Missing stone investigated
A PECULIAR prospecting practice might have led to a missing sapphire at a Gemfields claim.
Claim owner Anita Nichols said Murray Hazelton worked at her claim for nearly 10 years before she found his body on November 5, and she described a habit he had that could be linked to a missing sapphire that police were now investigating.
"When Murray's sending the buckets up, he holds sapphires up to the light he's got there and if it's a rubbishy looking one he chucks it in the bucket," she said. "If it's a good-looking one he puts it into his sock."
Mr Hazelton would then show off his spoils during his work break.
But on Tuesday, Ms Nichols submitted a formal statement to Emerald police suggesting that someone found a sapphire in the dirt and kept it. She thinks it rightfully belongs to Mr Hazelton.
Ms Nichols said she was not sleeping due to the stress of feeling her friend had been wronged.
"Murray was my best mate. It's been four weeks today (Tuesday) since he died and nothing's been done yet.
"I want the stone back. If I get it, I'll cut it and then I'll sell it, and then half goes between his son and his daughter. I've never done the wrong thing by Murray and I don't intend to start doing it now."
She did not wish to accuse any person in particular, but was certain of what she saw.
"I saw it. You don't hold something up to the sun unless it's a sapphire. I heard a man say 'I've found a sapphire!' The other man asked if it was a good one. He then held it up to the sun, 'Yes, it's a good one,' and pocketed it."
She said there was no way a sapphire would be specced from that ground as it was a bare path traversed daily, and suggested the gemstone could have fallen from Mr Hazelton's body. Numerous people were at the claim that morning.
"(If) Murray died with that in his sock … I want it back," Ms Nichols said. "I don't know what to do, but I want to do right by Murray, that's for sure."
Senior Sergeant Peter McFarlane confirmed an investigation was under way.