Tragic end to Bluff Knoll search as body found in dense bush

Jessica Cuthbert, Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser

Search teams at Bluff Knoll have found a body believed to be that of missing Mandurah mother Lorjie Bautista.

Police issued a statement just after 6.30pm this evening, revealing a body had been found at the bottom of a steep incline in dense bush.

It was not close to any public trails.

“Search teams in the Bluff Knoll area have located a body whose identity is yet to be confirmed,” the spokesman said.

“The body is believed to be that of missing woman Lorjie Bautista.

“The body was located near the foot of a steep incline in a dense bush area, well away from public access trails.

“No further information will be provided this evening, police media will conduct a further release in the morning.”

Great Southern police acting superintendent Alex Ryan.
Camera IconGreat Southern police acting superintendent Alex Ryan.

The tragic discovery comes after it emerged earlier this afternoon that Mrs Bautista had recorded a video at Bluff Knoll last week.

Police has confirmed the footage was taken last Tuesday morning — the day Mrs Bautista was believed to have set out to climb Bluff Knoll.

Great Southern police acting superintendent Alex Ryan said they would use the footage to refocus their search area.

“Yesterday afternoon as a result of our ongoing investigation, WA police came into possession of some video footage from social media,” he said.

“The video is believed to have been taken by Lorjie Bautista on the morning of the 7th of May.

“We believe it was taken just below the north face of Bluff Knoll, at the base of the northern side, looking down towards the car park.”

SES volunteers were involved in the search for six days.
Camera IconSES volunteers were involved in the search for six days.

Search crews returned to Bluff Knoll at first light this morning to resume the massive search, a week after Mrs Bautista was thought to have embarked on her hike.

On Sunday, police called for information from anyone who walked the notoriously challenging hike known as the Stirling Ridge Walk between Tuesday and Thursday of last week.

The Ridge Walk connects a series of peaks from Ellen Peak in the east to Bluff Knoll in the west.

Trails are unmarked and it can take several days to complete. Australian mountaineer Patrick Hollingworth, who has reached the summit of Mt Everest, has used it as a final training hit-out before tackling the Himalayas.

A WA Police Tactical Response Group vertical rope team had joined State Emergency Service rope specialists in the search for Mrs Bautista, who had just turned 39.

Dozens of SES volunteers combed the area around Bluff Knoll, supported by helicopters, a drone and a tracker dog.

Her Mandurah-based family told police she was a fit woman who had wanted to climb Bluff Knoll.

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