The prime suspect in the investigation into the murder of road worker George Taiaroa in March has been spotted back in the Whangamomona area.
Quinton Paul Winders is believed to have returned last week to his hillside property between the Pohokura and Whangamomona saddles. The property has been the subject of at least two police searches. Locals say Mr Winders has been seen in the area in the past week.
However when the Taranaki Daily News knocked on his door yesterday there was no answer.
Whangamomona resident Murt Kennard said he had been told Mr Winders had been seen collecting his mail.
"I've had nothing to do with him at all," he said.
Mr Kennard said the murder investigation had initially been the talk of the village and thrust the area into the national spotlight, but things had settled down again.
Another resident, who did not want to be named, said friends of hers had stopped and spoken to Mr Winders at the side of the road.
"They said he seemed happy enough and was talking away to them," she said.
"They said he was quite happy and had a laugh and a joke with them."
She said the case was turning out to be a real mystery and was surprised that no-one had been arrested for 67-year-old Mr Taiaroa's murder.
"We just hope that they [police] are not tracking him [Winders] and letting someone else get away."
Police have extensively searched Mr Winders' property and the surrounding scrub as well as a second property about 2 kilometres west along State Highway 43, where he lived previously.
Police are now focusing on an accident about a week before Mr Taiaroa was shot as the possible catalyst for the shooting.
- © Fairfax NZ News