Police search house: foul play suspected

A police dive squad searches for clues about Tuitania Barclay's disappearance at Ross Creek in...
A police dive squad searches for clues about Tuitania Barclay's disappearance at Ross Creek in Dunedin last month. Photos supplied.
Tuitania (Tui) Marama Barclay at Ross Creek in Dunedin before she disappeared.
Tuitania (Tui) Marama Barclay at Ross Creek in Dunedin before she disappeared.

Police searched a Dunedin home yesterday for clues relating to the disappearance of a mother who went missing 12 years ago.

Investigators have reopened the cold case concerning Tuitania (Tui) Marama Barclay and say they now suspect foul play.

Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis, of Dunedin, said Ms Barclay had not been seen since October 2002, when she rented a house in Wakari Rd, Dunedin, with her former partner Bill Brown.

Det Snr Sgt Inglis, who is leading the investigation, said police searched for clues yesterday at a Dunedin residence where Ms Barclay had lived.

Police searched another of her past residences in mid-April, he said.

About the same time, the police dive squad were called to check Ross Creek reservoir, a place Ms Barclay frequently visited.

''We are basically leaving no stone unturned,'' Det Snr Sgt Inglis said.

The squad found nothing at the reservoir relating to her disappearance, he said.

The original police inquiries into her disappearance started when Mr Brown reported her missing on February 28, 2003 - about four months after Ms Barclay was last seen in Dunedin.

''He believed she had just walked out of the house and left.''

Det Snr Sgt Inglis said that at the time, Mr Brown had talked to and assisted police and no significant leads were generated.

He said four police staff working on the case for the past three months had not yet spoken to Mr Brown, who no longer lived in New Zealand.

A month before Ms Barclay disappeared, she had indicated she was going to end her relationship with Mr Brown.

''We are keeping a very open mind as to who is involved with her disappearance, or what's happened,'' Det Snr Sgt Inglis said.

''All avenues are being looked at and not just one person in particular.''

The couple had two children together and Ms Barclay had another child from a previous relationship.

When Ms Barclay disappeared, the two youngest children were under the age of 2 and Mr Brown cared for the children.

Two of the children now lived in England and the other lived in New Zealand, but not in Dunedin, he said.

''We would like to bring some closure for them. It would be nice for them to have a body they can put to rest.''

Det Snr Sgt Inglis said before she disappeared, Ms Barclay had a history of drug-taking and prostitution, and was focused on caring for and raising her three children.

''She was a mother who took her children to school, to doctor's appointments, took them to Plunket. We are finding no great evidence of serious drug use; nothing to indicate she was off the rails.''

Ms Barclay was Caucasian and of small build, and was aged 29 when she disappeared.

''She was quite a petite lady, about 160cm in height - just over five foot - and generally had blond hair but at the time of disappearance had dark hair.''

Ms Barclay, who had adoptive parents, had gone by three different names - Tuitania McIntosh, Tuitania Brown and Sandra Williams.

Det Snr Sgt Inglis said the case was reopened when her missing-person file was reviewed last year.

The evidence would be re-examined and information gathered from the public, he said.

Police were talking to people who knew Ms Barclay at the time of her disappearance, including friends, family and past neighbours.

''Everyone we speak to, we are finding out new things, which is helping greatly.''

Police believed if Ms Barclay had committed suicide, or died from natural causes, police would have already found a body.

''Nothing has surfaced in 11 years, so we must consider an element of foul play.''

There was a slight possibility she could still be alive.

''She could have jumped on a fishing boat and gone to Australia. It's unlikely, but you've got to keep an open mind.''

The Otago Daily Times reported in June 2004 that police inquiries had revealed Ms Barclay had links to a Christchurch gang when she went missing.

Det Snr Sgt Inglis said it was ''thoroughly investigated'' at the time and police had gone back to gang members and investigated further.

He hoped people would be more willing to share information on Ms Barclay than they had 11 years ago.

People with information can contact Detective Matt Preece on 471-4800. Information can also be provided anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555-111.

- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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