SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian police investigating the disappearance of a U.S. woman said on Saturday they fear she has been killed and began digging up the front garden of her Brisbane home.
Police also said they had taken in for questioning the woman’s partner, who she lived with, and searched his car.
Priscilla Brooten, 46, a keen computer gamer from California, was last seen in the Brisbane suburb of Bracken Ridge in July last year but was not reported missing until December.
“We share the fear of Ms Brooten’s family and friends and have reason to believe she may have met with foul play,” said Detective Senior Sergeant Michael Hogan in a statement.
Her car, a blue Volkswagen Golf hatchback was found abandoned in Scarborough, about 35 km (22 miles) north of Brisbane, on July 6 last year.
Homicide detectives appealed to online gamers for help, as Ms Brooten might have told friends in chat groups of fears for her safety.
“Often these people may not have known that she has been reported as missing,” Hogan told a televised press conference. “Any contact that they have had with Mrs Brooten could assist the investigation.”
Police said the missing woman had lived in Brisbane for six years and was outgoing and friendly, enjoying yoga and Zumba.
Ms Brooten has a daughter and mother in California.
Reporting by Alison Bevege; editing by Richard Pullin