Desperately seeking Ron Jorgensen

by Fiona Rae / 04 September, 2010
Did Bassett Rd machine-gun murderer Ron Jorgensen really die in a car crash - or is he living it up in Australia? The Missing looks at the evidence.

We have to assume that, in 1984, Kaikoura was the most boring town in New Zealand. It is for this reason, it is said, that convicted murderer Ron Jorgensen faked his own death and escaped for the excitements of Sydney. Fact or hearsay, it's a good story, and one that gets a rehashing in the first episode of the new series of The Missing (TV1, Tuesday, 9.30pm).

The story goes back to New Zealand's closed-on-Sunday past, when bootleg booze was a big part of Auckland's criminal underground. It is thought that the two men murdered by Jorgensen and John Gillies at a house in Bassett Rd, Remuera, in 1963, were sly groggers. The killings and subsequent trial were a sensation not just because of our low murder rate at that time, but because the dead men, Frederick Walker and Kevin Speight, were riddled with bullets from a .45 calibre machine gun - the first time such a weapon had been used in a crime in New Zealand.

The mystery that The Missing re-examines is Jorgensen's disappearance from Kaikoura in 1984, after his release from prison. His car was found at the bottom of a cliff, but whether Jorgensen drowned, was killed, or took a slow boat to Australia remains unknown. There have been sightings of him, including three in Western Australia and one in Kumeu, north of Auckland, as recent as 2000, but TV shows don't have much of a clearance rate when it comes to finding people who want to remain hidden. Ironically, it won't matter if they do - the arrest warrant issued for Jorgensen in 1984 was for a breach of his parole, and it was withdrawn in 1998 after he was officially declared dead.

Latest

Fine lines: New Anzac books and graphic novels for kids
105028 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Books

Fine lines: New Anzac books and graphic novels for…

by Ann Packer

A telegraph “boy”, heroic animals and even shell-shock make for engaging reads for children.

Read more
Keeping up appearances: The challenging job of restoring NZ's lighthouses
104978 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Keeping up appearances: The challenging job of res…

by Fiona Terry

Ensuring lighthouses stay “shipshape” isn’t a job for the faint-hearted.

Read more
The former major reuniting service medals with their rightful owners
105015 2019-04-25 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

The former major reuniting service medals with the…

by Fiona Terry

Service medals are being reunited with their rightful owners thanks to former major Ian Martyn and his determined research.

Read more
PM announces 'Christchurch Call' to end use of social media for terrorism
104952 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Politics

PM announces 'Christchurch Call' to end use of soc…

by Noted

A meeting aims to see world leaders and CEOs of tech companies agree to a pledge called the ‘Christchurch Call’.

Read more
Red Joan: Judi Dench almost saves Soviet spy story from tedium
104942 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Movies

Red Joan: Judi Dench almost saves Soviet spy story…

by James Robins

The fictionalised account of a British woman who spied for the Soviet Union is stiflingly quaint.

Read more
What to watch on TV this Anzac Day
104749 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Television

What to watch on TV this Anzac Day

by Fiona Rae

Māori TV once again devotes the day to Anzac programming, including a live broadcast from Gallipoli.

Read more
Twist in the tale: Why Margaret Mahy changed the end of her classic debut
104490 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Books

Twist in the tale: Why Margaret Mahy changed the e…

by Sally Blundell

The two different endings of the beloved A Lion in the Meadow still provoke debate. So which is better, the 1969 original or the later, kinder one?

Read more
Mapping the second brain: The latest science on the effect of your gut bacteria
104884 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Health

Mapping the second brain: The latest science on th…

by Donna Chisholm

Most of us have heard the five-plus-a-day message for fruit and vegetables. But new research into gut health suggests that advice may need tweaking.

Read more