John Daniel (Danny) Tohill

Missing for 10 years, then a call: Moment Danny surprised his family

A much loved brother missing for 10 years has now got back in touch with his family.

John Daniel Tohill, known to most as Danny, was last seen in Te Puke 10 years ago before he appeared to have vanished.

Danny's family reached out this week in a desperate final attempt to track down their brother, nephew, son or to find out what may have happened to him.

He said he was well and happy and very busy with work. He didn't offer an explanation though.

Danny's younger brother Tobias Tohill shared his story with the Bay of Plenty Times, but after today's story went to print in the paper last night, Danny made a phone call to his brother.

"He just said, 'yeah, it's Dan'," Tobias said.

"He called me last night, out of the blue. He looked me up and got in touch."He said he was well and happy and very busy with work. He didn't offer an explanation though."

The last trace of Danny had been his contact with a cousin in 2005, when he was 37, after he left Nelson to travel north and there was a subsequent unconfirmed report that he was managing a holiday inn in Te Puke in 2006.

He had not been heard from since.

Tobias and his family launched an appeal in a last ditch effort to track Danny down, if he was still alive, as their father's health has begun to deteriorate.

When Danny went missing, it was understood he told the owners of the holiday inn he planned to either continue north or go to Gisborne to get a horticultural job.

Tobias said it was not unusual for Danny to disappear for a while.

He would often go away for months on end without making contact with anyone. So initially, his lack of communication was not suspicious.

Despite his reserved nature, Danny was "a very likeable guy, very good at pool, got all the trophies down at the pub, was a keen fisherman ... Danny had a real good sense of humour and was a good indoor cricket player too," Tobias said.

"When he was younger he used to go tramping for two or three days by himself ... I think he just liked doing his own thing."

The last time the brothers saw each other was in 2003, before Tobias moved overseas and Danny left Nelson.

"As time went on it became more and more out of character," Tobias told the Bay of plenty Times.

"Six months and you don't think too much about it. A year goes by and you think 'that's odd' and then pretty quickly you're into two years and people started making inquiries," he said. It was their sister Sarah, who was closest in age to Danny, who began the search in 2007, prompting the start of the missing person case.

False leads about three years ago lead the family to believe Danny was living in Wellington and the investigation quietened down until the reports were found to be false in 2013, Tobias said. The family had also held off going public with their search while their father was still at home and disillusioned by his worsening dementia.

In his mind, Danny was living first in France, then Australia, with a French wife and their children. Now their father had been moved to fulltime care in a rest home, Tobias said they felt comfortable to appeal publicly.

A worst-case scenario was that Danny had disappeared without a trace and they imagined he must be dead, Tobias said.

On a good day, Tobias would imagine Danny had jumped on a Russian fishing vessel years ago and was still travelling.

The family requested that people respected Danny's privacy.

By Rebecca Savory of the Bay of Plenty Times


John Daniel Tohill (Danny) was born in 11/9/1967 to James Henry Tohill (son of Sarah Tohill nee Dougherty. Daughter of Sarah and Charles Dougherty of the Coalpit Gimmerburn Central Otago) and Sue. They Had 4 children John Daniel (Danny) b 11/9/1976. Sarah Jane b 30/12/1968. Benjamen James b 28/3/1971 and Tobias Mark (Toby) b 28/1/1978 they live in Nelson

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Latest comments

14.06 | 10:03

Hello, This is fascinating however I have noticed some details pertaining to the Owens family that are incorrect. I would love to make contact with you please.

21.04 | 12:45

Hello from the Lisa and Tane Woodley in Wellington Mary Jane Keenan is Tanes' great grandmother.

08.02 | 14:59

Lovely to hear from you Br. John .

08.02 | 14:58

Hello Peter, Lovely to hear from you its a small world isn't it.

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