Coroner doesn't 'bring closure'

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 04/02/2013

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Ten years after the disappearance of a Palmerston North woman a coroner's report concluding that she is dead has not brought closure for her family.

June Marion Sowerby, 58, went missing on Christmas Eve in 2003, failing to return to her timeshare unit at Turangi Leisure Lodge after visiting a friend.

Coroner Wallace Bain has concluded that Miss Sowerby probably died either the day she went missing or the day after. However, the cause of her death remains a mystery.

Her sister-in-law, Joy Sowerby, said June's disappearance still puzzled her.

"It's quite bizarre really because she just went off the face of the Earth. She wasn't a secretive person, she was very outgoing, friendly and kind, so it's really, really strange.

"The whole family were devastated and it's still very hard not knowing what happened to her."

Mrs Sowerby, who married June's brother Gary, said that for the family, who have had to come to terms with her disappearance, the coroner's report did not feel final.

"We'll never know what happened, if someone had actually found her then there would have been closure.

"We all still talk about her and think about her, and it's at the back of our minds, you know, what really happened to Aunty June?"

At the inquest last week, her nephew Mark Sowerby said he agreed with the court and thought there had either been foul play involved or she had simply gone missing.

Despite a major search at the time of Miss Sowerby's disappearance and again in 2010, police found no sign of her.

She had walked to a nearby relative's place to borrow an alarm clock because she was due to tramp the Tongariro Crossing the next day, but she left without the clock about 8pm.

She was seen by several groups of people that evening, with the last sighting of her near a car park close to the Tongariro River.

After she was reported missing on Christmas Eve, an extensive search by friends, family and police failed to find her or her belongings.

There were no items of clothing found in the vicinity of the river, her bank accounts and phone cards were never used again, and nothing has turned up since.

She had holidayed in Turangi over the Christmas period for more than 14 years.

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- Manawatu Standard

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