Forensic results key to Far North Queensland murder mystery
POLICE are waiting for forensic test results from an industrial driveway as the search for the bodies of Scott Maitland and Cindy Masonwells continues.
Bungalow man Brandon Peter McGowan, 41, has been charged with murdering the pair and his case was mentioned for the first time in Cairns Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Far Northern Region regional crime co-ordinator Det Insp Bruno Asnicar said police were testing DNA samples from the driveway and expected results by the end of the week.
"We’ve got a crime scene and we know someone’s been killed and when we get the results back we’ll know who it is," he said.
However, he said Mr Maitland and Ms Masonwells’ bodies were still to be found and investigators had been unable to pinpoint a focus for the search.
"(The search area) is still really wide. I haven’t got anyone out because we don’t know where to look," he said.
Mr Asnicar said the movements of a white Ford Econovan remained crucial to the case and reiterated the call for public help to track down its whereabouts between 9.45pm on July 5 and 1am the next day.
A police statement said anyone who may have seen the vehicle or a similar vehicle either parked in an unusual location or being driven in a suspicious manner in the Cairns area during that time is being urged to contact police.
The vehicle is a 2001 model with white wheels and has glass windows on the left side of the cargo area and painted steel panels on the right side.
Mr Asnicar said police had not ruled out other people were involved in the case.
Mr McGowan did not appear in court yesterday and was represented by solicitor Paul Richardson.
The case has been adjourned to a committal hearing on September 3 and magistrate Trevor Black said Mr McGowan would not be required to appear there either.
Friends and family packed the court for yesterday’s hearing, including Mr Maitland’s brother Jason and friend Lee Hokanson, who had been hosting an engagement party the couple were flying from Mt Isa to attend.
Speaking outside court, Mr Hokanson said they were all devastated by the news.
"We just want to see what’s going on," he said. "It’s very hard, hard for everyone.
"(They were our) best friends, best people in the world. I’m just here trying to find out something about what happened to our friends."
Outpourings of emotion continued yesterday via Facebook, including by Mr Maitland’s ex-partner Donna Astill, with whom he has a daughter, Rhyane.
"Still so angry, but nothing I will ever be able to do will bring back my daughter’s father," she said. "I can only promise her that he will forever be in her heart and will forever be by her side.
"Rhyane wishes to thank everyone for their condolences. As you can imagine she is going to have a long, hard struggle ahead of her."
The couple had been living in Mt Isa and were flying to Cairns to attend the engagement party.
They were last seen on July 5 and were reported missing on July 9.
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Devastated: Lee Hokanson (second from right) and friends of murdered couple Scott Maitland and Cindy Masonwells leave Cairns Magistrates' Court yesterday. Picture: MARC McCORMACK