Psychics stir up murder mysteries

UNSOLVED MYSTERY: Psychic crime show Sensing Murder has revived interest in the 2003 disappearance of Sara Niethe, with claims she was beaten and dumped in a remote area.
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UNSOLVED MYSTERY: Psychic crime show Sensing Murder has revived interest in the 2003 disappearance of Sara Niethe, with claims she was beaten and dumped in a remote area.

The death of a South Otago teenager, subject of an investigation this month by psychics on the TV2 programme Sensing Murder, is being re-examined by police.

But they say they will need hard evidence to take the matter further.

Blake Stott died in a fire in his car in a layby 3km south of Owaka on June 11, 2006, and the cause of the fire was never identified. The South Otago coroner ruled the death was accidental but the Stott family have always claimed someone else was involved in the death.

Dunedin and Clutha area police commander Inspector Dave Campbell told the Otago Daily Times that staff had spoken to the Stott family since the July 8 screening and police had decided they would look further into "some aspects" of the case.

He would not elaborate, although he did confirm one person had contacted police with information since the programme went to air. Police were assessing that information.

In the television episode, psychics Kelvin Cruickshank and Sue Nicholson said 19-year-old Mr Stott had driven his car, which was his pride and joy, to the layby so it would be safe.

Mr Stott was asleep in the driver's seat of the car when two people drove up and as a practical joke threw a cigarette butt, match or lighter in the back seat of the car, the psychics said.

Mr Campbell said police could never accurately pinpoint the cause of the fire.

While the case was technically closed, police would re-examine it if new information came to hand.

"But just because someone with a crystal ball says something. . . it's got to be something that is tangible. . . something useful." 

Meanwhile, North Island police would also need more information before re-investigating the 2003 disappearance of Kerepehi woman Sara Niethe, following renewed interest in the case after it featured on Sensing Murder.

Psychics on the show claimed Ms Neithe was brutally beaten and murdered and that her body might have been dumped in rugged land north of Thames.

Sara Niethe was last seen in Ngatea on March 30, 2003, before heading to ex-boyfriend Mark Pakenham's remote Kaihere house for a drinking session. After an argument later that night, she supposedly drove home.

Neither Ms Niethe nor her mother's light blue Honda car, which Ms Niethe was driving, have been seen since, despite an extensive police search. She left behind three young children: Dion, Danielle and Simone.

But last night's episode Sensing Murder suggested that there was more to the case, including a mystery second man.

Both psychics, Deb Webber and Sue Nicholson, claimed Ms Niethe was involved in a drug deal that turned sour. They speculated that she tried to leave the Kaihere address but was accosted by the man, who then drove her to a remote area, where he beat her and stabbed her.

The psychics hinted that Ms Niethe's body and car were disposed of about 40km away at Tararu, 5km north of Thames, in a remote former mining area. That area was severely hit by the June 2003 weather bomb three months later,  bringing debris down which had closed tracks and roads.

Inquiry head Detective Sergeant Glenn Tinsley, of Waihi CIB, said no leads had come from the show since its shooting earlier in the year.

"The area indicated in the programme (Tararu) is very wide, it's not specific. It (the show) left me asking the question, why didn't they have a closer look?"

Mr Tinsley, who appeared on the show, said police did not put much stock in information from psychics.

"In saying that, if there's some information that comes out of it that's considered of interest, we'll be following it up."

Mr Tinsley still believed that Ms Niethe had died and had not simply run away. Ms Niethe disappeared just days before her daughter's birthday and her bank accounts remained untouched.

"My view is that Sara was a good mum and she had a child's birthday coming up that she wouldn't have missed."

Ms Niethe's mother, Eileen Marbeck, also appeared on the show but today said it raised more questions than it answered. Mrs Marbeck, who is raising her daughter's children, said parts of the show "certainly made her feel sick".

She said the theory she was murdered did not surprise her and she was concerned that the serious "drug crowd" mentioned in the show could hinder any investigation.

- NZPA, Waikato Times, Stuff.co.nz