Police will continue their search today for missing woman Tanja Ebert, suspected to have been murdered by her husband who later took his own life at the family property in South Australia’s mid north.
Michael Burdon, 41, shot himself at the Manna Hill property while police were at the home as part of their investigations into the 23-year-old’s disappearance.
Detective Superintendent Des Bray said police had earlier interviewed Mr Burdon and remained at the home with him and other members of the family to search the property.
“Michael was not under arrest at the time and this point in time, there is no evidence to prove that Michael was responsible for the murder and we continue to work to prove who is responsible for this murder,” he said.
“During the course of the afternoon police momentarily lost sight of Michael and then very shortly after heard a muffled gunshot.
“They commenced an immediate search calling out to him and a few minutes later found him deceased a short distance from the home.
“We are investigating Michael and obviously Michael is a suspect.”
He said the couple, who has two sons aged one and three, had been experiencing marital issues and he believed Ms Ebert was intending to leave the family home.
The boys are being cared for by family.
Police search area ‘a massive task’
Detective Superintendent Bray said police would continue to search the couple’s property.
“Major Crime will recommence the investigations at the property and conduct searches today of the homestead, buildings and vehicles in proximity and continue with the forensic examination,” he said.
“At the same time, we have detectives in Adelaide conducting inquiries across the state in relation to information that’s come in since the publicity.
“We will be planning for an extensive search. We have a massive task ahead of us, the property is 410 square kilometres.”
He said there were no other persons of interest in the case.
Ms Ebert was last seen on August 8 at Roseworthy, north of Adelaide, and police said they were holding out “slim hope” she would be found alive.
A relative, not her husband, reported her disappearance.
Police searched an area near Roseworthy yesterday, but found no trace of Ms Ebert.
Detective Superintendent Bray said police would no longer be searching the Roseworthy area.
Video footage showing Ms Ebert with her family at the South Australian Museum about 3:20pm on August 8 has also been released.
Mr Burdon told officers that during a trip back from Adelaide, Ms Ebert got out of the family car at a Roseworthy service station, leaving behind her two boys and personal possessions including her passport, purse and phone.
Ms Ebert, who is a German citizen, met her husband soon after she arrived in Australia in 2012.
They were married six months ago.
A commissioner’s inquiry has been launched into Mr Burdon’s death and will run independently to the Major Crime investigation into Ms Ebert’s disappearance.
Ms Ebert was reported missing two days after that sighting by a relative, police said.
Emergency crews including mounted officers, a police helicopter, STAR Group officers and State Emergency Service volunteers have searched an area around the small farming township of Roseworthy.
But they found no trace of the missing woman, Superintendent Bray said.
Forensic police examining couple’s home for clues
Earlier, police said it would be “unfair” to label Ms Ebert’s husband a suspect, but said multiple police agencies were searching around the couple’s home.
“Forensic police, investigators from Major Crime, detectives from Port Pirie CIB and local uniform people are in that area conducting an extensive search and talking to the husband,” Superintendent Bray said.
“In any homicide, generally people will have a good look at the person that’s last with the [victim].
“We’re hoping for a miracle and that she walks through the door, but sadly we don’t think that will happen.
“I’m asking that anyone who has had recent contact with her to come forward and speak with investigators by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”
Watch Detective Superintendent Des Bray discuss the case:
Police have spoken to Ms Ebert’s family, including her mother, and the German embassy.