Authorities want to identify the occupants of a car that was allegedly stolen
from the Sunshine Coast and seen in Thargomindah, one hour from Noccundra, the
day after Mr Rivers went missing.
"That is of interest to us, because that is an unusual thing for a vehicle
stolen at the Sunshine Coast to do," Detective Acting Superintendent Stephen
The white Ford Focus was involved in a fuel drive-off in Miles on October 18 and
another in Thargomindah on October 19.
"There's a lot of that period that we can't account for that vehicle," Acting
Superintendent Blanchfield said.
Remote area a travellers' hub
Police have made a broad call-out for anyone who was in the area when Mr Rivers
went missing to contact them.
"Make yourselves known to us so we can speak to you about your movements during
that period and anything you may have seen," Acting Superintendent Blanchfield
"We're interested in any person who was out there, that includes transport
Acting Superintendent Blanchfield said despite the isolation the area was a hub
for tourists, especially grey nomads and caravanners.
"We don't know how many to expect but it does get a lot of travel," he said.
'Not good enough': some friends still to be interviewed
Acting Superintendent Blanchfield said only four of the six campers Mr
Rivers was with at the time of his disappearance have been interviewed by
authorities, with delays caused by a
COVID-19 outbreak within the group.
He would not reveal what information had so far been gleaned from the campers,
but said police were "not aware of any significant tensions between any of
"Our understanding is that Jeremiah had travelled down to the border area of
Victoria [and] New South Wales to play football and there's a connection through
the seven of those individuals through football and other work that was done
that's connected them," Acting Superintendent Blanchfield said.
"Our understanding was that the end goal was to deliver Jeremiah and his cousin
back to the Northern Territory and the [others] were going with them to do
hunting along the way."
Mr Rivers' aunty Brenda Garstone said the family was disappointed that not all
members of the group had been interviewed, nearly a month since the
"We're flabbergasted, it's just devastating to see that the investigation has
been so so slow," she said.
"This is just not good enough, this is disgusting."
Ms Garstone says she thinks the stolen car is "suspicious", but wants the focus
to be on increasing resources for the search and interviewing all campers.
"Why is the focus being shifted? The focus should remain on those six campers
that was with Jayo and why haven't they all been interviewed," she said.
"We can't waste another day with limited resources. This needs to be treated as
a high-profile case because he cannot vanish off this earth without any real
solution to this."
The family of an Indigenous West Australian man who disappeared last month amid
suspicious circumstances has called for more cultural collaboration with
police ahead of a meeting with investigators tomorrow.
Since then police have been guarded about many aspects of the investigation,
only fronting the media to make specific appeals for assistance, while
distraught family members say they have been largely left in the dark.
Investigators have said that the half dozen people in Mr Rivers' camping group
were suspected of entering Queensland from New South Wales illegally by breaking
through a gate, and that their stories about his disappearance did not match.
Complicating things further, the initial interviews with those involved were
delayed by a COVID-19 outbreak among those at the camp group, putting both them
and police officers into isolation.
Family seek answers at meeting with police
According to family members, investigators have agreed to meet with them in
Cunnamulla on Wednesday, face to face and virtually, to discuss the
Mr Rivers' aunty Brenda Garstone has spent a week helping relatives in their
search and said the lack of assistance from police was their main source of
"None of us are going to give up. And we want to exhaust all avenues so we feel
in our hearts we have done the best that we can to advocate on behalf of Jayo,"
Ms Garstone said family members wanted to know why the initial police search did
not seem to involve the time or resources used in other high-profile missing
"When you really analyse the days they've spent on site it basically boils down
to being about six or seven at the most, which is just inequitable when you
compare it to other people who've gone missing," she said.
She said the family would ask police to collaborate with Indigenous rangers and
"If he has walked off we need someone with a cultural lens," she said.
Meanwhile, a fish and chips order at a pub near the search area has caught the
attention of police.
Mr Rivers, an experienced Gija-tribe bushman also known as Jayo, was last seen
walking away from the group he was camping with near Wippo Creek, south of
Noccundra in south-west Queensland, on the morning of October 18.
Police investigators are treating his disappearance as suspicious and homicide
detectives are involved.
Mr Rivers' six hunting companions have been interviewed multiple times by
detectives, who have said the men's stories did not match up.
The pig-hunting journey started from Balranald, New South Wales, where Mr Rivers
was playing football.
It involved his close friend from Darwin, Jojo Kantilla; another man from the
Balranald area, Matt Moore; and two concreters from Melbourne, Kane Toohey and
The other two men in the group can be seen on roadhouse security camera vision.
The group of seven flouted border controls when crossing into Queensland and set
up camp near Wippo Creek.
Initial stories leave family with questions
Family members only found out Mr Rivers had gone missing on October 20, two days
after his last sighting.
The family claim Mr Kantilla called them to say his friend had walked away from
the campsite to chase hunting dogs, but in a later conversation he said Mr
Rivers went searching for a waterhole to swim in.
Amanda Rivers, Mr Rivers' aunty, claims Mr Kantilla made clear it was only him,
Mr Rivers and Mr Moore on the trip, so the family was shocked to later find out
about the four others in the group.
She said in the weeks that followed, Mr Kantilla cut off communication
completely and family members fear he could face payback from those angry over
Police interview pub staff over fish and chips order
Melbourne man Travis Clare told the ABC he and the others tirelessly searched
for Mr Rivers the day he went missing using utes and quad bikes.
They then split into two groups, with one going to Noccundra and the other to
Police intercepted both and escorted them back across the border the following
A trailer with two quad bikes was left back at the campsite which has been
examined by forensic investigators.
But what has interested police is the behaviour of two unidentified men at the
Noccundra Hotel on the Monday evening, less than 12 hours after Mr
Rivers' companions say he went missing.
Hotel publican Sarah Turner told the ABC that two men came into the pub asking
about fuel and returning several times to buy water and soft drinks.
She said they ordered seven meals, a number investigators considered odd given
at that time Mr Rivers was apparently missing, so there would only be six in the
"They said they had mates camping down the road," she said.
The pub's CCTV was being replaced at the time and Ms Turner could not remember
what the men looked like.
Police questioned her about the incident for hours and until now the line of
inquiry has not been made known to the public.
However, it is not known whether the two men were part of Mr Rivers' group of
Mr Clare says he's helped family members
The ABC has texted and called Mr Kantilla but has not been able to make contact
with Mr Moore.
Kane Toohey said he had been helpful to the family, even providing GPS
coordinates to assist with their search, but has not commented further.
Mr Clare responded to the ABC's questions with a series of emails, insisting he
endeavoured to assist the family with Mr Rivers' disappearance.
"I have been in contact with multiple members of Jayo's family since he went
missing and have been over every part of the trip thoroughly," he said.
Family vows not to give up
Close relatives have been rotating through searches of outback Queensland,
searching mostly on foot in scorching hot weather, but months of no
leads has left the family low on morale.
The family's GoFundMe page and fundraiser events have helped finance the search
for the popular footballer from the Indigenous community of Warmun, but Jayo's
aunty Belinda Rivers said more help is needed .
"We want to find this kid and bring him home. So we need all the fundraising we
can get for more family members to help with the search," she said.
Queensland police did not respond directly to detailed questions, citing the
"Investigators have had contact with a number of people who were in the
Noccundra area at the time [Jayo went missing]," a spokesperson said.
Jeremiah Rivers' companion says police initially brushed aside his concerns as
search nears three months
The hunting companion of a missing West Australian man says a Queensland Police
officer was more interested in escorting him across the New South Wales border
than finding his friend, when he first raised the alarm.
In a wide-ranging interview with the ABC, Jojo Kantilla, 27, described the
circumstances surrounding Jeremiah 'Jayo' Rivers' disappearance in remote
It is the first time one of Mr Rivers' seven companions has spoken in detail
during a recorded interview with the media about the case which has baffled
police and left his East Kimberley-based family heartbroken.
The Darwin resident's fresh claims raise questions about how police handled the
initial stages of the investigation and whether there were opportunities lost.
Mr Kantilla said Mr Rivers was last seen walking off to swim in a dam, near
where the group was camping at Wippo Creek on the morning of Monday October 18.
When he did not return, Mr Kantilla said he and the others on the pig
hunting trip searched throughout the day, using two utes, a quad bike and an
all-terrain vehicle, before running out of fuel.
'He wasn't buying it'
The next day Mr Kantilla and Matt Moore drove into Noccundra to buy fuel, where
they were pulled over by a local policeman.
The group of seven had flouted border controls just over 24 hours prior
— entering Queensland by breaking through a locked gate.
Mr Kantilla said he would have appeared panicked to the police officer,
because he was coming down after several days of heavy methamphetamine use.
"He pulled us over and he was saying we were acting a bit jumpy. And I explained
to him the reason I'm like this is [because] Jayo has been missing ... more than
a day now," he said.
He said the police officer did not appear to believe his concerns about Mr
Mr Kantilla maintains the police officer instructed the pair to drive back over
the New South Wales border, while he followed them and even offered to pay for
"I told him 'Jayo's missing, can you do something?' And he said, 'At the moment
I can't; I got to get you guys out of here'," Mr Kantilla said.
A Queensland Police spokesperson said at that time Mr Kantilla did not provide
clear details regarding Mr Rivers' disappearance.
"They [Mr Kantilla and Mr Moore] also indicated that he [Mr Rivers] may have
been with other travellers and that they would contact the other party once they
were able to gain phone service," the spokesperson said.
Search 'officially' started day after Mr Kantilla says he raised the alarm
There was also confusion when police put out a first press release on the
evening of October 20, saying Mr Rivers was last seen on the morning of October
17 at Wilson River, which was later revised to October 18 at Wippo Creek.
Detectives are treating the disappearance as suspicious and despite an extensive
search from police and family members, Jeremiah Rivers remains missing three
months after he was last seen.
No-one has been charged and police have not identified any suspects.
Mr Kantilla said in the days after he was escorted back to Tibooburra, he was
questioned by several officers including a detective.
The ABC is not suggesting Mr Kantilla or any of the other men are connected in
any way with Mr Rivers' disappearance.
Mr Kantilla said he did not remember investigators conducting a detailed search
of the ute, quad bike and trailer that he was driving at the time.
"They would have had to have done it when the boys got back to Melbourne," Mr
Queensland Police has never prosecuted Mr Kantilla for entering the state
illegally but made clear the option is still available.
A police spokesperson said, given those involved had not attended any large
communities, the officer's discretion was to escort them back across the border.
"Once the travelling party were in New South Wales and communicated with their
friends, a report was made regarding Jeremiah being missing," the spokesperson
'I got all my stories wrong'
Detectives have previously said the stories they were told did not match up, but
Mr Kantilla said that could be his fault.
He said he told a family member and police two different versions of what Mr
Rivers was doing when he was last seen at the campsite.
The first story was that Mr Rivers was chasing pig hunting dogs, which later
became that he went to find somewhere to swim.
"I couldn't sleep or eat or anything from the gear."
He said that mistake led family members to distrust him, a point of great pain
on both sides given Mr Kantilla is one of Mr Rivers' childhood friends.
He cut off communication with family members in the months that followed, and it
has only been in recent weeks that he has started talking to them again.