A 40-year-old Bundamba man has been charged with the murder of missing Ipswich woman Dulcie Birt.

Alwyn John Gwilliams, 40, was arrested at Ashgrove. He was charged with Ms Birt's murder this morning was refused bail in Ipswich Magistrates Court this afternoon.

Police drained a lake near the 31-year-old woman's Riverview house late last year in search of her body.


Ms Birt was last seen leaving home in a 1998 Green Mitsubishi Triton utility four-wheel drive about 8.30pm on October 21.

Her final movements were captured on CCTV footage taken from a local shopping centre.

"This has been a protracted and difficult investigation which has been ongoing for the past four months," Ipswich Detective Inspector Mick Niland said.

"This arrest is a good result and is due to the combined efforts of detectives from the Ipswich District and Homicide Investigation Unit."

The arrest follows a breakthrough in the case in December last year, when police found unnamed evidence in a search of the lake and surrounding bushland.

The waterway, a disused mineshaft on a private property known locally as Green Lakes, was partially drained to allow police divers to scour the bottom.

Detective Inspector Niland at the time refused to confirm what had been found there, but said he believed it would prove beneficial in the investigations.

"We are pleased with our inquiries so far and this find has us motivated for a successful outcome," he said in December.

A month later, Detective Senior Sergeant Tom Armitt, from Ipswich Criminal Investigation Branch, said the lake had been drained from a depth of 38 metres to 15 metres in the lead up to Christmas.

He said police had been negotiating with the owners of the property and the Department of Mines and Energy about the feasibility of draining the lake further.

The search gave some hope to the parents of missing Sunshine Coast schoolboy Daniel Morcombe, who said they would watch closely as the lake - once rumoured to contain clues to Daniel's disappearance - was combed over.

Ms Birt was once assaulted in a Logan police watchhouse in 2004 by an officer who was later convicted in court. A second policeman was also jailed for the cover up.

She had been taken into custody over a shoplifting offence when she was set upon.

Ms Birt, who also went by the first name Darcy, shared her Riverview home with her teenage son and a week after her disappearance, police staged a reconstruction, featuring the ute seized in the investigation,  in the hope of jogging the memories of potential witnesses.