A description of a teenager, overlooked for more than four decades, has police convinced they are closing in on Cheryl Grimmer’s killer.
Wollongong detectives spoke to hundreds of potential witnesses in the wake of three-year-old Cheryl’s January 12, 1970 abduction from Fairy Meadow Beach.
Following a recent review, police have honed in on the accounts of three witnesses who were aged nine, 10 and 12. On November 22, investigating police accompanied the now-adult trio to the site of Cheryl’s disappearance and re-enacted what they claimed to have seen.
Wollongong Local Area Command Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth said the exercise had “strengthened our view” of the witnesses’ credibility.
“He [the person of interest] was just seen loitering here,” Insp Ainsworth said, addressing reporters outside the beach’s surf life saving club on Monday.
“He was seen here in the morning and the afternoon.
“This male person has been described and included in these witness versions. We’re appealing for anyone with information about the identity of this person [to come forward].”
The youth is described as aged 16 or 17, 180cms tall with a medium build, brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion.
Police have formed Strike Force Wessell – a combination of Wollongong officers and the Homicide Squad’s Unsolved Homicide Team – to further investigate the claims.
Inspector Ainsworth said the original police investigation was not inadquate.
“You’ve got to understand, back in 1970 in the original investigation, there was somewhere in the vicinity of 300 people that have been spoken with as … persons of interest, witnesses and passers-by,” he said.
“I’ve got no criticism at all about the previous investigation.”
Cheryl disappeared after attending the men’s amenities shed with her brothers Ricki and Stephen.
The case was subject to a Coronial Inquest in May 2011.
The Coroner ruled Cheryl had died sometime after her disappearance, and the cause unknown.
It was then referred to the Unsolved Homicide Team for review.
Inspector Ainsworth was joined by Cheryl’s brothers at Monday’s appeal.
The family had never stopped seeking answers.
“We would dearly love to provide answers to Steve and his family, solve this matter for the people of the Illawarra, and ultimately provide Cheryl with some dignity in death,” Det Insp Ainsworth said.
A $100,000 reward remains on offer for information leading to the person behind Cheryl’s abduction. Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000.