True Crime Society – Australian woman Elly Warren – murdered in Mozambique?


Elly Warren was a 20 year old Australian woman who was murdered in Mozambique in 2016.  An inquest into her death has just been held.

Elly was born and raised in Mordialloc in Victoria, Australia.  She attended Parkdale Secondary College.  She had plans to study Marine Biology at James Cook University.

Her stepfather David Cafarella said “She was off to New Zealand when she got back and then to James Cook University to begin her studies to become a marine biologist, her great passion and what she wanted to do with her life more than anything.”

Elly has been described by a friend as “outgoing, loud and curious about everything”.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Elly had traveled to Africa and had completed a six-week stint as a volunteer with eco-education company Africa Underwater.  During this time, she had been diving alongside marine scientists, looking at reefs in the area.

“Any chance Elly got to don a wetsuit and jump in the cage with the white sharks she was there – enthusiastic and ready- even if the water was cold and visibility bad,” marine biologist Alison said.

“She was so excited to head to Mozambique and meet the mantas and whale sharks.

“The last contact I had from Elly was a messenger post gushing with excitement to tell me about how beautiful Mozambique was and how happy she was to be there.”

Elly had been staying for the bulk of her trip in a bungalow that was a part of Casa Barry, a popular diving resort.

I believe that she had a few days left of her trip before she was due to head back to Australia.  She was staying at Mozambique’s popular Tofo Beach, a magnet for divers, surfers and backpackers, known for its lively nightlife and dotted with backpackers hostels, beach bars and restaurants.

On Tuesday November 8, 2016, Elly checked into Wuyani Pariango backpackers hostel on Tuesday, where she left some of her belongings.  This is the most widely accepted report of her movements, however some articles do say that according to the hostel manager, she never checked in there.

Later that night, Elly and some friends went out to celebrate the end of the program they had completed.

Elly’s friend Jade O’Shea has recounted the events of that night.

‘She said the group had been at a local bar the evening Elly was killed, before heading back to one of their houses to enjoy some wine.

Elly disliked wine and told the others she wanted to return to the bar.  It seems like she did this and left the rest of the group/

Jade said that Elly looked “normal” when the group later caught up with her.  Jade said that Elly saw them arrive at the bar at 11pm.  Elly said she would grab a beer and join them.  

This was the last time that Elly’s friends saw her.   She didn’t come back with a beer.

“We assumed she went home to the hostel,” Jade said.

A security guard was one of the last people to see her alive at about 2.30am

Before Jade left the bar, she used a public bathroom that was around 20 metres from the bar and she didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

A few hours later, on Wednesday November 9 at 5am, Elly’s body was found near the toilet block that Jade used hours earlier.

After her death, there were many varying and inconsistent reports.  Some said that Elly had been found with her underwear around her knees.

But, Inhambane police spokesman Detective Juma Dauto said: “It looks like a sudden death” and “we are in doubt as to what could have happened.” He went on: “She didn’t have a scratch, didn’t have a bruise on her indicating there was violence or rape. I guarantee it. I have total confidence she was not raped. The community here is shocked, this has never happened. Everybody wants to know what happened.”

The same detective said witnesses saw Elly go into the toilet block “20 or 30 minutes” before a group of fishermen found her body.

Eyewitnesses told the media at the time that Elly’s body did not show exterior signs of violence.​

However, despite this, right after Elly died, her family received  “Australian government information — from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Australian high commission in South Africa — suggesting she was found on the beach, raped and murdered.”

Mozambique authorities said their preliminary report found Elly had collapsed face down and died of asphyxiation.

An autopsy directed by Johannesburg pathologist Dr Patricia Klepp found no signs of rape or sexual assault.

News Corp have reported the autopsy found sand in Elly’s lungs, a full bladder and no trace of drugs.

Elly’s father Paul confirmed that the autopsy showed bruising and abrasions around his daughter’s mouth and a large amount of sand in her left and right bronchi, which he believes is consistent with being held down.

“I total [sic] agree with the autopsy from South Africa/Johannesburg,” her father posted on Facebook.

“As much as it pains me to say this, Elly died a violent death.”

The first formal police report was handed down 6 months after Elly died.  Despite no forensic evidence of drugs in her system, the report stated that she died from a drug overdose.

Elly’s father believes there has been a police coverup regarding his daughter’s death.

“Forget about the authorities. If you want to get something done, you’ve got to do it yourself.

Her mother launched a petition on asking Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for help in the investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death. The petition read in part: “We ask Scott Morrison as Prime Minister of Australia to intervene in this case to put pressure on the Mozambique government to allow Australia to provide an investigation team to work with the Mozambique police to solve Elly’s murder and give her some justice.”

There is the issue of jurisdiction when a crime happens to a foreigner in a different country.  Australian police sent Mozambique authorities emails and letters offering their assistance with the criminal investigation, but they did not respond.

Australian Federal Police Commander of International Engagement Andrew Smith said “We can’t just go into another country and start doing our own investigation.”

“Without the full co-operation and support from law enforcement in the country, the role that we can play is very limited,” he said.

Elly’s body was sent home to Australia where a third autopsy was conducted by Dr Matthew Lynch.  No clear conclusion was reached during his autopsy. 

In early 2023, Australian Federal Police traveled to Mozambique.  In August, Elly’s dad gave an update.

“They have suspects,” he told 9News.

“We’re hopeful now, we’re probably more hopeful than we’ve ever been that somebody might be charged.”

In August 2023, a coronial inquest was held into Elly’s death.

“Since she was taken from us, over seven years ago, the family has felt we have had our backs against the wall,” her father Paul said.

“We have felt we have had little support from the Australian government and the AFP.”

“Elly was a proud young Australian citizen,” he said.

“She deserved a far more diligent and professional level of commitment.”

Elly’s dad also spoke outside the coroner’s court and said that he believed his daughter had been murdered elsewhere and moved to the location where her body was found.

Paul said “there’s no way” thick sand could have reached that deep into her lungs.

“She was definitely murdered down the main beach and her body was moved to that area,” he said.

“Now I think it’s to sort of throw everybody off track and to cast doubt.”

Elly’s mother, Nicole Cafarella, told the inquest she thought about her daughter every day.

“I miss her today, tomorrow and I’ll miss her for the rest of her life,” she said.

We are still waiting for the outcome of the coronial inquest to be made public, this might take awhile so we will update you once the information is available.

An academic named Associate Professor Kennedy fears there will be little progress in the case.

“The Homicide ruling is nothing and the inquest will not be anything substantial. I doubt anyone will ever be charged. If that was going to occur, it would have happened by now,” he says.

“It is an international dilemma and a jurisdictional dilemma that simply cannot be resolved.”

Associate Professor Kennedy urged Australians to understand the potential consequences when they visit “exotic locations that are cheap and exciting to live in”.

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