Un­solved – but not for­got­ten

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

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.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

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.

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