Sixteen years after the brutal murder of Ballykelly teenager Jonathan Cairns, a renewed appeal to catch those responsible has started online.
A Facebook page - Justice for Jonathan Cairns - features pictures of Jonathan from when he was a baby until his teenage years and a video showing the route Jonathan is understood to have taken the night he was murdered.
The page, started by a close family member and close friend of Jonathan’s, also features a series of newspaper clippings covering the murder which rocked the village in 1999. Reports from when the investigation was re-opened in 2012 also feature.
Just prior to the 16th anniversary of his violent death, Jonathan’s heartbroken parents Hazel and Raymond Cairns spoke to the Journal.
“Jonathan is dead almost as long as he was alive,” Hazel told the Journal last month. “It doesn’t go away. It’s there all the time. We just want to know why, what was the reason? I think there is a circle of trust around it and I don’t think that will be broken unless someone speaks out, but whoever killed Jonathan is getting on with their life. Time stands still for us.”
Jonathan Cairns was standing at the local chip shop with his friends in the Co. Derry village in the early hours of April 25, 1999. The 18-year-old smiled and waved to his parents as they drove past on their way home after a night with friends. It was the last time they saw their son alive.
Jonathan’s body was found in a shallow grave in Loughermore Forest, five miles from the family home where his parents still live. His bloodied clothing turned up, neatly folded, just yards from his home in the grounds of a local school.
Hazel and Raymond Cairns are adamant someone out there knows what happened to their son. The family say a £30,000 reward for information leading to the kiler, or killers is still being offered.
Raymond says the family have always held on to the hope whoever killed their son would some day be caught, and hope the Facebook page will yield some new information.
“Sometimes it seems like yesterday,” Raymond told the Journal recently. “There isn’t a day goes past when we don’t think about it. We just want to know the truth, why he died so young and in the way he did.”
A man from Ballykelly was jailed for five years for helping to dispose of Jonathan’s body, but no-one has ever been convicted of his murder. Police re-opened the inquiry in 2012 and Detective Chief Inspector John McVea, who is leading the inquiry, said the investigation remains open.
“Despite the length of time that has passed, we would still encourage anyone who has information that could help bring Jonathan’s killer, or killers, to justice to contact us,” Det. McVea told the ‘Journal’. “Jonathan died a violent death as a result of a vicious beating which went far beyond a drunken assault.
“I believe his killer, or killers were local to Ballykelly and they might have known Jonathan. His parents still don’t know why he was attacked on his way home after a night out. They deserve an answer and they deserve justice for their son.”
Information can be given on the police non-emergency number, 101, or by calling the Crimestoppers Charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.