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Kirsa Jensen
This page is dedicated to Kirsa's mother, Robyn Jensen, in the hope that one day she may find the answers to her daughter's disappearance and be able to find peace.
Full Name: Kirsa Mary Jensen
Date of Birth: 15 December 1968 (14 years old at time of disappearance).

On Thursday, September 1st, 1983, Kirsa Jensen rode her horse to the beach at Awatoto, Napier. She never returned home and was never seen again. This is the story of a baffling mystery still unsolved to this day.

At 3pm on that ill-fated Thursday afternoon, Kirsa Jensen went to collect her horse, Commodore, from the paddock next to her home in Riverbend road. She proceeded to ride him via Te Awa Avenue and Meeanee Road, to Awatoto Beach in Napier. It is alleged that she would have arrived at the beach at 3.30pm and was subsequently seen at 4pm by a passer-by. The last sighting by a witness was of Kirsa with blood on her face, and Commodore at the gun emplacement near the mouth of the Tutaekuri River. She was also seen talking to a man with a white ute. At 5.30pm her mother started to worry and friends and family started to look for her. The police were advised of her disappearance at 6.45pm and started a preliminary search. They found her horse, Commodore, wandering aimlessly near the Tutaekuri River bridge. The search continued till around 11.30pm when it was called off for the night, to be started again at first light.

On Friday, September 2nd, the search resumed with the help of volunteers from the neighbourhood. Detective Inspector Ian Holyoake with a team of detectives headed the inquiry. After talking to a witness they now believe foul play may be involved. The search continues with no sign of Kirsa.

On Saturday, September 3rd, police divers are brought into the area to begin searching the river and other waterways, along with a heat detector used to find bodies. The police also appeal for the driver of the white ute, who was seen talking to Kirsa, to come forward for questioning. Fingerprint and forensic experts are brought in to test blood and hair samples found on the gun emplacement. Through the next 48 hours the search continues with no success.

On Tuesday, September 6th, the search is extended and deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mel Churches, joins the Kirsa Jensen task force. A $5000 reward is offered by the Napier 'Daily Telegraph' for any information that leads to Kirsa being found. The next day a video is made retracing Kirsa's movements and is circulated to shops in Napier and Hastings along with a Police caravan in the center of town, for easy access for people who may have seen or heard something to do with the case.

On Thursday, September 8th, the video of Kirsa's movements on the day of her disappearance, is shown on 'Eye Witness News' nationwide. On Friday, the police ask for the public's help, in finding the man in the white ute with wooden sides, by phoning in registration numbers. It is of obvious Police concern that he has not come forward voluntarily by now.

The search continues. The police release through the press witness evidence as to the last sightings of Kirsa Jensen. One of the most important was from a passer-by who noti
The Police theory now was that Kirsa had met with foul play by a person who was, as yet, unknown.
ced a girl by the gun emplacement being held by at arms length by a man, described as European, 1.8 meters tall and seemed 45 - 50 years in age. He also saw a white tonne truck with flat deck and brown sides parked close by. Another witness stopped and talked to Kirsa, who he noticed had blood on her face, which she told him had happened when she fell from her horse. Someone had gone to inform her parents and she expected them to arrive shortly. He left thinking all was under control. The other important information was from a witness that said around 4.30pm he had driven past a white tonne truck coming off the bridge. The driver was described as a European male, with brown hair and approximately 20 - 30 years old. He had his arm around the girl passenger's shoulders and was driving using one hand. Commodore was seen by several witnesses after this, around 4.45pm tied to the gun emplacement.

The Police theory now was that Kirsa had met with foul play by a person who was, as yet, unknown. They surmised that Kirsa had had a fall from her horse and that the person who had been seen with her, apparently to help by contacting her parents, had in fact abducted the girl and most probably used force by knocking her out.

There was only one suspect who held the Police's attention for a long time. His name was John Russell and he already had a conviction for rape. He identified himself as the man who was seen with Kirsa Jensen at the gun emplacement on that horrific afternoon. The police tested over a hundred samples of fibres taken from his home and went over his truck but no evidence was found. John Russell proclaimed his innocence and believed he was being persecuted, because he had come forward to help the investigation not to become a suspect. However on several occasions Russell did admit killing Kirsa Jensen but always recanted and Police never had enough evidence to take the case to court. He also visited Kirsa's parents and spoke to Dan Jensen, Kirsa's father, telling him that he was not involved in his daughter's disappearance. Later, again he returned to their residence and spoke to Kirsa's mother, Robyn Jensen, still denying his involvement with Kirsa's disappearance. Shortly after this, Russell was committed to Lake Alice psychiatric facility for help with a mental condition. Four weeks after his release, John Russell committed suicide by hanging himself in a Hastings guest house. He unfortunately left no note giving his reasons for ending his life.

Did Russell's suicide end any chance of finding out the truth about Kirsa Jensen's fate? Unfortunately we will never know, but maybe his death was his way of dealing with a truth so horrible that he could no longer live with it.

Back to NZ Unsolved Mysteries Index

Kirsa Jensen's disappearance is still one of New Zealand's biggest unsolved cases.

 Kirsa Jensen Portrait 

 Kirsa Jensen Portrait 

 Kirsa - a Mothers Story Book Cover 

 Kirsa - a Mothers Story Book Cover 

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