Homicide investigation continues after 33-year-old man was found dead in rural Taranaki
Police are investigating a third homicide in less than three months, after a man’s body was found on a rural property in southern Taranaki.
At around 8.40am on Sunday, the body of the 33-year-old man was found at an address on Upper Kina Rd in Oaonui, about 10 km from Opunake.
The body was found by someone known to the man, originally from Taranaki.
On Monday morning, the body remained on the rural farm property, while a full investigation at the scene continued.
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Detective Inspector Brent Matuku said the man’s parents have been notified of his death, but his name will not be released until formal identification procedures are completed on Tuesday.
It is likely that the autopsy will also be completed on Tuesday, Matuku said.
He said the nature of the scene, including the location of the body, made the circumstances of the death “highly suspicious”.
Although he would not comment specifically on the possible cause of death before the autopsy, Matuku said there were clear signs of physical trauma to the man’s body.
A lone policeman was on duty outside a plank farm on Upper Kina Rd on Monday morning, where the curtains were drawn and the house appeared empty.
Other vehicles were parked near an entrance just along the road, where a patrol car and a police tape blocked the access track to the farm.
News of the death had shocked a man who lived on another farm along Upper Kina Rd.
“It’s normally very peaceful here,” said Blair, who gave only her first name. “I was amazed, it’s a bit close to my home.”
He had heard that the dead man was a farmhand who had only been on the job for a few months, but he had not met him.
The Oaonui investigation comes on top of two other active homicide investigations underway in Taranaki, which Matuku said have placed a “significant strain” on police resources.
The first is the unsolved May 7 homicide of Adrian Humphreys, who was found dead at a campground in Tāngarākau, east Taranaki.
The other is the May 27 death of Emma Field, whose body was found after a house fire in New Plymouth.
A man is facing charges in connection with his death.
Matuku said the police are “running a good team” in the Central Police District and Manawatū personnel were expected to arrive in Taranaki on Monday to help with the investigation of Oaonui.
“We have enough staff to do what we need to do.”
He added that the police do not work in isolation and have also received information from the community which has bolstered their investigative efforts.
“I am confident, as with other previous homicide investigations, that we will get there.”
Matuku said forensic investigators would continue their work at the Upper Kina Rd scene on Tuesday and officers would drive around the area talking to people.
A specialist search team is also being considered, due to the region’s terrain, he said.
Meanwhile, Matuku was convinced that a “breakthrough” was on the horizon regarding Operation Bushlands, or the investigation into the death of Adrian Humphreys.
This week, a specialist search party will scour the Tāngarākau Valley for clues.
Previous searches, including by a police dive team, have been carried out to date, but Matuku said bad weather had hampered progress.
Last month, Humphreys’ sister Taresa Keatley made an appeal, asking for information from the public to help the police investigation.
In regards to Field’s death, Leigh Matthew Frederick Beer, a 31-year-old man from New Plymouth, faces charges of murder and arson.
He has yet to plead and is due to reappear in New Plymouth High Court on August 4 for a bail hearing.
Earlier this year, Henry Joseph Wensor was charged with the murder of his wife Levonne Kaye Wensor after her body was found at their New Plymouth home.
Wensor has yet to plead guilty and his mental health was currently being assessed to determine his fitness to do so.
The 48-year-old is due to reappear in court on August 23.