QUEENSLAND'S last police tracker was brought in to help unlock
the mystery of missing gold prospector Bruce Schuler, 48.
Barry Port, 70, spent three days and nights searching for any sign of
Mr Schuler in what he described as some of the most difficult country and
conditions he had ever known.
The Mareeba miner was last seen alive about 10.30am last Monday while
in a verbal stoush with a local grazier.
Three fellow miners fossicking with Mr Schuler about a kilometre from
the Palmerville station homestead reported hearing two gunshots. But even Mr
Port's hunt for blood, clothing and tracks was not enough.
He said the extreme difficulty of picking up an old trail was made
harder by debris scattered by the down-draught of searching helicopters.
"It's hard country to track in," said Mr Port, who joined the
Queensland Police in Coen in 1981. "It's very hilly.
"There are lots of broken trees and limbs. They've had the choppers
overhead for days, which threw me off.
"I could not find any signs to follow. We were looking for bootprints,
bits of clothing, his pick, shovel or metal detector, stuff like that."
Two helicopters have been deployed as part of the search involving 15
police, SES crews and stock squad officers on horseback and quad bikes.
Mr Port's unique tracking skills are a dying art.
The Lama Lama elder is the final link in the historical chain of
indigenous police acclaimed for their skills in finding people lost or
hiding in the scrub from famous cases such as tracking down Ned Kelly, to
uncovering secret drug crops or missing bushwalkers.
Coen police's Sergeant Frank Falappi, who works closely with Mr Port,
said the tracker, one of three once based in Coen, was impressive to watch.
"It is a pity no one is following in his footsteps," he said
"I haven't seen anyone his age move as quickly over country as he
"It is amazing what he can see in the landscape. He can see human and
animal tracks in the bush that are almost impossible for us to make out,
even when he shows us up close. It is a dying art and a terrible shame the
tradition of police tracking not be continued."
Mr Port is the last Queenslander to wear the police tracker badge and
Search for missing man draws a blank
CREWS are continuing to camp overnight in harsh terrain on Cape
York as the search for missing gold prospector Bruce Schuler enters its
The 48-year-old Mareeba man vanished on July
9 after he became separated from three fellow prospectors along the
Palmer River, west of Cooktown.
The 1200sqkm Palmerville Station remains a crime scene, while
aerial and ground crews search for clues to Mr Schuler's disappearance.
The search party includes an Aboriginal tracker, helicopter,
ground crews and police on horseback.
"We have a crime scene warrant for the whole property," Far
Northern Region regional crime co-ordinator Det Insp Bruno Asnicar said.
"There are certain places we are looking at."
The case was still being treated as a missing persons
investigation, but there were grave concerns for Mr Schuler.
"It's been a long time and he is a local up there," Mr Asnicar
"He knows the area very well, he was well kitted out with GPS and
so forth so it's extremely concerning he hasn't walked out."
Police have confirmed reported gun shots are being investigated
and two people were released from custody after being questioned over Mr
Mr Asnicar said the Aboriginal tracker was helping lead crews
through the thick bushland and gullies.
"I believe he is the last tracker we have and he's an absolute
expert in tracking people through rough terrain," he said.
Police chase missing prospector leads
Detectives investigating the possible murder of a far
north Queensland prospector will attend the state's gold panning
championships in Mareeba this weekend.
It is one month since Bruce Schuler, 48, went missing while
prospecting with three other people near Palmerville Station in Cape York.
Senior Constable Russell Parker says more than 20 police, including
the homicide squad, are continuing to piece together events leading up to
"Anyone that's experienced issues there with the landholders, problems
with access and so on, any threats and so on we would like to receive that
information from them," he said.
"To that end, the detectives will be up in Mareeba this weekend.
"The Queensland Gold Panning Championships are being held there on
Saturday and they'll be setting up our mobile police facility."
Couple accused of murdering missing gold
A far north Queensland couple is due to appear in the
Cairns Magistrates Court today, charged with murdering a 48-year-old Mareeba
Bruce Schuler was reported missing by fellow gold prospectors near the
Palmer River, south-west of Cooktown in early July, and his body is yet to
Yesterday, police including officers from the homicide squad, arrested
a 55-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman, from Palmerville, in relation to
Mr Schuler's death.
They are in custody and both are due to appear in court today, charged
with murder and improper conduct with a corpse.
Regional crime coordinator Bruno Asnicar says detectives are still
trying to find his body.
"It's involved a lot of police from Brisbane - it's involved every
officer, every detective in every section that we have here in Cairns," he
"It's had a lot of scientific and forensic resources allocated to it.
"We've had the dive squad up here searching rivers and we've had SERT
[the Special Emergency Response Team] involved protecting those personnel
because of the remoteness of the area and the risk of crocodiles."
He says there has been extensive land and air searches to try and
locate Mr Schuler.
"That hasn't occurred as of yet - I want to say though that this isn't
the end of that either," he said
"This investigation is continuing - I intend to continue to throw as
many resources as I need at this investigation for a considerable period of
Cape York couple convicted of murdering gold prospector Bruce Schuler in far
north Queensland three years ago
A Cape York couple have been convicted of murdering a gold prospector, who
disappeared on their property three years ago.
Mareeba man Bruce Schuler, 48, went missing in July 2012 at Palmerville
Station, sparking a massive air, ground, and underwater search which failed
to find any trace of him.
Following a two-week trial in the Supreme Court in Cairns, a jury found the
station's leaseholders Stephen Struber, 58, and Dianne Wilson, 55, guilty of
In sentencing the pair to life imprisonment, Justice Jim Henry said: "It has
been well over a century since the turbulent, sometimes violent days of the
Palmer River gold rush.
"That in this day and age, long removed from those frontier days, it beggars
belief that station leaseholders could become so detached from standards of
civilised behaviour and could've engaged in such cowardly and callous
behaviour as this."
It was a murder case without a body or any direct forensic evidence linking
the couple to Mr Schuler's death.
From the outset, the crown conceded it did not know exactly who had killed
Mr Schuler or how, but argued there was enough circumstantial evidence to
prove one of the couple had, and the other was a party to it.
"Where did this offence take place? Palmerville, or as [one witness put it],
'Struberville'," prosecutor Nigel Rees told the court.
"A property that is some 500 square miles in size. The size of some small
countries. And probably, probably, one of the largest crime scenes ever
"You may also think that's enough space to dispose of a body."
The crown's case rested on the evidence of Mr Schuler's fellow prospectors,
who reported hearing two gunshots several minutes apart after a vehicle
matching the couple's pulled up in the area they were searching for gold.
They were on the land without permission, and Struber had confronted one of
them about a week prior, telling him to get off his land.
Justice Henry said the couple may have fired the first shot to scare off, or
injure Mr Schuler.
"Once begun, this conduct obviously spiralled out of control with the
probably panicked but truly dreadful decision made to pursue and shoot
again," he said.
"It was surely that callous, calculating behaviour which in the jury's
unanimous view elevated this beyond manslaughter to a case of murder.
"Consistent with that dreadful choice you followed through and disposed in
some unknown way of the body of Bruce Schuler."
The trial heard police found drops of Mr Schuler's blood, burnt patches of
grass, and tyre marks matching the Strubers' car in a gully about two
kilometres from the homestead.
Defence argues crown failed to prove Bruce Schuler is dead
The prosecutor said the couple had demonstrated no remorse through the
proceedings, and had denied any involvement in Mr Schuler's disappearance.
Under cross-examination, Struber said the couple was not in the area the
shots were heard, and had spent the day repairing a loader.
"We weren't there," he repeatedly said on the stand.
During the trial, the defence attacked the credibility of Mr Schuler's
companions, highlighting inconsistencies between what they told the jury and
what they told police initially about how well they saw who was inside the
Defence barrister Joshua Trevino argued the crown had failed to prove if Mr
Schuler was even dead.
'Why did you hurt him? Where is he?'
The court heard Mr Schuler had purchased a mining lease a year prior to his
disappearance, and was a loving husband and father of two.
"You know he was happy, you know he enjoyed prospecting, he had the support
of his wife Fiona, and you know he has not been heard from since the 9th of
July 2012," Mr Rees said.
Mr Schuler's wife of 28 years, Fiona Splitt, read a victim impact statement
out in court, saying her world had stopped after her husband was murdered
"and then discarded somewhere unknown like a piece of rubbish".
"How could someone have so little regard for human life? What sort of evil
must live inside of someone that could be this immoral and depraved?" she
"Why did you hurt him? Where is he? How do I ever stop this nightmare from
tearing my heart and mind apart?
"I will not rest until we find Bruce and bring him home.
"No-one deserves to be disregarded like he's been. We deserve the
opportunity to say goodbye properly, to lay him to rest. Until we bring him
home our family will truly not have any closure."
IN a murder mystery which harks back to the wild days of the
Palmer River gold rush, a couple who slayed a gold prospector
and hid his body deep in the Far North Queensland outback have
been sentenced to a life behind bars.
Cape York graziers Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber have
been found guilty of murdering miner Bruce Schuler on their vast
Palmerville Station, after finding him fossicking up a dry gully
on their property three years ago.
Presiding judge Justice Jim Henry said their “cowardly, callous”
killing was a return to the tumultuous days of the late 1800s gold
rush, which occurred on the same rugged country where Mr Schuler was
shot dead on July 9, 2012.
With no trace of Mr Schuler ever found and no witnesses to his
killing, his daughter conceded her family “may never know” what
happened to the 48-year-old father of two.
But a jury has now determined Mr Schuler was shot dead and his body
discarded somewhere on a 130,000ha property which spans a “river of
“It has been well over a century since the turbulent and sometimes
violent days of the Palmer River gold rush, that in this day and
age, long removed from those frontier days, it beggars belief that
station leaseholders could become so detached from the standards of
civilised behaviour and could have engaged in such cowardly, callous
behaviour as this,” Justice Henry said.
Principal Crown Prosecutor Nigel Rees admitted he could not say
exactly who played what part in Mr Schuler’s demise, and built his
case on circumstantial evidence to ultimately have the co-accused
In a two-week trial in the Cairns Supreme Court, the jury heard
about a gold strike, the boom of gunfire, missing weapons, a missing
body and flecks of blood found on a rock.
The jury was taken on a two-night trip to view key locations on
Palmverville – described by Mr Rees as “probably the largest crime
scene ever declared” – and told about a Croc Hole, Cannibal Creek,
empty mine shafts from a foregone era, and a ghost town to the east.
The trial hinged on the testimony of three gold prospectors –
Daniel Bidner, Tremain Anderson and Kevin Groth – who were on a
fossicking expedition on “Struberville” with Mr Schuler when he
In handing down two life sentences to the Strubers yesterday,
Justice Jim Henry speculated on the doomed gold digger’s final
“This probably began with one of you shooting and intending to hurt,
or at least scare off a prospector who you perceived to be a
trespasser,” he said.
“Once begun, this conduct obviously spiralled out of control, with
the probably panicked, but truly dreadful decision, to pursue and
“Consistent with that dreadful choice, you followed through and
disposed in some unknown way of the body of Bruce Schuler.”
Before Struber and Wilson-Struber, aged 58 and 53 respectively, were
locked away for life, a final plea was made for them to give answers
to the family of the man they killed.
“Whether there are earthly remains of Bruce Schuler to now be found
is solely within your knowledge, as is the whereabouts of those
remains,” Justice Henry said.
“It remains within your power to bring closure to the Schuler family
... by revealing the whereabouts of their loved-one’s remains. For
as long as you do nothing about that, you continue to affirm your
detachment from the civilised standards of our society.”
THE family of murdered gold prospector Bruce Schuler has
launched a petition to keep killers behind bars unless
they disclose where their victims’ remains are.
Mr Schuler’s body has not been found since he vanished while
prospecting on the Palmerville Station more than three years
Graziers Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber were
found guilty of his murder in July, but have subsequently
appealed their convictions.
Mr Schuler’s widow, Fiona Splitt, launched the petition in
the Queensland Parliament on Tuesday, which is called the
“No body no parole rule”.
In the petition, Ms Splitt said she was calling for an
amendment to the Corrective Services Act 2006 to make it
impossible to obtain parole without disclosing the location
of the victim’s body.
“By making parole contingent upon the location of the body,
it is hoped that this may give some closure to the victim’s
family and provide incentive for prisoners to co-operate
with police and other authorities,” she said.
By last night the petition had already received more than
Daughter Lisa Schuler said her mother had driven the idea,
but their large extended family was right behind it.
“We’ve pretty much been left in the dark for three years,”
“We just want to spread the word and get everyone on board.
And it’s not just for us, but for other people involved in
the same situation.”
Police searched the 130,000ha station during the murder
investigation following Mr Schuler’s disappearance in July
The accused couple was on bail throughout legal proceedings
and the land remains private property, so his family has
been unable to enter and conduct its own searches.
Ms Schuler said that if granted access, they had a large
group of family and friends who had offered to help with a
A date is yet to be set for the appeals.
To sign the petition, click here.
Seeking no parole for killers who hide location of body
Bruce Schuler murder: Stephen Struber, Dianne Wilson appeal against
A couple convicted of murdering a gold prospector in far north Queensland
are appealing against their convictions.
The Supreme Court in Townsville is hearing new evidence over the 2012 murder
of Bruce Schuler, 48, near Cairns.
Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson, both in their 50s, were last year found
guilty of killing Mr Schuler on Palmerville Station.
His body was never found.
A Senior Constable has been giving evidence this morning, revealing
inconsistencies with tyre track measurements taken by police at the time.
He told the court he could not be sure if tracks made on the rough terrain
were from one vehicle or more.
FIONA Splitt feels like she has climbed a giant mountain, but Everest
still stands in front of her.
The Cooktown woman, whose husband Bruce Schuler was murdered on a remote
Cape York station five years ago, has been the heart and soul of a two-year
grassroots push to have “no body, no parole” legislation introduced in
Yesterday, her wish was granted when the State Government announced its
introduction later this year.
But, with Mr Schuler’s body still missing, she now needs the law to have its
Palmerville Station grazier couple Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber
were convicted of his murder in 2015, although Struber is currently
contesting his conviction in the High Court.
Wilson-Struber lost her Court of Appeal bid last year and has no other legal
“Hopefully, when they get told in jail (about the new legislation) they tell
us where Bruce is so we can bring him home,” she said.
“It’s a relief to know and it’s helping myself and my family, but we just
want to find him.”
Attorney-General and Justice Minister Yvette D’Ath said stakeholders would
be consulted to draft the legislation, which would be introduced later this
Her spokeswoman said it was yet to be decided whether it would work
retrospectively, which would include Mr Schuler’s case.
Ms Splitt said she hoped she would be included as a stakeholder to push the
case for a retrospective ruling.
Former solicitor-general Walter Sofronoff led the parole review and met Ms
Splitt last year to discuss the hardship she faced being unable to put Mr
Schuler to rest.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said victims’ families such as Ms Splitt’s had
been a cornerstone to the law’s introduction.
“(It) is designed to help victims’ families and to provide a strong
incentive for offenders to co-operate with authorities,” she said.
Ms Splitt began her campaign with a petition to the State Government which
garnered close to 9000 signatures.
“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” she said.
“I did think it was going to be a big hurdle to jump and the only way we got
there is because everyone … helped me.
“I’m just glad. I’ve done it for personal reasons but … it will help other
people who have gone through what we have.”
QUEENSLAND will become the fourth state or territory to introduce “no body,
no parole” legislation when it comes into effect later this year.
South Australia led the way in 2015, followed by the Northern Territory and
Victoria last year.
The NT legislation was primarily targeted at Bradley Murdoch, who is
currently serving a life sentence for the murder of English backpacker Peter
Queensland’s legislation is yet to be drafted and consultation with
stakeholders is set to begin soon.
Cooktown widow Fiona Splitt has actively campaigned for the legislation
since Cape York couple Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber were
convicted of murdering her husband, Bruce Schuler, at their Palmerville
Mr Struber is currently appealing
his conviction in the High Court.
Ms Splitt said she wrote to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk frequently during
her campaign, begging her not to let Queensland be the last to introduce the
Ms Palaszczuk said the Sofronoff review recommended Queensland adopt a model
similar to South Australia’s, which focused on prisoners co-operating with
“We agree with the findings of the Sofronoff review that ‘withholding the
location of a body extends the suffering of victims’ families and all
efforts should be made to attempt to minimise this sorrow’,” she said. “A
system similar to South Australia’s, which focuses more broadly on
co-operation with the investigation, has the potential to provide more
benefit to the community in incentivising co-operation of all kinds.”
New South Wales is also considering bringing the law in.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the legislation
would be introduced later in the year.
“We know there are a number of jurisdictions across Australia which have
legislation, or are in the process of introducing similar legislation,” Ms
THE widow of murdered prospector Bruce Schuler has spent the past six
years clinging to hope that his remains will be found.
“Where is he? Why isn’t he here? They are never-ending questions,” Fiona
On July 9, 2012, exactly six years today, the 48-year-old went missing while
prospecting on Palmerville Station in Cape York.
Landowners Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber were convicted of his
murder in 2015 and, despite numerous appeals, they remain in jail.
“I know in my head what has happened but in my heart, because there’s been
no closure, I’m still half-expecting him to walk through the door,” Ms
Last week her hopes were raised after police received a report about
possible human remains at the bottom of a mine shaft about 15km from
Detective Sergeant Brad McLeish said a miner had lowered a Go Pro camera to
the bottom of the shaft and seen what looked like a human skull. However,
after searching the site, nothing was found.
“You do get your hopes up but I’d rather have a bit of hope than no hope, if
it means bringing Bruce home,” she said.
Police have had no help from his killers despite the “no body, no parole”
laws, which Ms Splitt fought for, now being in place.
“I’ve looked both of them in the eye and said, you will die in jail unless
you tell us where the body of Bruce Schuler is, and they just flat-out
refuse,” Sgt McLeish said.
“Struber just looks cold and dead in the eyes and repeats, no comment, no
comment, no comment.”
Sgt McLeish said the search for Mr Schuler’s body would never end and
encouraged anyone with information to come forward.
Ms Splitt believes the grazier couple shot her husband and dumped his body.
“The worst horror scene movie you’ve ever seen, they’re characters out of
that,” she said.
She last saw Mr Schuler nine days before he went missing. “If I’m not
thinking about him, I’m talking about him. But it hasn’t gotten easier, it’s
gotten worse,” she said. “I still haven’t been issued a death certificate so
I can’t do anything with the properties we have. I just wish they’d come
forward and tell me where he is so we can put him to rest.”
She urges anyone with information, no matter how small, to contact police.
Mysteries still unsolved in murder of Bruce Schuler
WHY won’t the killers talk?
How many other dead bodies are there? Why did they resort to murder?
Was it purely territorial? Did they have something to hide like a secret
outlaw bikie drug laboratory?
Or was it more macabre and did the
husband-and-wife hillbillies simply like to hunt and terrorise humans?
Did the deadly duo, ultimately, get caught taking a scalp in a thrill kill?
Convicted murderer Dianne Wilson-Struber – the now jailed outback Cape York
cattle station owner found guilty of stalking, executing and disposing of
the body of missing gold prospector Bruce Schuler – does not look evil.
But, by all accounts, she liked to ride shotgun, carrying a Winchester
lever-action .22 rifle on her lap.
Her husband Stephen Struber, on the other hand, has the wild deranged
appearance of a modern-day bearded bushranger.
Known as a brutish “enforcer”, the grazier and bush mechanic wielded a
fearsome reputation, driven mad and lawless by isolation and adversity, his
dark eyes hard as flint in a thousand-mile stare.
He wore a .357 handgun revolver on his hip.
Now, for the first time, Wilson-Struber has spoken out in a jailhouse
interview about the true-crime murder mystery that made international
headlines and was likened to horror films Wolf
Creek and Deliverance.
“We didn’t kill anyone,” Wilson told crime writer Robert Reid for his new
book Murder on the River of Gold.
“We weren’t there,’’ she said. “We didn’t do it.”
She spoke to Reid inside Townsville Correctional Centre’s women’s prison,
four years into a life sentence, the first time she has broken her silence.
She told him she believed by talking openly it might rectify an “injustice”
and uncover fresh evidence that would lead to a re-examination of the
Palmerville Station murder.
“Everybody up there has guns,” she told Reid.
She was convinced a fallout over drugs produced by rival miners was behind
the disappearance of father-of-two Bruce Schuler, 48, who was shot dead
prospecting with a metal detector in a gully near the Palmerville Station
homestead in 2012.
His body has never been found and is believed stashed in a limestone cave,
possibly with other slain victims, in a lost world known as the
“They’re on the dole and growing dope and we were always having trouble with
them on our place,” Wilson said.
She dismissed persistent claims among Palmer River locals about large
numbers of gas bottles seen going into Palmerville, with the implication the
gas was used in an illicit large-scale meth laboratory, either by themselves
or outlaw bikie gangs.
“We weren’t making drugs, that’s ridiculous.
“Yes, I am angry, very angry, but I don’t show it. There’s no point. But if
they want me to say I murdered him, I refuse, because I didn’t do it.
“Don’t you think I would show them where it (the body) is if I knew?”
The No Body, No Parole rule, inspired by a four-year campaign led by
Schuler’s widow Fiona Splitt, means unless she directs police to where the
victim’s body is buried, she will stay in prison until she dies.
“Well, I can’t say where he is because I don’t know.”
Reid, who eyeballed her, said: “That’s bullshit.”
“I told her she was a bloody good liar,” he tells Insight.
To understand the violent tensions between prospectors and graziers, it
helps to know the “gold fever” history of the Palmer River goldfields and
the wild, harsh and unforgiving landscape of central Cape York.
Explorer James Venture Mulligan, who led the world-famous Palmer River gold
rush in 1873, said: “It is a poor place … for God’s sake do not attempt to
come, as people caught out in that direction without rations must perish.”
Within a year, about 15,000 diggers were on the Palmer goldfields – 10,000
of them Chinese – and under frequent attack by fierce tribes of Aborigines,
who resented the invasion of their lands; Maytown became the focal point.
Lured by the promise of untold wealth, it proved to be one of Australia’s
largest and richest alluvial gold deposits where still today big gold
nuggets can be picked up in the dry gullies of the “River of Gold”.
The original township of Palmerville survived as a pastoral leasehold,
covering about 1360sq km and was won in a government ballot by Wilson’s
father in 1964; she lived there from the age of two.
In his new book, Reid, 79, a former north Queensland correspondent for The
Courier-Mail who also penned The Search,
on the murders of Vicki Arnold and Julie-Anne Leahy at Cherry Tree Creek in
1991, speaks to locals and police.
He reveals at least 20 instances of intimidating behaviour by Struber and
his wife that escalated over two decades from a bitter feud into a reign of
terror that spills over into violence, bloodshed, threats, gunshots and,
At the heart of it was a frontier pastoral family in a private war with gold
prospectors who they believed were trespassing on their country.
Fossickers using metal detectors would burn off grass on their cattle
property, and take whatever gold they found.
No body. No murder weapons. No eye witnesses. No confessions. It was a hard
case to put together to convince a jury beyond all reasonable doubt.
Lead investigator Detective Sergeant Brad McLeish, renowned as a
straight-talking lawman, told of the circumstantial murder case.
Fellow prospectors Dan Bidner and Tremaine Anderson gave evidence they saw
the Strubers pull up in a farm ute. They heard two shots.
But a small burnt out patch of blood splatter, later confirmed in DNA tests
to be of Schuler’s blood, was the only trace to be found.
“I believe Dianne fired the first shot,” McLeish, of the Cairns CIB, said.
“The second shot, the execution shot, was a different sound.
“Struber had another option. He could have pointed the finger at Dianne and
walked away as a witness, but he didn’t. She was known to hold the gun and
he could easily have pointed the finger at her, and because he didn’t, makes
me think he fired the second shot, a revolver shot, the execution shot, more
than likely from the revolver he wore on his hip.
“And of course that revolver is missing, and the Winchester .22 she used is
missing, and they’ve gone missing because those bullets will be in Bruce’s
“If they fired the first shot deliberately at him, they’ve wounded him, they
still could have walked away, but they followed up with the chase 100 metres
down the creek, the execution shot, and the body disappears.
“There’s no doubt they put the body on the back of the ute and lit the fire
to get rid of traces of blood. Who fired the second shot? We don’t know.”
He described Struber as an “absolute bully” with a history of domestic
violence towards Wilson. Both of them “strange individuals, cold and
“Dianne is a victim of her upbringing. She kills a beast, takes it back to
the house and cuts it up. That’s how she’s lived. She’s a hard, hard woman.
To look at her hands, she’s got the hands of a man who has lived off the
He said the body could’ve been dumped “five hours away, ten hours away” from
the property in a cave, mineshaft or a shallow grave given the window of
time the pair had to cover their tracks.
McLeish also told Reid he could not rule out the possibility the Strubers
had killed before, and where Schuler’s body is, there could be more. And
that is the reason why they won’t talk, he suspects.
“They are only rumours. There’s talk of a murdered backpacker up there, and
talk about an older body that’s been there for years, but we don’t have any
reports of missing people in that area for decades,” McLeish said.
“I still believe in Struber’s mind he is not going to tell us where Bruce’s
body is, because when we do find Bruce’s body, we’re going to find a bullet
hole directly in his forehead, and probably find the bullet and gun that
“He knows he executed him, and knows that when we find the body, we’ll find
evidence of that execution, and therefore in his mind, it will 100 per cent
put the nail in his coffin.
“When Palmerville Station is sold, there will be a thousand people up there
searching for Bruce. Struber knows that. He’s basically running the show
from prison, still controlling the finances and the cattle, and still in
Expressions of interest for Palmerville Station close on Thursday,
with an asking price of about $4 million.
Widow Fiona Splitt wants closure.
She hopes to ask the new owners for permission to explore the property for
some trace her slain husband.
She hopes the sale of the family property, the publicity around the new book
and the no body, no parole laws will be enough to get Wilson to confess her
“I just want to know where Bruce is,” she tells Insight.
“All I want to do is bring him home.”
Palmerville Station search for murdered man's remains reopens with road
signs erected at remote property
A widow still searching for the remains of her husband, murdered on a remote
cattle station in far north Queensland, has launched a new campaign in a bid
to bury him.
Huge road signs calling for information about the whereabouts of 48-year-old
Bruce Schuler have been erected on dirt roads leading into Palmerville
Station, west of Cairns, where he was murdered while gold prospecting in
His wife, Fiona Splitt, along with her son Bruce Jnr and Schuler's sister
Tracey Holland put up the four signs over the weekend after getting
permission from the police, Department of Transport and Main Roads, and the
Cook Shire Council.
It would have been Schuler's 56th birthday on Sunday.
"Hopefully someone will come forward with some real information," his widow
The signs feature a photograph of Schuler wearing the clothes he was last
seen in, along with his gold prospecting equipment.
Mystery still surrounds gold prospector's murder
Schuler, a retired builder, had been gold prospecting in a dry gully on
Palmerville Station with three friends when he disappeared.
In July 2015 at the Supreme Court in Cairns, the station's owners,
Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber, were found guilty of his murder
and with interfering with a corpse.
It was a murder case without a body or any direct forensic evidence linking
the couple to Schuler's death.
The trial heard police found drops of Schuler's blood, burnt patches of
grass, and tyre marks matching the Strubers' car in a gully about two
kilometres from the homestead.
The Crown's case rested on the evidence of Schuler's fellow prospectors who
reported hearing two gunshots several minutes apart after a vehicle matching
the Struber's pulled up in the area where they were searching for gold.
The prospectors were on the Struber's land without permission, and one of
them had been confronted by Stephen Struber about a week prior and was told
him to get off his land.
No body, no parole
Ms Splitt and her daughter Lisa Schuler successfully campaigned for the
introduction of "no body, no parole laws" in Queensland.
Under the laws, Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber will serve out
their life sentences in jail unless they reveal where Schuler's body is.
However, the pair have always denied they murdered the man.
Mystery sparks book
Veteran Queensland investigative journalist Robert Reid, who lives in far
north Queensland, has spent more than two years trying to work out where
Bruce Schuler's body might be.
He has written a book, Murder on the River of Gold, and spoke with Wilson-Struber
— who grew up on Palmerville Station — at the Townsville Women's
"She knew I was writing a book and I asked her if she would talk to me in
the interest of fairness and about her childhood on that station," Reid
"I was officially able to visit her in prison and I asked her what did she
did with the body.
"She told me 'I wasn't there, Robert'. [And] I said 'you keep saying that
you didn't do it, but if you did do it, you're a bloody good liar'."
Reid said he shared the views of police that the Strubers removed Schuler's
body and disposed of it somewhere away from Palmerville Station.
Families asked to bring toothbrush, photos to build missing person database
Families of missing persons are getting their own annual day, as they are
asked to contribute DNA samples to a national database and help identify 500
sets of remains.
“We are also asking them to provide any personal items of those missing
people … things such as toothbrushes, baby teeth or wisdom teeth, details of
doctors or dentists, any sort of medical X-rays or medical records that
haven’t been provided before and just ensuring that the correct physical
information is recorded with police.
“Even things like photographs of the missing person smiling so we can look
at teeth and things like that.”
Ms McEwan said they anticipated they might hear from some families who had
never formally reported their loved one as missing.
“This is an opportunity for people, particularly if they are unsure, to come
forward and on the day speak with police and actually provide a missing
persons report for the first time, which will allow their missing loved one
to be considered in the program,” she said.
Fiona Splitt, whose missing husband Bruce Schuler was murdered nine years
ago, encouraged people to come forward.
Mr Schuler was prospecting for gold on Palmerville Station in north
Queensland when he was shot and killed by the property’s then owners,
Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber.
His body has never been found and Ms Splitt hopes that prospectors – who are
now returning to the property – will keep their eyes open for anything
Ms Splitt said it would mean everything to have her husband’s remains found
“That’s what I consume my life with – trying to find out how I can find
him,” she said.
Associate Professor Jodie Ward said they were in a race against time to
match some of the older unidentified bones with missing people.
“There’s a number which are over 50 years old,” she said.
“Some of them are going to be quite challenging to get a good quantity and
quality of DNA from – but I think that coupled with new DNA technologies
that we are hoping to employ, it will hopefully give us the best chance of
being able to identify these remains than we’ve ever had before.
“It’s so crucial that we get families coming along.”
Homicide Detective Superintendent Craig Morrow said investigators from the
Missing Persons Unit and Disaster Victim Identification Unit would be
attending the Brisbane event.
“I would encourage families missing a loved one to register and attend the
event, as this is an excellent opportunity to provide samples and photos,
update the database and speak with police, all of which may assist in
bringing families much-needed answers,” he said.
The event will also feature presentations from experts and ambiguous loss
trained counsellors will be there to support families.