Mother still waits for news of son
Three years to the day since her son vanished, Charlotte Lipp says she still scours the roadside for any signs of what happened to him.
On January 24, 2010, Leo Lipp-Neighbours was drinking with friends on Watson St in Nelson.
At 4am he told friends he was going "to be at one with nature" before driving off into the darkness in his distinctive bright orange 1987 Toyota Corolla.
Despite extensive police searches, neither the 19-year-old Canterbury University student or his car were ever seen again.
There were four main scenarios that were considered in the case: that Leo had driven off the road and crashed, that he had committed suicide, that he had fallen victim to foul play, or that he was still alive living under a new identity.
Speaking to The Press this morning, Lipp said she still hasn't given up hope of finding out what happened to her son.
"We still have an open mind. It is hard because we still don't know any more than we did in the beginning."
She believed it was most likely he had driven off the road in his "tired state" and crashed.
"We still go searching for him on the roadsides to try and find something. We think he may have landed in a weird way so no-one has found him," she said.
"It can take a long time for wrecked cars to be found. It could be overgrown or upside down. It's something that we can still do for him even after all this time."
Although there was always "a glimpse of hope" her son was alive somewhere, Lipp said she now thought the possibility was unlikely.
"We think he would have been in touch by now. We think he would have come home. There's always a slight hope he is alive but it's not really very realistic," she said.
"If he is out there somewhere, I just hope that he has good friends and that he is happy. If he is alive, I'd like him to come back to us."
She and Leo's father, Colin Neighbours, would mark the anniversary of his disappearance with a private ceremony.
"We are just trying to somehow come to terms with what happened. I always thought he had a lot more life to live. It didn't seem like it was him time."
A Crimestoppers reward of $50,000 still stands for any evidence which leads to Leo's discovery, Lipp said.
She was still in regular contact with police about the case.
"If anyone knows anything, we'd still like them to come forward. The case isn't closed."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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