A NSW man has been arrested over the gruesome death of a woman eight years ago whose body was discovered after being stashed in a wheelie bin.
Police were called to Valmai Jane Birch’s unit about 10pm on Monday, March 22, 2011, after residents reported smelling a foul odour coming from the property in Woods Ave, Woonona, near Wollongong.
Officers found the 34-year-old’s body inside a wheelie bin in the bathroom.
A post mortem examination was inconclusive but her death was deemed suspicious, and detectives from the homicide squad and Wollongong police district established Strike Force Gareth to investigate the circumstances surrounding her death.
Detectives this morning arrested a 52-year-old man at a home at Kiama.
He has been taken to Lake Illawarra Police Station where he is expected to be charged with manslaughter.
Police believed Ms Birch was murdered between Wednesday, March 9 and Monday, March 22.
At the time they said her body may have been in the bin for “a number of weeks”.
In 2014 they released CCTV images of her Wollongong Railway Station on March 9 – believed to be the last photos of her alive — in the hope someone would come forward with information.
A resident in Ms Birch’s street told the Illawarra Mercury he heard screams coming from her unit in the weeks before her death.
“We definitely heard the screams and it was pretty bad, it was full on,” he said.
It is understood Ms Birch had spent time working as a sex worker to support her drug habit, before moving to Woonona.
Ms Birch is survived by her two young sons.
Today’s arrest comes after officers from Strike Force Gareth asked the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) to review their brief of evidence, and received advice from the ODPP.
Police are expected to provide more details at a media conference later today.