Missing woman's husband seeks closure

By Heather McCracken

Kaye Stewart. Photo / Supplied
Kaye Stewart. Photo / Supplied

The husband of missing woman Kaye Stewart says he won't have closure until his wife's remains are found - and only "the lousiest person in the world" knows where she lies.

"Somebody killed my wife," Bob Stewart said after his wife's inquest in Wellington today.

"Closure might come for us when her remains are found," he said.

"It's an indignity and it's an insult to this family that Kaye's remains lie somewhere, we don't know and we can't visit," he said.

"The lousiest person in the world knows where she is buried."

Margaret Kaye Stewart, known as Kaye, went missing while walking in the Rimutaka Forest Park on June 13, 2005.

She was formally declared dead by Coroner Garry Evans at the inquest today, with the place and cause of death "undetermined".

Mr Stewart said he remained convinced his wife of 34 years had been murdered.

"That's what I believe, that's what all Kaye's friends and family believe," he said.

He believed the key to her disappearance was a quad bike rider seen leaving the forest park on the day she went missing, who has never been identified.

Mrs Stewart, from Northland in Wellington, had gone walking after dropping her daughter off in Wainuiomata, and was to pick her up again in a few hours.

The 62-year-old spoke to DoC worker Shane Hatwell about 10.45am, who recommended she take the Nature Trail or Nga Tonga track. He saw her a short time later parking in the Catchpool carpark, near the entrance to Nga Tonga track.

More than two hours later, she approached another DoC worker, Gary Bak, who was living at Hunters Bach, and asked directions back to her car.

By then she was already 40 minutes late to pick up her daughter. Neither of the tracks recommended by Hatwell would have taken her to the bach, and if she had walked on the road she would have passed her car.

The witnesses have been eliminated from the inquiry after extensive investigation by police.

Coroner Evans questioned police Detective Sergeant Mike Sears about the final sighting, and whether it raised questions about Mrs Stewart's state of mind.

He asked whether she may have already been disorientated, and could have gotten lost and walked outside the search area, before being overcome by hypothermia.

Mr Sears told the coroner the scenario had been investigated, and could not be dismissed.

Mr Sears detailed the three searches of the forest park, which included the use of police cadaver dogs, which found no sign of Mrs Stewart.

He said he was satisfied that had she been in the search area, her body, clothing or jewellery would have been located.

A review of the police investigation by Detective Inspector Mike Johnson in March 2012 had concluded there were four possible scenarios, the most likely being that she was the victim of foul play.

Next was that she had become lost and disorientated, and walked outside of the search area.

The final two possibilities, that she had committed suicide or had deliberately staged her death, were considered unlikely.

During the inquest, Mr Stewart told the coroner he didn't believe his wife's history of depression played a role in her disappearance.

Mrs Stewart suffered from dysthymia, a bipolar condition with chronic low moods, but she was not unwell at the time, he said.

"Kaye's depressive events were always telegraphed and their onset gradual," he said.

She was a devoted mother, skilled physiotherapist, and lived a full life.

Police say they remain committed to finding out what happened to Mrs Stewart and will investigate any new information received.

Detective Sergeant Mike Sears, in a statement following the release of the coroner's findings, said the inquiry into Mrs Stewart's death was "a thorough and comprehensive investigation''.

He said there was no evidence to support any single scenario in relation to her disappearance and "presently there are no active lines of inquiry being followed by police''.

"Professionally this has been a difficult inquiry spanning a number of years. Police are committed to resolving this matter and providing answers to the Stewart family,'' Mr Sears said.

Anyone with information should call Wellington police on 04 381 2000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- NZ Herald

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