MAIN STORY: Police reject psychic advice

By RACHEL TIFFEN


Police will not dig up the McLaren Falls area identified by psychics as the burial site of Luana "Laverne" Williams, who was murdered 20 years ago.
They say information must be "evidential" before it can be used as the basis of further investigation.
On television show Sensing Murder last night, mediums Sue Nicholson, Kelvin Cruickshank and Australian Scott Russell-Hill independently identified an area of bush about six metres south of a carpark at McLaren Falls as the spot where Williams' body lay.
Her disappearance on June 5, 1986, aged 25, has remained unsolved since it was re-opened as a homicide inquiry in 1994. Initial investigations led police to label it a suicide or missing person's case.
Last night's programme had footage at the McLaren Falls site, showing Mr Russell-Hill digging 1.2m into the ground before falling to his knees and breaking down in grief _ allegedly overcome by spiritual presence and emotion.
The episode was the fourth of the Ninox Television series and was filmed in the middle of last year.
Early today, there were fresh flowers at the site identified by the psychics.
Inquiry head Detective Sergeant Eddie Lyttle today told the Bay of Plenty Times no further digging at the falls had been carried out by police since filming, nor would there be.
"We would really need a witness account or something like that because it's incredibly difficult to find someone who's buried."
While police would "love to go up there and start digging away", spiritual communications were not considered a creditable foundation for investigation and the nature of the area made it largely impractical, he said.
One officer was sent to the falls following the filming last year but nothing new was found.
Mr Lyttle said McLaren Falls had not previously been identified by police as a potential murder site.

He added that buried bodies were notoriously difficult to find, pointing to one Auckland case where a killer led police to the burial spot and they still could not unearth it.
Some information passed on from the psychics was not revealed in last night's show.
This included profiles of three people who played important parts in Williams' disappearance. Mr Lyttle could not divulge details for legal reasons of who those people were.
He said police had kept some case details from producers, who had in turn been great at keeping them informed.
The unsolved case had "dried up" since the show was filmed but was never considered closed. "I did some investigation work on it about a year ago, dealing with new information," Mr Lyttle said.
There had also been various jewellery sightings over the years. But he still hoped the TV show would encourage people to come forward with more information.
"This is an excellent tool just to get everybody talking and thinking again. But as far as our investigations go there were no great revelations."
The psychics confirmed only what some in the Williams' family already believed.
Younger sister Melanie, who lives in Australia but has come home to support her family, said she had a ``gift'' that had already helped her understand her sister's death. She has already approached police with information "communicated" to her about the McLaren Falls site.
Ms Williams did not wish to divulge too many details. "My gifts are held in the highest regard and treated with utmost respect and are not to be exploited or used in any negative way".
Last night she sat with parents Denise and Harry at their Otumoetai home while her mum shed "gentle, silent tears of relief". All three had seen the show but she said each screening opened the door to healing a fraction more.
Ms Williams said family members were frustrated police did not take psychic visions more seriously.
She had a vision of "a bridge and water" similar to one experienced by a psychic on the show but she did not go to police, as she expected them to dismiss it. This was confirmed by Detective Warren Gerbich on the show when he said: "A bridge and water, that's New Zealand ... Everything is close to a bridge and water."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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