. This is her boyfriend at the time and the number one suspect since the beginning of the investigations, according to the English-language press.
Disappeared on February 11, 2005
In February 2005, Simone Strobel, a kindergarten teacher, traveled with Tobias Moran, who had shared her life for more than six years. Together, they traveled the east coast of Australia in motorhomes, hiking and sometimes stopping at places for tourists, as was the case on February 11. That day, the couple spent the night at the Lismore caravan park, with Tobias’ sister and a friend joined them. A little before midnight, Simone Strobel decided to walk around alone. According to a local newspaper, The Northern Star newspaper, he would have moved away after an argument with his girlfriend, a scenario in which he defended himself. But the minutes passed and Simone did not appear again. Not in the next hour, not in the days that follow.
The police were alerted the next morning. Tobias Moran, worried, informed them of his absence. “He doesn’t seem to behe told the local newspaper. “Anything can happen. She may have been kidnapped or raped. I can’t eat or sleep without worrying“. The authorities searched the area. The press, Australian and German, seized the affair but the questions remained unanswered. Simone Strobel could not be found. Only six days later a body was found -an, naked and hidden under palm leaves in a sports ground, 100 meters from the caravan park. After a dental identification, there was no doubt, it was actually Simone Strobel.
Tobias Moran, prime suspect
Initially, the investigation was inconclusive. The public prosecutor in Würzburg, a city in Germany, considers the three young people present on February 11 with Simone as suspects, but Tobias Moran remains the main focus of the investigations. Several testimonies suggest that his relationship with Simone Trobel had deteriorated in the days before the tragedy. Residents of the trailer park said they heard an argument the night of the disappearance. Reportedly, a man and a woman were talking, mostly screaming, in a combination of German and English. A female voice shouts “Leave me alone»(«leave me“). But due to lack of evidence, no prosecution was initiated against Tobias Moran.
To pursue the case, Australian detectives set up a special unit, the Strike Force Howea (Howea Intervention Force), and cooperated with the criminal police and the German prosecutor’s office. At the same time, Tobias Moran was sent home to Germany with his girlfriend’s body.
SEE ALSO – “Cold cases”: Can we finally clear it up?
Two years later, Paul McMahon, a public official appointed by the New South Wales government to lead the inquiry, released the conclusions of his investigation: Simone Strobel was “stuffed with a pillow or plastic bag», «near the caravan park“, then”taken to the abandoned sports ground“. It is possible that”if his clothes were taken off at that time or before“. The black top, which the young woman wore on the night of her death, was found near a roundabout between the park and the sports field, suggesting that “the attacker was heading toward the trailer park, or at least in its direction“. The investigation was referred to the police.
One Million Dollar Prize
The following years did not herald good news for the victim’s family, in search of answers. The investigation is still ongoing, Tobias Moran remains the first suspect but evidence is lacking. In 2014, the German police offered a reward of 10,000 euros for any element that could lead to the indictment of the killer. An initiative replicated by the government of New South Wales, in 2020, offering one million Australian dollars (682,000 euros). “This is a crime that has devastated many families whose young parents travel the world, the thought of losing them so far from home is hard to fathom. Help us comfort Simone’s family“, argued Commissioner Tanner.
Over the years, the emotion surrounding the case has not died down. An English speaker, Virgina Peters, published a book in 2014 entitled Have you seen Simone? (Have you seen Simone?). The New Zealander says he was moved and captivated by the event, which he follows closely. During his investigation he got closer to the police who were in charge of the investigations, talking to Simone Strobel’s family and even Tobias Moran. In an excerpt published in The Sydney Morning Herald , he describes meeting the mother of the young German girl who disappeared. “She likes boys with purple and green hair. He likes crazy clothes, bright colors, sunflowers. He worked hard as a student, just to survive. He believes in God. He plays the guitar. Tennis. He smokes. He is drinking beer. He was worried about his weight. He cares deeply about others», remembers the mother in a moment of emotion.
On Tuesday July 26, the case changed when a man was arrested in Australia, said the police in Richmond, in the state of New South Wales. Many English-language newspapers, such as The Guardian, ABC News or The Sydney Morning Herald claiming it was Tobias Suckfuell (Moran), who changed his last name after getting married. According to them, the 42-year-old man appeared at the Perth Magistrates’ Court today for an extradition hearing. After 17 years of investigation, the case of Simone Strodel may be solved.