19 Jan 2016

'Casual' man seen on day of Te Atatu killing

8:00 pm on 19 January 2016

A next-door neighbour says she saw a man in a tracksuit acting suspiciously on the day that a 69-year-old Te Atatu woman was brutally killed.

Maryanne Paerau, a neighbour of murdered Te Atatu woman Cun Xiu Tian

Maryanne Paerau, a neighbour of murdered Te Atatu woman Cun Xiu Tian Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Cun Xiu Tian lived with her daughter and son-in-law, who found her dead when they came home from work on Friday.

Police today called for sightings of a man in his 20s, dressed in a green and white tracksuit and white baseball cap, lurking on Glenvil Lane about lunchtime on Friday.

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Maryanne Paerau - a neighbour of Ms Tian's - told RNZ she saw a man fitting that description on the day.

She said the man she was acting "casual".

She said she did not know Ms Tian but had seen her from time to time out tending to her garden

Another neighbour - a mother of two who lives around the corner from Ms Tian - said she felt a little insecure in her home when there was someone carrying out such an act, especially during the day and with no apparent reason.

"It's a concern that you feel a little bit insecure in your own home with someone doing those kind of activities during the day especially.. and with no apparent reason.

"Usually in these situations you understand, I guess, when a burglary kind of goes wrong with someone being present in the house, but if that wasn't the case and the intruder went there purposefully, then that changes the situation a little bit."

She said she was now being more actively cautious with security and keeping the children inside.

Cun Xiu Tian

Cun Xiu Tian Photo: SUPPLIED

Police have called it a horrific and despicable crime, and said great force was used to strike Ms Tian about the head and face many times.

Yesterday, police said they had a huge list of people of interest as they continued their hunt for the killer, and Detective Senior Sergeant Roger Small said it was still not known if there was more than one attacker.

Mr Small said names of people of interest had been put forward from across the country.

"We're keeping a very open mind in regards to where the offender might be. I can tell you that I've had nominations from all over the country in regards to persons of interest.

"It's happened in Te Atatu Peninsula - that was always going to be the point where we start. But we keep a very open mind, in regards to it's so easy for people to be so mobile today and travel the length of the country and overseas."

Police have said the examination of Ms Tian's home and the post mortem on her body suggested it was highly likely her attackers left with blood on them, their shoes or their clothing.

Mr Small said her attacker or attackers may have tried to wash themselves, or get rid of or burn their clothing.

Police said anyone with information should call 0800 77 22 71.

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