BREAKING NEWS: Police dig up house in search of cold case bodies

Rotorua Police are today excavating under the house of a former police officer in the search for bodies in some of New Zealand’s highest profile cold case murders.

The officer died three years ago, but a chance discovery at his former home led police to bring in ground penetrating radarand other forensic equipment this past week.

InvestigateDaily understands two concrete slabs have been located in positions nearly six feet underground beneath the floor of the property, and the radar has identified two “suspicious readings” beneath the buried slabs, “and possibly a third”.

The dead officer was involved in the Mona Blades inquiry – a hitchhiker who disappeared in the early 1970s – and he was also close to where another woman, Wellington mother Heidi Charles, vanished at Christmas 1976 in Rotorua.

Sources close to the inquiry say digging equipment has been brought in and excavations are beginning today.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Exploratory work complete Kawerau house – no items of interest found

January 26, 2012, 12:01 pm

Bay of Plenty Police have completed exploratory excavation work at a residential property in Kawerau in relation to an ongoing historic investigation. The exploratory excavation has not uncovered any items of interest at the house.

The Bay of Plenty Police Field Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Mark Loper, says Police received information late last year in relation to the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Mona Blades in 1975.

Ms Blades went missing on 31 May, 1975, while hitchhiking from Hamilton to Hastings. Detective Inspector Loper says Police have continued to work on the case ever since.

Detective Inspector Loper says historic unsolved cases are periodically reviewed to ascertain whether any new information has developed, or if law or technology has changed that may shed new light on the case.

Detective Inspector Loper says an unsolved murder case is never closed and that Police continue to do their best for victims of crime, regardless of the age of the case.

“Files like this always remain open waiting for new information or a situation to change, and we regularly review ‘cold cases’ in a renewed effort to try and solve them. The recent arrest of a Rotorua man in connection with the 32-year old murder of Rodney Tahu in Turangi is another example of that.”

Detective Inspector Loper says while it is not possible to discuss the nature of the information received by Police last year, he says the information prompted sonar work to be undertaken at the property. He says the sonar analysis highlighted some areas that warranted further investigation.

“Today’s operation has involved excavating to a depth of approximately 80 centimetres, followed by probing with rods a further 80 centimetres.

“This work has not uncovered any item of interest and Police and workers will shortly leave the property.”

Detective Inspector Loper says the property under investigation in Kawerau was purchased by the current owners last year. Permission has been granted by them to undertake the exploratory work.

Detective Inspector Loper encourages anyone with information about any historic homicide to come forward to Police.

“Relationships and allegiances change over time, and sometimes people just want to get things off their chest. If you have any information about any homicide, especially information not previously disclosed to Police, please come forward with what you know.”

Detective Inspector Loper says information can also be provided anonymously via the independent Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.