DID murdered 11-year-old Gerard Ross take a different path?
For 20 years, investigators believed that Gerard was taken and killed on his way to a Perth comic book store. But a breakthrough in the unsolved case is exploring the possibility that he took a different path than the one initially investigated.
Gerard disappeared on the morning of October 14, 1997, when he was heading to a shopping strip about 800m away from his family’s holiday home at Rockingham, which is now part of Perth.
They were visiting from the far north Pilbara town of Newman but were originally from Scotland.
On the that morning, his 13-year-old brother Malcolm was rollerblading ahead; the brothers had agreed to meet up at the shops.
But Gerard never arrived.
His body was found two weeks later, dumped in a pine plantation at Karnip, about 20km southeast of Rockingham.
No arrests were ever made and the case become one of the state’s most troubling cold cases. As with many cold cases though it has recently been re-examined — and a startling new theory has emerged, reported The Australian.
Detectives from WA’s special crime squad spent six months on Operation Shoalhaven — the review in the case — AND considered the possibility Gerard may have turned right to the beach with the aim of arriving at the arcade from the other end than he was expected to.
Investigators have reportedly uncovered useful leads after visiting properties along the new path, even though almost 20 years have passed.
Acting Detective Inspector Jon Munday said on Tuesday that the fresh appeal followed a review of the investigation in 2014, with several new people of interest identified.
“While police have spoken to almost 1200 witnesses during this investigation, we believe there are others with information who have not yet come forward,” he said.
There were several new “persons of interest”, Det Insp Munday said. In addition to that he knew people with information about the murder still had not come forward — possibly withholding crucial information.
A $100,000 reward issued by the state government in WA remains on offer for anyone who can help solve the murder.
Police have asked for anyone with information about a Yankees baseball cap Gerard was wearing to come forward. It is the only piece of clothing of his that is still missing.
They are also trying to identify the driver of a beige or cream coloured sedan who approached a boy at a Kent Street bus stop near the library up to two months before Gerard disappeared.
In that instance, the man asked a boy if he needed a lift and when he said no the man drove away.
A statement from Gerard’s mother Cyrese said the family was still seeking justice.
“As his brother and sisters grow up and make lives for themselves, Gerard has been denied this opportunity,” she said.
“He will never experience the joy in sharing his love, creative talent and sense of humour with his niece or when starting his own family.
“His promising life, hopes and dreams have tragically been taken from him.”
WA Labor leader Mark McGowan, who was the state member of parliament for Rockingham in 1997, said the whole community was traumatised by the shocking crime.
“I do hope they catch the culprit now,” he said.
Mr McGowan said he remembered a tearful, emotional church service held for Gerard with the Ross family and hundreds of local residents.
— with AAP