Blenheim cold case: Police offer $100k reward

Police are offering a $100,000 reward for credible information relating to missing Marlborough woman Jessica Boyce.

Investigators had now revealed on TVNZ’s Cold Case that they believe her disappearance and death is likely to have been caused by a group of people active in the Marlborough methamphetamine scene.

New information had been made public on the programme for the first time on Tuesday night.

Boyce was 27 when she went missing on 19 March 2019 from Renwick, near Blenheim.

The last confirmed sighting of her was at about 4pm, driving west out of Blenheim, past the Woodbourne Air Force base on State Highway 6, in her mother’s red ute with a male passenger.

Boyce was believed to be wearing black glasses, a tank top, floral shorts and had barefeet.

A ute matching the description of Boyce’s mothers’ (a red Holden Rodeo ute, registration BDG553) was last seen up at the Lake Chalice area at about 5pm by overseas tourists.

It was found three days later on the road leading to the lake in Mount Richmond Forest Park, with Boyce’s broken glasses hidden inside.

A male profile of DNA on the glasses was unable to be matched, but the female DNA sample had been confirmed as Boyce’s.

A necklace she reportedly never took off was also hanging around the review mirror.

The case was formally upgraded to a homicide investigation in October 2019.

Her body had never been found.

Police officers investigating Boyce’s disappearance dubbed Operation Largo – had now revealed on Cold Case they believed a group of people active in the Marlborough meth scene were responsible for her disappearance and death.

Boyce was known to police as a drug user and a drug dealer, Detective Senior Sergeant Ciaran Sloan said.

“One thing they all have in common is the meth scene in Marlborough – buying, selling, using,” he said.

“The [persons of interest] number about eight to ten persons. Their make up is male and female, some are Pākehā, some are Māori. One was in their late teens, there are some mothers.”

At 3.29pm on 19 March, about when Boyce went missing, a series of urgent text messages were exchanged by two persons of interest in Marlborough, with one requesting the other call them.

“We can say that one of them does know Jessica because we know Jessica actually supplied one of them in the past,” he said.

A second conversation at 10.05pm the same day included a veiled threat and again had one person of interest asking the other to speak with them.

There was also cell phone activity from one person of interest in Havelock at 3am the next day before the phone goes silent for days – which police said was unusual behaviour for that person.

Within the group, police said there was a male and a female who were in a relationship, a father and daughter and two male associates who knew each other from their local involvement with meth.

This male pair had sent messages to each other at 11.39am on 21 March, two days after Boyce went missing.

Police believed a phrase used in them “Who is mowing the lawns?” was code for asking who would be “doing the clean up”.

It was followed by a four minute phone call.

The ute found at Lake Chalice could have potentially been staged, Detective Sergeant Lindsay Tilbury said.

It was not an area Boyce frequented and she was also not believed to be a competent manual driver – the road to the lake was unsealed and on an incline, he said.

Officers had carried out search warrants at Henderson and Warwick Streets in Blenheim, Wharanui, Kekerengu, Deep Creek Cemetery and the Canvastown area.

Sloan believed some of the locations, particularly Wharanui, were red herrings, with persons of interest deliberately trying to get police away from certain areas.

“It’s been worth it because [those locations] have been eliminated. Nothing in relation to our telecommunications supported [Wharanui] and the extensive search showed no evidence to support Jessica having been anywhere near that area,” he said.

Canvastown and Havelock remained locations of interest, Sloan said.

One person of interest had also said they were out of the region at the time Boyce went missing, but phone records revealed they were still in Marlborough the day she was last seen.

Anyone with relevant interest was encouraged to contact the investigation team on 0800 COLD CASE (0800 2653 2273).

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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