Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Fresh leads prompt police to revisit 1987 cold case

Police have revived their investigation into one of our unsolved murder mysteries.

Taupo roofer Milton Channing set out for Whangamata on New Year's Eve 1987 and was not seen again. His ute was found by hunters two years later in a forest but no trace of his body was ever found.

Police narrowed inquiries to a local man who was involved in growing marijuana with Channing. The suspect was interviewed but never charged.

In 1998, police conducted a large-scale search of Tauhara Forest at Broadlands, about 30km north of Taupo, after receiving information that Channing was buried there.

A woman has now come forward claiming to have been told what happened.

In an online post, family friend Beverly Jackson wrote that she told police the killer's name and gave details of where to find the body.

She wrote: " Milton did make it to Whangamata that night. He was shot in the head by a certain person named PW.

He was killed in Whanamata[sic]. Milton was shot in the head, buried near a drug patch and his car driven to Rotorua forest and abandoned."

The Herald on Sunday can reveal the initials differ from the prime suspect from the earlier police investigation.

Jackson this week said "several people" had passed the same tip to police.

Channing's elderly parents Tom and Myrna, and sister Carol, recently faced fresh heartache after the death of Milton's brother Ray in a speedway accident on February 25.

They were too upset to speak about developments this week.

Jackson added: "The Channing family have been through enough at the moment. They don't need this."

Milton Channing was described by friends as a popular man who came from a respected Taupo family.

The file is under review by Taupo police.

Detective Inspector Mark Loper said: "We were making some inquiries, but at this point there is nothing that we can advance. It's a matter of resourcing and we will get to it when we can."

- Herald on Sunday

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