Young Cairns woman Toyah Cordingley left home to walk her dog and never returned, with her body found on a quiet beach and police treating her death as a potentially sexually-related murder.
The 24-year-old was reported missing late on Sunday night after going for a drive with her dog to Wangetti Beach, just north of Cairns.
The pharmacy worker, known for her love of animals, was found on Monday. A murder investigation is continuing and police are pleading for clues.
“They’re obviously devastated in regard to the circumstances,” Detective Senior Sergeant Ed Kinbacher said of the woman’s family.
“This is a shocking event; no young woman should go to a beach to walk the dog and this unfold for them.”
He called for anyone who went to the beach on Sunday afternoon to contact police.
“It’s critical we get this information [from any potential witnesses] and resolve this as quickly as we can.”
Port Douglas councillor Michael Kerr previously employed Ms Cordingley at his animal shelter Paws and Claws and described her as “the most beautiful, loving soul”.
“She adored animals. She was on a different level with animals, than humans. She had something special with animals. Even the troubled dogs would calm down in her presence,” he told News Corp Australia.
Police believe Ms Cordingley, who had blonde hair with a slight purple tint, would have stood out on what was a traditionally quiet stretch of sand.
She was walking a large dog that was found uninjured on Monday.
“People notice each other at Wangetti Beach … you say hello,” said Detective Senior Sergeant Kinbacher, who often visits the beach himself.
The detective conceded it may have been a random attack.
“It may well be the case this young woman has run into a stranger or potentially a person known to her and circumstances have unfolded that have led to her death,” he said.
“We have no preconceptions at all to what has unfolded here.
“[But] if we’re dealing with a potentially sexually-related murder, which commonsensically we may well be dealing with a male.”
Police are hopeful they will receive information from those in the area that will help advance an investigation that so far is lacking suspects.
“There may have been males in the area that have made women uncomfortable, been behaving unusually, paying too much attention,” he said.
“Those sort of people, we want to hear about them.”
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.