Police are treating the death of at least one of the two people found on a remote forestry plantation near Waimate as homicide.
The bodies of a man and a woman, discovered on a trail on the plantation yesterday, were removed from the scene this afternoon, and taken to Christchurch, where autopsies will be performed
Inspector Greg Williams said at least one death was considered homicide and a team of 25 investigators was working on the case.
He said investigators would probably be at the scene for several days.
The identity of the woman could be released as soon as tonight. Police are waiting until her next of kin can be notified.
Earlier today, police released the name of a man in relation to the discovery of the two bodies.
Local man Jason Frandi has been the subject of police investigations today, although police will not say whether Frandi was one of the two found dead.
Frandi was reported missing yesterday after last being seen parked at his home address about 11am on Saturday. Police said his vehicle was a 1997 328i series silver BMW saloon, with the Registration number: ATT530.
Police said Frandi was caucasian, aged 43, with a No 1 haircut. He was described as being of a solid build with extensive tattoos on arms and backs of both hands.
A helicopter and search staff have been deployed into the area where the bodies were found, solely to look for the vehicle, which police say "must have been used".
Police said they were also following strong leads in respect of the female victim but were not in a position to comment further.
Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin earlier said the deaths were being treated as suspicious, but due to the isolated location efforts were still being made to reconstruct what happened.
Gaskin would not comment on the pair's injuries or on whether any weapons were found at the scene.
Anyone who has seen or had contact with Frandi or his vehicle after 11am on Saturday, should ring the Waimate police station on (03) 689 7272.
'BODY WAS STILL WARM'
Timaru man Daryl MacDonald was part of the first group of motorcyclists on the trail, who discovered the bodies about 11am.
"We were three-quarters of the way through the track where it heads down a steep hill," he explained, when he and a group of friends came up behind a woman on her trail bike, who had stopped near the body of a man.
"She thought it was a rider ... We stopped and checked and saw a guy lying on his side facing away from us. He was probably in his late 30s to early 40s. We checked him and he was still warm."
MacDonald said the body of the woman was found some distance away, "in a small clearing in between trees''.
He had heard from others on the ride that "it looked like she had been there for a while".
Another of the ride participants, Andrew Wright, of Timaru, said one of the riders had put his hand on the man's chest and it was still warm, so he had tried to stop the flow of blood.
Waimate Main School principal Adam Rivett said the riders told him the woman's throat was slit.
"It was pretty gross. My understanding was that it wasn't the nicest thing to come across."
He said the area was a "strange place" to find bodies because it was "as remote as you could get".
"The gates to the forest from the road are locked, so unless you have a key, you can't get in."
"Forestry workers do go through that area, but that could have been weeks or months down the track. If the riders had not come across those bodies, then they would have been out there for months," Rivett said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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