End of search for Monika Billen


2601 Monika Billen 2Police have found a body believed to be that of missing German tourist Monika Billen, during aerial searches east of Alice Springs today.
Superintendent Pauline Vicary of the Alice Springs Division said police located the body 2.9kms west of Emily Gap off a track and under a tree at 3:15pm today.
She says: “Police received additional information from Ms Billen’s telecommunications provider and have continued with aerial searches in specific areas for the past two days.
“It has required extensive work, interpreting data from both international and national phone providers, but the outcome assisted in narrowing down the search parameters and eventually locating Ms Billen (online image).
“Members have worked tirelessly to locate the 62-year-old since she was reported missing to police on January 11,” says Supt Vicary.
“It is deeply upsetting that we have to tell her family this sad news, but we are relieved to be able to provide them with answers.
“I’d like to thank all Police, NT Emergency Services, Parks and Wildlife, and Council Rangers personnel who were heavily involved in the search.”
Police have contacted the family to advise them of the outcome and will now prepare a report for the Coroner.

Police release.

UPDATE January 17, 3:40pm
The Coroner has confirmed this afternoon that the body found is that of Monika Billen. The Alice Springs News staff conveys its most sincere condolences to her family and friends.


  1. My drone flying friends say that not finding Monika is a disgrace.
    Forget the old tech ground searches.
    Fly the latest high tech drones equipped with high-resolution cameras or video and analyse the results.
    She would have been found on day two after being reported missing.
    After an initial cost of perhaps $100,000 the drone system would pay for itself within a year and the tourist industry would be better off.

  2. RIP, Monika. Very sad indeed. Maybe the hotel could have alert or emergency beacons to lend or hire to the visitors (mobile phones do not have coverage most of the time outside of Alice), with hiking advice pinned on the room doors.

  3. New Tech (Posted January 17, 2019 at 8:38 am): The police announced early in the search that they were making very extensive use of drone technology.

  4. New Tech: As somebody who was out there reporting on the search, and also is a drone pilot for a living, you might do well to check your facts.
    You need the right tool for the job.
    The police drone was used in the town only, which is a much better option than running a Bell Jetranger back and forth at low level over suburbia.
    The helicopter however did a fantastic job sweeping back and forth on the range from Jessie Gap almost back to town. $100,000 drone system? You kidding?
    The police already use a perfectly adequate $2500 drone that is highly manouverable and captures both 4K video and high res stills.
    A more expensive system would make zero difference. The fact is, neither the helicopter nor drone were capable of spotting the body as it was under foliage.

  5. Not finding her sooner is certainly disappointing and frustrating, but hardly a disgrace given she had most likely succumbed to her situation well before the alarm was raised.
    One of the (many) limitations of operating drones is high temperature: I’ve had the iPad shut down on me mid flight due to overheating! The drone was fine, held it’s position until it received further instructions, luckily before it would have tried to land itself in thick mulga scrub!
    The secret to success of any search is to be searching in the right place, proved in this case by the use of mobile phone triangulation.
    No doubt this “tool” will be used again and often.
    But one “tool” the authorities have long foolishly discounted is experienced trackers, and they can “come in any colour”.
    Given the information they had on the 11th or 12th, she would have been located very quickly, and at far less cost and personal. It is indeed a disgrace that they once again have been left “in the shed”.

  6. Authorities hold no value in trackers anymore, instead apply urban techniques and methodology whether in a search or investigating bush crime scenes.
    At one time trackers were attached to every police post in the NT and played a key role in police work whether a search or crime scene.


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