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Woman's houseboat death a murder, police say


The death of a woman on a houseboat at Blanchetown in 2020 has been declared a murder after initially being treated as not suspicious by police.

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Angela Berecz, 53, died in October 2020, found unresponsive in her recliner chair on the houseboat in which she lived on the River Murray with her partner and carer.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray from Major Crime said today Berecz, who had two adult daughters and a son, “suffered from obesity and serious health issues and was mostly confined to the houseboat”.

“But [she] could go out on some occasions and despite her illnesses was not expected to die anytime soon,” he said.

Bray said that at 5.45am on October 22 “her partner awoke to find Angela still in her recliner and unresponsive”.

He administered CPR and called an ambulance.

After police attended, the matter was referred to a coronial inquest. A pathological review “determined she had died from unknown causes”, Bray said.

“It was initially treated as not suspicious based on information available at the time, but since then we’ve obtained information which has led us to the conclusion that Angela has been murdered,” he said.

Major Crime has since been conducting an investigation.

“We do know the cause of death but won’t reveal for operational reasons,” Bray said.

He also said police had both a suspect and a suspected motive.

“The suspect is not in custody and the suspect isn’t connected with any other investigation,” he said.

“It’s most likely that the people responsible for this are people known to Angela; she lived in a gated community, she lived on a houseboat, so it’s more likely that not to be somebody known to her.”

He declined to identify the suspect further, saying police “wouldn’t ever say anything in relation to who a suspect may or may not be [but] it would be wrong to jump to conclusions”.

Asked whether the person was aware they were a suspect, he said: “I think the person would be, yes.”

Bray said the case, while reminiscent of the high-profile case of Ann Marie Smith, did not have “the same parallels”, as Berecz “was on NDIS and had a paid full-time carer”.

“There is no obvious neglect in this case,” he said.

Police want to talk to anyone “who had contact with Angela in the weeks and months leading up to her death… or anyone with information about who is responsible for her death”.

Berecz’s daughter Kathleen spoke to reporters, asking anyone with information to come forward.

The houseboat on which Berecz was killed. Photo: supplied/SAPOL

“The family loved mum and we do miss her dearly, and to think someone was responsible for her death has taken the family by shock,” she said.

“Mum was a kind, loving and caring mother and grandparent [of seven] who would do anything for her family… she lived a quiet life and interacted with her close family and friends very regularly.

“We miss her every day and this latest development has shocked the family – to think that anyone would deliberately hurt our Mum is very hard to accept.”

She said her mother had been “looking forward to my wedding [which took place] two months after she died”.

“To think someone stopped my Mum being there… we’re really angry. I ask the person responsible to please come forward… take ownership of your actions,” she said.

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