Michael Burdon’s death has left two young boys presumed orphaned after police said it’s “extremely unlikely” German-born Tanja Ebert is still alive.
The newlywed was last seen on a family outing in Adelaide nine days ago with her 41-year-old husband and two young sons, aged three and one.
WATCH: CCTV of the last day Tanja Ebert was seen alive.
Mr Burdon claimed the 23-year-old had left the car after a row while driving the almost 400km home from Adelaide to their remote sheep station at Mannahill and never saw her again.
After police put in “an extreme amount of effort to find” the missing mum, they publicly revealed they believed her to be dead.
Mr Burdon shot himself just minutes later as crime detectives continued to search the property.
The couple’s children are safe and in the care of relatives.
Despite Ms Ebert not seen being since last Tuesday, she wasn’t reported missing until Thursday and it was by another unnamed individual.
The mum, who arrived in Australia in 2012, left her phone, bag, passport and driver’s licence in the car, along with, most tellingly, her two young boys.
Her friends told The Advertiser that she would never leave her sons without explanation and it made them increasingly concerned for her safety.
Detective Superintendent Des Bray said it would be “unfair” to label her husband as the suspect, but there were no signs of life from the young mother.
“We’re unable to find anything consistent with Tanja being alive — for example, no contact with friends, no Facebook posts, no expenses, no sightings that can be confirmed — and so our concerns increased,” he said.
“But common sense says — and I’m sure the husband understands a case like this when a person’s reported missing or in fact in any homicide — generally police will have a good look at the person that’s last with the person.
“The reason we do that is either [to] eliminate that person completely from the investigation or to incriminate them, but at the same time pursuing every other line of inquiry and considering every possibility.
“In the absence of anything to indicate that Tanja’s alive, we’re treating it as a murder investigation, but we’re hoping for a miracle that she’s walked through the door.”
An independent Police Commissioner’s Inquiry has begun into Mr Burdon’s suicide and police continue to search for Ms Ebert.