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The Kirsty Bentley Murder Case
Kirsty Bentley, 15, of Ashburton, went missing on the 31st December 1998.
She was reported as missing by her parents after she failed to return to her home near the north bank of the Ashburton river after walking her black Labrador-cross dog. Kirsty's 19-year-old brother John last saw her at around 3pm when she told him she was taking the family dog, Abby, for a walk. Kirsty’s boyfriend, Graeme Offord, had arranged to have New Year’s Eve dinner with her family, and raised the alarm when she did not return.

She was wearing a black tank top with a white butterfly-patterned blue sarong and Colorado shoes.

Following an initial search by Police, her dog was found tied by its lead to a tree on Friday, 1st January 1999. Kirsty’s parents had not found the dog when they searched in the same area the night of her disappearance, leading to speculation as to when the dog was left there.

Sid and Jill Bentley have been on the media, pleading for any news or sightings of their daughter, describing her as reliable and levelheaded. Prior to her disappearance Kirsty was planning her 16th birthday party for the 18th of January 1999. Detective Senior Sergeant Lance Corcoran stated that the longer she remains missing the more chance foul play is involved.

A search of the Ashburton River surrounding area turned up Kirsty’s underpants and the boxer shorts she wore over them, 20 meters from where the dog was found. Police are continuing to search but no other items of clothing or clues have been found. There wer
“Obviously the offender who left Kirsty’s body here would not have counted on it being found so early” stated Detective Inspector John Winter
e no signs of the fabric being forcibly removed.

Witnesses have said they saw a young blond girl walking a black Labrador-cross dog with two men in their early twenties at around 3pm on New Year’s Eve. Police are appealing for these people to come forward and be eliminated from their enquiries.


Police have confirmed that the body recently found in the Rakaia Gorge is Kirsty Bentley.

The body was identified using dental records but police are yet to issue any statement as to the cause or time of death.

The badly decomposed body was discovered in a paddock two kilometers downstream of the Rakaia Gorge Bridge, near Camp Gully Creek off Scenic Highway 72 - approximately 52 kilometers from Ashburton. Two men searching for a cannabis plot found it on the Sunday afternoon of 17 January 1999.

Kirsty’s family have made a statement saying that the confirmation appeared inevitable, but is devastating.

Police forensic experts, including a pathologist, are still examining the scene and are appealing for anyone that camped near Camp Gully or who was on holiday in the region to contact them, as they may have seen something that could help in the investigation.

If you have any information contact the police.

Officer in Charge: Detective Senior Sergeant Lance Corcoran
Ashburton Police
cnr Cass and Havelock Streets
PO Box 34

More information released
January 1999: Detective Inspector John Winter releases further infomation regarding the case  read story...

Back to NZ Unsolved Mysteries Index

Kirsty Bentley's murder and the ongoing police investigation.

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