Missing Boy Presumed Victim Of An Apparent Murder-Suicide

A missing boy is feared dead after police discovered the boy’s stepfather’s car at the bottom of a cliff. Michael Zhao-Beckenridge has been missing since last month.

On March 13, Michael’s stepfather, John Beckenridge came to James Hargest College junior campus during the boy’s lunchtime and took the pupil without incident.

However, prior to the stepfather removing the boy from school, Mr. Beckenridge received a parenting order restricting him from having any contact with his stepson. Nonetheless, James Harvest College allowed the 64-year-old stepfather to take the young boy without any interference.

In a New Zealand Herald interview, the school principal, Andrew Wood, defended the way the school handled the missing boy’s disappearance.

“Suffice to say we do not have a brick wall with a barbed-wire fence on the top at our school. So any student that is inclined to meet a parent whether they are supposed to or not, it would be quite easy.”

Principal Wood said the school was not a “fortress or prison” where teachers and administrators patrolled the borders.

He added.

“It’s perfectly possible for a student to leave the school unnoticed.”

The search for Michael and John Beckenridge continued with police conducting inquiries and asking for any information about the missing boy and stepfather.

Last week, police made a statement regarding their investigation into this case. Police now fear Michael Beckenridge and his stepfather are dead, apparent victims of murder-suicide.

Detective Sergeant Mark McCloy offered a number of factors pertaining to why they think the missing boy is dead. Police found John’s car at the bottom of Catlins’ Curio Bay. Investigators also determined the car flew off the cliff at a high rate of speed, based on the tire track marks left at the scene.

Search For Missing Boy
The search for 11-year-old missing boy, Michael Zhao-Beckenridge in the raging waters of Curio Bay. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Christian Mehlführer)

Additionally, John left a text message to Michael’s mother, his neighbors, and friends using his cell phone, which pinged in the Catlins area on March 20. The Daily Mirror reported that police communication manager, Nic Barclay, suggests the tone of the message was “goodbye.”

After police found Beckenridge’s car at the bottom of the cliff, they stepped up their searching efforts in the air and in the raging waters.

Searching For Michael Beckenridge
Air search for missing boy, Michael Zhao-Beckenridge and stepfather John. An underwater camera suspended from a helicopter is used by police near Curio Bay on March 27 during the search for the missing pair. (Photo courtesy of Hamish MacLean)

Campbell Live cited Detective Sergeant Mark McCloy’s comments about the search for the missing boy and his stepparent.

“I just can’t believe that someone would be so cruel, or so selfish, so self-centered–to involve an 11-year-old child in that, and commit such an act.”

According to police, based on previous body recovery efforts that took place in the Catlins area, it’s unlikely they will be able to recover any bodies.

Detective Sergeant McCloy shared his thoughts on finding missing boy, Michael Beckenridge.

“Not one body’s ever been recovered. However, until we can confirm this, police still hold out hope that Mike and John are still out there and continue to investigate the matter as such.”

Hope in finding 11-year-old missing boy, Michael Zhao-Beckenridge, alive and well continues.

[Featured image via New Zealand Herald]