Can television show Cold Case solve a murder?

by Fiona Rae / 28 July, 2018
Cold Case, Sunday.

Cold Case, Sunday.

RelatedArticlesModule - Cold Case TV show

Cold Case puts four of the country’s 65 unsolved deaths in the spotlight in the hope publicity will get results.  

Can a television show solve a murder? That is the question in new local series Cold Case (TVNZ 1, Sunday, 8.30pm), which is appealing for public help as it goes over unsolved deaths with a fine-tooth comb.

There are 65 cold-case killings on the books and although the series tackles only four, a breakthrough in just one would mean a lot to family members and investigating officers.

As Stewart Guy says in the first episode, “It’s not something that ever leaves you. It certainly hasn’t for me, anyway.”

He is talking about one of our best-known and mysterious cases: the disappearance of hitchhiker Mona Blades in 1975. She was 18 when she left home in Hamilton to visit family in Hastings, but never arrived.

Guy was a detective constable in training on his first big case.

After 43 years, it may seem too late for any new information to come to light, but as retired detective inspector Ron Cooper notes, there are all sorts of reasons people can come forward now when they couldn’t before.

“Thieves fall out, people change their priorities and get different values in their lives and may come forward. Never say never.” There are also new forensic and interview techniques that can establish the truth.

Cooper and Guy are part of a team of four assembled to go over the Mona Blades investigation. Cooper is a memory expert and sheds new light on the crucial interviews of a truck driver who said he’d seen her get into an orange Datsun station wagon.

It is described as “the only real milestone in the investigation” and it sent the inquiry on a 145km search of the Taupo-Napier highway. In addition, every single driver of an orange Datsun station wagon was interviewed.

But after assessing the interviews, the team comes to the extraordinary conclusion that it was a false lead and they must look more closely at Blades’ movements in Taupo.

There is more surprising information to come; perhaps Mona’s sister Michelle will get her wish to “lay her to rest with Mum and Dad”.

The other three cases in the series are not quite so old. They are missing Wellington man Do Trieu, who disappeared in 2008; Kayo Matsuzawa, whose body was found in a stairwell cupboard in a building in Auckland in 1998; and Dunedin mother of three Tuitania Barclay, who vanished in 2002.

This article was first published in the July 28, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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