10 years on, Police dig for remains

POLICE are looking for the skeletal remains of a Dorrigo woman who went missing in suspicious circumstances 10 years ago.

Unsolved Homicide Team detectives yesterday began an extensive excavation of bushland on Bellingen's outskirts as part of the ongoing investigation into the death of Bernadette Donaldson, 46.

The search is expected to last a week.

Detectives are leading investigations into Strike Force Hoopeston, which was originally established by Coffs/Clarence police in June 1998.

Investigators believe Ms Donaldson had planned to fly to the Gold Coast on April 30, 1998, and was due to meet friends for a holiday.

However, police were contacted by a male boarder after he returned home to find Ms Donaldson's luggage still at her Dorrigo house.

It's understood Ms Donaldson never made her flight, and she has not been seen since.

This week's search follows a coronial investigation in 1999, with previous investigations locating a yellow Suzuki sedan at a Grafton home in May 1998. The car contained forensic evidence linked to Ms Donaldson.

“Strike Force Hoopeston detectives are working tirelessly to investigate this historic case,” Coffs/Clarence local area commander Superintendent Mark Holahan said.

“Detectives are following all lines of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Bernadette Donaldson and will continue to conduct inquiries into the matter.

“Strike force detectives are hopeful this search may lead to further developments into the case.”

It is understood Ms Donaldson's family had been contacted about the excavation.

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