Police are keeping tight lipped about whether a man named as a prime suspect in a missing person cold case is under investigation.

However, it is believed the person behind the disappearance of Judith Yorke - known as Judy - at a party in a Bay of Plenty orchard 25 years ago was one of 30 people at that party.

It is believed she was killed and her body disposed of.

Police confirmed to the Herald on Sunday last month that the investigation into Yorke's disappearance had been re-opened.


Her daughter Shannel, who was just 3-years-old when her mother vanished, said at the time that she and her family believe they know who is responsible for her mum's disappearance.

Today a man thought to hold the key to Yorke's disappearance has been named by media. He was with her at the party in the early hours of October 22, 1992, at a packing shed on a Matapihi orchard south of Mt Maunganui.

Shannel told the Herald this morning she was "shocked" to hear the name.

She said she did not know where the man lived, and nor would she recognise him if he walked past her in the street.

Shannel Yorke pictured with her 19month old daughter Gospel. Photo / Alan Gibson
Shannel Yorke pictured with her 19month old daughter Gospel. Photo / Alan Gibson

Police declined to confirm the man was a suspect when questioned by the Herald today.

"Regarding the suspect mentioned in other media relating to the Judith Yorke case, unfortunately police are not able to respond to requests which seek to establish whether specific individuals are, or have, been under police investigation," Detective Senior Sergeant John Wilson at Bay of Plenty Police said.

Yorke was last seen at the orchard party between 1am and 2.30am, but the group she was with left without her when they couldn't find her.

Her muddied shoes were found a day later. Her purse, with a bankbook and her daughter's birth certificate inside, have never been never recovered.

Yorke's family thought she had gone off with friends, but they contacted police a week later when she failed to show up for her daughter's fourth birthday on October 28.

In October, police confirmed to the Herald on Sunday they were reviewing the case and suspected someone at the party was responsible.

"We have always had suspects and we always believed someone from the party was involved, Wilson - who is heading the inquiry - said.

"The general consensus is she was killed at the party and disposed of later on."

At the time of her disappearance, police interviewed the party-goers about Yorke's last whereabouts, but lead investigator Alan Collin doesn't believe everyone told the truth.

He told Radio New Zealand there were so many inconsistencies, the police went back and interviewed them again - in particular the group of people that Yorke had shared a lift with to the party.

"Clearly no one admitted doing Judy any harm, so we just ran into a solid brick wall."

Shannel is now a mother herself to baby daughter Gospel. She hopes telling her story will encourage whoever is behind her mother's disappearance to come forward.