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Friend's comment points to murder mystery

AAP logoAAP 19/08/2016 By Andi Yu

It was an alarmingly candid comment from a friend that lead the Ardler family to report their beloved Cheryl missing.

"My cousin killed your Aunty Cheryl," Neil Mumbler said, according to Ms Ardler's niece Kayla Shaw, who bumped into him one day at Sydney's Central Railway Station.

By that stage Ms Ardler, who would now be 44, had been missing for six months.

On Friday a coroner found that she died sometime between December 5-25, 2012 and the manner of her death was most likely to have been homicide.

But it remains a mystery as to who killed her and where her body lies.

Mr Mumbler did not identify the cousin he referred to in the comment to Ms Shaw, nor did he reveal any specifics of the murder, coroner Teresa O'Sullivan wrote in her findings.

The word "cousin" was understood to have been loosely used and did not refer to a blood relative.

When questioned at the inquest, Mr Mumbler denied saying anything about Ms Ardler to her niece and said he had been drunk that day, the findings say.

The six-month gap between Ms Ardler's death and the first report to police was because her family was used to not hearing from her for long periods, the inquest heard.

"Cheryl was the type of girl that just wandered all the time and we never got to see that often," her mother Irene Ardler told the inquest.

There was one person of interest throughout the case - Ms Ardler's de facto partner at the time, Dennis French.

They had been living together in the western Sydney suburb of Cranebrook since April 2012 and had an "extremely violent relationship", Ms O'Sullivan said.

Witness accounts described Mr French punching, hitting and stabbing Ms Ardler in the mouth with a fork.

The last known sighting of Ms Ardler was by a neighbour who saw her waiting at a bus stop with a "busted lip".

Counsel assisting Mr French submitted there was insufficient evidence Ms Ardler had been murdered.

The case will now be referred to the Unsolved Homicide Squad.

Outside the court on Friday, Ms Ardler's family told AAP they hoped more evidence would come to light in the murder investigation.

"We know that somebody has killed her," Ms Ardler's sister Margaret said.

"She hasn't just done a runner or gone walkabout."

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