Human remains found in drug-related murder case


Human remains have been found on a property in South Australia's mid-north and are likely those of Robert Atkins, thought to be the victim of a drug-related murder.

Detectives from Task Force Southern returned to the area on Wednesday for the 12th time in 18 months and confirmed the discovery of remains at Minvalara, southeast of Orroroo.

They remain at the scene along with forensic response officers, a forensic anthropologist and State Emergency Service volunteers.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray said police believed from day one Mr Atkins' remains would be found in the area.

While police were still waiting on confirmation from forensic testing, Det Supt Bray said they were proceeding on the basis that the body belonged to Mr Atkins and advised his family as such.

"They were really, really happy that they found him," he told reporters on Thursday.

"It's just so important for the family.

"Recovery of the remains and giving them a dignified burial is massively important to them."

The body was found at the bottom of a water tank on the property, which has been abandoned for a number of years.

Mr Atkin's death is one of three being investigated by the task force.

Sean Clive Phypers, 32, was charged with his murder this year, with four other people charged in relation to his alleged detention.

Det Supt Bray said police would make an assessment about whether there was sufficient evidence to charge any of the other four offenders with murder too.

Police previously said it would be alleged Mr Atkins was assaulted multiple times and held at a number of locations before being taken to SA's mid-north and killed.

The 29-year-old's death was thought to be linked to the drug trade, along with those of two other men, Trevor King and Jeff Mundy.

Mr King, 41, was found dead at suburban West Lakes in January 2020.

Police believe his death was staged to look like a suicide.

In the months before his death, he was the victim of unlawful detention and serious assaults resulting from a drug debt.

Mr Mundy, 36, was last seen in December 2020.

His body has not been found, with police suspecting it was disposed of somewhere on South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula.