The case of the disappearance and presumed murder of Cheryl Grimmer has reached a breakthrough. The three year old girl was last seen on the 12th of January 1970, nearly 50 years ago at Fairy Meadow Beach near Wollongong. Investigators believe a teenager, who would now be in his 60s, is still alive and is guilty for Cheryl’s abduction.
A re-enactment of the events that day, involving the last known movements surrounding the disappearance, occurred on the 22nd of November. Police were at Fairy Meadow Beach along with three witnesses from the case.
The accounts of the three witnesses, who at the time were aged nine, 10 and 12, include a description of the suspect and reports of seeing him both in the morning and afternoon at the beach. The re-enactment was conducted to reinforce the view of the witnesses credibility.
The suspect is described as at the time, to be aged between 16 and 18, 180cm tall, with brown hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion and having a medium build.
Police have appealed for anyone with information about the identity of the suspect to come forward.
This new lead comes after police re-examined files and clues and have found information that was overlooked and missed in the original investigation. After a Coronial Inquest in May 2011, the case was referred to the Unsolved Homicide Team.
Immediately after Cheryl’s disappearance, an extensive search was conducted over the following days. It saw the military join forces with the police in the search, as well as a large number of the public and volunteers.
On the day of her disappearance, Cheryl, wearing a royal blue one-piece swimsuit, was at the beach with her mother and three older brothers. Their family had moved from England a year prior. At about 1:30 pm, the children’s mother sent them to the nearby change sheds to shower and change. It took 30 seconds for her brothers, Stephen, 5, and Ricky, 7, to go get their mother to help Cheryl when she wouldn’t come out of the change shed. When they returned, she was gone and they couldn’t find her. Her parents have now passed away without knowing what happened to their only daughter. Her brothers have never stopped looking for answers.
Detectives have said that they feared Cheryl was taken by a sexual predator who had acted on impulse.
Three days after her disappearance, a ransom note was sent to Cheryl’s parents, demanding $10,000 for the safe return of their youngest child.
Undercover police waited at the drop-off point but no one turned up.
Numerous rumours and speculations about the case have circulated. Accounts of a young girl, seeming to fit Cheryl’s descriptions, seen in a white car speeding away from the beach were made. As well as those of an unknown person in an orange swimsuit, reportedly seen grabbing her and running off into nearby bush land. It was also reported that a man was seen running towards the car park, while carrying a blonde girl wrapped in a white towel.
Authorities are appealing to the conscience of the person they believe kidnapped Cheryl. Whether this is enough to make them come forward, police are confident that either way they are on the right path. They believe that they are closing in on the suspect and hope to bring closure to one of the Illawarra’s biggest mysteries. A $100,000 reward remains on offer for information leading to the person responsible for Cheryl’s abduction.