On what would have been Niamh Maye’s 40th birthday, police have announced a $250,000 reward in a bid to shed light on her disappearance 21 years ago.
Niamh was aged 18 when she was last seen at a campground at Jingellic with friends on the morning of Saturday 30 March 2002, during the fruit picking season in Batlow.
She was looking to travel by bus from Batlow to Cootamundra and then on to Sydney to see family but she never used her bus tickets and was never seen again. It is suspected she met with foul play.
At the time of her disappearance, Niamh was carrying personal belongings in a backpack, including clothing, camera equipment, camping gear and cookware; none of which has ever been located.
After her family reported her missing, Riverina Police District established Strike Force Yola and have conducted extensive investigations into Niamh’s whereabouts but have been unable to locate her.
Riverina Police District Commander Superintendent Andrew Spliet said the $250,000 reward was for information that could lead to an arrest and conviction or to the remains of Niamh.
“Any information, no matter how small, could be the missing piece of the puzzle we need to locate Niamh and finally bring answers and some peace to her family,” Supt Spliet said.
“Today would have been Niamh’s 40th birthday and it’s important we get some answers and closure for the family.
“We have never given up on Niamh, and we’re not about to,” Supt Spliet said.
Supt Spliet said a large number of inquiries had been undertaken in the ongoing investigation and police had spoken to numerous people.
“It’s a matter that is continuing to be ongoing for all police and any new police that arrive in the Tumut sector and they’re given a briefing on what’s taking place and the history of the investigation.
‘We will track down every line of inquiry that comes to hand.”
Supt Spliet said it was the first time a $250,000 reward had been announced regarding the ongoing investigation.
He added local police and detectives had been in regular contact with the family for more than 20 years.
Niamh’s mother, Anne Maye, 82, lives in a retirement village in Sydney and said she and her family needed to lay their daughter, sister, aunt and friend to rest.
“Today, Niamh should be celebrating her 40th birthday with her family and friends. Instead, we mourn the beautiful soul and precious time that have been taken from us,” Mrs Maye said.
“We still desperately want to find her and lay her to rest with the dignity and respect she deserves. If you know something or can help find her, please do the right thing and come forward.
“Words can’t describe how special Niamh is to our whole family. Her disappearance has left a gaping hole and we have never given up on finding her. We hope this reward will lead us to the answers we have sought for more than 20 years now,” Mrs Maye said.
A coronial inquest in 2012 found that Niamh had died at or near Tumut on or around 30 March 2002. Nobody has ever been charged over her disappearance.
NSW Police and Niamh’s family have never stopped looking for her.
Niamh’s family have launched a website about her disappearance in hopes of reaching a larger international audience.
The website missingniamh.com details the events and circumstances surrounding the teen’s disappearance, information the family hopes will draw more clues and help them understand what happened to Niamh.
Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Yola detectives is urged to contact Crime Stoppers or call 1800 333 000.