ONE of Australia’s longest running mysteries has had a major breakthrough with police arresting a man for the abduction and murder of a toddler at a Wollongong beach almost half a century ago.
A 63-year-old man will face court charged with the abduction and murder of toddler Cheryl Grimmer in Wollongong 47 years ago, with police saying the child suffered “horrific” injuries.
The man was 16 when the three-year-old disappeared from outside a Fairy Meadow Beach shower block on January 12, 1970, but no trace of her has ever been found. Cheryl went missing after spending the day at the beach with her mother Carole and her brothers Ricki, then 7, Stephen, 5, and Paul, 4.
The brothers have never given up hope of finding their little sister and re- appealed in December to the abductor to come forward.
The man was a person of interest in the long-running mystery, Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth told reporters in Wollongong following his arrest in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics of the actual detail of the offences but I can say that they’re quite horrific and they’ll be unfolding in court,” Det Insp Ainsworth said.
He said it’s believed Cheryl was taken from the front of the surf club, not the back as originally thought, and that her death occurred within an hour or so after that.
The accused man, who now uses a different name from when he was a teenager, went voluntarily to be interviewed by detectives at Frankston Police station on Wednesday, Det Insp Ainsworth said.
As a teenager he was interviewed by police after Cheryl’s disappearance but charges were not laid.
Detectives from Strike Force Weasel began re-examining the case last year with three officers dedicated to the case.
He is being extradited to NSW and will be formally charged on Thursday to face Wollongong Local Court on Friday.
The Grimmer brothers were “buoyed” at the news, Det Insp Ainsworth said. “But in saying that the investigation moves into a whole other sphere now … it’s something that’s not going to be resolved soon.” In January police said they’d like to speak to former staff or residents of Mount Penang Training School, a NSW government-run home and juvenile justice centre for boys, who may have information about the crime.
Online Source: www.news.com.au