Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Season of pain for Furlong family

Discovery of body during the year meant daughter laid to rest but mother still waiting for killer to be found.

Judith Furlong (right) looks over Sunset Beach, where the remains of her daughter Jane were found in a shallow grave. Photo / Chris Gorman
Judith Furlong (right) looks over Sunset Beach, where the remains of her daughter Jane were found in a shallow grave. Photo / Chris Gorman

Many dates during the year remind Judith Furlong of her daughter Jane, but May 19 is the saddest of them all.

On that date in 2012 Ms Furlong's body was found, buried deep in sand dunes at a lonely south Auckland beach, 19 years after she was last seen alive.

Ms Furlong, then just 17, disappeared from Karangahape Rd in the central city in May 1993. Her remains were found in a sandy grave at Sunset Beach near Port Waikato. Police believe she was murdered and continue to hunt for her killer.

Mrs Furlong had long given up hope that her daughter, who had given birth to her first son, Aidan, just months before she vanished, would ever be found.

So when she got the call from detectives in May, she was astonished. Her life was turned upside down for a time, waiting for forensic experts to confirm that the skeletal remains found at the beach were those of her daughter.

When that confirmation came, Mrs Furlong was once again thrust into the public spotlight, and forced to relive the loss of her daughter.

Months later, the dust has settled but Mrs Furlong is still waiting. Her daughter has finally been laid to rest, but until an arrest is made she will never find peace.

"It's been a big year, I still can't believe it really - after all of this time," she said.

"It's pretty amazing. There has been quite a bit of closure."

Since Ms Furlong disappeared Christmas has never been the same for her mother and wider family, but they still hope for a breakthrough.

"It's still a waiting game. I'm confident police will make an arrest. My hope for 2013? I'd like to see a breakthrough in the case, I'd still really love to see some justice ... before I leave this planet."

Mrs Furlong has appealed many times for the killer to come forward. She is still making that plea, and hopes that over the holiday period, while people are with family and reflecting on their lives, they will find it in their hearts to give police the missing pieces to the puzzle.

"Would they please just talk to the police? Tell them what you know," she urged.

Ms Furlong was a part-time sex worker with connections to the gang world. Police say that over time relationships and loyalties may have changed and they are hopeful people with crucial information will come forward and help them.

Mrs Furlong still gets regular updates from the police.

"Apparently a lot are talking, but there's a lot more that are not. I am confident someone will come forward eventually."

- NZ Herald

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