Mona Blades case
Mona Elizabeth Blades was an 18-year-old New Zealand woman who disappeared in 1975 while hitchhiking. Her body and belongings have never been found and no one has been charged in connection with her disappearance and presumed murder.
Blades was hitchhiking from Hamilton to Hastings on Saturday 31 May 1975, the first day of the Queen's Birthday long weekend, and was allegedly last seen on the road between Napier and Taupo in an orange Datsun 120Y station wagon. A truck driver saw Blades getting into the Datsun and witnesses reported seeing a matching vehicle veering off the highway and stopping on rural Matea Road.
There have been about five suspects in the case. Auckland police investigated John Freeman who had rented an orange Datsun the weekend that Blades disappeared. On the day two weeks later that police announced they were searching for an orange Datsun, Freeman shot and wounded a student at St Cuthbert's College in Auckland before killing himself.
An elderly New Zealand man and Charlie Hughes, a Hamilton man now living in Australia, have remained "persons of interest" for police. Hughes has gone public in newspapers and on television about his frustrations at being on the suspects list and has denied he had anything to do with the alleged murder.
In 2004, there was a glimmer of hope when police came across a shallow grave bearing Blades' name in a Huntly garage. The name had been inscribed on concrete as a joke six years earlier and the former owner of the property apologised to her family.
In 2005, Blades' brother, Tony Blades, told the Daily Post his family had not talked to the media during the previous 30 years about their feelings because it was too hard on them, especially their mother, who was then in her 80s, and her father had died not knowing his daughter's whereabouts.
The Mona Blades case featured on TVNZ's Cold Case programme in July 2018. The programme revisited the case with expert detectives and re-examined the original files hoping to find new leads. The experts concluded that the original investigation focused too heavily on the hunt for the orange Datsun and may have misled potential witnesses by using photographs which did not resemble Blades' hairstyle at the time of her disappearance. A detective said that gang members or their associates may have been involved in the disappearance. Blades had gang affiliations, and gang members may have been travelling on the road to a gathering in Wellington that weekend.
- "Mona Blades vanishes". New Zealand History Online. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
- "Mona Blades suspect again quizzed". New Zealand Herald. 7 December 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
- "Decades old murder re-investigated". One News. TVNZ. 7 February 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
- "The mystery of Mona Blades". NZ Herald. 16 July 2005. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
- Morton, Jamie (27 January 2012). "Cop v Cop in cold-case murder". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- Makiha, Kelly (27 July 2018). "Twist in Mona Blades cold case following new television documentary". NZ Herald.
- "Gang links in decades-old Mona Blades cold case". Stuff.co.nz. 31 July 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
- New Zealand Police page on the case