QUEENSLAND Police Service will today announce a $500,000 reward for information regarding the disappearance of Kowanyama woman Ms Bernard, who was last seen at the Archer River Quarry in 2013.
Facing heat from the Coroner, QPS is desperately trying to save face and solve the case ahead of next month’s inquest hearing in Cairns, where findings are likely to be handed down.
It’s likely that Coroner Nerida Wilson will slam the original investigation by QPS, which cut corners.
Ms Bernard was last seen at the Archer River Quarry on Sunday, February 10 in 2013.
She had been at the Exchange Hotel in Coen earlier that night, before leaving for the quarry with caretaker Thomas Byrnes.
Ms Bernard, a mother of two young children, was never seen again.
In 2021, Ms Wilson announced that an inquest would be held regarding Ms Bernard’s disappearance.
Then, last year, Ms Wilson ordered a new search for her remains in areas between Archer River and Coen, with a place called “The Bend” to be a focus point.
As more information comes to light, the heat has been turned up on the original investigation.
Police treated Ms Bernard’s disappearance as a missing person case, believing the story of Mr Byrnes that she had run off into the bush.
No forensic evidence was taken of the clothes left behind by Ms Bernard and the search for her was far from extensive.
Earlier this year, a police media release said officers had used new technology to try and locate her remains.
“A large scale search of the area utilising police on foot, quad bikes and vehicles along with helicopters, SES, Defence Force personnel and the police dive squad failed to locate any sign of (her),” the statement said.
“New drone and camera technology which was unavailable in 2013 was utilised for a systematic search of the area, along with officers on horseback and in four-wheel drives. This targeted search operation, along with further searches in the Coen area in late 2022, unfortunately, did not advance investigations.”
Queensland Police continue to reference Ms Bernard by her first name, despite the requests of her family that she only be referred to as Ms Bernard.