Australian police make breakthrough in 46-year-old case of missing British toddler

New details have emerged that might help identify a suspect

Cheryl Grimmer

by Seamus Duff |
Published on

Australian police feel they might be one step closer to uncovering the truth behind the disappearance of a British toddler who was kidnapped 46 years ago.

Authorities in the Australian state of New South Wales announced a breakthrough in tracing three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer.

Cheryl Grimmer

The toddler was abducted from Fairy Meadow Beach in the Illawarra district in 1970 and a description of any potential suspects have never been disclosed – until now.

"Cheryl's kidnapping sparked a massive manhunt and stunned the Illawarra," Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth – the command crime manager in the city of Wollongong said.

Convinced the case can still be cracked, the police in the city have re-interviewed three key witnesses in an effort to solve the mystery who originally gave statements when they were aged nine, 10 and 12.

It is believed Cheryl disappeared after entering a shower block with her brothers and police believe she was taken from the changing rooms there.

Speaking to the witnesses, the police now believe a man who would have been aged between 16 and 17 (and would now be in his 60s) is the key suspect – with his 1970's appearance being white, five feet tall, medium build, and with brown hair and blue eyes.

"The witnesses' return to the beach has yielded promising results, and we hope someone in the community may be able to help us identify this male youth," Det Insp Ainsworth said.

Sadly Cheryl's parents, mum Carole and dad Vince, passed away without ever knowing what happened to their daughter – but Carole remained convinced her daughter was still alive despite a coroner officially concluding in 2011 that the toddler would have died following her disappearance.

Carole and Vince have been survived by sons Ricki, Paul and Stephen Grimmer who are still desperate to know what happened to their sister.

"It's heartache," Ricki said at a press conference outside the Fairy Meadow Surf Club on Monday – revealing he is haunted by the fact he left his sister alone in the beach changing rooms on 12 January 1970.

"Decisions I made on the day were wrong. I shouldn't have left. Everybody says 'It wasn't your fault'. Come and stand where I'm standing; see what is feels like," he said.

Ricki appealed for more information to help finally put the past to rest.

"Just let us know where she is, give us something so we can mourn," he urged.

His brother Stephen, now 52, also appealed for more information, saying: "My mum and dad have passed on now not knowing, and we want to know too before we pass on."

In 2012 the New South Wales government offered a $100,000 reward (£60,000) for more information leading to solve the case.

"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 also said at the press conference.

What do you think of the unsolved mystery of missing Cheryl Grimmer? Let us know via Twitter and Facebook (@CloserOnline).

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