The family of a grandmother who mysteriously disappeared more than a month ago has revealed that her body has been discovered several miles from her abandoned car.
Colleen South, 58, drove her Hyundai Getz from her home in Renown Park SA across the Victorian border on July 1 and was stopped on the side of the Calder Highway on July 2 before disappearing the next day.
After weeks of holding out hope and searching the area and small town near the vehicle, her devastated loved ones made the news on Monday night.
‘I don’t know how to write this. We are heartbroken and in shock,” a family member posted to a Facebook group dedicated to finding her called Bring Colleen South Home.
Colleen’s body was unfortunately found tonight in a paddock 3 miles from where her car was found.
“We don’t have answers to what happened yet, but we’ll update you as soon as we have.”
The family, including Mrs. South’s daughter, Veronica, then expressed their gratitude for the wave of support they have received over the past five weeks.
“Fly high out angel,” they wrote.
Veronica South (pictured right with her mom Colleen) insists her mom’s disappearance is out of character and should be treated as suspicious
Ms South’s niece actress Farah Mak made a public appeal for information about Mr South (pictured)
Victoria Police confirmed that a farmer discovered the body around 4 p.m. Monday.
They added that they were on the scene and their investigation is ongoing.
Mary Headon, who saw Ms South’s car parked by the side of the highway on July 2 and stopped to check on the grandmother, said she looked ill.
“When we got back, she was just lying in the car with her head back. She looked very tired or a little sick, I thought, her eyes were very glassy,” Mary Headon told A Current Affair.
The next day, a farmer saw the vehicle driving along the nearby Jeruk River Road around 3:30 p.m.
But later that evening, on July 3, her car was found abandoned in a ditch near Bunguluke, about 345 miles from her home in the suburbs of Adelaide.
Her family was desperate for answers and is calling on the police to treat the case as suspicious.
Veronica messaged her mom on TV a few weeks ago to tell her they’re “not giving up” to find her (pictured with her aunt and Ms. South’s sister)
None of the surrounding farmers or any of the 600 people in the nearby town of Wycheproof had seen or heard of Mrs. South.
Her belongings, including a bag and diary, were found yards from her car, where the airbags had deployed, but her cell phone was not found.
About 10 concerned relatives visited Wycheproof as the family searched for clues themselves.
About 40 specialized officers participated in the search involving mounted horses, motorcycles and sniffer dogs.
A relative of Ms South previously claimed that her uncle had “found used shotgun shells on the spot”, but detectives “did not follow up on this and made no mention of it”.
Though she was “out of character,” Victoria police said they did not consider the grandmother’s disappearance suspicious.
Medication found by Veronica South and her friends in the area where her mother disappeared
It’s been almost five weeks since Colleen South (pictured) drove off on her own
Ms South actress niece Farah Mak previously took to social media to criticize the Victoria Police over allegations it had botched the investigation.
“My cousin found footprints and a lit fire nearby – @victoriapolice said no footprints were found,” she wrote.
‘Photos taken by @victoriapolice show tire trucks from a vehicle next to my aunt’s personal belongings where she would have been – not a crime scene investigation. My cousin and her friends were told ‘this could have been anything’.’
Victoria Police has previously issued a statement denying the family’s claims that Ms South may have been the victim of a crime.
Ms South was last seen by a witness in her Hyundai Getz (pictured) on July 3. The car was found abandoned an hour later
Ms South’s personal items, including bags and keys, were found 20 yards from her car
It also hit back at claims that proper research had not been conducted.
“The Victoria Police Department began an extensive search of the area’s dense undergrowth, searching Air Wing and Drone, along with Mounted Branch, Canine Unit, foot and in-vehicle officers along with SES,” the statement read.
‘Local farmers have also been asked to check buildings and barns for their properties.’
The detectives claim that the only fears they harbor for Ms. South stem from a known medical condition and that her “disappearance is not for her.”
Her diary found in her abandoned belongings contained a handwritten note with the words ‘help me please’.
Veronica recently told Daily Mail Australia that she had made the five and a half hour journey from Adelaide at least three times in the past week to conduct her own searches in Wycheproof.
She finds her mother’s disappearance suspicious because her belongings have been left with the car door locked.
“There is no trace of my mother, no footprints where she has walked, and no smell of the dogs,” she said.
A distressing note asking for help was found in Mrs South’s diary near her abandoned car
“We hope we get action and results from the Victoria Police Department by treating this as a crime and investigating accordingly to find Colleen as soon as possible,” Ms South’s niece Farah Mak (pictured) told Daily Mail Australia .