The discovery of Tea Wright-Finger’s body less than 5km from the remote Queensland town from which she disappeared has raised many questions as locals and police investigate why the weeks-long extensive search failed to find the bright blue 4WD in the one that was last seen.
The 19-year-old cattle station worker was dropped off by a friend near Richmond, 500km west of Townsville, on October 16 before disappearing in a blue Toyota Prado.
A massive air and ground search spanning thousands of miles began but ended nine days later after authorities failed to find any trace of the missing teen.
A breakthrough came Thursday morning when an assembly helicopter spotted the Toyota just 5km from the town where it was last seen.
Hours later, search teams located Ms. Wright-Finger’s body in dense bush, 600 meters from the vehicle.
The discovery has shocked the small community of Richmond, where the 19-year-old’s father had traveled to join the search for his daughter.
Police are also investigating a series of disturbing TikToks posted by Ms Wright-Finger before she went missing, showing her bloodied and tear-stained face.
Hundreds of locals took part in the search efforts, including heartbroken local Patrick Miller, who remains suspicious that the small town hasn’t heard the full story.
Tea Wright-Finger, 19, (pictured) had disappeared after being dropped off by a friend near Richmond, 500 km west of Townsville, Queensland, on October 16.
In a TikTok video posted in the months before her disappearance, Ms Wright-Finger is emotional and sobs uncontrollably with blood on her face (pictured)
I am absolutely devastated. It doesn’t make sense,” Miller told the abc.
Other locals questioned how the 19-year-old’s body could be found just 5km from the city several weeks after she went missing.
Richmond Mayor John Wharton questioned why the local Disaster Management Group was not called immediately and why the council was not involved in the search.
“I don’t know of many … locals who were involved in the search, other than the helicopter pilots, the local contractors, the local gathering contractors,” he said.
‘You can’t beat local knowledge.’
Ms Wright-Finger was captured on CCTV wandering around a Richmond roadhouse on October 16 in the hours before she went missing.
Tea’s mother said her daughter loved her job at Richmond Downs Station (pictured)
Dramatic footage of the moment police located a blue Toyota Prado driven by the missing teenager in the remote outback was released by police six weeks after Ms Wright-Finger went missing.
SES joined the search more than a week after the cattle station worker went missing, with more than 100 volunteers joining the search efforts.
John Forde, SES’s area controller for the northern region, said he was surprised to hear the teen’s body had been found so close to the city.
He said ATVs, ATVs, dirt bikes and people on horseback had braved the heat to search the “very large and sparse area.”
‘If it hadn’t been for the planes and helicopters, and the boys hadn’t seen [the car] on the initial search, it’s pretty surprising,’ he said.
Friend Shenea Neill said Ms Wright-Finger had been a bubbly, outgoing girl who regularly communicated with loved ones.
“She was very welcoming to everyone she met, always going out of her way to make everyone’s day,” she told ABC.
“It seemed strange that she had disappeared for so long without contacting friends or family, when she would always be the one to communicate with those close to her.”
The body of 19-year-old Tea Wright-Finger was found Thursday, six weeks after she went missing.
The blue 2013 Toyota Prado (pictured) in which Ms Wright-Finger was last seen was found on Wednesday with her body located 600m from the vehicle the following day.
Concern for the 19-year-old grew last month after a series of distressing TikTok videos surfaced that she posted, with captions like “When it’s toxic, it’s toxic.”
In his last TikTok video, posted less than a fortnight before he disappeared, he told his followers: “I don’t feel so good, I want to go home.”
In another video posted in late 2021, she could be seen heartbroken and emotional, sobbing uncontrollably with blood on her nose, face and hand.
In the disturbing clip, the teenager showed her bloody face and warned: “Always take risks in life, you never know when it will end.”
It is part of a montage of clips and selfies where Ms Wright-Finger shows her battered face and then bruises as the wounds slowly heal.
Traci Wright (left) has spent the past six weeks desperate to find out what happened to her daughter (right) and has thanked the community for their support.
The teen posted a series of TikTok videos that gave a glimpse into her past, including one in which she revealed the “life lessons” she had learned in her 19 years (pictured)
Another of her latest TikTok posts was on her 19th birthday, where she detailed the lessons she’s learned so far in life.
That included the ominous warning that: “It’s okay to feel lost sometimes.”
“He always takes risks in life, you never know when it’s going to end,” he says in the clip.
‘You always have to work hard to get what you want, no one is going to give it to you. If people want you in their life, they will make time for you.
Since then, the videos have been inundated with comments from concerned friends.
Ms. Wright-Finger worked at Richmond Downs Station, where she loved her job, according to her mother, Traci Wright.
If you need help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.
Tragic timeline of a young cattle station worker:
4th of October: Tea Wright-Finger posts a chilling final TikTok clip of herself and footage of an indoor cattle station she described as her home.
October 16: A friend dropped Wright-Finger off near a blue 2013 Toyota Prado on the outskirts of Richmond, 500km west of Townsville. It would be the last time she is seen alive.
October 18-22: Police traced her mobile phone and discovered that it was turned on briefly on the morning of Tuesday, October 18 in the Flinders River area, near Richmond Township.
October 22: Queensland Police launch a full-scale ground and air search for Ms Wright-Finger spanning thousands of kilometres.
October 27th: Police reveal that the Toyota Prado had been stolen from Prosperine 700km away in two days before the teenager went missing.
30th of October: Full-scale ground and air search for Ms. Wright-Finger and the vehicle is scaled down.
Nov. 16: Police are intensifying the search again by posting new security cameras of Tea wandering around a Richmond gas station and paying for a bottle of juice hours before she went missing.
November 30: A helicopter locates the abandoned Toyota Prado in a remote bush near Richmond
December 1st: Search teams find the body of Ms. Wright-Finger 600 meters from the vehicle.