Woodchipper death twist: ex-girlfriend ‘person of interest’
THE ex-girlfriend of woodchipper victim Bruce Saunders is the main beneficiary of his will and has been described by police as a person of interest in his suspicious death.
Sharon Graham, 57, could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the estate of Mr Saunders, who is also understood to have increased his life insurance policy in the weeks before his death.
The Nambour man's life ended horrifically last November when his body entered the industrial sized woodchipper on a rural property near Gympie.
The Courier-Mail can reveal that police are treating the 54-year-old's former partner Ms Graham as a person of interest in the gruesome killing.
Two men - Greg Roser, 58, of Deception Bay and Peter Koenig, 61, of Gympie - who were with the mild-mannered butcher when he died, are also persons of interest.
Police believe that Mr Roser and Ms Graham are romantically linked, while she has known Mr Koenig for many years.
The Courier-Mail does not suggest the trio had any involvement in Mr Saunders' death, only that they are considered to have information which may be relevant to the case.
Mr Saunders' family were left shell-shocked to hear that Ms Graham was described by police as a person of interest.
In a tribute to her "dear friend", posted to the Browns Funerals website, Ms Graham said he treated her "like gold". "His love to me was bigger than anything in this world. He never stopped wanting to do for me. I'm so lost without you Bruce. No word can say what I'm feeling," she wrote.
The pair are believed to have met online several years ago, and Ms Graham continued to live in his Nambour home after his death.
Neighbours say she has not been seen there in recent weeks.
Mr Saunders' family is now contesting his will.
"The family is contesting the will on behalf of Bruce's only son because the will is out of character with Bruce's wishes previously stated," a family spokesman said.
Ms Graham and Mr Roser could not be reached for comment. Mr Koenig did not respond to requests for an interview. All three provided statements to police after the woodchipper death and the two men were reinterviewed by detectives.
The Courier-Mail understands Mr Roser and Mr Koenig told police that Mr Saunders had accidentally fallen into the woodchipper. Sources said the trio were no longer talking to police on legal advice.
At the time of his death, Mr Saunders, Mr Roser and Mr Koenig were spending their third straight weekend clearing trees on a property at Goomboorian, about 25km northeast of Gympie. A woodchipper with a 38cm blade, considered large by domestic standards, had been hired for the job.
The property belonged to Sharon Beighton, who had been recently widowed. The men were helping prepare the property for sale.
There is no suggestion she was involved in the death.
About a year before his death, after buying a home in Nambour, Mr Saunders changed his will. His only son was removed as the main beneficiary and replaced by Ms Graham, who also became executor of the will.
In the lead up to his death, Mr Saunders significantly increased his life insurance policy.
When detectives received information about the will and other "specific information" their investigation turned to the possibility of foul play.
Mr Koenig and Ms Graham, who are both from South Australia, have a friendship going back years.
Mr Koenig has worked for Ms Graham's ex-husband Barry Collins who owns a trucking company in Gympie. His listed address is a property owned by Mr Collins and Ms Graham.
It's not clear when Ms Graham started a relationship with Mr Roser, however photos of the couple were posted to Facebook in 2017.
In January, a photo of all three persons of interest enjoying dinner with friends was posted to Facebook.
Family and friends have described Mr Saunders as soft-natured and always ready to lend a hand. "He wouldn't harm a fly … if it was foul play they've found the most easiest target, he was so trusting he didn't deserve it," stepson Liam Rodgers said.