Had Jane Furlong's teenage dreams come true, she would now be a child psychologist in her mid-30s.
But it's possible she never made it to her 18th birthday, after police confirmed yesterday she had been killed.
Ms Furlong's whereabouts had been a mystery - since she vanished on May 26, 1993 from Karangahape Rd where she worked as a prostitute - until a dog walker found her remains on Sunset Beach last month.
For a time her mother Judith Furlong and police believed the teenager had fled to Wellington - it wasn't the first time she had gone missing.
Ms Furlong once went off with friends for five days, sending her mother into a panic. She then promised to always call her to let her know where she was.
As the days passed and Mrs Furlong's phone didn't ring, the worried mother began to believe her daughter was dead.
Ms Furlong was "kind and loving" - a "pretty girl, but screwed up inside," her mother said, shortly after she disappeared.
The troubled teenager came from a broken home, suffered personal tragedies and had destructive tendencies.
She mapped her early life in an autobiography written for a fifth form project.
Her parents separated when she was four. After two years of struggling to keep the family together, her mother put Jane and brother Mark into care.
Ms Furlong's half-brother Anthony went to live with her grandparents.
Only a little girl, Ms Furlong didn't understand why her mother had split up the family.
"I hated mum for doing that to me," she said, in her autobiography.
Ms Furlong went on to a foster family at nine and at first felt proud and happy. She did well in school, getting straight As, but things changed shortly after when her "new mother" didn't want her any more.
"I went through a complete personality change, from being a model student to an angry, reckless, rebellious teenager," she said.
"I can imagine my friends looking back and thinking of best friends and first loves. Me, I'll remember suicide attempts and violent binges."
Ms Furlong stayed with the family for five years until 1989 when she was attending Whangarei Girls High as a boarder. She said she would be cheeky with the teachers as a cry for help, hoping it would give her the opportunity to spill her heart out. She got caught up in Satanism and witchcraft, and would lie, steal, drink and abuse her body.
When she was accused of taking money shortly after her 14th birthday, Ms Furlong climbed down Whangarei Girls High's fire escape "and ran and ran".
She had short stints at schools, lasting four mouths at Papatoetoe High and then went to Metropolitan College in Mt Eden and Penrose High, which she attended sporadically for about half of 1991. By the end of that year, she and a friend were working on K Road. Twelve months later, she become pregnant to her boyfriend. She gave birth to Aidan in January 1993.
Ms Furlong lived with her mother until a few weeks before she went missing, and then shared a flat with her boyfriend. The baby was being brought up by his parents.
She was due to testify against a man accused of raping her, and was also a witness for the prosecution of gang members for assault. In the hours before her disappearance, Ms Furlong went with a detective to Auckland Central where she was interviewed again by police. She later made her way back to K Road, where she was last seen about 10.30pm. She was wearing a black miniskirt, a black lace top, ankle boots and a brown leather jacket with tassels.
Police appealed for any sightings of the 1.58cm, 43kg teenager with the grim reaper tattoo on her left arm - but tips proved fruitless. They discovered her bag and toothbrush were missing and she had borrowed several hundred dollars from friends, leading police to believe that she might be hiding.
At the time, she was under a lot of pressure, Mrs Furlong said. "The baby, her lifestyle, court cases. I can imagine under that pressure you might take off for a couple of months".
"But she was always writing and she would have written."
Mrs Furlong prayed for her daughter, but deep down she knew it was hopeless.
The disappearance continued to get media attention throughout the years with police again looking into it in 1996. Yesterday, they finally turned the missing person case into a murder probe.
Police confirmed Ms Furlong was killed and "buried in a lonely and cold sandy grave".
They declined to comment yesterday on whether her skeleton showed any signs of physical trauma, and would not give descriptions of items found with the remains. He life was cut short - she didn't get to see her son grow up and didn't realise her dreams.
"My main ambition in life is to become a child psychologist," she said. "It's something I know I'll do well at and I'm willing to work hard to achieve my goal.
"I feel better now that my attitude has changed. I no longer want to die, I want to live and fulfil my every dream and hope. I want to make my mark in the world," she said.
She never will. Fairfax NZ
- © Fairfax NZ News
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