Michelle Bright cold case breakthrough as neighbour charged
Police have edged one step closer to cracking the mysterious cold case murder of NSW teenager Michelle Bright after the family's old neighbour was charged.
53-year-old Craig Henry Rumsby was late last night arrested near Mudgee and charged over the gruesome murder - 21 years after Ms Bright's body was found in long grass not far from her family home.
Rumsby lived just two houses down from the Bright family home in Gulgong in the state's Central West, and was known to them.
"He was two houses down from us. Our kids went to school together," Ms Bright's mother Loraine Bright told 2GB.
The Daily Telegraph understands the arrest was made after new information came to the fore following a fresh public appeal and the announcement of a $1 million reward on Monday.
Rumsby faces one charge of murder, two counts of inflicting actual bodily harm with intent to have sexual intercourse with the victim and attempting to strangle with intent to commit an indictable offence.
He was refused bail and will front Mudgee Local Court today.
Ms Bright's semi-naked body was found in long grass three days after she left her 15-year-old friend's party in the regional town of Gulgong on February 27, 1999.
The then 17-year-old's remains were found just 1km from her family home, dumped near railway tracks.
The gruesome finding sparked one of the biggest manhunts in the state's history but NSW Police were never able to hunt down the perpetrator.
The arrest comes after NSW Police launched a lengthy reinvestigation, on Monday announcing a $1 million reward for clues into her death.
Ms Bright's mother Loraine Bright said she was shocked to hear news of the arrest when detectives called her around 10pm last night while she was watching television.
"I haven't slept all night, I've shed more tears in the past three days than I have in a lifetime," she told 2GB. "Someone out there heard my cry for help."
"I waited 21 years to hear this news, I suppose it's the start of our next journey in our lives."
On Monday, Ms Bright told the media said she has suffered "unbearable pain and heartache" after 21 years of searching for answers.
"Give us the answers we need. It's the most unbearable pain we have to live with every day of our lives," she said.
Her mother described the young teenager as a "very special girl" who dreamt of one day becoming a veterinary nurse.
"She's never ever coming home and we know that, but we want someone to be responsible for what they've done to us as a family and for what they've done to Michelle," she said.
"I have dreamt of the day someone would come forward."
Speaking to the media on Monday, Ms Bright said she believed her daughter knew the alleged killer.
"If he is watching, or if anyone knows he has done this, please come forward. I'm not getting any younger and I want answers," she said.
Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty on Monday said police believed the answers to the cold case lay within the town's close-knit community.
Gulgong was a "small town and people do talk and people do know things," he said.
Following a police review a few years ago, detectives from the Unsolved Homicide Unit commenced new inquiries into the murder.
As part of new investigations, detectives said they would pour over all evidence collected by homicide squad detectives over the past two decades.
This includes DNA samples collected from dozens of men in the region and interviewing people who may have known her or been at the party.
"We hope that we can [build] enough evidence to have a case against someone, but at the moment that's why this appeal is incredibly important," he said.
Homicide detectives were also investigating the movements of a red XF Falcon and other "vehicles of interest" seen in the area at the time.
After a 2009 Coronial Inquest into her suspected murder, the reward for information was increased to $500,00, but police were unable to make a breakthrough.