Cold case murder link to microlight tragedy

One of the two men killed in a Microlight crash at the centre of a Coroner’s report this week was the son of suspected cold case murder victim Heidi Charles.

Alex Robin Charles, 44, died instantly in 2009 when the microlight he was piloting struck turbulence and plummeted from the sky above Abel Tasman National Park. Also killed was Dutch tourist Steven Eckhardt, who’d booked the flight that afternoon from Motueka.

The coroner has recommended parachutes be made compulsory on commercial microlight flights.

Alex Charles was only 12 years old and living in the Wellington suburb of Wilton, when his mother Heidi Charles vanished during a family holiday at Rotorua the week before Christmas, 1976.

Extensive searches found no trace of her, and she’s believed to have fallen victim to a serial killer responsible for the deaths of hitchhiker Mona Blades in the same area, and possibly Tracey Ann Patient at Auckland.