Age at time of disappearance: 26 years
Build: Unknown
Height: 168 cm
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue
Distinguishing Features/Other:
Nancy was a resident of Germany at the time of her disappearance. She was on one years' leave from work in Germany. She flew from Auckland to Tasmania on 6 March 1993 and rang her parents on 11 March 1993 at 4.00pm est. There has been no further contact or sightings.


 *Murdered Italian woman Victoria CAFFASO is mentioned several times on this page, click her name to read her story.



Born 05 Feb 1967

aged 26 years at time of disappearance

Missing Person report made to Tasmania Police on 19 April 93.

Home address Lubeck, Germany. Occupation travel agent.


Nancy maintained regular contact with her parents in Germany. She had previously travelled to Australia 2 years earlier. She phoned her parents on average every 7 – 10 days, the last call to her parents was made from St Helens on 11 March 1993 at 4.00pm est

Nancy was in Tasmania on holidays, she intended spending approx 2 months in Austrlia and approx 2 weeks of that in Tas. She flew from Auckland to Tasmania on 6 March 1993.

Travel route: arrived in Devonport where she stayed overnight before moving to Launceston, stayed overnight in Launceston & caught a bus to St Helens.


The last confirmed sighting was between St Helens and Bicheno on the east coast of Tasmania on 12 March 1993 by tourists who had spent the previous evening with her at a St Helens hostel. She was seen approx 5km south of Scamander heading south on the Tasman Highway. Nancy was travelling on a red Road Chief Maurauder mens mountain bike with red panniers. She wore a white helmet. The bicycle she was riding was hired in Devonport and was booked for a 2 week period 9 – 22 March.

Search treated as a major crime investigation, extensive searches/media coverage however nil property located. Numerous reports of sightings from all around the state. Over 280 statements were taken from members of the public and over 500 information reports recorded.

Nancy’s parents have visited the state several times since her disappearance participating in media conferences appealing for information. The state government offered a reward up to $30,000 to be made payable at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police for information as to the whereabouts of Grunwaldt or the conviction of the person(s) responsible for her disappearance.

168 cm tall

medium build

blue/grey eyes

dark brown, collar length hair

olive skin

wore red large framed glasses

some of the outstanding property Nancy had with her at the time of her disappearance:

personal diary

Minolta camera X300 model, body number 9158147

Charcoal coloured money belt with “Hapag Loyd” logo


New unit to look into Cafasso murder

Posted Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:41pm AEDT  - ABC

Tasmania's Police Commissioner, Richard McCreadie, says DNA technology will be central to the success of a new cold case unit.

Recruiting has started for the six officers who will be based in Hobart.

The Police Commissioner, Richard McCreadie, says the unit will focus on cases such as the murder of Victoria Caffasso on Tasmania's east coast 13 years ago, and the disappearance of Nancy Grunwaldt, also on the east coast, 15 years ago.

He says similar units in other states have been successful.

"We're confident that it will produce some results," Mr McCreadie said.

"There's absolutely no doubt that DNA technologies have moved on."

Mr McCreadie says the disappearance of Hobart woman Lucille Butterworth nearly 40 years ago may have happened too long ago to be re-investigated.

Unravelling east coast mysteries

Broadcast: 28/02/2003

Reporter: Matthew Stanley - ABC Stateline Tasmania

BARBARA PONGRATZ: We'll head to the icy south a bit later in the program, but first a look back at a couple of disturbing mysteries on Tasmania's East Coast.

About a decade ago, the disappearance of a young tourist and the murder of another sparked two of the biggest and longest police investigations in the State's history.

26-year-old German backpacker Nancy Grunwaldt disappeared without trace and police never identified who stabbed to death a 20-year-old Italian visitor Victoria Cafasso.

Next week, police will get another chance to sift through the details of both cases, look for new leads and hopefully provide some solace to the women's friends and relatives.

On Monday, the coroner will open an inquest into Ms Cafasso's death and then take a look into Ms Grunwaldt's disappearance.

Matthew Stanley reports.

POLICEMAN, 1995: There's multiple stab wounds to both the body and head.

It's a particularly vicious attack.

JOHN MIDDENDORP, EAST COAST RESIDENT, 1995: Everybody here round the neighbourhood is pointing at him, him or him.

ZANIA CAFASSO, MOTHER OF VICTIM, 1995: You don't just go on a beach, kill someone and walk off.

LUPPO PRINS, TASMANIA POLICE, 1996: We really need a clue to point us in a certain direction.

MATTHEW STANLEY: When police first issued a statement saying they were concerned for the welfare of a young German tourist, the report rated just a few lines on the news that night.

But the mysterious disappearance of Nancy Grunwaldt would feature in the headlines for months to come.

It was the 12th of March, a hot Friday almost 10 years ago, when the young Christian backpacker left this hostel in St Helens, having arranged to ride the bicycle she'd rented in Devonport down the coast towards a rendezvous with a friend in Hobart.

GRAHAM HICKEY, DETECTIVE INSPECTOR (RETIRED): We never reached a final conclusion as to whether it was foul play or not.

Whether it was a bicycle accident or she was abducted by somebody, we don't know.

We are aware that all her money is still in a bank in Launceston.

It's never been touched and we've never heard anything or found anything of the girl.

MATTHEW STANLEY: Police quickly confirmed a sighting of the young woman on the road south of the town.

But there the trail stopped dead.

Despite weeks of searching, police would not find a single trace of Nancy Grunwaldt.

GRAHAM HICKEY: We found no bike, found no clothing -- we found nothing.

MATTHEW STANLEY: Her grieving parents visited and it was as if Tasmanians as a whole felt guilty for having lost their daughter.

But when they left, Nancy Grunwaldt disappeared again -- this time from the headlines.

With no new clues, there was nothing to report -- until a Wednesday in October two years later.

That morning, Victoria Cafasso walked across the road Nancy Grunwaldt had last been seen on and through the dunes to the beach.

The 20-year-old Italian law student had arrived in Australia just four days earlier and was staying with a cousin at Beaumaris.

Hours later a woman walking her dog spotted Victoria's lifeless body at the water's edge.

GRAHAM HICKEY: We don't know how she ended up in the water -- but she did.

MATTHEW STANLEY: She had been stabbed more than 40 times and wore only the top half of a bikini.

Her valuables were found on the beach nearby.

But a shell necklace and several items of clothing, including her bikini bottoms, were never found.

The murder stunned the East Coast community, shattering a casually held assumption that their beautiful deserted beaches held no danger for anyone lucky enough to enjoy them.

STEPHEN SALTER, BREAK O'DAY MAYOR: Everyone in the municipality and everyone probably in Tasmania felt dreadfully sorry that something could happen like that.

Not only for the fact that a life was lost, but the fact that our peace and tranquillity and safety and all those sort of things were sort of, for the first time, put under some sort of scrutiny.

You know, we live in the safest place probably in the world and all of a sudden we had two – well, one murder and another mystery.

MATTHEW STANLEY: Suddenly Nancy's ghost was back.

LUPPO PRINS: They were both in the same area and there's a possibility that there is a connection, but we don't know that for sure.

MATTHEW STANLEY: Compared with the Grunwaldt case, Victoria's violent murder seemed straightforward.

But if her body had not been washed ashore, she too may have disappeared, leaving few clues to her fate.

As it was, her mutilated body was washed clean by the water, robbing police of crucial physical evidence.

GRAHAM HICKEY: We never got any scientific evidence because Victoria had been in the salt water for some time.

MATTHEW STANLEY: Victoria Cafasso did not submit meekly to her killer.

GRAHAM HICKEY: There must have been a rather vicious fight.

I mean, she fought very strong and hard to save her life and whoever the offender was he would have had to have certainly been covered in a lot of blood -- he wouldn't have walked away scot-free.

MATTHEW STANLEY: But the sand where the struggle took place also gave police few clues before wind and the rising tide erased the story it might have told.

The only significant clue was a single bare footprint.

GRAHAM HICKEY: Nothing stands still on the beach.

You've always got some sort of breeze and we, the personnel, there on that day had to work against the tide.

It is probably one of the most difficult -- or perhaps even THE most difficult murder inquiry -- that the State has had, certainly in my years.

And that was because of the location -- it was on a beach, there were no witnesses and we didn't get any scientific evidence.

MATTHEW STANLEY: The brutal and bloody murder and speculation of a link with the Grunwaldt disappearance fed a torrent of publicity and fuelled suspicion in the community.

The spectre of a serial killer increased pressure on police for a result and dozens of local residents were interviewed as possible suspects.

STEPHEN SALTER: It certainly once again raised a lot of rumours and innuendo and finger-pointing and that was a concern, because a lot of the people that were perhaps having the finger pointed at them are completely and absolutely innocent.

JANE CATO, HOTEL MANAGER: Everybody had a different story to tell, everybody had a different idea as to who was responsible and what had happened.

MATTHEW STANLEY: The publicity was also bad for business.

JANE CATO: I know that the bus drivers were making a big thing of pointing out the beach and saying “That's where the murder happened," as if it was a tourist attraction almost.

MATTHEW STANLEY: Jane Cato and her husband moved to Scamander to run a motel just months before the murder.

Over the next 12 months, their bookings would be down by more than $40,000.

JANE CATO: The fact that people were linking the two made some of the local people more afraid of coming to the area -- especially younger people and mainly women, I found.

The men weren't bothered at all, but the women's mothers were saying things like, “You can't go there, there's a murderer there.”

MATTHEW STANLEY: As months passed, it became clear that police were again stumped.

There have been anonymous letters and other new leads.

A professional profiler was employed to produce a description of the killer and a substantial reward still stands.

But still no witnesses and no murder weapon.

And in the case of Nancy Grunwaldt, no clues at all.

MATTHEW STANLEY: An inquest is a last resort.

The St Helens council chambers may prove a bit cramped when the first of 50 witnesses in the Cafasso inquest take the stand on Monday.

By contrast, the Grunwaldt inquest could be over inside a day, with the coroner almost certain to return an open finding.

There's no reason to expect that either inquest will produce a breakthrough and some East Coast businesses are not happy that murder and abduction will be in the headlines again.

But others see it as a chance, however small, to somehow reclaim the innocence the community lost all those years ago.

STEPHEN SALTER: There are still people that feel a little bit fearful of walking along the beach.

Certainly there's a perception within the community that it is harmful to tourism.

I don't think that is correct, and I also believe that even if it was slightly harmful for tourism by the fact that it is being bought up again, so be it.

You know, we've got to find out who was responsible for this and this is the only way it can be done.

GRAHAM HICKEY: Although some people may have been under suspicion, we never really had any definite suspects and I suppose even though there were numerous people spoken to, that person could be still on the East Coast as far as we know.

So you can't rule anybody out until such time as you get the rightful person that you want.

Father of missing German tourist tells of her trust

Posted Fri Oct 31, 2003 10:09am AEDT  - ABC

The father of a German tourist who went missing on Tasmania's east coast 10 years ago says she was a very trusting person.

An inquest into the disappearance of Nancy Grunwaldt was held in Launceston yesterday.

Not a trace of Nancy Grunwaldt has been found since she was last seen riding her bicycle towards Bicheno.

Police have suspected foul play over her disappearance.

While suspects have been identified, there has not been enough evidence to lay charges.

The Coroner's assistant did not call any witnesses during the inquest but instead tendered 31 affidavits.

One was from Ms Grunwaldt's father, Bernd, who said his daughter was a very trusting person who took people at face value.

He said she accepted friendship quickly.

Coroner Peter Wilson reserved his findings.


Coronial Division
                    Click here for Magistrates Court Home Page

Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Regulations 1996
Regulation 14
Form 4

I, Peter Henric Wilson,Coroner, having investigated a death of


WITH AN INQUEST HELD AT Launceston Coroners Court in Tasmania on the 30th day of October, 2003


Nancy Grunwaldt was born on the 5th day of February 1967 at Flensburg, Germany and at the time of her disappearance was aged 26 year(s).

Nancy Grunwaldt was a single woman whose occupation at the time of her disappearance was a Travel Agent.

I find that Nancy Grunwaldt died on the East Coast of Tasmania between St Helens and Bicheno on the 12th day of March 1993 as the result of foul play by a person or persons unknown.

At the time at the time of the deceased’s person’s death she was not being treated by a medical practitioner.



On the 15th day of April 1993, a Reverend Ivor Jones of South Australia reported Grunwaldt as a Missing Person to Victoria Police and enquires were commenced. On the 19th of April 1993 Tasmania Police were advised of the situation and commenced an investigation into her disappearance. Grunwaldt was last known to be in Tasmania and she made no further contact with her parents after the 11th of March 1993.

Tasmania Police received the missing person report on the 19th of April 1993, nearly six (6) weeks after the last confirmed sighting on Friday the 12th of March 1993. The initial investigation was centred around Devonport and was under the direction of (then) Inspector Ivan Dean of Devonport Police (since retired). Inspector Dean had charge of the investigation from the 10th of April 1993 to the 14th of May 1993.

During the course of the investigation the following information was obtained:-

Media Coverage

Extensive media coverage was initiated into the whereabouts of Grunwaldt and as a result, a large number of sightings were reported, state-wide. As a result of her movements in the St Helens area, the focus of investigation moved primarily to the East Coast of Tasmania.

Enquiries were continued by Devonport Police until the 14th of May 1993 when the Commissioner of Tasmania Police directed that the status of the enquiry be upgraded to that of a major crime investigation. It was further directed that the responsibility for the investigation be transferred to the Northern Police District.

Further extensive media coverage was generated in relation to the disappearance and extensive police coverage was given to the area between St Helens and Bicheno. A large number of persons were interviewed and a critical analysis was conducted of the file resulting in a number of suspects being identified.

Overseas enquiries primarily in New Zealand and Germany through Interpol were conducted. The enquiries related to the interview of former associates and other international tourists who either stayed at hostels with Grunwaldt or otherwise met her in Tasmania.

Of concern to the investigation was Grunwaldt’s whereabouts on the night of Tuesday the 9th of March 1993. It is clearly established that she left the YHA Hostel in Devonport earlier that day and that she spent the night of 10th March 1993 at Launceston. It is presumed that she rode her cycle from Devonport to Launceston, however there are no confirmed sightings. All guest houses, hostels etc., were checked but no record of her being at any of them exists for that night.

Enquiries were made with the bus companies with negative results.

Bank Account

On Monday the 8th of March 1993, Grunwaldt went to the Stewart Street branch of the Westpac Bank in Devonport. On that date, she opened an Account and deposited approximately A$4,500 by way of a New Zealand dollar draft of $6,000 purchased at the Westpac Bank, New Zealand. At the time, she produced a Passport and German driver’s licence as identification. She withdrew $300 on that day.

During the course of the transaction and in general conversation, Grunwaldt stated her intention of being in Hobart in about a week’s time and therefore requested that her new card and P.I.N. number be forwarded to a Hobart branch. Grunwaldt agreed with the suggestion that it be forwarded to the branch at 38 Elizabeth Street, Hobart.

Westpac microfiche records revealed that on Thursday the 11th of March 1993, a $200 withdrawal was effected on her account at the Kings Meadows Branch of the Westpac Bank by way of a signed withdrawal form. The time of the transaction was recorded as being 10.40 am.

Grunwaldt’s account was not operated after that date

Summary of Movement

Nancy Grunwaldt arrived in Tasmania from New Zealand, via Melbourne, Victoria. Stayed overnight at YHA Hostel in Middle Road, Devonport.

Believed to have attended a church service in the morning. Stayed overnight at the same location in Devonport.

Attended the Tas Travel Centre in Rooke Street, Devonport and booked a one-way ticket to Melbourne on the Able Tasman ferry for travel on 4th April, 1993. It is known that she attended the Westpac Bank in Stewart Street, Devonport and deposited approximately $4,500. She then withdrew $300. Stayed overnight at the same location in Devonport.

In the morning she attended at 51 Raymond Avenue in Devonport and hired a bicycle from Trevor Goss. This was to be her means of transport around Tasmania. She left excess items with Goss to be collected on her return. She is believed to have departed Devonport on this date and travelled towards Launceston, however, it is not known where she stayed the night.

In the morning she attended the Westpac Bank at Kings Meadows in Launceston and withdrew $200.00. She stayed overnight in Launceston City Backpackers hostel.

Believed to have travelled from Launceston to St Helens on a Redline Coach, with the hired bicycle as freight. Stayed overnight at the St Helens Hostel.

Departed St Helens and rode south on her bicycle.

Intended departure date from Tasmania

Grunwaldt had booked the bicycle for the two week period from the 9th to the 22nd of March 1993. She did not have exact plans and she asked Goss if it was alright if she returned the bike on a bus or similar. In the event that she did not return to Devonport, she also asked Goss if he would forward her back pack onto her.

As previously mentioned, on Monday the 8th of March 1993, Grunwaldt booked a one-way ticket on the Abel Tasman ferry, for travel between Devonport and Melbourne on the 4th of April 1993. It is not known what her intentions were for the two week period between the 22nd of March and the 4th of April 1993.

Speculation may suggest that Grunwaldt was going to stay in Hobart with Carolyn Hood, and return the bike to Devonport on the bus.

Last confirmed sighting

On the morning of Friday the 12th of March 1993, Grunwaldt left the St Helens Hostel on her bicycle and road south through Beaumaris. It is believed that she stopped and walked on the Beaumaris Beach, and that she purchased a soft drink from the Surfside Motel. She then continued south.

The last confirmed sighting of Grunwaldt was by Christine Leidig and Tanja De Greve, fellow tourists who had spent the previous night with her at the St Helens Hostel.

They saw Grunwaldt at the Hostel that morning and they left sometime after her. They again saw her about 5 km south of Scamander, riding her bike south on the Tasman Highway. They have indicated that the time was approximately 11.00 am.

DeGreve stated that it was Leidig who recognised Grunwaldt after they had passed her. Leidig stated: “We did not talk with her, we only realised that it was Nancy as we had already passed her. I am so sure that it was her because she was the only one travelling by bike”.


From witnesses, the last confirmed sighting of Nancy was approximately 5 kms south of Scamander on the Tasman Highway.

The Tasman Highway runs from Launceston to Hobart via Scottsdale and the East Cost towns of St Helens, Bicheno, Swansea, Orford and Sorell.

From St Helens to Orford, the Highway predominantly follows the coastline with the exception of turning inland through St Mary’s and back to the coast.

From St Helens to the last known confirmed sighting, the highway follows the coast through Beaumaris and Scamander. It is the main access used by locals and tourists. There are a number of side roads which turn inland and form a network of gravel roads that stretch through to the Midland and Esk Highways.

The general area of the last sighting is unpopulated, it being semi-farming/forest area. There is a large tidal area known as Henderson Lagoon between the Highway and the beach.

Approximately 8.5 km south of Scamander (or approximately 3.5 km south of the last sighting), the Tasman Highway turns inland through the St Mary’s Pass, St Mary’s and Elephant Pass and back to the coast.

At the point of turning inland, the new Link Road turns left to Falmouth then closely follows the coast line through Four Mile Creek and then rejoins the Tasman Highway at Chains of Lagoons.

Nancy Grunwaldt grew up in Steinbergkirche, Northern Germany and completed her education there, aged 19 years. She commenced work as a travel agent at the age of 20 and was an experienced world traveller having visited 14 countries at different times. Apart from German, she also spoke fluent French and good English. She had previously visited Australia two years before this trip but had never been to Tasmania. She travelled alone on that previous occasion.

Her parents described her as a happy, open, energetic person with deep religious beliefs. To their knowledge she did not have a boyfriend. She made friends easily and was always well liked. Grunwaldt was in regular contact with her parents either by phone or mail and would not have willingly broken contact with them. Her last telephone contact with her parents was from Tasmania on Thursday the 11th of March 1993. She told them she was okay and was planning to go to Hobart to visit a female friend. She told them she planned returning to Germany on the 24th of June 1993.

Possible sightings of Grunwaldt

During the course of this investigation, in excess of 280 statements have been obtained from members of the public. The majority were taken during 1993, from people who believed they had sighted Grunwaldt in Tasmania. Some may well have been legitimate sightings of Grunwaldt or her bicycle, however they could not be corroborated further.

Searches conducted during the course of the investigation

In 1993, Tasmania Police conducted extensive searches in an effort to locate Grunwaldt, the hired bicycle and/or her personal possessions. In excess of thirty days were committed to these searches and at its height, 46 personnel were involved on a daily basis. Personnel involved in the searches were from various sections of Tasmania Police, including: Northern Search and Rescue, Diving Squad, Academy Recruit, Bicycle Squad and C.I.B. members.

Since 1993, searches have been conducted as required, with the last search being conducted in January 2003, in an area of bush in the Hardings Falls area on the East Coast. This search followed information received as to a possible suspect.

Description of searches conducted

Road searches were initially conducted of the Tasman Highway from St Helens to Swansea including the Coles Bay Road. The Police Rescue Helicopter was utilised to conduct aerial searches of the Tasman Highway between St Helens and Bicheno and also the coastal foreshore.

After information was received, an intensive land search was conducted of the roadside between St Mary’s and Fingal. Police divers also searched the Break O’Day River near the road bridge.

Land searches were conducted of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park areas in response to information that Grunwaldt had been seen in this area.

After an evaluation of the file and of information that was being received, a decision was made that an intensive search would be conducted of the road verges of the Tasman Highway and Link Road from St Helens to Bicheno. Beach resorts, picnic grounds, coastal areas and walking tracks were also searched along with the entrance road to the Douglas Apsley National Park.

Witnesses who have spoken to Grunwaldt since her arrival in Tasmania, provided conflicting versions as to the route she was going to take on her bike, that is, either the Coastal Link Road or St Mary’s Pass.

It was known though speaking with her parents that Grunwaldt was an outgoing type person and had spent an extended period of time travelling around the world. She was an avid photographer and was fond of swimming. She liked coastal area rather than inland areas. She was fond of bushwalking but would not go by herself.

Sections of the coast line were searched from St Helens to Bicheno along with a number of side roads which were identified through information as being worthy of searching.

During the course of the investigation, other smaller areas were searched in the Scamander/Beaumaris area as they were deemed necessary.

Searches of all roads were conducted for a distance of 50 metres on either side.


Throughout the course of this investigation, there has been no ‘eye witness’ account provided by any witness or suspect. Similarly, no exhibits or evidence has been located, so as to implicate any person in the disappearance of Nancy Grunwaldt.

That in part, is due to the six week period which lasted between the 12th of March 1993 (last confirmed sighting) and the 19th of April 1993 (commencement date of the Tasmania Police investigation). This delay negatively impacted upon the investigation, as daily events become "clouded” in the minds of witnesses. Additionally, given that it was summertime, there were high numbers of tourists in the area and witnesses could not be 100% confident as to their ‘sightings’ of Grunwaldt.

This six week delay, also benefited any offender who may have been spoken to during the course of the investigation.

Suspects were identified throughout the course of this investigation, but given the lack of eye witness accounts or physical evidence their classification as a ‘suspect’ resulted from one or more of the following:

Nothing of substance was established.


Grunwaldt’s parents have visited the State on a number of occasions since her disappearance. During their visits, they have participated in media conferences appealing for information as to the whereabouts of their daughter. On each occasion they have generated a response from the public, however, no ‘concrete’ evidence has been forthcoming.

The State Government has offered a reward of up to $30,000 to be made payable at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police for information as to the whereabouts of Grunwaldt or the conviction of the person(s) responsible for her disappearance.

Contact was made with the German Consulate in Victoria, Mr Thomas Bittner at the time of the disappearance and he worked closely with the investigators in the supply of information in relation to Grunwaldt.

Summary of Investigation

CAFASSO murder investigation

Approximately 1.30 pm on the 11th of October 1995, Victoria Anna Elizabeth Cafasso, dob 8/6/75, an Italian tourist was found deceased on the Beaumaris Beach at Beaumaris. Her partially naked body was found at the waters edge and was being lapped by the waves. There were numerous stab wounds to her body, together with bruising and lacerations. Cafasso was on holiday in Tasmania and was staying with a relative at Beaumaris.

Topography of Beaumaris

Beaumaris is a seaside township on the east cost of Tasmania, lying between Scamander (1.4 km south) and St Helens (6 km north). The town consists of one (1) motel and approximately 150 homes/shacks. It has a permanent population of approximately 350 persons, made up of retirees, families, employed and unemployed persons. The population rises significantly over the summer period.

The Tasman Highway runs north/south through the town and parallel to the beach. It is the main coastal route. The town comprises five (5) separate areas with all but eight (8) houses located on the inland side of the highway. Beaumaris Beach stretches for 4 km, including the 2 km length of the town. The beach lies 75 metres to the east of the highway and is predominantly shielded from view by a coastal reserve strip of low dunes and light scrub. The northern and southern ends of Beaumaris Beach are defined by rocky points which prevent easy access further along the coast. Inland of Beaumaris exists extensive pine plantations, forested areas and a network of gravel roads that stretch to the Midland Highway.

Personal history of the deceased

Victoria Cafasso was a dual Italian/English citizen who spent most of her time residing in Italy but regularly visited her grand parents in England. She lived with her parents and younger sister in Italy. Her mother described her as a trusting person.

Cafasso held a British passport and spoke fluent Italian, English and French. She was well travelled, having travelled several times with her mother as well as having previously acted as a tour guide. Her journey to Australia was the largest journey undertaken by her alone.

Cafasso was well educated and attended University in Italy where she was studying law. She deferred that course in July 1995. She then travelled to England to stay with her grandmother - as was her practice most mid-year holidays - to consider her options. She enrolled in a language course at Portsmouth University, due to start in August 1996. She expressed a desire to travel to Australia and stay with her cousin Simon Howard De Salis whom she had met on two (2) previous occasions. She called De Salis from England and made the arrangements.

Cafasso flew from London to Melbourne, via Hong Kong, and from Melbourne flew to Launceston Airport arriving at 1.50 pm on Friday the 6th of October 1995. She was met by Simon De Salis and a visiting friend of his, Peter Holder of Sydney.

Last known movements

From the 6th to the 11th of October 1995, Cafasso resided with De Salis at “Larby’s Cottage” Charles Street, Beaumaris. Over that time De Salis took her and Holder to tourist spots on the east coast. The only social event she attended was a small private birthday party for Mandy-Louise Larby on Monday the 9th. The only times she was alone, were for two (2) short walks; on Monday the 9th and Tuesday the 10th.

On the morning of Wednesday the 11th of October 1995, Cafasso rose about 8.10 am and after breakfast told De Salis she was going for a walk on the beach and requested to borrow a small carry bag. About 9 am she set off on foot for the short walk to the beach. She was dressed in a blue T-shirt with a wolf motif on its front, a pair of slacks/pants, a bikini, white sandshoes, watch, bangle, ring and necklace. She carried the borrowed bag, a large beach towel, a flask of water, a Sony walkman radio, sunglasses, sun screen, scarf and her purse - containing personal papers, $A509.00 and some foreign currency.

En-route to the beach Cafasso was sighed by six (6) reliable witnesses. It is believed that she entered Beaumaris Beach via a path opposite the Surfside Hotel. Cafasso was seen sunbaking some 700 metes south of where she had entered the beach. These sightings were about 9.55 am and again about 10.10 am.

The scene

Detectives and Forensic personnel from Launceston subsequently attended, as did the Forensic Pathologist and Forensic Scientists from Forensic Science Services Tasmania (FSST).

An examination of the area established the murder scene some 50 metres north of the body. There was no indication - heavy footprints, drag marks, blood trail etc - that the body had been brought to the beach for disposal. Within that scene was found a portion of Cafasso’s property. Several items known to have been taken by her to the beach were not located. She was naked except for a bikini top which was intact above her breasts. Her face and head had been stabbed, lacerated and bludgeoned resulting in horrific and extensive wounds. She had also been stabbed to the back and chest. The frenzied nature of the attack on Cafasso with a knife indicates that the offender is disturbed, with a quite possible hatred for women, or who is in a drug induced state, who loses control during the attack, but once it is over is sufficiently cunning to conceal his tracks. The fact that some of her possessions were missing would indicate that he gains satisfaction from keeping a “trophy” from the murder. In this regard none of Grunwaldt’s possessions have ever been found.

Review of the Grunwaldt file with respect to the Cafasso murder

In March 1966, (then) Constable Mathew Obsorne No. 1622 of the Bureau of Criminal Intelligence, Hobart, conducted a review of the Grunwaldt investigation with regard to the Cafasso murder case up to the 11th of March 1996.

In his conclusions, he reported on the following perceived similarities between the two investigations.

Finally, Constable Osborne stated: “These similarities are reached using some licence to speculate. The fact that Grunwaldt’s body has not been located makes investigation and comparison difficult”. In my view there is no firm evidence to link the two deaths, however.

1986 Attempted rape of (known female - hereafter “K.F.” on Beaumaris Beach.

In addition to the Cafasso murder, one other matter which was ‘re-visited’ during these investigations as the 1986 attempted rape of “K.F.” This incident occurred on the Beaumaris Beach on Thursday the 4th of September 1986 and this crime remains unsolved.

Likely scenarios with respect to the death of Grunwaldt

Scenario one

Comment: Given the extensive searches which were conducted by police, it is highly likely that her body and possessions would have been located.

Scenario two

Comment: This scenario cannot be discounted but appears unlikely.

Scenario three

Comment: This scenario cannot be discounted although her bank accounts were never unlawfully accessed but the motive may not have been financial gain.

Scenario four

Comment: This scenario is possible, however it would be expected that her bicycle or other possessions would have been located during the extensive police searches which were conducted.

Scenario five

Comment: This scenario cannot be discounted but appears unlikely.


Given the circumstances surrounding Nancy Grunwaldt’s disappearance and the lack of evidence unveiled throughout this investigation and the fact that none of her possessions have been found my conclusions are:

I am grateful to Detective Acting Inspector M.G. Wright for his detailed review and analysis which is here in substance largely reproduced as my findings.


I find that Nancy Grunwaldt died on the East Coast of Tasmania between St Helens and Bicheno on the 12th day of March 1993 as the result of foul play by person(s) unknown.

I express my sincere condolences to her parents, family and friends.

This matter is now concluded.

DATED: 19th March 2004 at Launceston in the State of Tasmania.

Peter Henric Wilson

New lead on Grunwaldt mystery

Updated June 6, 2011 09:55:00 - ABC


Tasmania police are yet to comment on whether they will reopen an investigation into the disappearance of German tourist, Nancy Grunwaldt.

A former police detective has thrown new light on the case.

Ms Grunwaldt was last seen on a bicycle at Beaumaris on the state's east coast in March 1993.

An inquest found she was most likely the victim of a homicide.

But former Launceston Detective Bob Coad, who was not required to give evidence, believes Ms Grunwaldt was hit by a car.

Mr Coad has told a northern newspaper, after he took over the case, a Hobart solicitor reported a disturbing phone message had been left on his answering machine.

The anonymous caller said he had been involved in a terrible accident and had hit a cyclist.

After no record of an accident the man never called back and the message was erased.

Mr Coad is calling for the driver to come forward.

Tasmania police are yet to comment.

Death of Nancy Grunwaldt 'an accident'

BY ZARA DAWTREY - The Examiner
06 Jun, 2011 11:32 AM


Almost two decades after the disappearance of a German backpacker on the East Coast, retired detective Bob Coad has decided to speak out. He wants the truth about what happened to Nancy Grunwaldt to come out. ZARA DAWTREY reports.

LINKED with the horrific stabbing murder of Italian tourist Victoria Cafasso in 1995, the disappearance of German tourist Nancy Grunwaldt is burned into the memories of Tasmanians.

Like Ms Cafasso's still-unsolved death, the travel agent's disappearance achieved a level of infamy only paralleled by such atrocities as the Port Arthur massacre and wife-killer Rory Jack Thompson's crime.

East Coast residents are today still left wondering if a serial killer lives in their midst.

But the true story, says retired detective Bob Coad, and the crucial evidence that supports it, has until now never been made public.

"Nancy Grunwaldt was not murdered," he said.

"Her death was the result of a tragic accident - and now it's time for the person responsible to come forward."

The decorated former detective sergeant boasts such credentials as a stellar 35-year career with Tasmania Police, the last 28 as a detective investigating major crime.

He was the state's longest- serving detective when he retired in 2002, the year after he was awarded the nation's most prestigious police honour, the Australian Police Medal.

"I have chosen to talk about this case now because the time for achieving closure is running out.

"I've tried to sit back and let it go, but I just can't live with it any longer. Speaking out now is the last thing I can do to get the truth out there."

An inquest into both the disappearance of Ms Grunwaldt and the 1995 stabbing death of Italian tourist Victoria Cafasso found Ms Grunwaldt was most likely the victim of a homicide, committed somewhere between St Helens and Bicheno on the day she was last seen - March 12, 1993.

But Mr Coad rejects the coroner's findings and instead tells a very different story.

"I wasn't called to give evidence at the inquest, and when I contacted the coroner's office after the findings were handed down I discovered they were unaware of evidence that was absolutely integral to the case."

On April 19, 1993, Victoria Police notified Tasmania Police that a missing person report had been lodged in relation to Ms Grunwaldt, 26.

While not known to police at the time, seven days had already passed since she was last positively sighted south of Beaumaris.

Police initially believed her to be on the North-West or West Coast, so the file went to Devonport.

Another 10 weeks had passed by the time Northern detectives took over the investigation.

"Some months after we took over the file, a Hobart solicitor reported a disturbing phone message that had been left on his office answering machine," Mr Coad said.

"He'd gone in to his office on a Saturday morning around the time she'd disappeared.

"There was a message that had been left by a very upset male caller who he described as sounding absolutely distraught. The caller said he wanted help and advice, and had to speak to someone.

"He said he'd been involved in a terrible accident on the East Coast and had hit a cyclist.

"He kept repeating it was a terrible accident, and he wanted help."

But Mr Coad said that while Hobart detectives visited the solicitor, nothing came of it.

The tape had been erased and recorded over many times by that stage.

"The solicitor told police that after hearing the message, he'd combed the papers for serious crashes that weekend, but when none were reported and the man didn't call back, he didn't pursue it any further.

"It is my firm belief that a person travelling south, most likely via the Elephant Pass, collided with Ms Grunwaldt, who was riding her bike to Bicheno.

"The crash has either seriously injured or killed her.

"The driver has then, in a state of total panic and with whatever knowledge he had of her condition, disposed of her body down the embankment, and taken her bike and personal possessions with him."

Mr Coad said that while it might be hard for many people to readily accept that a driver would get rid of a body after a fatal crash, his experience as a police officer proved otherwise.

"People are capable of anything at that level of panic and shock.

"Add to that the very real possibility that he may have been doing the wrong thing, drinking or using drugs, changing the radio station and not looking where he was going - you just don't know.

"And there was no foreseeing what was ahead with the Cafasso murder and the publicity that brought to the Grunwaldt case."

The driver was not Tasmanian, Mr Coad says, based on a second phone call made four years later from Brisbane.

"Australia's Most Wanted (television show) interviewed my partner and I on the beach at Beaumaris in early 1997.

"The Cafasso-Grunwaldt program aired in mid-July, and the information hotline received a phone call from a Brisbane number soon after.

"Again, the caller was male and the operator described him as extremely emotional.

"He stated that he was on the East Coast in the relevant time frame and that he'd accidentally struck a cyclist. He admitted he'd pushed the body off the pass, then continued on to Hobart. He said he left the state as soon as he could on the boat from Devonport.

"And that's what's happened. That's the truth, and I believe that wholeheartedly."

So sure is Mr Coad of this scenario that he is willing to put his name - and the respect it still commands across police ranks today - on the line.

Because by speaking out, he is admitting that police made fundamental errors in their investigation.

He says he accepts that and has had to live with the knowledge that things that should have been followed up were perhaps overlooked.

He cannot recall what action was taken over the Brisbane phone call.

Police were distracted, he says, by numerous and time- consuming false leads. These included a cross-country search for a New Zealand fruit picker who had foolishly boasted while drunk and on drugs that he had been involved in the disappearance of a German tourist.

Mr Coad and his partner located the traveller outside Toowoomba but, after a lengthy interview, knew he was not their man.

Nor was mass murderer Martin Bryant, who also found himself the subject of police attention in relation to the Cafasso-Grunwaldt cases.

Mr Coad and his partner spoke to Bryant at Risdon Prison in April, 1997.

However, their experience mirrored that of every other police officer who has attempted to interview the killer - they got nothing.

But the biggest mistake of all, according to Mr Coad, was the linking of Ms Grunwaldt's disappearance to the brutal and brazen murder of Ms Cafasso.

"During the course of the East Coast inquiries, there was absolutely no evidence supporting a link between the two, other than the location and a sighting of Nancy near Beaumaris Beach.

"She was seen sitting on a bench at the entrance to the beach with a drink and a book, the same entrance Victoria Cafasso used on the day she was murdered on that same beach. That's it.

"There were reasons for why things were done the way they were back then, but there's no changing it now."

He says that while there is no point focusing on the past, the benefit of hindsight, together with the mistakes and oversights made at the time, suggests that the case should be reinvestigated.

"As I've said, all I can do at this stage is speak out and hope something comes of it.

"I don't have access to the file or any records and I can't reopen the case.

"I don't know the name of the person responsible or where they're living now.

"What I do know is that the chance of getting the answers the Grunwaldt family and the Tasmanian community deserve fades with every passing year."

Mr Coad is hoping Tasmania Police's three-year-old cold case unit will agree to re-examine the Grunwaldt file as a matter of priority.

The unit has already chalked up major victories for police since its creation in 2008, including the arrest of a Lake Leake man in November over the alleged 2006 murder of Kalangadoo resident John Thorn.

"If I'm right about this, and I know I am, the authorities have the option of offering the driver indemnity from prosecution if he comes forward," Mr Coad said.

"It would have been a very heavy burden to carry all these years."

• Anyone with any information about the disappearance of Nancy Grunwaldt is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800333000. Callers can remain anonymous and may become eligible for a reward.