By Tom McCrae
The family of a woman who disappeared 19 years ago finally has some closure.
Jane Furlong was only 17 when she went missing in 1993 after last being seen on Auckland's Karangahape Rd.
Police this week confirmed that a skeleton buried at Port Waikato's Sunset Beach has been identified as belonging to Ms Furlong, and a homicide investigation is now underway.
The 17-year-old street worker was buried in the sand dunes, her body obscured like so much about this case.
“We don't know what happened to Jane and that's the point of the investigation”, says Detective Inspector Mark Benefield.
She was last seen on K Rd, and her family feared the worst.
“I think she's been murdered, because she would have phoned me, and that would have been in the first couple of months,” says Jane’s mother, Judith Furlong.
But with no body, the initial investigation stalled. Not knowing what happened to Ms Furlong was agonising for those closest to her.
“The first year she went missing it seemed like she would come back. Second it seems like there's no way she is,” says Amanda Watt, a friend of Ms Furlong.
The skeleton was found last month by a woman walking her dog.
The only reason remains were found is because of the coastal erosion along the beach – in the last few years the sand dunes have receded more than 20m.
Police still won't reveal how she died or even confirm whether they know.
The day after she went missing, Ms Furlong was due to testify at the trial of Stephen Collie.
Collie was to be found guilty of sexual offences against seven prostitutes, but was awaiting trial when Ms Furlong went missing.
Ms Furlong was also a witness in another gang-related murder trial.
Police have set up a Facebook page and are canvassing Port Waikato, hoping people will come forward with any information.
They've also been in contact with her son Aiden who was six months old when she disappeared.
“It's a sad day for them today, that last bit of hope is now taken away from them and Aiden didn't know his mum at six months old, didn't know his mother went missing, and her mum has been hanging on for 19 years,” says Det Insp Mark Benefield.
“You always seem to be waiting for something but you don't know what. From the time you get up in the morning there's this waiting feeling,” says Judith Furlong.
Part of that wait is now over but police are hoping this is the breakthrough they've waited 19 years for.
source: newshub archive