It was a council worker who made the discovery last week. A woman’s body dumped in a park in the affluent Sydney suburb of Hunter’s Hill. Beaten, hands bound. Wrapped in an orange blanket, and covered in leaves and bark.
It was seven days before we knew her name. Nicole Cartwright, aged 32.
How the Sydney woman, whom police have described as “well liked” and a “free spirit”, met such a tragic fate remains unclear. No arrests have been made. No suspects named. As NSW Police Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, told media: “Most homicides… once they go beyond a certain number of days, they become quite baffling.”
Here’s what we know so far.
The discovery of Nicole Cartwright’s body.
Roughly 7:30am on Wednesday October 3, NSW Police were called to Pittwater Road, Hunter’s Hill, after the body of a woman was found in Buffalo Creek Reserve.
She was dressed in a dark, hooded jacket, a black and white dress, long black pants, black boots and a purple collar.
It’s not clear precisely how long Nicole’s body had been there, but police say it’s likely it was dumped late the previous night or in the very early hours of Wednesday morning.
According to the ABC, drag marks stretching up to 30 metres were discovered nearby.
Detective Superintendent Cook said a cause of death is yet to be determined, but further forensic testing is due to take place over the coming days.
“But [Nicole] did suffer injuries, suffice to say they’re consistent with assault," he said, according to The Daily Telegraph, "she was bound, with hands in front of her body.”
Nicole Cartwright's last movements.
The last Nicole Cartwright's family heard from her was on Friday, September 28. A picture message, sent from the coastal suburb of Maroubra.
Though Nicole lived with her parents at Lansvale in Sydney's south west, NSW Police noted that she "had a wide circle of friends", and would often spend time in Sydney’s CBD, Eastern Suburbs and surrounds.
In the two days that followed, CCTV and OPAL Card travel logs seem to have captured her doing just that, circling the city via train and bus.
According to NSW Police, she travelled from Bondi Junction to St Marys early on Saturday September 29, and then via Strathfield, Central, Ashfield and then Museum Railway Stations the following afternoon and evening.
The last confirmed trace of her was when she exited Museum station in the CBD at roughly 9.15pm on Sunday - less than three days before her body was found.