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Coroner concludes missing Tasmanian man Vincent Edward Down was likely killed by his wife's ex-lover in 1969

Pulse Tasmania
His body was likely disposed of near Bridport or Scottsdale. Image / Stock

The disappearance of a Bridport man who vanished in 1969 has been ruled a homicide after 55 years, with a coroner concluding that he likely died at the hands of his wife’s former lover.

Vincent Edward Down, 43, disappeared on August 7, 1969, after visiting his neighbour and local panel beater Alvin Charles Feuerhammer.

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No trace of Down has ever been found.

The inquest, led by Coroner Simon Cooper, uncovered a ‘love triangle’ between Down, his wife Doreen Francis Down and Feuerhammer.

Mrs Down was having an affair with Feuerhammer but had ended the relationship shortly before her husband’s disappearance.

The Launceston Magistrates Court. Image / PulseDespite extensive investigation, Vincent Down’s body has never been found.

“Mrs Down told police that following her ending the relation with Mr Feuerhammer, he said something to the effect that he would ’cause her as much pain as she had caused him’,” Cooper said.

On the night of Down’s disappearance, Mrs Down left home to play badminton at 7pm, returning around 12:45am.

Feuerhammer, then 25, claimed he’d asked Down to fix a bullet-holed TV cabinet, but said he hadn’t seen Down again after he left his home later that evening, despite the cabinet being unrepaired and Down’s tools still with him.

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“Mr Feuerhammer’s story might well be thought to be an attempt to explain away a bullet hole caused that night at his home,” Cooper said.

Mrs Down called Feuerhammer at 3am asking if he’d seen her husband. He said he last saw Down at 8:20pm.

She called him again at 4am, directly questioning him about her husband’s disappearance before reporting him missing to police.

Based on the evidence, Cooper determined that Down died on or around August 7, 1969, saying he was most likely shot by Feuerhammer, who then disposed of his body somewhere near Bridport or Scottsdale.

Coroner Simon Cooper. Image / Pool (ABC)

“Further investigations occurred in 2022 at my direction, primarily directed to endeavouring to identify a potential grave site,” Cooper said.

“Unfortunately, no further relevant material has come to light as a result of those investigations.”

Feuerhammer died in 1994 in Bundaberg, Queensland, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, having previously murdered his wife with the same rifle.

“I convey my sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Vincent Edward Down,” Cooper said.

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