$100k reward offered in Kirsty Bentley case

Kirsty Bentley was murdered and her killer never found. Photo: Supplied
Kirsty Bentley was murdered and her killer never found. Photo: Supplied
Police are offering a $100,000 reward for information in the Kirsty Bentley murder.

The 1998 murder of the Ashburton schoolgirl remains one of New Zealand's most high-profile cold cases.

Kirsty disappeared on December 31 1998 while walking the family dog Abby on the banks of the Ashburton River.

The day after Kirsty went missing, the family's dog Abby was found tied to a tree near the river, and the teen's underwear was nearby.

Her body was discovered two weeks later in the Rakaia River gorge, 40km away.

No one has been charged over Kirsty's death, which remains a cold case.

Her father, Sid, was a suspect in his daughter's murder but denied any involvement.

Today police announced a reward of $100,000 for "material information or evidence" that leads to the identity and conviction of anyone responsible for the teenager's death.

Detective Inspector Greg Murton said police would also consider a deal for immunity from prosecution for any accomplice who came forward and assisted with the inquiry.

"Police have gone to great lengths to explore all possible scenarios and investigative leads and, even after more than 20 years, we remain committed to holding the offender or offenders to account," said Murton.

"Someone out there knows the truth. We urge them to do the right thing and finally come forward – if not for themselves, then for Kirsty and all those who loved her.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide answers and a sense of closure for Kirsty's family.

Murton said any information would be assessed closely and the Commissioner of Police will determine the amount of the reward and will, if necessary, apportion payment where there is more than one claimant.

The reward will remain on offer for a six month period.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police via 105 and reference Operation Kirsty.

Alternatively, you can call Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

In 2016 a coroner ruled that Kirsty died from a massive blow to her head on the day she went missing.

The finding came 18 years after she died.

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter