Two years ago, late in the evening of Friday 9 December 2016, four people violently smashed their way into Lois Tolley’s home on Ward Street in Upper Hutt.
Lois, aged 30, was in her lounge alone at the time, and had no chance of defending herself against her four attackers.
As she tried desperately to escape, they shot her, and left her dead on the floor.
Detective Senior Sergeant Glenn Barnett, the officer in charge of the subsequent homicide investigation, says evidence collected since Lois’ death has confirmed that Lois was targeted that night by her killers.
“Lois’ killing was an absolutely tragic and senseless crime,” says Detective Senior Sergeant Barnett.
“Sadly, Lois had become involved in the Upper Hutt drug scene and her death appears to have been connected to that world.”
“We believe that the four people who came to her home that night were attempting to carry out some form of ‘taxing’ or debt collection, or that they were looking for drugs/cash for their own use.”
“In the moments after the four attackers smashed their way into her home, Lois was left dead, neighbours were threatened, and drugs and cash were left behind.”
At least one of the attackers appears to have immediately been overcome by remorse, being heard to yell “what have we done” as the four made their getaway.
Police have spoken to hundreds of people during the investigation into Lois’ killing, including drug dealers and users, known criminals, and gang members.
“Lois was no threat to anyone, and even the most hardened criminals and gang members have said her death was a cowardly act and completely unnecessary,” says Detective Senior Sergeant Barnett.
Lois was part of a tight-knit family and her death has been absolutely devastating for them.
“It is two years and it just feels like yesterday,” says Lois’ mother Cathrine.
“The pain and suffering does not stop for Loie’s family and friends. I just want to put my arms around her and never let her go. They stole her future away from her and have devastated ours. It is so hard not hearing her voice and seeing her beautiful smile. We know that Loie was not perfect – nobody is – but Loie was our perfect.”
Detective Inspector Scott Miller says it has been a long two years for the investigation team also.
“We started out two years ago with more than 130 persons of interest and a huge amount of information to work through.”
“As is typical with investigations of this nature, as time passes, the same names keep coming up, while others become less important to the inquiry or are eliminated altogether.”
“We know that two years seems like a long time, particularly for Lois’ family and loved ones, who are understandably eager to see justice for Lois.”
“My longest homicide investigation lasted seven years. We are in this for the long-haul. Myself, Detective Senior Sergeant Barnett, and the rest of the Operation Archer investigation team remain absolutely committed to bringing those responsible for Lois’ death to justice,” says Detective Inspector Miller.
Detective Senior Sergeant Barnett says that progress in the investigation has been slow but consistent.
“The inquiry team has spoken directly to close associates of the four individuals involved. They have told us that they know what happened and who the attackers are.”
“While some of these associates are unwilling to provide formal statements, there are some who have provided formal statements, allowing us to build a solid group of witnesses who are signed up to give evidence when we’re able to bring the case to court.”
“We know that as well as the four individuals directly involved in the events at Lois’ home that night, there are others who were involved either directly before or after her murder. We also believe that there are others who have information which could help us close this case, who have not yet spoken to us.”
“There are a number of people who are nervous about speaking to police or providing us with a formal statement, for any number of reasons. It could be that they are in a difficult position due to perceived loyalties to those involved. Or they may just not like Police.”
“To those people, I would urge them look past their nerves or antipathy to Police. Think about the devastation Lois’ death has caused her family and loved ones. Put yourselves in their shoes – how would you feel if one of your loved ones died in the callous, senseless way that Lois did, and nobody was brought to justice for it because of some misguided loyalty or a dislike for Police?”
Detective Inspector Scott Miller says the investigation into Lois’ death has generated a large amount of overseas interest, particularly from Australian police.
“A number of people of interest went overseas either soon after the murder, or after they were spoken to by Police.”
“A number of those people have been spoken to by Australian police, and members of the Operation Archer investigation team have travelled overseas for interviews.”
“Some very interesting information has been gained as a result of these overseas enquiries.”
“All those involved should know that it is only a matter of time before we knock on their door. It might not be today, and it might not be tomorrow, but I remain confident that we will get the evidence we need to charge those involved in Lois’ death.”
Anyone who has information that could assist the investigation into Lois’ death is urged to contact the Operation Archer team at Lower Hutt Police Station on 04 560 2600.
Information can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Issued by Police Media Centre