A "CONWOMAN" who went missing months ago could have been murdered with her body parts dumped at sea, a criminal expert has claimed.
It comes after the rotting foot of alleged fraudster Melissa Caddick was found washed up on a remote beach in Australia more than three months after she disappeared.
According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Caddick stole at least £7.3million in invested funds from over 60 clients, including family and friends, but the figure has been put as high as £14million.
Caddick had reportedly used cash she stole to fund a lavish lifestyle, including taking overseas holidays and buying expensive clothes and jewellery.
The 49-year-old vanished early on November 12 last year from her Sydney mansion, a day after cops raided her home in the wealthy suburb of Dover Heights.
On February 21, DNA testing matched the foot found at Bournda beach, 250 miles away, to Caddick.
But leading criminal psychology expert Tim Watson-Munro is sceptical about her body being in the water for that long and believes she may have only been killed in recent weeks.
"The decomposition of the shoe would suggest it hasn’t been in the water for three months," he told NCA NewsWire.
"While it’s not my area of expertise, if that’s the case a possible scenario is that she has been murdered recently or murdered and kept on ice for a while."
Cops have also flagged the possibility that the businesswoman took her own life as she could have reached clifftops a short distance from her home without being seen on CCTV.
But Mr Watson-Munro believes this is "unlikely" and that she "had a plan" for if her alleged dealings her uncovered.
"It’s unlikely on impulse she would have ended her life," he said.
"When you have that sort of money at your disposal you can buy all sorts of talent who can keep you in a safe house for a fee or a split of the profit.
"One million takes you a long way if you disappear."
Last Friday, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing told reporters foul play against Caddick was possible, but suicide was more likely.
A large piece of torso flesh which included a belly button was found in the sand 100 miles away at Mollymook Beach on February 26, but police say remains do not belong to Caddick, reports news.com.au.
Then on Saturday, another grisly find was made as remains resembling human intestines were discovered 125 miles north at Cunjurong Point and two bones washed up on Turra Beach, near where the foot was found.
The bones were determined to be from an animal.
On Sunday more remains were found at Warrain Beach, near Culburra on the south coast, and testing is underway to determine if they are human or animal.
The case gripped Australia and after Caddick disappeared there was speculation she may have been in hiding or even still alive.
Criminology experts have since disputed the idea she is dead, explaining a person can survive without a foot.
“When it was just a foot I would caution against the possibility that somebody is deceased. You can survive without your foot,” University of Newcastle associate professor of criminology Xanthe Mallett told Weekend Today.
Superintendent Joe McNulty said the condition of her body made it appear she was on the run for weeks before her death.
“Something in the water for that long, say a bit of flotsam or jetsam that washes on to the shore, has got green growth on it,” he told Australia’s Daily Telegraph.
“At first examination the shoe doesn't appear to have been in the water for three months.
“The shoe needs extensive analysis to see how long it was in the water. It's a vital clue where hopefully marine biology can provide some answers.”
He explained that dead bodies will float for a few days in the water, before the lungs, stomach and intestines fill with heavy salt water and sink for two or three days.
The bloated corpse then resurfaces in a state of decomposition, meaning it was very likely police would have seen Caddick's inflated corpse in the ocean during intensive search operations.
Experts are mapping the tidal patterns to determine whether it’s possible the conwoman entered the ocean around her clifftop home
But police scoured the area following her disappearance and did not see a body while search teams would likely have spotted clothing in the ocean or buoyant jewellery.
Though it is possible for a body to get caught in the East Australian Current and float along for 60 miles in a single day, investigators with decades of experience say it is unheard of.
Mr McNulty has worked in marine recovery for 30 years and said he has never heard of a case where a body that entered the water in Sydney could float over a hundred miles down the coast.
“That's never happened in my time in the water police,” Mr McNulty said.
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