News, Police Rounds

Cheryl Grimmer development


Cheryl Grimmer with her father, John.

FRESH information has led to a new development in a 46-year mystery of the kidnapping and suspected murder of three-year-old, Cheryl Grimmer.

The toddler was abducted outside the change-rooms of Fairy Meadow Beach on 12 January 1970, and despite decades of determined investigation, she has never been found.

Now, almost 50 years later, detectives have received new information about Cheryl’s suspected kidnapper.

The investigation under Strike Force Wessel, comprising officers from Wollongong Local Area Command and the Homicide Squad’s Unsolved Homicide Team, is focusing on a male youth seen in the immediate vicinity of the surf club pavilion in the morning and afternoon of the day Cheryl was taken.

The youth is described as being of Caucasian appearance, about 152cm or 5 feet tall, with a medium build, brown hair, blue eyes and fair complexion.

At the time, it is believed he was aged between 16 and 17, and would now be aged in his early 60s.

Acting on that information, strike forces detectives recently returned to Fairy Meadow Beach with several key witnesses in a bid to further draw on their memories.

Now aged in their 50s, those witnesses were aged nine, 10 and 12 at the time.
They were joined by Cheryl’s brother, Stephen, who has never stopped trying to find his sister.

Mr Grimmer, now aged 52, was sent with Cheryl and their two brothers by their parents to the change-rooms to use the showers after a day at the beach.

That’s when detectives believe she was snatched. The case was subject to a Coronial Inquest in May 2011, the Coroner ruled Cheryl had died sometime after her disappearance, and the cause unknown. It was then referred to the Unsolved Homicide Team for review.

Wollongong Local Area Command Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth, said Cheryl’s disappearance is a mystery they still desperately want to solve.
“Cheryl’s kidnapping sparked a massive manhunt and stunned the Illawarra,” Det Insp Ainsworth said.
“Cheryl’s dad, Vince, a former soldier, and her mother, Carole, died never knowing what happened to their daughter.

“The witnesses’ return to the beach has yielded promising results, and we hope someone in the community may be able to help us identify this male youth.

“We would dearly love to provide answers to Steve and his family, solve this matter for the people of the Illawarra, and ultimately provide Cheryl with some dignity in death,” Det Insp Ainsworth said.

About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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