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Cold case of trio shot in Mount Isa bushland could be solved, detectives say

ABC News logo ABC News 23/03/2019 Lucy Murray

The mystery of who killed three friends in cold blood on a road trip in north-west Queensland 40 years ago is "solvable", detectives say, as they and the victims families launch a new appeal for information on the case.

The triple murder of Karen Edwards, Tim Thomson and Gordon Twaddle remains unsolved. © Provided by ABC News The triple murder of Karen Edwards, Tim Thomson and Gordon Twaddle remains unsolved. Karen Edwards, Tim Thomson and Gordon Twaddle were found shot dead at Spear Creek, 10 kilometres north of Mount Isa, in October, 1978.

A post-mortem examination showed all three died from a gunshot wound to the head fired from a .22 calibre rifle.

Gordon Twaddle's brother, John, said the trio were "cold bloodedly murdered".

"This horrible event has prayed on my mind for 40 years," he said.

"I feel that a result and conviction of the person [or persons] responsible for these murders would bring some peace of mind and form some closure, but it will never take away the pain of knowing how their lives ended far too soon in such a horrible way."

John Twaddle said they had a passion for motorcycles and had set out on a trip from Alice Springs to Mount Isa on October 2, 1978.

"Gordon, my brother, was not only my best friend but we had a common interest in motorcycling, which created a very strong bond between us," he said.

"It was that interest in motorcycling that found him in the wrong place at the wrong time."

They were riding a distinctive blue 1977 Suzuki GS750 and a red 1977 BMW 100S with a homemade side car, for their Doberman, Tristie.

Police said the sight of three friends and their dog travelling through the Northern Territory and Mount Isa would have been memorable and have urged anyone who saw them to come forward.

Officers said they are especially interested in a male motorcyclist who befriended the group at Frewena in Northern Territory, and travelled with them to Mount Isa.

The group planned to continue down to Melbourne for Christmas that year, but that never happened.

Tim Thomson's brother, David, said in a statement he nearly went along too.

"Tim invited me to go on the trip through the centre of Australia with him and Gordon and Karen but I was unable to go. [If I did] I would probably not be writing this letter," David Thomson said.

"My parents were shattered by the murders and I still feel a numbness that I don't think will ever disappear."

The two-tone Land Cruiser

Much of the original investigation focused on the male driver of a brown and white Toyota LandCruiser, which the three friends were last seen getting into at Moondarra Caravan Park, in Mount Isa, on October 5.

The group left their bikes and the dog behind at the campsite, but later that day police said the man in the LandCruiser returned looking for the dog.

The next day the campsite had been packed up, and the dog was found at the Mount Isa dump.

It was another two weeks before the bodies of Mr Twaddle, Mr Thomson and Ms Edwards were discovered, by a couple walking their dogs.

Police have never found the distinctive LandCruiser or the male driver.

Originally police believed the murders were linked to another unsolved murder in Western Australia, where the body of John Tzelaidis was found dead a few months earlier, also with a .22 calibre wound to the head.

But on Saturday police revealed they no longer believe the deaths are linked.

On top of the new appeal from the families, detectives have released photos of the trio and their bikes, in the hope anyone who saw them alive in early October, 1978 will come forward.

Police also want people who may have given evidence previously to reconnect with them.

A $250,000 reward remains in place for information which leads to the apprehension and conviction of a person responsible for the murders.

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