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Cops Probe Town of 11 People After Disappearance

Police investigate Larrimah, Australia, after day laborer Paddy Moriarty and his dog vanish
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2018 10:45 AM CDT
A man in the Australian outback.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Everyone in the town of Larrimah is under investigation for the disappearance of Paddy Moriarty—and that means all 11 people. Authorities are poking around this dusty Australian pitstop after Moriarty, a day laborer, vanished along with his dog one night last December, the New York Times reports. Top suspects in the presumed homicide include a pie-maker Moriarty hated, a gardener he argued with, and a bartender with a nasty tongue. "He started abusing my customers, threatening tourists and scaring them away from [my] business," said meat-pie cook Fran Hodgetts at an inquest last month, per ABC News Australia. Moriarty, 70, lived across from her Tea House eatery and got upset when her customers parked on his land.

Like all players in this drama, 75-year-old Hodgetts denies guilt—but says she warned her burly gardener, Owen Laurie, "not to do anything stupid" after he argued with Moriarty about his barking dog three days before the disappearance. Laurie, 71, warned Moriarity to quiet the dog "or I'll shut it up for you," per inquest testimony. Then there's former bartender Richard Simpson, one of the last residents to see Moriarty, who criticized the man but calls people who suspect Simpson "goddamn fools." Jokes are circulating about Moriarty ending up in Hodgetts' meat pies, or fed to a hefty crocodile kept in town, but so far investigators appear stumped. "There have been a lot of problems in that community," the detective in charge tells the Guardian. "But just because people argue doesn't mean they've gone out and killed him." (Read more murder stories.)

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