Portman friends look at one another
Friends of missing Auckland woman Rae Portman are eyeing each other, fearful one of them is a killer.
The distrust is eating them up, and leaving them all scared, says one friend.
Portman was a drug dealer on the fringes of the criminal world, where her friends say violence always hovers.
"Those people are capable of doing really dark stuff - meth removes your soul," she told the Sunday Star-Times.
Officially, police still say Portman is ''missing'', and they have grave concerns for her, but her friends believe she is dead.
One spoke after another arrest last week. The arrests have all been for minor offences uncovered as police investigate Portman's associates, but so far there are no answers.
Portman, known as "Bok", has been missing for more than two months. She moved in circles of young women and men with money, but the glamorous facade has been stripped away by police to reveal a world of drug abuse and violence, as they try to understand who would want to get rid of the 33-year-old.
From the start, Portman was linked to the drug world, and as the investigation has progressed, four people have appeared before the courts - Brendon Wilson and Dean Addison on drugs charges, and Voi Marie King, accused of assaulting Portman, and Kristina Le Noel, charged with stealing her car while she was missing.
Neither woman fits the typical criminal mould. King, 30, and Le Noel, 26, have both modelled in the past.
The man in charge of the case, detective inspector Mark Gutry, said the charges laid so far were not directly linked to Portman's disappearance, but with each arrest they moved closer to finding the woman who grew up in Papakura and the Waikato.
But tempers are fraying among Portman's friends. Jane* spoke on condition of anonymity and said the sideways glances between friends were unbearable. "I feel like people among our friends know what's happened," she said. "We're all looking at each other. Really you don't know anyone."
There were rumours of a man nicknamed "Devil", who might be the father of Portman's child, but police said they were speaking to several former partners and did not know who the father was.
Jane confirmed Portman had dealt methamphetamine. She said Portman had a good heart, but she knew herself it took a lot to get free from meth, because she had only just dragged herself out of its grip. "I was her two years ago," Jane said.
And it was that experience that made her so scared for Portman.
"I don't believe for one second she's alive. I think of what her last moments would've been like."
While using, Jane was twice kidnapped, the first time for three days by a man who claimed she owed him $100,000. He eventually took her car and let her go.
But it was her second kidnap that made Jane most worried for her friend. An Auckland criminal, now in custody, beat her and discussed with associates where the best place would be to bury her body. "The average New Zealander doesn't understand how meth makes that line between fantasy and reality, right and wrong, blurred."
Though she had been clean for two years, the lifestyle was the most tempting factor. While dealing, Jane said she made enough money to have maids, personal shoppers and huge sums of money.
Before Portman's disappearance, Jane heard that a few deals had gone wrong for her.
Anyone with information can call 0800 723 767 or Crimestoppers on 0800555 111
*Jane's name has been changed.