Real Life

REAL LIFE: My daughter was raped and murdered in Mozambique

Police refused to do anything, so I took matters into my own hands.

By As told to Take 5

Paul Warren, 57, Seaford, Vic, shares his heartbreaking true life story;

As our sail boat skipped across the waves, my daughter Elly laughed with delight.
We both loved being out on the water sailing, fishing and diving.
I was so proud of her and my other daughter, Kristy.
Although my relationship with their mum Nicole didn't last, we all got on great.
It was just as well because Elly was gutsy and didn't hesitate to speak her mind.
She'd always stick up for the underdog and never backed down when she believed she was in the right.
After a trip to Africa with her mum when she was 17, Elly caught the travel bug.
She went back four more times before starting a marine biology degree at uni.
"I love Africa so much," she beamed. "One day, I want to live there and adopt orphans."
It was so typical of Elly to always want to make a difference.
At 20 years old, she decided to go on a six-week marine conservation trip to Mozambique, a developing country in south-east Africa.
"I'll get to see whale sharks," she said excitedly.
Me and Elly.
Her plans concerned me.
I knew Mozambique was still recovering from a civil war and tourism wasn't so developed there.
But Elly was insistent it would all be fine.
"I'm going with a good group of people," she said.
The brochure for her hotel in a town called Tofo looked nice.
Eventually, I relaxed enough to trust her judgement.
Kissing her goodbye, I watched Elly hop into the car with her boyfriend, Luke, who drove her to the airport.
"Love you," I choked.
We kept in touch regularly and I enjoyed seeing all her Facebook posts and messages.
Posing on the beach with a wide smile, it looked like she was having a great time.
Still, I missed her terribly.
Without Elly, the house seemed painfully quiet.
Elly had been to Africa a number of times and loved it.
Days before she was due to fly back, Kristy rang in hysterics.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Dad, Elly's been murdered," she sobbed.
My legs buckled. Surely this was all a mistake.
But after talking to Nicole, I learned that an Australian girl had been murdered in Mozambique and the hostel manager had identified the body as Elly's.
Even worse, it looked like she might have also been raped.
I felt my whole world spin: Elly wasn't just my daughter, she was my best friend and a real fighter.
Despite my intense grief, I wasn't going to rest until I found out who had done this and brought Elly the justice she deserved.
The autopsies found sand in her lungs.
She'd been suffocated, and it appeared someone had forced her head into the sand.
"I'm going over to bring her home," I said to Kristy.
Elly always stuck up for what was right.
Flying to South Africa with Luke and my sister, Annette, I broke down completely.
Back in Australia, hundreds of people turned up for her funeral.
We scattered her ashes on the water at her local beach in Mordialloc, Vic.
My mind was solely focused on finding the monster who'd taken my daughter's life, but weeks passed and there had been no progress or news from the Mozambique authorities.
Six months later, the police issued a report saying she had died of an overdose.
They believed she was high and had collapsed into the dirt and suffocated.
"That makes no sense whatsoever," I spat in disgust.
Everyone knew Elly had never touched drugs, and the autopsy had shown there was no evidence of any in her system.
After the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade pointed this out, the police changed their report and now claimed it was murder after all.
Any credibility I'd felt in the Mozambique Police had evaporated.
Trouble was, the Australian Federal police couldn't help because they had to go through an application process to be involved.
Things ground to a complete halt.
Thinking back to Elly's refusal to take no for an answer, I decided the only option was for me to investigate her death myself.
With a bodyguard and translator, I flew to Mozambique.
On a trip to Kenya - she really caught the travel bug.
Standing in the same spot where Elly's body was found really shook me.
My darling girl had died so far from home, defenceless.
But as I looked around and saw the hard-packed dirt, I thought back to the report that Elly had sand in her lungs.
I knew without doubt she'd been attacked or killed elsewhere before being dumped by the toilet block.
We were told by witnesses that her body had been discovered bent over in the Muslim Prayer position.
I put up posters all over town appealing for information.
Hours later, a man approached me.
"I've got a photo of Elly's body," a man said.
Seeing the image of my daughter, face down in the dirt, legs apart and underwear pulled down round her knees, brought me to tears.
"Do the police have this?" I asked the man.
"No," he replied.
If I could find this in six days, why couldn't they?
The pic showed Elly's back covered with black sand, which the authorities had said was different from the sand found in her lungs.
Further proof she'd been killed elsewhere.
But the most puzzling thing was that she was face-down, not in the prayer position.
I wondered if the police had deliberately repositioned her body because the murder of a western girl would hurt the local tourist industry.
Police over there are corrupt and even rob tourists themselves.
I won't give up.
I believe Elly was attacked on the beach and that robbery or rape was the motive.
Local police are my chief suspects.
Before I left, I put up a wooden memorial to my girl with photos on it.
Fly High, Swim Deep Elly, I wrote.
Now I'm calling on the Australian Government to put pressure on Mozambique to allow the AFP to help with the official investigation.
Because someone in Tofo knows who murdered my daughter and I won't stop until I find out who it is.
Elly and her mum Nicole.

Elly's mum, Nicole Cafarella, tells Take 5:

Since Paul got back from Africa, I've started a petition on change.org for the Prime MInister to take action on Elly's death.
Not a day goes by that she isn't in my thoughts.
My advice to other young travellers is to avoid dangerous areas and, no mattewr how travel-savvy you are, don't take risks.
While nothing will bring her back, I don't want this to happen to anyone else's child.
To show the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, that action must be taken for Elly, sign the family's petition HERE.

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