Tisha Lowry thought to be one of two bodies

Scene: Police at the property in Wainoni where a woman's body was found.
Stacey Squires
Scene: Police at the property in Wainoni where a woman's body was found.

Two bodies have been found at a house owned by a man who appeared in court this afternoon charged with murder, and police strongly suspect one is missing woman Tisha Lowry.

The bodies of the two women were found under the house at the corner of Wainoni Road and Hampshire Street in Christchurch.

Detective Inspector Tom Fitzgerald told a media conference this afternoon it had not been possible to identify the bodies but suspected that one was Ms Lowry who went missing on September 25 last year.

TISHA LOWRY: Went missing a year ago after going to the Bower Tavern, near her Hampshire Street home.
TISHA LOWRY: Went missing a year ago after going to the Bower Tavern, near her Hampshire Street home.

The other is believed to be a 35-year-old woman who was reported missing on Sunday.

Both bodies are still at the scene, under the house, and are likely to be for a few days, police said.  An extensive scene examination is taking place. Mr Fitzgerald described the find as "an horrific crime".

Meanwhile a Christchurch man was given name suppression after appearing in court this afternoon charged with the murder of the 35-year-old woman, believed to be his wife. He had reported her missing, police said.

MELLORY MANNING: Her body was found in the Avon River at Dallington in December 2008.
Supplied
MELLORY MANNING: Her body was found in the Avon River at Dallington in December 2008.

The accused lived two doors down from missing woman Tisha Lowry. Ms Lowry went missing a year ago after going to the Bower Tavern, near her Hampshire Street home.

Mr Fitzgerald says that while he cannot confirm the identities it would be "silly not to draw a connection with Tisha Lowry" whose family was advised of the development this morning.

"The families are trying to cope with the possibilities at this time," he said.

No causes of death have yet been established.

Identification may take "days rather than hours", Mr Fitzgerald said. "The bodies are buried under the house and it will take us some time to get those bodies removed," he said.

Police gained access under the house through a manhole and he described the bodies as "well covered".

The bodies had been taken through the manhole before being buried "fairly close together".

Mr Fitzgerald said the gruesome discovery was the result of "good detective work" when talking to the accused yesterday.

The accused had been spoken to as a neighbour in the very early stages of the Lowry inquiry "as were hundreds of others throughout that inquiry".

Police had no reason to suspect him at that time.

Mr Fitzgerald confirmed the accused alerted the police about the disappearance of his partner on Sunday.

"After speaking to the male yesterday afternoon, we began a scene examination yesterday evening," he said.

He was confident there were only two bodies under the house.

He dismissed suggestions that missing sex worker Mallory Manning might also be connected to the Wainoni Road discovery, saying that was "pure speculation".

Mr Fitzgerald indicated there had been "some commotion" at the property on Sunday morning.

IN COURT THIS AFTERNOON

Both the police and duty solicitor Jared Bell argued for name suppression of the 33 year-old man until September 11 because he has three children aged 9 and under and various family members haven't been notified.

Bell said the man had mental health issues.

The bearded man, who wore jeans and a pale yellow collared T-shirt, stood expressionless and subdued in the dock at the Christchurch District Court.

TISHA LOWRY:

Thursday, September 25, 2008: The 28-year-old says goodbye to her grandfather and starts to walk to their home in Hampshire St, Aranui from the Bower Tavern in New Brighton Rd at about 11am.

Saturday, September 27: Family raise the alarm after Lowry's boyfriend tells them he hasn't seen her since Thursday.

October 7: Dive teams search the Avon River.

June 11, 2009: Police offer $20,000 reward for information.

- with NZPA

The Press