Jane Thurgood-Dove’s family pleads for leads as new cold case hub opens

Almost 25 years after the murder of Melbourne mother Jane Thurgood-Dove, police have thrown open the investigation files in the hope members of the public can solve the case.

It’s one of five cold cases now open to the public in a new online hub, revealed by The Age on Sunday, that aims to shed light on some of the state’s most baffling unsolved crimes.

Helen and John Magill speak about the unsolved murder of their daughter, Jane Thurgood-Dove, at the launch of Victoria Police’s cold case hub on Sunday.Credit:Paul Jeffers

Ms Thurgood-Dove’s parents, John and Helen Magill, still hope someone has information on who killed their daughter in the driveway of her Niddrie home in November 1997. Police believe it was a case of mistaken identity.

“The ongoing time we have dealt with this, 23, nearly 24 years, that is hard, it’s tough,” Mr Magill said on Sunday. “We’ve toughed it out.”

Mrs Magill said their grandchildren didn’t mention their mother much, something she hoped might change if the murder was solved.

“We gathered around and showed them love and attention and care,” Mrs Magill said. “They all went about going through school, they have jobs and are content as far as I know but they don’t seem to mention their mother much and I think if this was solved, it may make all the difference in the world.”

The website is the first of its kind in Australia. Victoria Police will produce a video for each case, with an investigator talking through the facts and photos and what police are looking for from the public.

Detective Inspector Tim Day saw a similar website in action while on a study trip to Toronto in Canada where the local homicide unit has run a page for several years. It has more than 600 cases listed, some of them dating back to the 1970s.

Inspector Day said Toronto investigators had little time to chase old cases due to the city’s high murder rate but they found sharing details with the public generated new leads.

Victoria Police will also review how widely their videos are shared and modify how they promote and share the cases as they are published.

Five out of Victoria’s 200-plus cold cases have been added to the hub. Police hope to add two more each month, with all families to be notified when their loved one’s case is being added.

“They are effectively given a ranking based on the forensic material available or the availability of witnesses and the strength of the case thus far,” Inspector Day said.

“There will be ones you probably haven’t heard of before but are ones we think can give us the best value in terms of solvability.

“We are realists, we live in the real world, it comes down to our capacity to action these things. We also need to be careful how much information we put out because there is a capacity aspect, it will move slowly and the site will develop over time.”

In the Thurgood-Dove case, Inspector Day said police still thought there were people who had evidence that could lead to finally clearing the case.

“One of the theories is one of the primary offenders is deceased but we still keep an open mind that that might not be right,” he said.

“We believe we are still looking for the person who drove the vehicle and the person who contracted the killing.

“That is all I can say at the moment but what the hub does is let us give to the community the information we want and need them to know, rather than something being edited out on the 6pm news or edited down to a small grab.

“It places the control in the community’s hands and lets them act on it by directing them straight to Crime Stoppers.”

Mrs Magill said it would be wonderful for the case to be solved.

”It’s that not knowing and knowing that person still walks on this earth while Jane doesn’t,” she said. “You sum it up and ask why is it so?

“I’m sure, 100 per cent sure, that you [a person with information] would want this solved, just like we do, so we can go to our graves knowing what happened.”

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