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Wild animals, accident, foul play? Dad's death a mystery

Missing: Jason John Vance has unfortunately died in mysterious circumstances, a coroner says.
Missing: Jason John Vance has unfortunately died in mysterious circumstances, a coroner says. Contributed

AN ENCOUNTER with wild animals might have been fatal for Jason John Vance but his death is shrouded in mystery.

Mr Vance, 42, a Rockhampton father, went missing in October 2013.

He had a history of substance abuse but his family loved him, Deputy State Coroner John Lock said in findings published on Thursday.

A close friend and housemate raised the alarm after not hearing from Mr Vance for 10 days.

The friend said Mr Vance flew to Brisbane about eight weeks earlier, planning to use a tax return to make money selling speed and ice.

Police learned Mr Vance went from the Gold Coast to Barakula State Forest near Chinchilla with two other people, Alexander Thornton and Megan Pitt.

Mr Thornton drove a stolen vehicle.

"Jason has not been seen [since] that night and there have been no signs of life," Mr Lock said.

No bank transactions, no medical records, nothing.

Police interviewed Mr Thornton and Ms Pitt.

Both said Mr Vance went off for a walk and never returned.

Mr Thornton said the trio were looking for somewhere to cook amphetamine.

"The story from here becomes decidedly bizarre but ultimately a general version of the story is probably correct," Mr Lock said.

Thornton's vehicle got bogged down near Monogorilby so he and Ms Pitt stayed in an abandoned house nearby for a few days.

Then Mr Thornton left, made it back to the Gold Coast, and was arrested in relation to vehicle theft.

With food supplies dwindling, Ms Pitt left the house and was found "dishevelled" on a remote road, Mr Lock said.

She was taken to Mundubbera where a friend picked her up.

"The story from Pitt and Thornton...is unusual but is corroborated by other evidence," the Coroner added.

"The story they gave...is so bizarre that if they were trying to withhold something more sinister they would have thought of a simpler story."

Mr Lock said Mr Vance's family were grateful for a thorough police investigation.

Rockhampton's Senior Sergeant Benedict Carroll said Mr Vance's last known location was in the Chinchilla area, so Dalby police took over.

Cops performed motorbike and horseback searches, in an area known for wild dogs and wild pigs.

Chinchilla's Sergeant Gerard Brady got a helicopter involved, and dive squad members searched a creek.

But Mr Vance was never found.

The Coroner said Mr Vance had a habit of "walking off alone for hours" when high.

"Jason may have wandered off the bush track and fallen or suffered an incident with snakes or other predators such as wild dogs and pigs."

He found Mr Vance was dead, but from an undetermined cause.

He did not rule out foul play but said "misadventure" was more likely. -NewsRegional

Topics:  chinchilla coroner dalby editors picks gold coast inquest jason john vance missing people mundubbera rockhampton

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