Skeleton found on beach identified

By Paul Harper

The skeletal remains were found on Sunset Beach in Port Waikato. Photo / Janna Dixon
The skeletal remains were found on Sunset Beach in Port Waikato. Photo / Janna Dixon

Police have confirmed the identity of a skeleton found at Port Waikato's Sunset Beach last month.

It belongs to Jane Furlong, who was last seen on Auckland's Karangahape Road 19 years ago.

Detective Inspector Mark Benefield said police have been running a homicide investigation since the early morning discovery of Jane's remains on May 19, 2012.

"Jane Marie Furlong was 17 when she was reported to Police as missing by her boyfriend, Danny Norsworthy, on May 28, 1993 after she failed to meet him as arranged on Karangahape Rd during the evening of May 26," Mr Benefield said.

Police have told Jane's mother and her son - who was an infant when she went missing - that the skeleton's identity was confirmed through extensive forensic examination and tests.

"Police have always believed she disappeared in suspicious circumstances and, while it brings little comfort to know the initial concerns about her well-being were well-founded, it's pleasing that we have some evidence to work with in terms of our current homicide investigation.

"Over the past few weeks since what we thought could be Jane's remains emerged from the sand dunes on Sunset Beach, we've carried out a number of inquiries and have a plan in place for how this investigation will progress.

"Central to that plan is information. We need information from anyone who, over the past 19 years, has been living with the knowledge that Jane was killed and buried in a lonely and cold sandy grave."

Over the 19 years since her disappearance, police have carried out hundreds of inquiries during two main investigation phases, the first in 1993 and then again in 1996. A 2007 television programme that featured clairvoyants also sparked some further inquiries.

The latest investigation is well underway with some well-preserved items associated with Jane's skeleton recovered, a post-mortem examination has been carried out and speculation in the media about whose remains they were has already generated calls to Police.

"We're in this for the long haul though so we need people to stay interested in the long-term outcome of our investigation into who killed Jane Furlong," Mr Benefield said.

Police have set up a dedicated Facebook page "What happened to Jane", an 0800 number 0800 675 263, a direct e-mail address - furlong@police.govt.nz, and are using the Twitter hashtag #janefurlong.

"Use the Police website, the dedicated Facebook site, the anonymous Crimestoppers number of 0800 555 111, the e-mail address or the Operation Darlia phone number to tell us what we need to know so we can get justice for Jane."

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