The father of Shalvin Prasad says he and his family searched areas of Auckland for his son just hours before the man's charred body was found in scrub.
The Crown says Mr Prasad, 21, was killed for the $30,000 he had withdrawn from his bank the day he went missing.
His body was discovered in scrub in South Auckland a day later in January 2013.
Shivneel Kumar and Bryne Permal, both in their early 20s, have pleaded not guilty at the High Court in Auckland to Mr Prasad's murder.
Prosecutors say Mr Prasad was alive when petrol was poured over him and he was set alight.
His father, Ravindra Prasad, told the court that he went looking for Mr Prasad at about midnight on 30 January, 2013, when his son was over an hour late home.
"It was after midnight. We went to Manakau then we drove around the Westfield area, came back towards Papatoetoe, looked around there, still couldn't find any.
"We were just looking for the van now. And then we drove down to the Flatbush area. We knew a few of his workmates, where they lived, to see whether the van was parked there.
"There was no sign."
Ravindra Prasad said he returned home at 2am, and called the police.
The bank teller who served Mr Prasad, Joanne Gavin, said Mr Prasad told her the $30,000 in cash he withdrew was needed urgently.
She said Mr Prasad was fiddling with his phone before confirming he wanted cash rather than a cheque.
"I asked him what the funds were for. And he sort of waited a few minutes and then he said it was a family emergency.
"I asked him a bit more but he wouldn't say any more than just a family emergency and he needed the cash.
"I just said to him, 'please be safe'."
The trial is expected to last for up to four weeks.