Murder charge: Oxley crime manager Chief Inspector Phil O’Reilly addresses the media in Tamworth on Tuesday following Troy Ruttley’s arrest. Photo: Geoff O’Neill Hunt for clues: Police divers searched several waterways near Bective in August for clues to the disappearance of Ms Morgan. Photo: Geoff O’Neill
Ms Morgan’s children and sisters made an emotional appeal for information to find their missing mother in August. Photo: Gareth Gardner/Northern Daily Leader
Detectives will allege a missing Tamworth mother-of-four who disappeared four months ago was murdered by her former partner in Tamworth.
Troy Jason Ruttley has been charged with the murder of 41-year-old Johann Morgan after he was arrested by Oxley detectives at a Yulong St home in Dubbo on Monday night, following a four-month probe by police.
Ruttley was handcuffed when he was led into the dock of Dubbo Local Court on Tuesday for an out-of-sessions bail hearing, but was not required to enter a plea to the single count of murder.
According to court documents, detectives will allege Ruttley murdered Ms Morgan in West Tamworth between August 8 and August 10, this year.
The 46-year-old, who was wearing a blue t-shirt, green track pants and thongs, made no application for bail and it was formally refused by the court registrar.
He will remain in custody and has been ordered to appear via video link in Tamworth Local Court in January.
Strike Force Chiltern was launched by Oxley detectives in mid-August after Ms Morgan was reported missing on August 16 – eight days after she was last seen in Cole Rd, near her home.
Despite the arrest, police admit they are no closer to finding Ms Morgan’s body.
“Since the report of Johann’s disappearance, we have not been able to locate Johann and I ask members of the community and also members of the family of the accused, on behalf of Johann’s family if they know of the location of Johann, we ask them to report that to Oxley detectives or Crime Stoppers,” Oxley Chief Inspector Phil O’Reilly said on Tuesday.
“There has been extensive investigations that have taken place by Strike Force Chiltern detectives, I commend them for their investigation for reaching this arrest phase.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, indeed, we still seek community assistance to enable us to locate Johann.”
It’s understood Ruttley moved from Tamworth to Walgett in recent months, but was traced to a Dubbo address and arrested about 7.20pm, before Ms Morgan’s family were told of the developments in the case. Several detectives remained in Dubbo on Tuesday as part of their investigations.
Two of Ms Morgan’s children took to Facebook, sharing stories news stories of the arrest and posting messages about their mother.
“There are not enough words I can say to describe just how important my mother was to me, and what a powerful influence she continues to be, Mother I love you,” Steven Morgan posted.
Fairfax understands several items – seized from three crime scenes in the murder probe including Ms Morgan’s Cole Rd home and another in Kenny Dr – are still being forensically examined for DNA evidence.
A white station wagon, which was connected to Ms Morgan, was declared a crime scene after it was dumped and torched on the Oxley Highway near Bective following her disappearance, still remains a focus for detectives.
“Around the 10th of August, a vehicle was found burnt out west of Tamworth and that vehicle formed part of that investigation,” Chief Inspector O’Reilly said, confirming no charges have been laid in connection to the vehicle.
Several searches of waterways and paddocks between Coledale and Bective involving police divers, sniffer dogs, Operation Support Group (OSG) and Target Action Group (TAG) officers, have failed to find any trace of the missing mother.
“At this stage we have no information that will assist us in locating Johann,” Chief Inspector O’Reilly said.
“Extensive investigations by Strike Force Chiltern detectives has included information from witnesses within our community and I thank them for that information, however, if anybody else has further investigation we ask them to contact Oxley detectives or Crime Stoppers.”
Northern Daily Leader
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