Missing person case now homicide
A homicide investigation has been launched into missing person Whetu Teaola Hansen.
Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Harrison said the decision to upgrade the case was based on information received in the past 12 hours.
''While I am not prepared to divulge the nature of the information for investigative reasons, this is a significant turning point for our investigation and this information has further confirmed our serious concerns around Mr Hansen's disappearance.
Yesterday afternoon a man spoke to detectives for the first time and was subsequently charged, Mr Harrison said.
He appeared in the Palmerston North District Court today, where his name, age, any identifying details and the charge he is facing were all suppressed until he reappears next week. He was remanded in custody.
Mr Harrison said explosives were found in one of the buildings of the property, but he would not elaborate on what kind of explosives they were.
When asked if this man was also helping with inquiries into Mr Hansen's possible killing, Mr Harrison would not comment.
''We're keeping an open mind with regard to that and we're not going to comment on any individuals and what role they're playing.''
Police became aware of 48-year-old's disappearance on December 2.
He was last seen November 24, driving his 1980 grey Ford ute, travelling toward Palmerston North.
The vehicle was recovered from an Akers Rd property on December 5.
Mr Harrison said he had ''no knowledge'' of why Mr Hansen was at the Akers Rd property, or when he arrived.
Over the next few weeks, police would be checking in with petrol stations, looking at CCTV footage, in an effort to piece together his movements.
There was no indication that drugs or gang involvement played a role in his death, and Mr Harrison would not comment on Mr Hansen's criminal history.
''While we do not know why, at this stage, and who is responsible, every effort is being made to obtain answers to these questions.
''We are continuing to make inquiries and one of our main focuses is on locating Mr Hansen so we can return him to his family.''
No one had been arrested in relation to Hansen's death.
''To protect the integrity of our inquiries, I will not be making any comment on individuals of interest to this investigation.''
''There is no explanation for [his killing], but we're keeping an open mind with regard to that and we're hoping we'll get an answer in the next couple of weeks.''
A team of 10 police officers supported by ESR staff would continue with a scene examination at the Linton property and today.
Mr Harrison said he expected the investigation there would continue until at least Wednesday, and maybe Thursday.
Mr Harrison said they had been encouraged by support from the public and were still interested in hearing of sightings of the vehicle or any other information.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Dave Wilson 06 213 9595. Information can also be provided anonymously to the organisation Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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