Melissa Jones body in lake mystery: Mum speaks out as police release more details

“All I want is answers. I want to rest my heart with the truth of what happened to my daughter.”

Those are words from Terri Nelson, the mother of Melissa Jones whose body was found on the shores of Lake Rotorua a year ago to the day on Sunday.

Nelson spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post for the first time today after police released new information about Jones’ investigation and made a fresh appeal to the public for help.

Police revealed on television show Police Ten 7 tonight

a photo of clothing Jones was believed to be wearing last. They were black pants, a black mesh top and a red garment around her waist.

Detective Sergeant Caroline Wharton said the clothing had not yet been found and police would like to hear from anyone who might be able to help with their recovery.

Nelson told the Rotorua Daily Post she hadn’t spoken publicly about her daughter’s death before but she felt now was the right time.

“I want the truth, I want justice and I want answers,” she said.

Jones, a 25-year-old mother of two, was found dead on the eastern shores of Lake Rotorua on October 18 last year.

The police investigation has never been elevated to a homicide inquiry and was always treated by police as unexplained. Police will not reveal the state of her body or the cause of death.

Jones was last seen in Rotorua on the weekend of September 7 and 8, 2019.

Nelson, who lives in Auckland, said describing her daughter was like describing herself.

She said she was headstrong, straight-up, honest, staunch yet caring and loved helping others, especially those with children.

Jones’ children, aged 7 and 6, were with family but Nelson saw them regularly and they were finding it hard without their mum.

“I just had them for the last week of the holidays and her girl prays every night for her mum. She says ‘please God, tell my mummy I miss her and I love her’. To hear her pray like that is heart-wrenching.”

She said her granddaughter recognised how much her mum looks like Nelson.

“She keeps crying when she sees me because I look like Melissa and I have to say to her ‘I’m not your mum I’m your nanny’. It’s so hard to see my granddaughter cry. I’m going to dye my hair so I don’t look so much like her.”

Nelson said her daughter had not long got out of jail for an assault on her ex-partner and was eager to get her life back on track, attend a course and get her two children back.

Mother and daughter’s last words

were a minor disagreement because Nelson was offering to come to Rotorua to take Melissa to church.

“We had a bit of an argument over God. She didn’t want a bar of it.”

But it all ended well, and her daughter’s last text message to her said: “Hahaha I love you mum, bye.”

Wharton appealed to the public to come forward with information, for the sake of Jones’ two young children.

“Melissa was also part of a large family and had many friends, and she is deeply missed by them all.

“There are people in the community who will have information that could assist us with establishing what happened to Melissa, and we need them to get in touch with us.”

Wharton said despite the case being referred to the coroner, the police investigation was still open.

If you have any information which could assist the investigation team, please call the Police Ten 7 Information Line on 0800 107 4636.

Jones’ mother has set up a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for her headstone unveiling, with any remaining funds going towards her two children. To donate, go to the Go Fund Me website and search “Melissa Mireka Jones”.

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