Missing woman Cheryl Adler

'Major breakthrough' in murder of western Sydney woman Cheryl Ardler

By Sally Rawsthorne - SMH

Cheryl Ardler's life was marked by tragedy.

She attempted suicide three times, she watched her long-term partner die of a terminal illness and her new partner allegedly beat her severely.

Then she disappeared in 2012.

Six years later, police have identified bones, found in Laycock Street in Cranebrook in Sydney's north-west, as having belonged to Ms Ardler.

Forensic tests reveal the bones belong to Ms Ardler, definitively proving what her family have long believed - she was murdered.

"The finding of her remains is a major breakthrough," Detective Superintendent Scott Cook told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.

"It makes it clear she's not a missing person, and she was murdered," he added.

Investigators from Strike Force Barsley are hoping that an announcement on Thursday of an increased reward of $750,000 sparked by the discovery will be enough to catch her killer.

The investigation has involved forensic examination of a number of items found at the site where her remains were located.

It is not known how Ms Ardler died, but the scene where her remains were found make it clear she died at someone else's hands.


Police are particularly keen to speak to any of Ms Ardler's friends or associates about any information they may have, as her sisters Margaret and Tracey and mother Irene prepare to make an emotional appeal for the public's help on Thursday.

The investigation of Ms Ardler's murder was handed to the Unsolved Homicide Squad following a coronial inquest into her disappearance in 2016.

Deputy State Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan found that Ms Ardler was killed by person or persons unknown in the three weeks between her 41st birthday and Christmas 2012.

The inquest's findings characterised her as coming from a "close and loving family", and someone who moved around a lot "but always kept in contact" with her immediate family, stepson and step grandchildren.

The 2016 inquest heard "chilling" accounts from a number of witnesses that her relationship with partner Dennis French was "extremely violent".


One neighbour, Kellie Nixon, told the inquest that she saw Mr French punch his partner in the face, hit her with a stick and had heard she was stabbed in the mouth with a fork.

Ms Nixon spotted Ms Ardler and Mr French waiting at a bus stop together three days after Ms Ardler had told her neighbour about being stabbed with the fork.

She had a black eye and a "busted lip" that day - the last time she was seen.

Mr French remains the only person of interest identified by the 2016 coronial findings, but has not been charged with his partner's death.

A $100,000 reward was announced for information regarding her disappearance in 2015.


"Find it in your heart and give her back," said Tracey Ardler through tears at the announcement of the initial reward.

"Just bring her home, we want her home."

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