Unsolved – but not forgotten
THERE are few days when Detective Senior Sergeant Gerry Whitley doesn’t think about Katrina Jefferies.
Eight years ago this month the 22-year-old’s semi-naked body was found dumped down a bank in Waikowhai Reserve, Hillsborough.
Despite more than 750 people being interviewed, several confessions to murder, and a $50,000 reward offer, her killer has not been found.
‘‘We wish it hadn’t been eight years, but she certainly hasn’t been forgotten,’’ Mr Whitley says.
‘‘I long for the day when I can ring her mother and say we’ve made a breakthrough. I’m pretty convinced that I will get that opportunity.’’
Katrina’s case will shortly be reviewed.
‘‘It’s done from time to time on an ad hoc basis to make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to get an outcome,’’ Mr Whitley says.
The detective has remained the lead officer on the case since Katrina’s body was discovered by a member of the public on July 12, 2005.
The solo mother of a two-year-old son was known to live a dysfunctional lifestyle, was a heavy drinker, and used drugs.
She was last seen by her mother Nicola Jefferies whose Waikowhai house she left around 8pm on Sunday July 10, 2005.
Katrina lived with Nicola and she told police it wasn’t unusual for her daughter not to return home overnight.
It’s likely she was killed either late on the Monday night or early on the day she was found.
Where she went between leaving her mother’s house and her death is still unclear.
‘‘It’s one of the really frustrating parts of the inquiry, if we could be more clear it would assist us with what actually did occur,’’ Mr Whitley says.
Police are sure Katrina wasn’t killed in the reserve and was only dumped there.
She was wrapped in a red tarpaulin, a yellow Stormwear rain- coat, and a black plastic rubbish bag.
Other items including a wooden frame and a plywood board were found at the scene.
None of the items have so far proved fruitful in the investigation.
Her death was ruled a homicide by coroner Gordon Matenga at a hearing in 2011, but the cause of her death was suppressed to help police with the investigation.
In 2007 Nicola Jefferies announced she would move away from her Waikowhai home to raise Katrina’s son James.
‘‘The main reason is the memories,’’ Nicola told the Central Leader at the time.
‘‘This place to me is so depressing, I want to be as far away as possible.’’
Six years later Mr Whitley says new information is still coming in.
‘‘It’s slowed down a little bit this year, we just get all sorts of little bits of information that come from all sorts of areas.’’
The $50,000 reward offered by police in 2007 for information that leads them to Katrina’s killer has expired, but it could still be reactivated, Mr Whitley says.
Still looking: Detective Senior Sergeant Gerry Whitley says police are still working to find the person who murdered Katrina Jefferies.
Katrina Jefferies: The 22-year-old solo mother was murdered in July 2005.