DETECTIVES probing the disappearance and suspected murder of a man more than 22 years ago have raided a property near Armidale, after reopening the historical missing persons case.
William Roach, or Bill as he was known, was last seen on New Year’s Eve in 1993 walking along the Grafton Rd, just outside of Armidale, but vanished without a trace.
After previous investigations and a coronial inquest, detectives announced yesterday they had re-opened Strike Force Annan after fresh information came to light earlier this year.
New England detectives combed a rural property on the outskirts of Armidale over four days last week, searching a homestead and a number of outhouses.
A cadaver dog, forensic police, excavators and geographical investigators were brought in to search the area for the remains of Mr Roach or a possible murder weapon.
“This property is not a property that has been searched previously in relation to this investigation,” New England Detective Inspector Ann Joy told media in Armidale yesterday morning.
“As I said, we had some further information and in executing the crime scene warrant, searching for the remains of Bill Roach, and any object or implement that may have been associated with his death.”
Several items were photographed and seized from the property and are expected to be forensically examined as part of the murder probe.
Investigators now believe Mr Roach could have met with foul play on or around New Year’s Eve in 1993.
“This is an investigationheaded by local detectives in consultation with the homicide unit, that is in fact one line of inquiry in relation to the incident,” Detective Inspector Joy said.
After several public appeals for help in 2004 and 2009, as well a number of searches of properties where Mr Roach used to live, no arrests were made in relation to his disappearance.
In 2010, a coronial inquest in Armidale found Mr Roach had died but couldn’t determine the manner, location or cause of his death, and if anyone was involved.
“At that time police received information that two people may have been involved in his death and disposal of his body,” Detective Inspector Joy said.
“In 2010, a coronial inquest found that Mr Roach was in fact deceased but the manner and cause of his death was unknown.”
Recent information had led police to execute a crime scene warrant last Tuesday, February 23, on a property on the outskirts of Armidale.
“That examination has taken place over the course of four days and concluded on February 26.”
Investigators have spoken with Mr Roach’s family and are appealing for friends, acquaintances or anyone who might have information to come forward, despite the years that have passed.
“The timeframe that has passed between the disappearance and present investigations is always a difficulty but we’re hopeful that fresh information could lead to a result in respect of the investigation,” Detective Inspector Joy said.
“Last week, a number of items were photographed and seized, all I can say at this time is they are subject to further investigation.
“We were using excavation works and certainly looking for any remains or any other object that could be associated with the death in that process.”
Investigators have released a series of photos of the property that was searched and are hoping the public appeal for help could finally provide the answers that have baffled police for more than two decades.
“We’re looking towards any person that may have further information, so regardless if it’s anyone who has already spoken to us or who has not spoken to us previously, we would be interested in hearing from those individuals,” Detective Inspector Joy said.
Anyone with information on the disappearance of Bill Roach is being urged to contact Armidale detectives on 6771 0699 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.