Police attended the north Brisbane residence where Ms Brooten, a US citizen, formerly lived with her partner, before she disappeared in July of last year.
Police today began excavating the backyard in Bracken Ridge, as homicide detectives joined Moreton investigators looking into the disappearance of the “dedicated” mother, Zumba enthusiast and highly active online gamer. They also announced they now believe the former cold case has now been marked as a homicide investigation.
The property, which was inspected by cadaver dogs before the excavation began today, was where Ms Brooten was living in 2018 before her disappearance. Police also intended to carry out a scientific examination of the home, and a vehicle at the home.
Ms Brooten, 46, is a US citizen and mother of one, and hasn’t been seen since July last year.
Since she went missing, she hasn’t contacted her friends or relatives, according to police.
Police today said Ms Brooten was “heavily involved” in online gaming and they believe many of the people she knew online may not be aware that her disappearance was being investigated by police, or that she had gone missing in the first place. Police are now asking that anyone who was involved with Ms Brooten to come forward and assist their investigations.
“We can confirm Operation Quebec Storage is now a homicide investigation. We have a number of inquiries and today the focus will be on the search and excavation at a residence in Bracken Ridge,” said Michael Hogan, Detective Senior Sergeant of Moreton District.
“We share the fear of Ms Brooten’s family and friends and have reason to believe she may have met with foul play.”
A Bracken Ridge man, 42, is currently assisting police with their inquiries.
Police said Ms Brooten had been in a relationship with the Bracken Ridge man for about a year before her disappearance. Ms Brooten, a US citizen, has a daughter and mother who both live in California. She has been living in Australia for the past six years.
While friends had made contact with police soon after Ms Brooten’s disappearance, a formal missing person complaint was not filed until December, some months after she was last seen in July.
Queensland Police had cadaver dogs in the yard before they commenced the excavation of the yard today.
Investigators said from their interviews with Ms Brooten’s friends and associated, she was an outgoing woman and dedicated mother who regularly participated in yoga and Zumba classes. Police believe she was working as a cleaner and may have also been teaching Zumba.
Police are appealing for anyone who has seen Ms Brooten’s blue Volkswagen Golf to come forward.
Ms Brooten was driving the car for about a year before her disappearance. It was found abandoned in Bunton St, Scarborough about 9pm on July 6, 2018.
“Regardless of how trivial you think the information might be, it may be crucial to our investigation,” Detective Hogan said.
Police are particularly appealing to people who may have been friends with Ms Brooten in the online gaming community, who may not know Ms Brooten was the subject of a police investigation, to come forward.
You can report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or online.