Search teams find body near Bluff Knoll feared to be missing mother Lorjie Bautista

Jessica Cuthbert, Saskia Adysti and Sarah StegerThe West Australian
Police and search teams fear the body is that of Lorjie Bautista, a Mandurah mother who went missing more than a week ago.
Camera IconPolice and search teams fear the body is that of Lorjie Bautista, a Mandurah mother who went missing more than a week ago.

A body believed to be that of missing WA woman Lorjie Bautista has been found.

Search teams in the Bluff Knoll area tonight found the body near the foot of a steep bushy incline, well away from public walking trails.

The identity of the body has yet to be confirmed, however, it is believed to be that of 39-year-old Lorjie Bautista, a Mandurah woman who went missing more than a week ago.

Ms Bautista was last seen near Bluff Knoll, believed to be on her way towards the the notoriously challenging hike known as the Stirling Ridge Walk.

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.

Since her disappearance on May 7, the mother could have spent seven nights without shelter and exposed to the elements.

This morning police confirmed a video found by officers on social media confirmed Ms Bautista had been at Bluff Knoll last Tuesday morning.

“The video is believed to have been taken by Lorjie Bautista on the morning of the 7th of May," Great Southern police acting superintendent Alex Ryan said.

“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.”

In the past five days, dozens of police officers, SES volunteers and Parks and Wildlife officers have been bolstered in their search efforts by helicopters, a drone and a tracker dog while a WA Police Tactical Response Group vertical rope team today joined State Emergency Service rope specialists in the search.

The family of Ms Bautista, who turned 39 on Sunday, told police she was a fit woman who had wanted to climb Bluff Knoll.

Police say Mrs Bautista’s husband, Anand, contacted Stirling Ranges Retreat on Thursday concerned about her whereabouts, but she had already checked out at 4am.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and the WA Police Force advise that the Bluff Knoll Road, carpark and walking trail will remain closed until further notice.

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