UPDATE: Man charged over murder of Renee Mitchell

Man charged over murder of Renee Mitchell Picture: Phil Hearne
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Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

Picture: Phil Hearne

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12345678910 – A MANhas been charged with murder after the body of 38-year-oldRenee Mitchellwas found in Bangalay Reserve, Windale, on Wednesday.

Following investigations, police from Lake Macquarie Local Area Command stopped a vehicle on Mile Road at Cardiff.The driver was arrested and the vehicle seized for forensic examination.

He was taken to Charlestown police station and charged with murder.The a 66-year-old Windale man was refused bail and will appear in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday.

Renee Mitchell’s body was found on Wednesday morning at the Croudace Road entrance to the Bangalay Reserve.

INITIAL REPORT:AGED care worker Renee Mitchell was cooking for her family when she was allegedly taken from her own kitchen and brutally attacked before her body was left in a park less than a kilometre from the family home.

Her frantic family suspected something was wrong when she suddenly vanished and failed to return for work.

They searched the streets throughout Windale for several hours on Tuesday night and reported her missing to police before a bushwalker stumbled across her body early on Wednesday.

Aged in her 30s, she had been savagely attacked before her body was left uncovered on grass next to a small car park at the Croudace Road entrance to the 12-hectare Bangalay Reserve.

Still wearing the satin boxer shorts and shirt she was wearing while preparing tea, the body was covered in blood.

Within five hours of the discovery, a 66-year-old man known to the Mitchell family was arrested in his car at Cardiff and taken to Charlestown police station where he was expected to be charged on Wednesday night.

Lake Macquarie detectives, along with the Sydney-based homicide squad, were investigating motives for the attack.

Mrs Mitchell is believed to have once helped care for the suspect’s ageing father.

Family friend Dylan Grainger was at the family’s Lachlan Street home on Tuesday night and had followed a relative outside to help fix his motorbike while Mrs Mitchell was cooking. ‘‘Next thing we know we went inside and she was just gone,’’ he said.

‘‘She was lovely. She did anything she could do to help anyone out.

‘‘She was the most loveliest lady I have ever met.

‘‘She worked at a nursing home and she loved it, loved working with old people.

‘‘I don’t understand how anyone could hurt her.’’

It is understood her disappearance prompted the family to report her missing on Tuesday night, with police taking down a description and circulating a photograph.

It was about 6.30am when a walker came across the body, which was less than 40 metres from the busy Croudace Road and only metres from a car park and picnic seats.

Neighbours say the park is frequented by walkers, couples, schoolchildren and cyclists as well as some with more sinister motives.

‘‘We didn’t hear a thing until police knocked on our door about 7am,’’ neighbour Suzan Aslin said.

‘‘There is a real range of people using the place from people having lunch to people on bikes to people keeping fit.’’

A crime scene was established and forensic experts spent most of the day at the site.

Lake Macquarie duty officer Inspector Steve Gallagher said it was too early to speculate whether the alleged attack occurred in the park or whether the body was dumped.

Only a few hundred metres away down Lake Road, police set up a crime scene at the suspect’s unit.

Lake Road resident Adrienne Hawkins said there was never trouble along Lake Road.

‘‘Everyone goes to bed with the chooks, nothing normally happens after 5pm,’’ Mrs Hawkins said.

‘‘It has come as a bit of a shock, no trouble here whatsoever. No fights. Nothing.’’

A third crime scene was also established at the family home.

As police worked to search the crime scenes, police stopped the 66-year-old man in Myall Road at Cardiff.

He was taken to Charlestown police station while his vehicle was seized for forensic examination.

Mrs Mitchell’s husband, Dale, and the rest of the family were being cared for by relatives.