The secret of the “Bushman” who was cut off from the power grid with his three children before going on a crime spree at gunpoint and committing bank robberies

The disappearance of a father who was cut off from the outside world with his three young children before committing a series of crimes that included bank robberies is a mystery.

37-year-old Tom Phillips and his three children Jayda (10), Maverick (8) and Ember (7), who have been missing for over two years, are believed to be hiding in remote bushland in New Zealand.

Tom Phillips was caught on video with a child trying to break into a storePhoto credit: Newshub
The 37-year-old left his wife in Marokopa and disappeared with their three children in January 2022Photo credit: Waikato Police NZ
Jayda Philips, 10, has been missing with her father for over two yearsPhoto credit: Waikato Police NZ
Police believe 9-year-old Maverick was seen on surveillance cameras with his fatherPhoto credit: Waikato Police NZ
Ember, 7, hasn't seen her mother since 2021Photo credit: Waikato Police NZ

Police have tried to track him down several times over the past 30 months, but each time the experienced bushman managed to escape.

The father and his three children were reported missing from Marokopa village on January 18, 2022, when Philips left his wife and disappeared in the remote area.

Since then, Philips has mocked police Because he has been sighted several times after committing a series of crimes, but has not yet been located.

A manhunt from police was triggered when Philips was involved in armed bank robberies, burglaries and car thefts.

He is believed to have set up a network of safe havens around the family's former home in Marokopa, The Times reported.

New Zealand police last week offered a reward of £38,500 (NZ$80,000) for information on the whereabouts of the missing Father and his three children.

This week, hundreds of armed officers used helicopters to comb the hinterland around Marokopa, but without success.

Detective Inspector Andrew Saunders said: “The gold nugget is obviously not there… here it is. We don't have that yet.”

He added that Philips was armed and posed a danger to the community and that he should not be approached.

He said: “We are concerned about the well-being of children who have been living in isolation for two and a half years, without contact with others and without formal education and health care.”


In September 2021, the father and his three children disappeared for the first time when his truck was found abandoned on a beach.

When they showed up shortly afterwards, he said they were on a camping Trip.

Philips should appear in Courtaccused of waste police resources, but he did not succeed.

In January 2022, the father and three children disappeared for the second time – and never reappeared.

Philips was spotted in the Agriculture last year in the town of Te Kuit, when he robbed a bank at gunpoint and then fled on a stolen motorbike with a child.

A month later, in August, he was caught speeding in a stolen Toyota BMW E90.

In November, he was caught on surveillance camera attempting to break into a shop in Piopio with a child.

Earlier this month, he was reportedly seen at the Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel in Ōtorohanga, but managed to escape before police arrived.

Concern is growing about the condition of the three children, who have not seen their mother since 2021.

Police believe someone helped the fugitive stay hidden in Marokopa.

Anyone with information is asked to come forward.

Philips was also caught on CCTV in a supermarketPhoto credit: NZ Police
His Toyota Hilux was found abandoned on a remote beach in 2021Photo credit: NZ Police