'We just want answers': Mother of murdered girl Alicia O'Reilly pleas for help

Danny Watson 24/11/2021

LISTEN: A brand new TVNZ show has revealed new DNA evidence in the unsolved murder case of six-year-old Alicia O'Reilly more than 40 years later.

On August 16, 1980, Alicia was found murdered in her bed at her family home on Canal Rd in the Auckland suburb of Avondale.

The case has remained unsolved for over 40 years but thanks to new DNA discoveries, the investigation - dubbed Operation Sturbridge - is now imminently solvable.

More than four decades worth of information from the homicide investigation file was reviewed by the Auckland Criminal Investigations team in 2020, with new details on the case revealed on TVNZ's Cold Case programme this week.

Swabs were found in an envelope in the bottom of a cardboard box in police archives, and more samples were found in storage rooms at Auckland DHB pathology department.

Alicia's mother, Nancye O'Reilly, says while they now have the DNA evidence police need to match it with somebody.

"I want to urge anyone at that time that had their doubts about somebody - maybe uncle John or Jimmy or whatever, who had come home and was acting strangely, that they urge the male side of that family to go and get a DNA test," she told Magic Talk.

I know it was 41 years ago but we just want answers.

Police now have a list of 800 suspects, with more than 140 persons of interest ruled out so far after giving voluntary DNA samples.

A 23-year-old man who lived near Alicia's home, and was the prime suspect from the original investigation, has now been eliminated.

Reflecting on the process of dealing with grief, Nancye says she has had a number of years to come to terms with Alicia's tragic death.

"You go through a grieving process and obviously there's going to be all of those emotions. The shock, the anger, the wanting the revenge.

"There was a time when I really wanted to hurt the person that had taken her life and abused her and violated her," she told Magic Talk.

But Nancye says you can't live your life with that anger or rage.

"Because all it will do is destroy yourself."

Listen to the full interview with Nancye O'Reilly above.

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