Police dig to solve 44-year-old cold case

ADEN MILES
Last updated 15:41 07/03/2012
KARL DRURY

Police at the Tokoroa property where they are searching for clues to help solve a 44-year-old cold case. Laura Westbrook reporting.

COLD CASE: Police at the Tokoroa property where they are searching for a body.
PETER DRURY/ WAIKATO TIMES Zoom
COLD CASE: Police at the Tokoroa property where they are searching for a body.
Two-year-old Jefferie Hill went missing in Tokoroa in 1968.
Fairfax NZ
MISSING: Two-year-old Jefferie Hill went missing in Tokoroa in 1968.
Jo Reynolds
PETER DRURY/Waikato Times
ON SITE: Jo Reynolds, Jefferie Hill's mum, was at the dig today.
Laura Hill
PETER DRURY/Waikato Times
HELPING HAND: Jefferie Hill's sister Laura was there to support her mum.

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Police have failed to find anything after digging up a Tokoroa garden in relation to a 44 year old cold case.

Police began excavating the property today after a geophysics scientist detected an anomaly when scanning the area last month.

Geophysical Services's Martin King was asked by the Fairfax Media-owned South Waikato News newspaper to scan the property across the street from where two-year-old Jefferie Hill went missing in 1968.

But Detective Sergeant Kevan Verry says nothing of interest was found.

"Today's operation has involved excavating an area approximately 1.5 square metres and to a depth of approximately 75 centimetres," he said.

"This work has not uncovered any item of interest and police will shortly leave the property."

Verry said such cases were never closed and the child was still listed as a missing person.

"We are always open to receiving new information that may shed new light on a case and police will always investigate new information - as we did today," he said.

"In this case, we have been supportive of the private efforts to search for  Jefferie in and around the creek and have met with the family and others involved over the past six months to discuss the case."

King had searched an 18-square metre area of the property, which was identified by former resident, Ray Bartlett, who said he saw his then neighbour digging there soon after Jefferie went missing. The property has since changed hands.

King said that what he was looking at, when scanning the property, did not fit in with what the rest of the ground looked like and that it "looked odd".

''What makes me suspicious with this [discovery] is the type of reflection that would indicate a possible void. A void can be created by the type of soil in the ground, however this looks different because its shallower and it needs further investigation by excavation.''

Jeffrie's sister Laura Hill, 42, who was on site supporting mum, Jo Reynolds, this morning, said it would be nice for the family to have some closure but she was not expecting anything to be turned up.

She did not think her brother was at the property or in the area of Matarawa Creek, behind the Tokoroa YMCA, where the coroner had ruled Jeffrie had drowned despite no body being found.

Detective Sergeant Kevan Verry said police cases like this one were never closed and Jefferie was still listed as a missing person.

"We are always open to receiving new information that may shed new light on a case and police will always investigate new information - as we are doing in this instance.

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"We felt that the report provided following the sonar search highlighted an area that warranted further investigation, hence the excavation work today."

- Waikato Times

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