Rare ri­fle could hold key to cold case mys­tery

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - SA­MAN­THA HEALY sa­man­tha. healy@ news. com. au

PO­LICE be­lieve a dis­tinc­tive firearm could help iden­tify the killer of a hitch­hiker more than 30 years ago.

Po­lice have launched a fresh ap­peal for in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the where­abouts of the Vo­ere .22 cal­i­bre bolt- ac­tion ri­fle ( sim­i­lar to the one pic­tured) that was be­lieved to be in the pos­ses­sion of An­thony “Tony” Jones ( right) at the time of his dis­ap­pear­ance in Novem­ber 1982.

Se­nior Sergeant John Ma­honey said po­lice be­lieved they may be able to solve the case if they could re­cover the rel­a­tively rare firearm.

He said about 2000 of the Aus­trian/Ger­man-made ri­fles were man­u­fac­tured dur­ing the 1970s.

“The lo­ca­tion of the firearm is of very sig­nif­i­cant

in­ter­est to us,” he said.

“We know for cer­tain that he was in pos­ses­sion of it when he dis­ap­peared and if we can find it, hope­fully we can link it back to what hap­pened to him.”

Mr Jones was re­ported miss­ing in Western Aus­tralia on Novem­ber 11, 1982.

Records showed Mr Jones made a call from a phone box on Bowen Rd at Rosslea on Novem­ber 3 that year.

But all leads went cold un­til Fe­bru­ary 2014, when po­lice re­ceived “fresh and cred­i­ble” in­for­ma­tion link­ing Jones to Hugh­en­den.

Po­lice spent sev­eral weeks speak­ing with lo­cals in the out­back town and even con­ducted a search at the town’s dis­used slaugh­ter yards, but turned up noth­ing.

Po­lice re­cently re­ceived new in­for­ma­tion that the miss­ing ri­fle may be in Hugh­en­den. Mr Jones bought it in Western Aus­tralia be­fore set­ting off for the east coast.

He is known to have car­ried the ri­fle, bro­ken down into pieces, in a back­pack.

Sen- Sgt Ma­honey said po­lice were keep­ing an open mind but ev­ery­thing was “point­ing to Hugh­en­den”.

“We are aware of the se­rial num­ber but don’t want to dis­close that at this stage,” he said. “But it is not a com­mon firearm. It is an un­usual brand of firearm.”

The se­rial num­ber of the ri­fle has never been reg­is­tered.

Po­lice have also con­ducted in­quiries with reg­is­tered own­ers of Vo­ere ri­fles but have come up empty- handed.

Mr Jones’s dis­ap­pear­ance was 14 years be­fore a na­tion­wide buy­back af­ter the Port Arthur mas­sacre in 1996.

De­tec­tive Sergeant Bren­dan Steven­son said the per­son in pos­ses­sion of the ri­fle may have no idea about its ori­gin or rel­e­vance.

“It could have been sit­ting in a shed for 20 years and no one is the wiser,” he said.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors are urg­ing any­one who has a Vo­ere ri­fle to con­tact po­lice.

Po­lice are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing “sev­eral per­sons of in­ter­est” in NSW and the NT.

Sen- Sgt Ma­honey said po­lice would re­turn to Hugh­en­den in com­ing weeks.

“Po­lice are re­al­is­tic enough to know there are firearms that are un­reg­is­tered in the com­mu­nity,” he said. “We are just hop­ing that some­one who may be in pos­ses­sion of this ri­fle will come for­ward.”

If you, or some­one you know, has a Vo­ere .22 cal­i­bre bolt- ac­tion ri­fle con­tact your lo­cal po­lice or Crime Stop­pers on 1800 333 000.

SIGHT­ING: The Grand Ho­tel, where a wit­ness re­ported see­ing Tony Jones be­fore his dis­ap­pear­ance in 1982.

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