4 May 2010

Missing Whanganui woman: foul play now suspected

9:59 pm on 4 May 2010

Police now suspect foul play in the case of a missing Whanganui woman. They are forensically examining a vehicle believed to be connected to her disappearance.

Marice McGregor, 45, was last seen collecting pine cones in the Lismore Forest area near Whanganui on 19 April. Her car was later found abandoned there, with her walking shoes and wallet inside.

Her mobile phone was briefly switched on in the Feilding area on 20 April.

Police say Ms McGregor would never go far without her car because she could not walk far without assistance.

The head of the inquiry, Detective Senior Sergeant Gwynne Pennell, says that, given the time passed, the disappearance is now being treated as suspicious - but she hopes that is not the case.

4WD owner co-operating with police

On Tuesday, police would not say where they had found the green Mitsubishi four-wheel-drive they are now examining.

Ms Pennell says Ms McGregor knows the owner of the van, who is co-operating with police. But she says they need more sightings of the vehicle's movements between Whanganui and Manawatu 15 days ago, in order to confirm, or not, the owner's version of events.

The vehicle is believed to have been in the State Highway 4 area when Ms McGregor was last seen and may have travelled from the Whanganui area towards Manawatu on the evening of 19 April.

Ms Pennell says it is now thought the vehicle was in Marton mid-evening.