Police have revealed a new "person of interest" in a 26-year murder mystery that claimed the life of a young Auckland mother.

Jane Furlong, a part-time sex worker, was just 17 when she went missing from Auckland's Karangahape Rd in May 1993. Her son was just 6 months old.

Her partner Dani Norsworthy reported her missing two days after she was last seen.

It would be 19 years before Furlong was found - her remains discovered buried in the dunes at Sunset Beach, Port Waikato, in May 2012.

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The next year, police announced a $50,000 reward for anyone who provided information or evidence that would lead to the conviction of Furlong's killer.

Despite the cash offer and a major police investigation spanning more than 26 years - dubbed Operation Darlia - an arrest is yet to be made.

But police are hoping Sunday night's episode of Cold Case, which placed a renewed focus on particular people connected to Jane Furlong, including a person of interest (POI), will flush out crucial information that could help solve the mystery.

Jane Furlong's body found was in the sand dunes at Sunset Beach, Port Waikato, 19 years after she went missing at the age of 17. Photo / Supplied
Jane Furlong's body found was in the sand dunes at Sunset Beach, Port Waikato, 19 years after she went missing at the age of 17. Photo / Supplied

Detectives revisited a "critical" time in Furlong's life in the true crime series on TVNZ 1 and hoped new witnesses would come forward - or that some who had so far refused to speak to police will finally break their silence - and identify people and corroborate alibis for individuals Furlong had "conflict" with that could have had a motive for harming her.

At the time of her disappearance, Furlong was involved in three serious court cases.

She was a witness to a vicious assault in K Rd; was involved in the trial of an Auckland businessman, Stephen Collie, who was facing charges relating to a string of violent sexual attacks on eight women, most of them prostitutes; and was a witness and a complainant in an incident where a cross-bow had been fired.

Police had previously said they did not believe the Collie case was connected to Furlong's death.

But last night's episode of Cold Case revealed a "person of interest" who was associated with the crossbow incident.

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While they did not name them, the POI was described as an "associate" of Furlong and her partner Norsworthy.

Judith Furlong visits the memorial site where her daughter Jane Furlong's remains were discovered at Port Waikato. Photo / File
Judith Furlong visits the memorial site where her daughter Jane Furlong's remains were discovered at Port Waikato. Photo / File

A group Norsworthy was with ran a place where they and others would go to drink and smoke drugs, and he also sold them drugs. Furlong's diary indicated she owed him money.

Retired Detective Inspector Mark Benefield, who'd worked on the case, told of another incident where she'd been in debt to the group, which resulted in them stealing Norsworthy's car. The couple confronted the group, Furlong armed with a knife, and were met with a crossbow, but police intervened before it turned violent.

Police also revealed the POI's family had a bach at Sunset Beach, where Furlong's body was found, and was the only suspect with a connection to the area.

On the night of her disappearance an employee at a Karangahape Rd massage parlour saw Furlong being pursued into the establishment by two "heavies", who said she owed them money for drugs.

The day after her disappearance, the POI missed a scheduled court appearance.

During the episode, police also revealed potential for new evidence to come forward, including that Furlong's favourite leather jacket, that she wore the night she disappeared, had never been found.

Detective Inspector Paul Newman, the current head of Operation Darlia, said some people connected to the POI had refused to engage with police.

Detective Mark Benefield speaking to media in 2013 about the murder mystery. Photo / File
Detective Mark Benefield speaking to media in 2013 about the murder mystery. Photo / File

Cold Case - in its second season - will air on Sunday, June 9 across four weeks.
It will also feature three other unsolved murders:

• Katrina Ann Jefferies, 22, was last seen at 8pm on July 10, 2005, when she left the suburban home she shared with her mother and 20-month old son. Her body was found two days later, dumped in Waikowhai Park in Hillsborough.

• David Robinson's body was found on a beach near Ross, 49km south of Hokitika, in December 1998. Robinson was shot between the eyes with a .22 calibre gun and died two or three weeks before his body was found. Police said he was a petty thief who stole food and money to survive, but although he might have aggravated someone, there appeared to be no firm motives for the murder.

• In 1984 Ernie Abbott was killed when a bomb, hidden in a suitcase, exploded at the Wellington Trades Hall. The case was left in the foyer of the building and Abbott, a 63-year-old caretaker, died instantly when it detonated. He was one of three people in the building at the time.

CAN YOU HELP POLICE?

If you have information on the death of Jane Furlong - or any other cold case - please contact police and tell them what you know.

Your local police station can be found by clicking here.

Alternatively, to give anonymous information phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 11.

Earlier this year the Herald published Unsolved - a series on Kiwi cold cases.

Day one: 1900-1940

Day two: 1940-1980

Day three: 1980-2000

Day four: 2000-2018