“She used her phone a lot,” police said; chatting on social media, calling friends, arranging dates and, on the last day she was seen alive, booking a ride share that would be the last time she was seen alive.
Now police are using her mobile phone for other reasons, to find her killer.
Yesterday the family of Nicole Cartwright sat tearfully in Parramatta police station listening to a police detective appeal for information a year after a council worker stumbled across her body, wrapped in a sheet.
It was early in the morning, 7:30am, at Buffalo Creek Reserve in Hunters Hill.
Releasing CCTV of her last movements, police say Nicole was out with a friend in Paddington on October 2 last year, a day after her 32nd birthday, before booking a ride share to Haberfield late in the evening. Her last movements over the few hours after that are unknown.
“She was socially active on her mobile arranging dates on applications and talking to new people. She was meeting with people days before her death on various social networking applications,” Acting Superintendent and Homicide Squad Commander Detective Jason Dickinson told the assembled media.
Asked if people should be taking particular care when using online dating sites and applications, he added: “I think it’s a matter of common sense and being reasonable if you’re using applications and dating websites and that type of thing to meet people. You just have to use the same type of common sense as you would if you were meeting anybody else.”
Police officers have trawled through “volumes of CCTV footage” to try and get to the bottom of what happened to Nicole.
Footage shows her tapping off her Opal Card at Museum Station in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. In the CCTV footage Nicole is wearing all black – almost Goth-style.
“She had a very distinct style, people would recognise her,” Detective Dickinson said.
More footage from a camera on a suburban house showed a man walking on Pittwater Road around the time Nicole’s body was dumped.
“Its hard to express in words what our families have been through since Nicole’s death,” her brother Ben told the press conference. “The past 12 months have been unimaginably difficult and we’re still struggling to comprehend that she’ll never be coming home.”
Brenda Cartwright, Nicole’s mother who she lived with in Lansvale, wiped away tears as she listened on.
With a deep breath and sigh Ben continued: “We grieve daily for Nicole and for the life she’ll never get to live.”
He took a long pause and added: “I know we can’t bring her back but we don’t want any other family to go through the pain that we’ve had to endure.
“To the person who did this, you’ve cut short Nicole’s life, you’ve destroyed our family and shattered our hearts.”
Detective Dickinson added: “If any people do remember seeing Nicole or do have any information please contact the police”.
And there are many questions left unanswered that investigators have about the night Nicole was murdered.
Her family believe somebody in the community knows something and they urged people who may have any information to please contact the police.
Nicole would have turned 33 on Tuesday this week and her brother Ben said her birthday was a “heart breaking reminder of the immense pain we feel on a day that should have been a celebration”.
He finished his sad monologue: “Please help us find justice for Nicole.”