Jeremiah "Jayo" RIVERS

  Stolen car could be connected to missing man Jeremiah Rivers, police say -  ABC News 

An Indigenous man in a blue polo shirt and black trousers stands with his hands behind his back.

 

CCTV man in red shirt in front of 4WD  Police track down person of interest in Queensland outback mystery

May be an image of 6 people, people standing and text  May be an image of 3 people and text that says "MISSING PERSON JEREMIAH RIVERS IS STILL MISSING!! Jeremiah was last seen on the 17th of October 2021 He was camping with friends near Wippo Creek about 20km south of Noccundra It is extremely out of character for Jeremiah not to contact family. Police and family are very concerned and hold grave fears for Jeremiah's safety. CALL POLICE LINK URGENTLY WITH ANY INFORMATION ON 131 444"

 

 

 

 

Jeremiah Rivers missing near Noccundra in remote south-west Queensland

ABC Western Qld
Posted 

Emergency services are ramping up the search for a man believed to be missing for five days in harsh outback conditions in remote south-west Queensland.

Jeremiah Rivers, 27, was last seen along Wilson River, about 20km south of Noccundra, at 9:30am on Monday.

The third day of the search resumes this morning with the assistance of neighbouring station workers and SES crews from Charleville, Quilpie and Thargomindah. 

Charleville Patrol Group Acting Inspector Tim Mowle said Mr Rivers left a group of six other people he was camping with.

"We were notified on Tuesday afternoon that this occurred, and since then we've activated and moved to the search area."

Conditions in the area, which was heading for a maximum of 40 degrees Celsius today, were harsh and dry.

"There is water in the creek systems here, there are water holes, but very dry, very hot terrain."

Mr Rivers, a First Nations man from the East Kimberley, is described as being 185cm tall, of a slim build, with a tattoo of a cross under his right arm.

He was last seen wearing a red Chicago Bulls singlet, black jeans and red sneakers.

Acting Inspector Mowle said the events leading up to Mr Rivers' disappearance were "unclear" and inquires were underway to determine where the group had come from previously.

"All we have at the moment is a group of people camping, and the missing person has wandered off on his own," he said.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen station workers from surrounding properties have joined the search, offering resources including motorbikes and a gyrocopter.

"There's a lot of land to cover, I think we're covering a 20km radius [on Thursday]," Nockatunga Station worker Lachie Bradfield said.

Family worried

Mr Rivers' family members said they were "worried sick" about him.

"He's pretty good at bush, but being from different country, different state, place, different culture, you don't know what it's like on other people's country," Aunty Belinda Rivers said.

"He knows you don't go walking round different country you don't know.

"I wish I was there. So does the rest of my family, his mum, his uncles, aunties, brothers and sisters.

Police have urged Mr Rivers, or anyone with information about his whereabouts, to contact them.

Ms Rivers urged the south-west Queensland community to look out for him.

"We want him home, we love him, and we miss him very much," she said.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with the latest information from Queensland Police clarifying that Mr Rivers was last seen at 9.30am on Monday, not 9.30am on Sunday.

 

Stolen car could be connected to missing man Jeremiah Rivers, police say

ABC Western Qld
By Danielle O'Neal and Ellie Grounds
Posted 

Police say a car potentially connected to the suspicious disappearance of a man in remote south-west Queensland last month was stolen from the Sunshine Coast.

Jeremiah "Jayo" Rivers, 27, is believed to have walked away from the group he was camping with near Wippo Creek, south of Noccundra, on the morning of October 18.

Police are treating his disappearance as suspicious and homicide officers are investigating.

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 Blanchfield said.

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 said.

"We're interested in any person who was out there, that includes transport drivers, tourists."

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 them".

"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 investigation began. 

"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."

A police and SES search for the East Kimberley man was called off after five days.

Mr Rivers's family members have continued to search for him near where he was last seen, but have failed to find any clues.

Anyone who was in the Wippo Creek or Noccundra area on October 18 or 19 is being urged to contact their local police station.

 

Family of vanished WA man Jeremiah Rivers in south west Queensland call for cultural collaboration with police

ABC Kimberley
By Ted O'Connor and Danielle O'Neal
Posted 

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. 

Jeremiah 'Jayo' Rivers, 27, is believed to have walked away from the group he was camping with near Wippo Creek, south of Noccundra, in south west Queensland, on the morning of October 18.

Six weeks later his desperate relatives from the East Kimberley continue to travel on rotation into the region, searching the harsh, hot landscape, but have so far found no trace of their loved one.

The initial police search lasted less than a week, soon after Mr Rivers' disappearance was deemed suspicious and  it was revealed homicide investigators had joined the case.

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 investigation.

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 frustration.

"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," she said.

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 persons' cases.

"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 trackers.

"If he has walked off we need someone with a cultural lens," she said.

Queensland Police has been contacted for comment.

Ford Focus remains in spotlight

Another aspect of the case family members are keen to learn more about is the possible involvement of a white Ford Focus allegedly stolen from the Sunshine Coast and involved in fuel drive-offs in south west Queensland around the time Mr Rivers went missing.

Queensland Police released CCTV footage of the car a fortnight ago and appealed for witnesses to come forward.

Police have now confirmed a woman has been charged relating to the possession of the vehicle, however she is not one of the people in the car at the time of the petrol thefts in Western Queensland.

Police say it's unknown whether the vehicle and Mr Rivers' disappearance are linked but it remains a line of inquiry.

 

Baffling pub food order deepens Jeremiah Rivers mystery as family's anguish grows

ABC Kimberley
By Ted O'Connor
Posted 

A hunting companion of missing northern Western Australian man Jeremiah Rivers has spoken publicly for the first time as his heartbroken family desperately seeks answers.

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.

No-one has been charged and police have not identified any suspects, while a potential link to a spate of fuel drive-offs has not led to any major breakthroughs.

Mr Rivers' family members from the East Kimberley region in WA have managed to make contact with some of the men who were last with him.

Four of the six men are now known to the family, while the other two remain unknown.

Pig hunting expedition involved breaching border controls

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 Travis Clare.

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 his silence.

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 Cunnamulla. 

Police intercepted both and escorted them back across the border the following day.

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 group.

"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 companions. 

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 ongoing investigation.

"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

ABC Kimberley
By Ted O'Connor
Posted 

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 south-west Queensland.

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 Rivers' whereabouts.

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 their fuel.

"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

In the days following Mr Rivers' disappearance Queensland Police told the ABC that the search "officially" started a day after that conversation, on Wednesday October 20, but local police and station owners had started making inquiries on Tuesday afternoon.

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 Kantilla said.

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 said.

'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.

Mr Rivers' close relatives have refused to give up searching the harsh outback landscape for their loved one and continue to plead for donations to help fund their efforts.