Real Crime: The Missing on One

9:30pm Tuesday, September 7 on TV One

In the early hours of the December 19, 1984 a car left the road and plunged to the bottom of a cliff on the rocky Kaikoura coast. The vehicle belonged to one of New Zealand’s most notorious criminals, Ronald Jorgensen; famous for his role in the 1963 Basset Road machine gun murders.

Tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE Real Crime: The Missing will re-explore the case of Ronald Jorgensen, and pick up a trail that leads them across the Tasman.

Former Detective of the Christchurch police, Neville Stokes, recalls being called by the local authorities, who became concerned about the crash scene as soon as it was established Jorgensen was nowhere to be found. “They didn’t believe it was credible and [the Christchurch police] came up and I went up there with half a dozen or so detectives to carry out preliminary enquiries,” says Stokes.

At the time Jorgensen vanished, he was living in a pokey caravan at the back of his elderly father’s house in Kaikoura. He was painting a house belonging to a woman at South Bay. The last sightings of him were at that house the day before the car was found. Neighbours noted hearing Jorgensen speak with another man at the property, but Stokes and his team were able to tie down the movements of all his acquaintances and with alibis.

Stokes says, “we ruled any of them out – we have never been able to determine who the second person was at the address.”

However for Stokes, the next piece in the puzzle occurred a few hours later just South of Kaikoura township. “Around 1am that morning a truck driver was travelling north on the coast road and when he came round the corner the Cortina car was there with the front wheels hanging over the cliff. There was a person standing by the car and he was described as a tallish person who looked quite relaxed,” he says.

Did Jorgensen commit suicide? Was he murdered? Or did engineer his own disappearance? Twenty-six years on Real Crime: The Missing investigate.

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