Toyah Cordingley: brutally murdered on Australian beach

Toyah Cordingley was a young girl, much loved by her friends and family. She was going on with her life as usual, until one day, at the age of 24, she was the victim of a murder full of mysteries.

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Toyah was 24 years old at the time of the case, born on June 14, 1994, she was a young woman living in Woree, southeastern Australia. Her parents, Troy and Vanessa were separated, but they had a good coexistence and were very present in the girl’s life.

She was described by friends as loving and carefree, who enjoyed adventures and had a vibrant personality that was expressed through her colorful hair. She was known for her compassion and care for street animals, and had previously worked in rescue and volunteer work.

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Toyah was a full-time pharmacist in her city. Her boyfriend, Marco, took up a lot of her free time, the two had been in a relationship for 2 years, and their passion for animals was something that united them very much.

October 21, 2018, Sunday, case day

The young woman had a shift to fill as a pharmacist in the morning, and in the afternoon she had plans to walk her dogs.

About noon she ends her work shift, decides to go to a nearby market, bought some products and went home leaving the groceries and then to her boyfriend’s house, where she would pick up the dogs. Security camera footage proves the chronology of the facts.

Toyah drove to Wangetti Beach, 25 kilometers from where she lived. She liked to go to more secluded places where she could relax and exercise with her dogs.

The location is paradisiacal, having proximity only to a hotel and a resort. October is the beginning month of the Australian summer, making the trip very welcome.

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Dusk without news

It was late at night and Toyah still hadn’t returned, her boyfriend Marco began to get worried. There was no return of any messages or calls. At 9 pm the same day Marco called the police and reported Toyah missing.

Just after 9:30 pm the girl’s mother and boyfriend join the police in searching the beach. Because of the low light and the extensive environment the police team decides to postpone the search for a few hours, returning the next morning.

The family was desperate, Toyah’s father joined the group, they decided on their own to conduct a nighttime search. They drove towards the south of the beach where they found the vehicle, a blue Mitsubishi, year 2009.

More people join the search

Finding the parked car gave hope that Toyah was nearby. Members of the community joined the search early that morning. There was no electricity or lighting in the area. Visibility was provided by flashlights and lanterns.

About half a mile ahead was found Marco’s dog, who was conducting the walk with Toyah on Sunday afternoon. He was tied to a tree by a rope so tight that it did not allow the dog to sit or lie down. The dog was unharmed.

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The girl’s mother began to go into despair, Troy, the father took the lead in order to control the situation and they returned to where their daughter’s vehicle was.

Monday morning, discovery of the body

The search resumed, the police were following the beach when Toyah’s father spotted from afar what appeared to be a human foot protruding out of the sand. Quickly the father, in an act of desperation, ran towards it and began digging. Unfortunately he found his daughter, already lifeless.

She was lying naked in a shallow grave below the sand. The injuries indicated that she had been murdered, there were several knife punctures all over her body.

The family was in shock; the case deeply shook the community.

The funeral was held two weeks later, attended by 400 people and was even attended by the dog that was with Toyah in her last moments.

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Research

Toyah was murdered, this fact was irrefutable. Police efforts from nearby regions were added to the investigation. What was known by then was that the killer seemed to be a violent person, and the blows indicated that there was some kind of passionate motivation.

Close friends and family members were investigated, all had consistent alibis. Indy, the dog was a German Shepherd Dane, much larger than average, and had a protective tendency. And what it appeared so far was that the animal had shown no resistance to being tied to the tree, away from its owner. Everything indicated that Toyah knew her attacker.

More than 100 anonymous reports were received, cameras from nearby highways were checked and some locations questioned. But nothing led anywhere.

January 2019, a potential suspect emerges

The police’s list of interest boiled down to one name: Rajwinder Singh. A native of India, he lived with his wife and three children in Australia. Known as Raj, the man was described as hardworking. He worked in a geriatric hospital as a nurse and spoke three languages.

A quiet, isolated personality, Raj suffered from depression. Months before the case, co-workers reported that the man took several leaves of absence from work without any plausible justification. Everything got worse when Rajwinder Singh’s vehicle was identified in security camera footage on the day of the crime.

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A witness told police that he would have seen the nurse covered and scratched and bitten on Monday afternoon, the day after the crime. Police also hinted that they were able to collect DNA from the suspect on the beach, information that was never confirmed.

Rajwinder Singh abandons his family in a desperate act

On the same Monday where the body was found in the morning, and a witness claims to have seen Raj with signs of a struggle in the afternoon, the man decides to flee at night.

According to his sister, he flew to Sydney, and at dawn would return home. But that didn’t happen, Raj bought a ticket to his home country, India.

The police could not reach him in time, and bank data confirmed that the tickets were hastily purchased.

November 2019, frustrations in the case

The Indian authorities have revealed that they have never received a formal extradition request for Rajwinder Singh. An extradition agreement between two countries needs to be well-founded, sufficient evidence needs to be indicated that the accused should become a defendant, if denied on the first attempt, Raj would be exempted from the crimes.

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The victim’s family feels their hands are tied in the face of so much bureaucracy.

Months later an extradition request was actually made by the Australian government. And there are many gaps to be filled about the motive for the crime and relationship between Toyah and the suspect.

Rajwinder Singh’s whereabouts are unknown.

Final Thoughts

The case is still fresh, I believe more clues will emerge and Rajwinder won’t be able to spend much more time in the shadows.

This is another one of the cases that leaves us with a negative impression about the Indian police. Much more could have been done.

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Juliane Cunha

Brazilian, 27 years old, working in the health field. I love writing and I also love criminal cases, nothing better than combining business with pleasure. Follow me on Instagram @julianesantt | @casocriminal_