Police have revealed they’ve received “potential sightings” of a father and his three children six months after they disappeared for a second time in New Zealand.
Thomas Phillips and his kids, Jayda Jin, 8, Maverick, 6, and Ember, 5, sparked an intensive search last September, when they disappeared into the Aotearoa bush for 17 days.
After reappearing at an extended family member’s house five days after the search was called off, the 34-year-old was charged with causing wasteful deployment of police personnel and resources.
When Mr Phillips went missing again in December last year, police said they wouldn’t be initiating another search, but would continue to monitor the situation.
In a Facebook post this week, Waikato Police announced that they had received information about the family that included possible sightings in the wider Waitomo area over the past few weeks.
“This information, like all leads that come through to the enquiry team, are followed up on,” Waikato West Area Commander Inspector Will Loughrin said.
Police also confirmed that a fixed-wing plane was used to scour areas of interest last weekend, and restated their desperate plea for information.
“If you, or anyone you know, is assisting Tom, do the right thing and get in touch with police,” Inspector Loughrin said.
“This remains an upsetting and stressful time for them [the family] while the whereabouts of the children are unknown.
“We want to be in a position as soon as possible to ensure the children are doing well."
Heartbroken mother pleads for the safe return of her children
“It is hard to believe but we are now back in a similar situation,” the children’s mother added to the police Facebook post.
“As people can imagine, we are beside ourselves with worry and need more than anything to know the kids are well.
She believes that someone is helping her ex-husband and their children which has allowed them to stay off the grid for the past six months.
“So once again, I am making a very public plea.”
“If you know where Tom and the children are, please get that information to the police as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.
Local Mayor joins appeal for information
Otorohanga Mayor Max Baxter said people in the local community and country are experiencing a whole range of emotions and asking why more isn't being done, following the father and children’s disappearance.
“Six months is a heck of a long time, a lot of people are very concerned,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“I think the children just by default are pretty hard children, and I think Thomas is a very caring father.
"So let’s just hope that the resilience that the children showed on the first time has stayed true in this case and they’re still very stoic and looking after each other and themselves."
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