THE body of a woman likely murdered in Cooktown was found by a friend in an isolated creek not far from his property.
Mark Seears discovered the wrapped female body, believed to be missing woman Donna Louise Steele, 42, on Sunday morning in Isabella Creek, a tributary of the Endeavour River about 20km west of town.
He and partner Roslyn Avard, who is one of Ms Steele's closest friends, have neighbouring properties a short drive from the creek and had spent last week helping with the search when Ms Steele was reported missing last Thursday.
The pair have both been helping police since the grisly discovery and both their properties are currently crime scenes, but Far North Det Insp Geoff Marsh said yesterday Mr Seears had "been very co-operative".
Police are considering a four-hour window last Wednesday to be crucial to their investigation - between when Ms Steele was last seen in a Cooktown supermarket and when her two young sons arrived at their Poison Creek Rd home from school to find her gone.
CCTV inside the IGA supermarket on Helen St identified her at 12.15pm and the children, aged 8 and 10, got home about 4pm.
Her husband returned from working out of town on Thursday and immediately raised the alarm.
Det Insp Marsh said police were confident whoever was responsible for her death was someone she knew. He said police were calling on anyone who had seen her near-new white Toyota HiLux between Wednesday and Sunday morning to contact them.
"This has devastated that small community and we're hoping that will embolden people to come forward with information that they may have been reluctant to previously," he said.
"The fact that she was missing, they may have kept it to themselves, but now they know that a body has been located it might trigger them to come forward."
Multiple specialist officers, including a large number of detectives, the police dive squad and scientific experts, remain in Cooktown, while a major incident room has been established at the Cairns police station. The dive squad is today expected to search the waterway where she was found, while the SES combed the banks yesterday.
Tributes continued to flow for the mother-of-two yesterday who was well known and liked in the small community.
"How could someone do this? A beautiful woman, a mother, friend, at loss for words," one resident posted on social media.
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