Arrest Made in 47-Year-Old Australian Murder Mystery

Cheryl Grimmer was 3 when she disappeared from the beach
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2017 2:14 PM CDT
Cheryl Grimmer, 3, disappeared from the showers at Australia's Fairy Meadow beach in 1970.   (New South Wales Police)
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(Newser) – Nearly 50 years after a 3-year-old girl disappeared from an Australian beach, police may have finally cracked the case. In January 1970, Cheryl Grimmer visited Fairy Meadow beach in Wollongong with her mother and three young brothers, the BBC reports. As the visit wound down, the children went to shower off. Cheryl never returned from the girls' changing room. Her brother, Ricki Grimmer, says she was only gone for a few minutes. "It's something I still live with every day," he says. A massive search for Cheryl proved fruitless, and her body has never been found. Her parents both died without knowing what happened to her, and her brothers didn't want the same thing to happen to them, according to ABC. Then, on Wednesday, police made an arrest.

The unnamed 63-year-old suspect was a "person of interest" during the original investigation. Police, who revisited the case last year, say new clues—including three witnesses who saw a teen "loitering" in the area of Cheryl's disappearance—allowed them to confirm some details of the original investigation and make the arrest. The suspect was a 16-year-old student at a reform school in 1970, the Illawarra Mercury reports. Police say he spoke about Cheryl's disappearance at the time. He's now charged with her abduction and murder. "I'm not going to get into the specifics ... but I can say that they are quite horrific," one detective tells the BBC. Cheryl's brother, Stephen Grimmer, tells the Sydney Morning Herald the arrest has been "unreal" and "really emotional." (A 1984 newspaper clip led police to missing sisters.)

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