Paeroa killing and robberies linked?
Paeroa pizza chef Jordan Voudouris's death was not an accident, and investigators are hunting two hooded strangers caught on CCTV committing robberies in nearby Waihi and Katikati in the hours after his death.
Voudouris's body was found in a pool of blood near his business, Mykonos Pizza and Pasta takeaways, about 6am on Monday.
An autopsy examination carried out in Auckland yesterday confirmed the 55-year-old man's death as suspicious.
The release of the CCTV images comes as shocked residents consider a public ceremony to remember the much-loved man.
Detective Senior Glenn Tinsley of Waihi CIB said a team of about 20 staff were working the case.
Police wouldn't comment on the nature or extent of Voudouris's injuries or their cause but they are looking into whether the death was linked to two incidents in nearby towns on the same morning, he said.
At 6am, three men assaulted a female attendant at the Waihi Mobil station in an attempted robbery.
Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Whitehead said they understand one of the offenders was armed with a pistol while another held an unknown object.
The trio then fled empty-handed.
A short time later, two men held up Katikati's Park Road Dairy armed with a pistol and a hammer.
CCTV footage showed the same offenders at both robberies, Whitehead said.
No vehicle was seen in either incident but police believe theirs was parked nearby.
Police want to hear from anyone who noticed a car parked in the area of the Mobil around 6am or being driven in an unusual way between Waihi and Katikati from 6am to 6.20am. Sightings of a car parked on or around Park Rd in Katikati around the time of the dairy robbery are equally important.
"To the offenders involved in the Waihi and Katikati robberies I would urge you to make contact with police and arrange to surrender yourselves at the earliest opportunity for your own, and the public's safety," Whitehead said.
As the hunt goes on for answers to the killing, the town's business heads are meeting tonight with a public remembrance ceremony for Voudouris on the agenda.
Positive Paeroa chairman Brian Smith said it would be fitting considering the massive hole the much-loved character has left.
"The town is still in shock and disbelief, like myself," he said.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions – why and how something like this could happen in our community.
"And how do we move forward positively from this?"
Safety measures for business owners could also be part of that, he said.
Smith, a father of two, said those responsible for Voudouris's death needed to face justice and be held accountable "for what they've done and what they've robbed a community of".
"One act of violence has robbed a community of an awesome man, an awesome business owner, a father, brother and son," he said.
"He always had a happy smile and always went that bit further making things right for you."
Voudouris is survived by three children and Family Support are working with them.
Anyone who could help identify the robbers or had other information about Voudouris's killing wa asked to contact Paeroa police on 07 862 8744.
- © Fairfax NZ News