Police are trying to locate the former partner of a woman found dead in her Richmond home, while a man's body which was discovered in Timaru this morning remains where it was found.
The woman was discovered at 6.30pm yesterday by a family member who did not live at the address.
The death was the second discovered in the South Island overnight, with a man's body found on a Timaru street early this morning.
Police launched a homicide investigation after the 39-year-old Richmond woman was found dead in her Salisbury Rd flat.
Detective Inspector Geoff Jago, of Nelson, said the woman was in contact with one of her family members yesterday morning.
She did not attend her shift at work yesterday which was one of the reasons her family decided to check on her.
Mr Jago said the woman had been assaulted at the flat but he was not prepared to comment further on the assault or say where the woman was located in the house.
Police were trying to contact the people the woman had been in contact with recently.
He said family members had indicated the woman had recently ended a relationship and police were trying to locate her former partner.
He would not comment on whether he thought the man was still alive or whether he thought he was still in the Nelson area.
Detective Inspector Geoff Jago, of Nelson, said determining the time the woman died was one of the focuses of the inquiries.
Police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn would not say how police believed the woman died or how long she was thought to have been dead before she was discovered.
"We believe she may have quite recently ended a relationship," Dunn said.
She said the woman's flat had been secure.
Police would be canvassing the neighbourhood today for information.
The woman would be formally identified tomorrow and police this morning were awaiting the arrival of ESR scientists from out of town to help with their investigation.
Dunn said police believed the woman lived in the flat by herself.
The area and footpath around the woman's Salisbury Rd flat was cordoned off this morning. Two police buses and a police car were parked outside at the scene.
The Richmond crime scene was highly visible to students walking to the nearby schools Waimea College and Intermediate.
The woman's flat is the front flat facing onto Salisbury Rd and one of a number of joined brick flats.
Neighbours said they hadn't heard or seen anything suspicious. They first they knew of the women's death was when police knocked on their door to make inquiries at about 8pm yesterday.
The neighbours, who did not wish to be named, said a man and woman lived in the flat although they didn't know anything about them.
"I'd walk past four times a week and say hello if I saw them but I didn't know them - they always kept to themselves," one of the neighbours said.
Another neighbour said the couple moved into the flat "about a year ago or longer" although he said "I haven't seen the man for a while".
"I didn't see much of them but I always appreciated their garden - it was beautifully kept," he said.
Another neighbour said she told police she last saw the woman three days ago "outside her flat having a cigarette". She said the police told her when they called last night 'that it had happened in the last 12 hours'.
"Nobody knows any details but it's dreadful. It's a nasty business - there will a sad family around today."
Employees at a nearby car sales and medical centre also said they rarely saw the man and woman who lived in the flat.
"I got quite a shock when I heard about it," an employee at Unique Autos said. "I work just over the road but I hardly ever saw them."
Richmond mayor Richard Kempthorne said this morning news of the homicide investigation was a "bombshell" for Richmond.
"I'm absolutely gutted this has happened in our community. Our thoughts are with the family and we will do anything we can to help them."
TIMARU DEATH INVESTIGATED
The body of a young man discovered on Timaru street this morning remains where it was found, as police examine the scene.
St John's was called to York Street at 4.00am after they had been advised of a person lying on the road.
When they arrived they discovered a man in his 20s lying in the middle of the road. He was unresponsive and could not be revived, police said.
The man is believed to be from Timaru.
Cordons have been erected at the scene and at a phone box 700m away at a nearby supermarket, from where an emergency call was made.
The scene was being examined by a forensic pathologist and ESR staff who had travelled from Christchurch.
Police hoped to complete the scene examination tonight so the body could be removed.
They were calling for witnesses to come forward.
Mid-South Canterbury Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said police hoped to remove the body to Christchurch today where a post-mortem would be conducted.
"We are waiting for that to happen before we move forward," Mr Gaskin said.
"It's a suspicious death, as in we don't know what it is at the moment."
The body would be taken to Christchurch for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.