ADELAIDE, Australia — A young British tourist who survived an outback terror attack in which police fear her boyfriend was killed appealed to Australians today to help track down her assailant.
Joanne Lees' first public statement since being ambushed by an armed man on a remote Australian highway last weekend came as police said blood found at the crime scene matched the DNA of her missing boyfriend Peter Falconio.
The blood was compared with DNA samples provided by Falconio's distraught father and brother, who flew in from their home in West Yorkshire two days ago.
"He is still out there and could do this again," Lees warned in a statement read out by Falconio's brother.
Police say Falconio, 28, and Lees, 27, were tricked by the gunman into pulling their Volkswagen van over on the Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek, 807 miles south of Darwin.
Falconio has not been seen since, and a massive search with aircraft and Aboriginal trackers of the Northern Territory — an area five times the size of Britain — has so far failed also to find the gunman.
"We now believe the blood found at the scene is that of missing man Peter Falconio," commander Max Pope said.
Pope told Reuters the news had been given to Falconio's family.
"It's a very difficult time for them and such news makes it more difficult," he said.
Lees was bound and gagged with a bag pulled over her head during the attack but managed to escape.
She hid in the bush in the cold and dark desert for several hours as the gunman hunted her in the scrub with a torch and his dog. She later emerged and flagged down a passing truck.
With reports British tabloids were offering large amounts of money for exclusives on her ordeal, she said was not prepared to sell her story.
Police believe the gunman could be an experienced bushman and hold out few hopes that Falconio is still alive.
About 1,000 possible sightings and other leads in three states have been investigated but have not yet produced any solid information, although an elite tactical response police returned to the crime scene on Friday to follow up fresh information.
Police say they still have "a good chance" of hunting down the man through public assistance and forensic information which they have refused to detail publicly.
"The breakthrough will either come through the forensic information we have or by the information which the public has provided," Pope said.
"We still have enough information to keep us going at full steam."