Glaring question lingers over teen’s mysterious disappearance and death as cops probe disturbing TikToks she posted before going missing
- Locals and loved ones have demanded answers after body of missing teen found
- Tea Wright-Finger, 19, last seen October 16 near Richmond, outback Queensland
- Body was found 600m from Toyota Prado, just 5km from town she was last seen
- SES commander said he was ‘surprised’ aerial search hadn’t spotted the vehicle
- Ms Wright-Finger posted TikTok videos picturing her face bloodied and bruised
The discovery of Tea Wright-Finger’s body less than 5km from the remote Queensland town she vanished from has sparked plenty of questions as locals and police probe why the extensive weeks-long search failed to turn up the bright blue 4WD she was last seen in.
The 19-year-old cattle station worker was dropped off by a friend near Richmond, 500km west of Townsville, on October 16 before vanishing in a blue Toyota Prado.
A massive air and land search spanning thousands of kilometres was launched but was wound down nine days later after authorities failed to find any trace of the missing teen.
A breakthrough came on Thursday morning when a mustering helicopter spotted the Toyota just 5km from the town where she was last seen.
Hours later, search crews located the body of Ms Wright-Finger in dense bushland, just 600m from the vehicle.
The discovery has sent shockwaves through the small community of Richmond, where the 19-year-old’s father had travelled to join the search for his daughter.
Police are also probing a number of disturbing TikToks posted by Ms Wright-Finger before she vanished, showing her face bloodied and smeared with tears.
Hundreds of locals were involved in search efforts, including heartbroken local Patrick Miller, who remains suspicious the small town hasn’t heard the full story.
Tea Wright-Finger, 19, (pictured) had gone missing after she was dropped off by a friend near Richmond, 500km west of Townsville, Queensland, on October 16
In a TikTok video posted in the months leading up to her disappearance Ms Wright-Finger is emotional and sobbing uncontrollably with blood smeared over her face (pictured)
‘I’m absolutely shattered. It doesn’t make sense,’ Mr Miller told the ABC.
Other locals questioned how the 19-year-old’s body could be found just 5km from town several weeks after she went missing.
Richmond Mayor John Wharton questioned why the Local Disaster Management Group wasn’t called right away and why council wasn’t involved in the search.
‘I don’t know of too many … locals that were involved in the search apart from helicopter pilots, local contractors, local mustering contractors,’ he said.
‘You can’t beat local knowledge.’
Ms Wright-Finger was captured on CCTV wandering around a Richmond roadhouse on October 16 in the hours before she vanished
Tea’s mother said her daughter loved her job working on Richmond Downs Station (pictured)
Dramatic footage of the moment police located a blue Toyota Prado driven by the teen missing in the remote outback was released by police six weeks after Ms Wright-Finger vanished
The SES joined the search more than a week after the cattle station worker went missing, with over 100 volunteers joining the search efforts.
John Forde, the SES area controller for the northern region, said he had been surprised to hear the teenager’s body had been found so close to town.
He said ATVs, 4WDs, dirt bikes and people on horseback had braved the heat to search through the ‘very large, sparse area’.
‘But for the planes and helicopters, and the guys not to have seen [the car] in the initial search, is quite surprising,’ he said.
Friend Shenea Neill said Ms Wright-Finger had been a bubbly and outgoing girl who routinely checked in with her loved ones.
‘She was very welcoming with everyone she met, always tried her best to brighten everybody’s day,’ she told the ABC.
‘It just seemed odd that she had disappeared for so long without contacting friends or family, when she would always be one to check in with the people close to her.’
The body of Tea Wright-Finger, 19, was found on Thursday, six weeks after she vanished
The 2013 blue Toyota Prado (pictured) Ms Wright-Finger was last seen travelling in was found on Wednesday with her body located 600m from the vehicle the following day
Concern for the 19-year-old grew last month after a series of distressing TikTok videos she posted surfaced, with captions like ‘When it’s toxic, it’s toxic’.
In her final TikTok video – posted less than a fortnight before she went missing – she told followers: ‘I don’t feel so good, I want to go home.’
In another video posted in late 2021, she could be seen grief-stricken and emotional, sobbing uncontrollably with blood smeared over her nose, face and hand.
In the disturbing clip, the teenager showed her bloodied face and warned: ‘Always take risks in life, you never know when it’s going to end.’
It forms part of a montage of clips and selfies where Ms Wright-Finger shows her bashed-up face and later bruises as the wounds slowly heal.
Traci Wright (left) has spent the last six weeks desperate to find out what happened to her daughter (right) and has thanked the community for their support
The teenager posted a series of TikTok videos that gave a glimpse into her past including one where she revealed the ‘life lessons’ she had learnt in her 19 years (pictured)
Another of her final TikTok posts was on her 19th birthday where she detailed the lessons she had learnt so far in life.
That included the ominous warning that: ‘It’s okay to feel lost sometimes’.
‘Always take risks in life, you never know when it’s going to end,’ she says in the clip.
‘You always have to work hard to get what you want, no one is going to hand it to you. If people want you in their life, they will make time for you.’
The videos have since been inundated with comments from worried friends.
Ms Wright-Finger was working at Richmond Downs Station, where she loved her job, according to her mother Traci Wright.
If you need support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.
Tragic timeline of young cattle station worker:
October 4: Tea Wright-Finger posts a chilling final TikTok clip of herself and footage of an outback cattle station she described as home.
October 16: Ms Wright-Finger was dropped off by a friend near a 2013 blue Toyota Prado on the outskirts of Richmond, 500km west of Townsville. It would be last time she’s seen alive.
October 18-22: Police trace her mobile phone and discovered it was switched on briefly on the morning of Tuesday October 18 in the Flinders River area close to the Richmond township.
October 22: Queensland Police launch a large scale land and air search for Ms Wright-Finger spanning thousands of kilometres.
October 27: Police reveal the Toyota Prado had been stolen from Prosperine 700km away in two days before the teen disappeared.
October 30: The large scale land and air search for Ms Wright-Finger and the vehicle is scaled back.
November 16: Police ramp up the search again as they release fresh CCTV of Tea wandering around a Richmond Service station and paying for a bottle of juice hours before she vanished.
November 30: A mustering helicopter locates the abandoned Toyota Prado in remote bushland near Richmond
December 1: Search crews find Ms Wright-Finger’s body 600m from vehicle.