Ex-cop calls for inquest

Friday September 22, 2017 Written by Published in Local

The country’s sole coroner has been requested to hold an inquest into the disappearance of a Venezuelan woman in Cook Islands waters over a year ago.


Lisette Brito, aged 43 at the time of her disappearance, is now presumed dead.

The request has been made by retired Australian detective Rod Henderson, who has steadfastly refused to let the case disappear.

Henderson says he’s called for a proper coroner’s inquest because local police investigations give every appearance to have gone nowhere. Police have maintained a wall of silence around the mystery, despite the persistent efforts of Henderson and local media to establish what measures were taken to find out what happened to the 41-year old female.

“One year has now passed since Lissette lost her life at sea. For some unknown reason, a search was not conducted to try and locate her body,” says Henderson.

“That’s despite the fact her sailing companion Alex Roehrs supplied what he claimed were precise coordinates where she went overboard.

“This coupled with a fruitless police investigation that dragged on for six months and went nowhere despite the person of interest Roehrs being compelled to remain on the island for the entire time.”

Henderson first raised the point that a coronial inquest should have been held six months ago. He’s stressed over the ensuing months that the victim’s family have every right to know the full facts of the case and that she shouldn’t just be forgotten.

“They have questions that need to be answered about what happened to their relative while she was on a yacht sailing in the Cook Islands EEZ.”

After considerable research, Henderson says Brito as a vulnerable woman, a long way from home and her family.

“I have found over the years whilst living on Rarotonga that going public is often the best way to get things moving. As my father often reminded me, ‘talk is cheap, either put up or shut-up. Don’t complain. Do something’.”

 Because of his passion for justice, Henderson says he’s now done what the police should have done but have failed to do, and that is refer the case directly to the Coroner.

Justice minister Nandi Glassie was also hand-delivered the request for the inquest. Henderson has stated that the inquest be held in accordance with Section 5 of the Cook Islands Coroners Act 1979-1980.

The Cook Islands coroner is Ministry of Justice Deputy Registrar Nooapii Tearea.            

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