Police say there is no specific evidence to indicate deceased husband Michael Burton is responsible for his wife Tanja Ebert’s murder – but there are no other suspects.
Speaking at a press conference in Adelaide on Thursday morning, Detective Superintendent Des Bray said the search for Ms Ebert continued, but police were not hopeful of finding the 23-year-old mother alive.
Police from the Major Crime Investigation Branch will continue to make inquiries into the disappearance and suspected murder of the mother-of-two, who has not been seen since August 8.
Yesterday, Major Crime detectives and specialist police attended the couple’s property Oulnina Station at Mannahill and conducted a lengthy interview with Mr Burton in which there was no admission of guilt.
Yesterday, while police were at the property where she lived at Mannahill making inquiries, her husband, 41-year-old Michael Burdon, fatally shot himself.
The couple’s two boys, aged 1 and 3 were at Oulnina Station at the time, but were not harmed.
“Following the interview, police remained at the house in company of Michael and other family members to complete forensic examination and commence searches of the area, the house, vehicles and areas proximate to that,” Detective Superintendent Bray explained.
“Michael was not under arrest at the time and at this point in time, there is still no evidence to prove Michael is responsible for the murder, and we continue to work to prove who is responsible.
“During the course of the afternoon, police momentarily lost sight of Michael and very shortly after, heard a muffled gun shot.
“They commenced an immediate search calling out to him and a few minutes later, found him deceased a short distance from the home.”
The matter is now a commisioner’s inquiry and also a major coronial investigation, subject to independent investigation.
The last independent sighting of Tanja remains at 8pm on Tuesday, August 8, at the Adelaide Museum.
“Despite our best efforts we’ve still been unable to locate anything consistent with her being alive,” Detective Superintendent Bray said
He said investigation had indicated there were issues within the couple’s relationship which led police to believe Tanja was planning to leave the family home.
This would be explored further as part of the investigation.
We are investigating Michael and obviously Michael is a suspect given he was the last person with her, and we always have a very close look at (that person), Detective Superintendent Bray said.
“But there is no proof Michael is responsible and we can’t exclude there are other factors that come into play that may have contributed to his death.
“We’ll conduct a full and comprehensive investigation and do everything we can to find who’s responsible.”
Yesterday officials attached to the commissioner’s inquiry investigation team attended the property and their investigation took precedence.
Detective Superintendent Bray said he expected them to complete their enquiries at the property sometime today.
“At that point major crime will recommence investigations at the property and conduct searches today of the homestead, buildings and vehicles and continue with forensic examinations.
“At the same time detectives in Adelaide are conducting enquiries across the state in relation to information that’s come in since the publicity (yesterday) and we’ll be planning for an extensive search.”
He said they had spoken to both Ms Ebert and Mr Burton’s family.
“This is a tragic outcome that nobody wanted,” he said. “We’re committed to finding Tanja and will do everything we possibly can.”