Three years after Margaret Hills’ skeletal remains were found in steep bush three kilometres from her Blue Mountains home, her family may be a step closer to finding out what happened to her.
The Coroners Court on Monday began a two-week inquest into the death of the frail and ill 60-year-old, who was reported missing by husband Ken on February 2, 2010.
Mr Hills woke about 9.30am and noticed his wife missing, he said in a June 2010 police interview played at a Katoomba court.
The back door was open and Mrs Hill had left home without her wallet, credit cards, medicine and a water bottle she always carried, he said.
A week before she had told her husband she had deliberately walked in front of a car.
Mr Hills began the search at his neighbour’s home before driving through the streets where they used to walk.
He found no sign of Mrs Hill, who had mobility issues and was on strong medication for the chronic pain and depression she experienced following six spinal operations.
Next Mr Hills drove to nearby Leura and asked a cabbie parked at a rank whether he had seen Mrs Hill.
About 11am, he reported her missing to police.
“The only thing out of the ordinary was that she peeled the potatoes,” he said in the interview of the night before she disappeared.
After speaking to officers, Mr Hills spent the next three days frantically searching nearby bush in pouring rain with up to six members of his extended family.
“What I was looking for were areas that she could walk in easy (sic),” he said in the interview.
“We even started to get into areas that would have been too hard for her, but I just figured go and check it. We’ve still got to check it.”
He then spent every weekend searching for her until her remains were found by a hiker in steep bush at Echo Point on December 10, 2011.
More than 40 witnesses are expected to be called during the inquest, which continues at Katoomba.
Mr Hills was in the court on Monday, still wearing his wedding ring.