EXCLUSIVE: Shock twist in backpacker cold case as alleged murderer’s SISTER and another tourist are revealed as German persons of interest for allegedly ‘LYING to police in cover up of smothering death’
- Toby Moran is awaiting trial on a charge of murdering Simone Strobel
- Police now seeking his sister Kathrin Suckfuell in connection to alleged murder
- Kathrin and Tobias Suckfuell were on holiday with Strobel in Lismore in 2005
- Tobias’ longtime ex-girlfriend’s body was found naked under palm fronds
- Heartfelt Lismore locals raised $6000 for Tobias’ plane fare back to Germany
- Tobias and Kathrin declined to attend 2007 inquest into Simone’s death
- Jens Martin told inquest he and Kathrin had lied to police about Simone
- Simone’s parents hoping arrest sheds light on their beloved daughter’s death
Wanted for questioning: German national Kathrin Suckfuell is being sought by police over the aftermath of the alleged murder 17 years ago of Simone Strobel, for which her brother Tobias Moran has been charged
The sister of an accused backpacker murderer is being sought for questioning in Germany over an alleged cover-up following the smothering death of Simone Strobel, 25, some 17 years ago.
In recent days, detectives revealed that they are seeking two persons of interest for questioning in Europe. Police Superintendent Scott Tanner said they ‘know who they are.’
‘It would be in their best interests to contact German authorities.’
Daily Mail Australia can reveal those two persons of interest are Kathrin Suckfuell – Tobias’s sister and a medical industry worker – and Jens Martin, a former friend of both siblings.
The German nationals, now aged in their 40s, are being investigated for possible charges of accessory after the fact of murder and perverting the course of justice, police said.
Police warned it is ‘in their best interests’ for the pair to come forward to authorities.
Pictures from the time: Above, Kathrin Suckfuell is seen with her brother Tobias (centre), carrying sunflowers to the vigil, which was held by Lismore locals near the crime scene where Simone Strobel’s body was found. This photo was taken six days after she argued with Tobias
One of the last photos of Simone Strobel (on right, in left picture) at Lismore which she told her parents was ‘so beautiful … a dream come true’ a day before Tobias Moran (right) allegedly smothered her to death
Tobias Suckfuell, 42, who plans to apply for bail next week, faces life in prison if convicted of the cold case killing.
Kathrin Suckfuell and Jens Martin were with Mr Moran and Ms Strobel the night she was last seen alive, at Lismore Tourist Caravan Park on the night of Friday, February 11, 2005.
The pair had joined Tobias and Simone – who had been dating for six years and were on the ‘trip of a lifetime’ backpacking around the world.
They were planning to spend a month with them touring Australia.
According to a subsequent coronial inquest into Ms Strobel’s death, the next morning, Tobias and Kathrin Suckfuell and Jens Martin packed up their van and tent and checked out of the caravan park.
At 10.45am, Tobias and Jens went to the Lismore Police Station and told officers Ms Strobel had left the campsite during the night after criticising Tobias and his sister over a family matter, and had not returned.
Five days later, on Thursday, February 17, 2005, an officer of the NSW Police Dog Unit found Ms Strobel’s naked and decomposing human body under palm fronds, pushed through the fence of a bocce court just 90 metres from the campsite.
Around 200 shocked Lismore locals held a candlelight vigil near the crime scene, attended by Tobias, his sister Kathrin – who brought along a large bunch of sunflowers – Jens Martin and other foreign backpackers.
Tobias (centre) along with his sister Kathrin Suckfuell (second right) at the vigil near the crime scene where Simone Strobel’s body was found, with Mr Moran later slamming local police for being ‘kindergarten cops’
Simone Strobel (above, second left, on CCTV) outside Lismore’s Gollan Hotel with Tobias, his sister Kathrin Suckfuell and Jens Martin after the four German backpackers had been ejected from the premises
The van and tent where the Suckfuell siblings and Simone Strobel and Jens Martin were staying before Ms Strobel disappeared and the other three packed up and reported her missing
The local council held a fundraising campaign which raised $6000 to pay for Tobias Suckfuell’s plane ticket home.
The town’s local paper quoted Tobias Suckfuell calling police ‘kindergarten cops’ for the almost week-long delay in finding Ms Strobel’s body.
He also accused them of ‘not taking him seriously’ when he reported her missing.
Both Tobias and Kathrin Suckfuell declined to attend Ms Strobel’s 2007 inquest before then deputy state coroner Paul MacMahon. Jens Martin did and was a key witness.
At the inquest, Mr Martin alleged he, Kathrin and Tobias had lied to police about their activities the night Simone disappeared and about the direction she went when she walked away from their campsite.
Mr Martin told the inquest through an interpreter: ‘I don’t know who killed Simone. It’s possible Tobias may have had something to do with it … it’s not my job.’
But he claimed he had lied to Lismore police at Tobias Suckfuell’s request because he had been smoking cannabis the night before, which he knew was illegal, and because Mr Suckfuell had told him he didn’t want to be a suspect.
Toby Moran (above when he was Tobias Suckfuell with then girlfriend Simone Strobel) has been charged with her 2005 murder in Lismore and extradited from Perth to Sydney
Toby Moran is let out of a police van at Maroubra station on Wednesday to be charged with murder after his extradition from Perth where he has been living for more than a decade
The Facebook page of Kathrin Suckfuell in 2011, when she was travelling around the world including to the east coast of Australia where enjoyed drinking and shopping in Noosa
He also claimed Simone and and Tobias’ relationship had been deteriorating during their time in Australia where Tobias had been smoking cannabis heavily and was becoming increasingly aggressive and controlling.
On the night of Simone’s disappearance, the disagreement between the couple had even Kathrin in tears, the inquest heard.
Mr Martin disclosed that Tobias and Kathrin visited his home in Germany to ask the about his testimony to the German police following the incident.
The inquest found Simone Strobel and her three German travelling companions were drinking at the Gollan Hotel in Lismore the night she disappeared.
At 11pm, the bar manager told the group to leave the hotel because of their state of intoxication, and their departure was captured on CCTV as they returned to the caravan park and continued drinking.
Following Mr Martin’s evidence, state coroner Paul McMahon personally wrote to the Suckfuell siblings, informing them of the serious allegations that had been made and again inviting them to return to Australia, at no cost, to provide their version of events at the inquest.
Tobias Suckfuell, now named Tobias Moran (above) jet-setted around the world to surfing spots in Bali and Mexico before settling in down in Perth with his wealthy wife Samantha
The former Tobias Suckfuell, has been living under his new name Toby Moran with wealthy lawyer and yoga instructor wife Samantha Moran (pictured above) in the elite Perth suburb of City Beach for more than a decade
Kathrin Suckfuell, who worked as a medical assistant in Hammelberg, Germany, has since returned to Australia as a tourist.
An enthusiastic traveller, Ms Suckfuell toured Australia’s east coast in 2011 as part of a world tour to Mexico, the US, Japan and New Zealand.
She posted on Facebook at the time about shopping for ‘Rip Curl, Billabong and Roxy’ and enjoying ‘Goon night in Noosa’.
Meanwhile, her brother Tobias also travelled the world, jet-setting to surfing spots beaches in Bali and Mexico.
While in a remote beach in South Africa, he met Samantha Moran, the daughter of wealthy Perth dentist John Moran.
Tobias Moran and Ms Moran were married in 2012 at his family’s farmhouse in Altbessingen, Germany, 30km from the Wurzburg home of Ms Strobel’s grieving parents.
Gustl and Gabi Strobel revealed this week that just one day before their beloved daughter’s death, she had told them from Lismore that ‘it’s so beautiful here, this is a dream come true’.
The Strobels told The West Australian on Thursday they hoped Tobias Moran’s arrest would finally shed light on what really happened to their daughter.
Speaking from his home in Germany, Mr Strobel said he, his wife, and their children Alexander and Christina were ‘tense with hope’ after Tobias Moran was arrested and now awaits trial.
Toby Moran is handcuffed and led away from his wealthy wife’s multi-million dollar Perth beach shack for extradition to Sydney where he will face court on Thursday charged with murder
Toby Moran (above with wealthy wife Samantha) has been living the high life in a luxury beach shack owned by his wealthy dentist father-in-law in the elite Perth suburb of City Beach
The grieving parents of Simone Strobel (left) in Bavaria have been seeking answers for years since her 2005 alleged murder after last being seen on CCTV (right) six days before her naked decomposing body was found pushed through a fence near the Suckfuell siblings’ campsite
For the last 17 years, the Strobel family have endured ‘agonising uncertainty’ while Tobias Friedrich Suckfuell – aka Toby Moran – has led a charmed existence as the blond-haired surfer married to a wealthy lawyer and enjoying a life of luxury.
That was until Mr Moran was dramatically arrested on Tuesday in Perth, handcuffed and flown to Sydney where he was formally charged with murder and refused bail.
WA Police footage shows detectives arresting Mr Moran outside his home in exclusive City Beach, Perth, and NSW Police footage shows him arriving i Sydney and being placed into a police van.
Mr Moran had been living with his pregnant wife Samantha, their two young children and pet dog Mango in a modest-looking multi-million dollar fibro house in a Perth street of mostly high-end rebuilds in elite City Beach.
The house is owned by Ms Moran’s wealthy parents, who live in the same suburb where he has been a house husband and part-time builder.
He has never previously been charged over the murder of Ms Strobel, a kindergarten teacher.
Ms Strobel’s mysterious death also became the subject of a book, Have You Seen Simone? written by Virginia Peters.
As Mr Moran was led off in handcuffs to be extradited and face a Sydney court charged with murder, his wife Samantha (above, the couple together) is preparing to give birth to their third child in Perth
Simone Strobel (above in the same outfit she was last seen wearing on CCTV) was found decomposing and covered in palm fronds, pushed through the fence of a bocce court 90m from the caravan park where she and Mr Moran had been camping with his sister Kathrin
The fibro house owned by Samantha Moran’s family is in a street of multi-million dollar knockdowns in the same suburb as her wealthy parents, John and Sandy
In 2014, Mr Moran took out an injunction to prevent its publication, and then launched a defamation suit against Ms Peters and Schwarz Publishing, but dropped the lawsuit in 2017.
However, during the defamation suit’s process called discovery, the defence applied for the release of papers called ‘the 100-page Document’.
In 2017, Mr Moran applied to block these documents on the grounds they were the subject of legal professional privilege and included notes written by himself and Samantha in South Africa which allegedly discuss the circumstances of Ms Strobel’s death.
The West Australian newspaper has previously reported Ms Moran said the couple was looking forward to commenting on the Ms Strobel’s case in the future, but would not speak publicly before then.
SIMONE STROBEL TRAGEDY
Simeone Strobel and Toby Moran – then known as Tobias Suckfuell – arrived in Australia for a one-year working holiday in August 2004, and travelled along the east coast.
Tobias’s sister Kathrin and Jens Martin arrived on Australia Day 2005 to join the couple for a month.
On February 11, the four young Germans arrived at Lismore Tourist Caravan Park, and adjourned to the Gollan Hotel for a drinking session.
Tensions erupted between Tobias and Simone, who argued at the campsite, after which Simone disappeared.
The next day, Jens and Kathrin began to look for Simone.
On February 13, the three checked out of the caravan park before reporting Simone’s disappearance to police.
Four days later, on February 17, 2005, a police dog handler discovered Simone’s body hidden in the grounds of the Lismore Continental Club’s bocce courts.
The three travellers laid flowers at a makeshift memorial in the club grounds with Ms Strobel’s brother who had flown out from Germany.
Both Suckfuell siblings and Jens Martin returned to Germany, but only Mr Martin flew back to Lismore for the 2007 inquest.
Toby and Samantha met in South Africa after he left Australia following Simone’s alleged murder and have lived a comfortable life with the help of her rich Perth family
Simone Strobel and Tobias Suckfuell (right) are seen on CCTV leaving Lismore’s Gollan hotel on February 11, 2005 when it is said the couple argued over tensions in their relationship
Photo of Tobias and Simone during their backpacker holiday in Australia which has been signed by him with a romantic message to his then girlfriend of more than six years
Tobias Suckfuell (above) in a NSW Police interview following the discovery of his then girlfriend’s body pushed through a fence near their campsite in Lismore
Toby and Samantha (above) are expecting their third child just as he has been extradited from Perth to NSW to face charges of murdering his ex-girlfriend in a Lismore caravan park in 2005
NSW Police told the inquest they believed Ms Strobel had been killed by smothering, most likely with a pillow.
In 2020, the NSW government offered a $1 million reward for information over the homicide.
Mr Moran will face Sydney’s Downing Centre local court to apply for bail next week where his lawyers are expected to cite his ties with his wife’s family, two children and impending birth of his third child.
Police prosecutors are expected to oppose the bail application on the grounds that Mr Moran left Australia after Ms Strobel’s death and declined to attend her 2007 inquest.