Cheryl Grimmer died an hour after being taken: police speak out about Wollongong cold case

Cheryl Grimmer died an hour after being taken: police Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth addressed the media on Thursday regarding the arrest of a man over the murder of Cheryl Grimmer.

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Police and volunteers search for Cheryl Grimmer on January 13, 1970. Picture: JOHN ELLIOTT

The military join police in the search for Cheryl Grimmer on January 15, 1970. Picture: JOHN ELLIOTT

Cheryl’s brother Stephen Grimmer outside Fairy Meadow Surf Club in December. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Police and volunteers search for Cheryl Grimmer. Picture taken January 13, 1970. Picture: JOHN ELLIOTT

Police search disused cars for Cheryl Grimmer.

Police and volunteers search for Cheryl Grimmer on January 13, 1970. Picture: JOHN ELLIOTT

Police and witnesses return to Fairy Meadow Beach in an attempt to uncover more details on the disappearance of Cheryl Grimmer in December. Picture: NSW POLICE

Cheryl Grimmer’s brothers Stephen Grimmer, Paul Grimmer and Ricki Grimmer spoke of their grief at a press conference in December. Picture: ROBERT PEET

The military join police in the search for Cheryl Grimmer on January 15, 1970. Picture: JOHN ELLIOTT

Carole Grimmer with her three sons, Stephen, Ricki and Paul, the day after her three-year-old daughter, Cheryl Grimmer, disappeared from Fairy Meadow Beach. Picture: JOHN ELLIOTT

Click on the image to view an enlarged version. With thanks to Wollongong City Library for archive assistance.

Click on the image to view an enlarged version. With thanks to Wollongong City Library for archive assistance.

Click on the image to view an enlarged version. With thanks to Wollongong City Library for archive assistance.

Click on the image to view an enlarged version. With thanks to Wollongong City Library for archive assistance.

Police and witnesses return to Fairy Meadow Beach in an attempt to uncover more details on the disappearance of Cheryl Grimmer. Picture: NSW POLICE

Police and witnesses return to Fairy Meadow Beach in an attempt to uncover more details on the disappearance of Cheryl Grimmer. Picture: NSW POLICE

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‘I shouldn’t have left’: brothers haunted by Cheryl’s disappearancePolice hone in on boys’ reform school in Grimmer cold caseHer disappearance sparked a manhunt across the Illawarra and has remained a mystery for 47 years, but police now believe three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer died within an hour of being taken from Fairy Meadow beach.

Speaking outside Wollongong police station after a 63-year-old man was arrested for the toddler’s murderDetective Inspector Brad Ainsworth said police would allege her death occurred within “an hour of so” of being taken.

He could not go into specifics of the police case before the man appears in Wollongong court on Friday, but said details of the offence we “quite horrific”.

Click the image below to watch the press conferenceDespite the breakthrough arrest, Det Insp Ainsworth indicated the little girl’s body was unlikely to ever be found, as the area where she went missing has been redeveloped into residential housing.

The police chief praised the work of the local detective who cracked open the case after 50 years.

He agreed the arrest –which is the oldest cold case arrest made in Australia –was a big moment in policing. He said the work of Damien Loone, Constable Frank Sanvitale and Craig Barrass, who began reexamining details of the case last year,was a fantastic accomplishment.

Detective Senior Constable Frank Sanvitale outside Fairy Meadow Surf Club in December. He was one of three officers who began reexamining the case last year. Picture: ROBERT PEET

“We’ve had the luxury of being able to dedicate two to three detectives to this investigation, and it’s borne fruit,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic accomplishment thus far, obviously the end result is what we’re looking for, it’s got to go before the court, andas we all know that’s a different jurisdiction.”

Det Insp Ainsworth confirmed the man who has been arrested –who was 16 at the time of his alleged crime and can not be named –had been interviewed by police 18 months after Cheryl’s disappearance.

“I’m not here to criticise for one moment any investigation that was carried out back then,” he said.

“But yes, he was one of many persons of interest that were interviewed at the time and as it’s turned out, yes, he has been spoken with. And now he has been arrested.”

He said Cheryl’s brothers had be “buoyed at the news”.

Police search disused cars for Cheryl Grimmer.

“But in saying that, the investigation and the whole ordeal moves into another sphere now it moves into the court process. It’s not going to be resolved for some time,” Det Insp Ainsworth said.

Illawarra Mercury