Search now fin­ished

Tod­dler’s end stays a mys­tery

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By ADEN MILES

Hopes of clos­ing a 44- year- old Toko­roa cold case have been dashed af­ter Toko­roa po­lice failed to find any new clues while dig­ging up a sec­tion of back­yard in in Toko­roa last week.

But the fam­ily of miss­ing tod­dler Jef­ferie Hill say they will never stop search­ing for an­swers.

Po­lice ar­rived at the Fer­gus­son St prop­erty last Wed­nes­day in the search for clues into the 1968 dis­ap­pear­ance of the two year old.

The prop­erty is across the street from where Jef­ferie was last seen.

Po­lice were act­ing on in­for­ma­tion from Geo­phys­i­cal Ser­vices’ Martin King, who de­tected an anom­aly when scan­ning the area last month af­ter be­ing asked by the South Waikato News to do so.

Jef­ferie’s mother Jo Reynolds and sis­ter Laura Hill were both present dur­ing the dig.

While they never ex­pected the po­lice to find any­thing, Mrs Hill said they were re­ally just look­ing for some kind of clo­sure.

‘‘Ba­si­cally we want to check this and close the door . . . But we may never find out what hap­pened to him.’’

The po­lice fo­cused on a 1.5 square me­tre area, which was part of a wider area pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied by for­mer res­i­dent, Ray Bartlett.

It is an area Mr Bartlett be­lieves he saw his then­neigh­bour, Tom Stubbs, dig­ging soon af­ter Jef­ferie went miss­ing. Mr Stubbs died in 1987. His fam­ily have al­ways de­nied he had any in­volve­ment in Jef­ferie’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

Last week’s dig at­tracted at­ten­tion from on­look­ers and passersby, with many of Ed­ward St’s and Fer­gus­son St’s res­i­dents hop­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion would pro­vide clo­sure for the fam­ily.

But the dig, which lasted sev­eral hours, failed to turn up any­thing of in­ter­est.

Even so, De­tec­tive Sergeant Ke­van Verry said it was worth in­ves­ti­gat­ing. ‘‘We felt that the re­port pro­vided fol­low­ing the sonar search high­lighted an area that war­ranted fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, hence the ex­ca­va­tion work,’’ he said.

‘‘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.’’ Mean­while, Mrs Hill hoped one day they would be able to put her brother to rest.

In 1969, a coroner con­cluded that Jef­ferie had drowned in a nearby creek, but the fam­ily do not be­lieve that the­ory. She said the fam­ily strug­gled with not know­ing what had hap­pened to Jef­ferie.

‘‘It’s not easy . . . You know you can let things break you or you can move on.’’

DIG­GING FOR AN­SWERS: Po­lice dig an area that was la­belled an area of in­ter­est by Geo­phys­i­cal Ser­vices sci­en­tist Martin King, who scanned the area a month ago for miss­ing tod­dler Jef­ferie Hill.

1968 SEARCH: Fire­men and the com­mu­nity turned out to help search for miss­ing tod­dler Jef­ferie Hill in 1968.

MYS­TERY GOES ON: An ex­ca­va­tion of a Toko­roa prop­erty last week did not find the body of Jef­ferie Hill, who went miss­ing in 1968.

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