We need to remember Toyah Cordingley.
The vibrant 24-year-old, a foster carer for cats and dogs, was murdered on October 21, on a beautiful but quiet stretch of beach near Cairns.
Far from the big cities down south, Toyah’s death didn’t initially get as much coverage as the deaths of Melbourne’s Eurydice Dixon or Jill Meagher. Perhaps it all seemed too distant. Perhaps there weren’t enough details available at first.
But this “beautiful soul”, so full of love for animals and other people, needs to have her story told. She needs to be remembered.
Toyah’s mother, Vanessa Gardiner, says she was “full of life” from the day she was born. She loved animals from a young age. She also loved everything to do with Harry Potter.
In Port Douglas, Toyah worked at the Paws and Claws Refuge and Boarding Centre.
“She had a way with animals, even the most loud, vicious animals – she could calm them in minutes,” local councillor Michael Kerr said in the Brisbane Times.
Later, Toyah moved to Cairns, where she got a job at a pharmacy. She had a boyfriend, Marco Heidenreich, who shared her love of animals.
Sunday, October 21, should have been just like any other Sunday for Toyah. Around midday, she went to Rusty’s Market in Cairns. Her image was captured in CCTV footage as she crossed a road afterwards. She was wearing a crocheted singlet top, carrying a colourful striped bag.
Later that afternoon, Toyah drove 40km to Wangetti Beach, along with a much-loved dog. She left her Mitsubishi Lancer, with the registration plate “TOY 146” in the car park, and went for a walk on the sand. It was between 2pm and 2.30pm.
Sometime after that, on Wangetti Beach, Toyah was killed.
Later that day, her boyfriend began telling people she was missing. Her mum, Vanessa Gardiner, heard the news, and immediately started searching on Wangetti Beach, along with her son Jack and Toyah’s father Troy. They searched through the night with torches. They found the dog Toyah had been walking, tied up.
When Vanessa’s phone battery went flat, she and Jack went home. There, they found police and SES. Jack took police back to the beach where they’d found the dog, and it was then that Toyah’s father discovered her body, in the sand dunes, marred with what police describe as “visible, violent” injuries.
“Troy had discovered Toyah not long after Jack arrived with the officer,” Vanessa later said in a statement released through police.