true crime

Eden Westbrook's death was ruled a suicide. Her family have another theory.

This story deals with the topic of suicide and may be confronting to some readers.

Eden Westbrook was just 15

In 2015, in the blissful coastal town of St Helens in Tasmania, her lifeless body was found by police in a local park. 

Word had quickly spread through the small community that Eden had died, her parents Jason and Amanda rushing to the scene. Police ruled that Eden had taken her own life and a three-page report by a coroner agreed.

But what really happened to Eden on the night she died continues to be questioned by those close to her. They don't believe she died by suicide. They believe that something far more sinister occurred.

Watch: Eden's parents speak about what they suspect was her murder, rather than her suicide. Post continues below.

Video via YouTube.

Eden has been described as someone who was sensitive and caring. She was a student in year 10, and consistently performed well. 

"Eden was academic, athletic, beautiful and kind. She never hesitated to try things," said her mum Amanda. 

On February 17, 2015, Eden was at home with her parents and siblings.


Eden and her parents had a disagreement about her using her mobile phone, a typical teenager argument. Eden's phone was taken off her as punishment, and she went to "cool off" by sitting in a vehicle outside her house. Jason and Amanda said in an affidavit their daughter was "angry and upset" by their decision.

At 8:45pm, one of Eden's siblings went outside to the vehicle to check on Eden. But she was no longer there. They searched their home and property but there was no sign of Eden. With anxiety levels rising, they searched the surrounding streets and central business district of their town St Helens. 

Eden was nowhere to be found. 

At 6:50am the following morning, a delivery driver saw Eden's body at Fisherman's Memorial Park. Her parents were soon notified and had to identify their little girl.

According to the coroner's report, there is no evidence available regarding how Eden ended up at the park, or the origin of the weapon she used to take her own life. 

There is evidence however that Eden was experiencing depression in the lead-up to her death. She had a previous history of self-harm and suicide attempts. Loved ones also said she had been experiencing bullying at school.

Jason argues however that the impression that Eden wanted to end her own life is "totally inaccurate" and that "at no stage did Eden try to take her life".

The coroner determined in her report: "I am satisfied that there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding Eden's death or that any other person was involved. Most tragically, it appears she saw no other solution to end her mental anguish."


Although police feel strongly about their determining in the case, Eden's parents don't feel the same.

They wish the investigation had been handled better. 

Eden Westbrook was just 15 years old when she died. Image: Supplied.

In 2023, the Westbrook family said they had correspondence with a man claiming that Eden had been murdered.

A family friend of Jason and Amanda, Sydney based lawyer and high-profile criminal barrister Peter Lavac, told media that a whistleblower had approached the couple saying he had been drinking with a friend and they had got talking on the topic of Eden.


The whistleblower said the man he was with confessed to murdering Eden and staging her death as a suicide. 

Lavac says he spoke to a Tasmania Police inspector and offered to make the whistleblower available for an interview. He says he rescinded the offer when the inspector refused to allow a lawyer to be present at the interview. 

Lavac has argued that Eden — who was 156cm and weighed a mere 45kg — was not physically strong enough to end her life in the way police described.

He told that important witnesses have not been interviewed, and that police have given conflicting accounts over whether Eden was seen arguing with an older woman in CCTV footage.

That CCTV footage is allegedly missing. 

Eden's mobile phone was never seized by police, and it was subsequently cremated with her body. If that phone held insight into her death at all, that information can never be recovered.

Jason and Amanda have also criticised the police's management of the death scene, with their daughter left uncovered in public view for hours after her body was discovered. 

The podcast, The Garden of Eden: The Eden Westbrook Story, has been listened to avidly by the public. It's sparked further conversations about what really happened to Eden.


In the podcast, Jason and Amanda say they were contacted in 2022 by a psychologist who passed on information that a man in a position of power was sexually grooming Eden and another underage girl.

Another witness allegedly claimed to them that Eden was the "victim of paedophile sexual abuse".

It's since been revealed that the senior policeman who oversaw Eden's death investigation was facing allegations that he was a paedophile.

The police officer, Paul Reynolds, died by suicide in 2018. An interim report found he used positions of authority to abuse children for three decades.

Responding to the revelation, Jason told The Mercury: "A report's as honest as the person that wrote it. And how honest is Senior Sergeant Paul Reynolds, given what we know about the disgraced police officer now? Anything that man put his name to should be re-investigated."

Tasmania Police has denied any wrongdoing in the investigation.

They told The Australian: "Subsequent allegations have been investigated and there is no evidence to substantiate them. There is no evidence to suggest Miss Westbrook was groomed by a person in a position of authority."

There's been setback after setback for Jason and Amanda. 

Tasmania's Chief Magistrate told the Westbrooks their request to reopen Eden's case was refused.

Tasmania's former Premier Peter Gutwein also refused the family's request for him to intervene in 2020, stating the police investigation had been "competently conducted". Former Tasmania Police Deputy Commissioner Scott Tilyard also denied any police wrongdoing in the investigation.


Jason and Amanda continue to advocate on their daughter's behalf though, hoping further investigations determine she didn't die from suicide.

"We've certainly polarised the community," Jason told The Australian. "There are people who believe in us, but won't show it. They don't want to be seen to be supporting us. But there is certainly a group that hates us with a passion."

The case is being covered in this week's episode of Under Investigation on Channel Nine. 

As part of the TV show's investigation, Australian journalist Liz Hayes travels to St Helens, to the scene where Eden died, to speak with witnesses and to meet with Eden's mother.

"The gravity of this tragedy was abundantly obvious. And while our focus is always to bring much needed light to unsolved criminal cases, our commitment also lies in championing justice and providing answers for loved ones," said Hayes. 

"It's a delicate balance between amplifying their voices while offering solace and hope."

In the meantime, Eden's family wait and hope that answers will finally come their way. 

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Supplied.