James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Jane's mother: Help us solve case

The mother of Jane Furlong, whose remains were found at a Port Waikato beach last month, is appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

Police confirmed that remains found by a woman walking her dog at Sunset Beach were those of Ms Furlong, who went missing from Auckland's CBD 19 years ago.

Her mother Judith Furlong spoke about the grisly discovery for the first time today. She said it had been hard, despite almost 20 years passing, to hear the news.

She urged anyone who knew what happened to Ms Furlong to come forward.

"I realised very soon after she left that she wouldn't be alive," Mrs Furlong said.

"Now I would like to see the day when someone - or some people - are brought to justice. No one has the right to take another person's life."

Mrs Furlong said the family were planning a burial service for her daughter, who is survived by a son who was just months old when his mother disappeared.

Officers on the Operation Darlia homicide investigation into the 1993 disappearance and death of 17 year-old Jayne said the public response to yesterday's news that it was Jayne who had been found at Port Waikato's Sunset Beach last month, was hugely encouraging.

"In the first 24 hours of going live with the 'What happened to Janye' Facebook page there were nearly 300 visits to it," Detective Inspector Mark Benefield said.

"We are encouraged by the response also to the dedicated e-mail address - furlong@police.govt.nz - and to the 0800 675 263 number."

Teen lost to the streets finally found
Jayne Furlong was 15 when a man offered her $50 for a sexual act while she walked home from school.

Enticed by having so much easy cash, she left school and began a life on the game while her partner noted down the registration numbers of her clients' cars.

Two years later she had a son, Aiden, and continued to work her regular spot on Karangahape Rd before she vanished in May 1993.

Her disappearance was the subject of a police investigation and also featured on the television series Sensing Murder but her whereabouts remained a mystery.

Read a 1998 Herald story about the life of Jayne Furlong here.

Yesterday police said remains found by a woman walking her dog at Sunset Beach, Port Waikato, last month were those of Ms Furlong, ending 19 years of uncertainty for her family.

Police compared a DNA profile from her bones with DNA they held, and items of clothing helped them to make the match.

Detective Inspector Mark Benefield told reporters at Sunset Beach that police still did not know what happened to her despite a careful examination of her remains and the area where she was found.

He would not say whether she had suffered trauma or what, if anything, was found on or with her.

Ms Furlong was reported missing on May 28, 1993, and the police revived their investigation in 1996.

"The team worked hard on that with the information they had available. Clearly they didn't have a body, we now have a body," said Mr Benefield.

"We don't know what happened to Jayne and that's the purpose of the investigation."

He said notifying Ms Furlong's next of kin was a sad day.

"That last bit of hope has now been taken away from them and Aiden didn't know his mum."

The dead woman's mother, Judith Furlong, is retired and living at a central Auckland rest home. She could not be contacted for comment.

After her parents separated Ms Furlong lived with her mother until she was 6.

She was placed in the care of the Dingwall Family Home in Papatoetoe, before she was put in the care of foster parents as her mother could no longer care for her.

After a time at boarding school, she moved back in with her mother in Auckland and attended Penrose High School.

After the 1.5m red-haired teenager got involved in prostitution, she was joined on the streets by

her best friend from school, Amanda.

Amanda later told the Herald that while Ms Furlong was bright, she was also staunch and was often involved in fights. "Me and her had a few good ones ourselves - I've worn a few black eyes from her."

The pair became close friends with another young prostitute, Natacha Hogan, known as Twiggy, who was raped and murdered in 1996 in the cemetery on the corner of Symonds St and Karangahape Rd.

Mangere labourer Hayden Poulter later pleaded guilty to her murder and the deaths of two other sex workers.

On the night she disappeared, Ms Furlong shared a taxi with her partner Danny Norsworthy and Amanda from their homes in Onehunga, arriving at her regular spot outside Rendells department store about 8pm, where Mr Norsworthy left the women.

Amanda went with a client and when she returned about 30 minutes later her friend was gone.

At first police believed Ms Furlong might have run away to join friends in Wellington, and items taken from her flat, including clothing and her toothbrush, gave them hope she might not have been the victim of foul play.

Ms Furlong was involved in three court cases at the time of her disappearance. She was a witness to an assault on Karangahape Rd; a witness and a complainant in an incident where a crossbow had been fired; and she was involved in the trial of Stephen Collie, a local businessman.

Collie was jailed for 16 years in 1993 after a string of violent sexual attacks on eight women, most of them prostitutes.

Ms Furlong was to give evidence at his trial the day after she disappeared and police soon accepted that she was a victim of foul play.

Yesterday former police officer Dayle Candy, who led the first investigation into Ms Furlong's disappearance, told Radio New Zealand that the find was a relief to the family.

"They think it's a great step with respect of their grief, and they can move on with her having been found."

She hoped the discovery would bring people forward with information.

"Time is a great healer, and time changes things. And I think they have a probability of getting a conclusion with the right information."

- NZ Herald

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