Arrest over dairy worker's killing
ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY AND BLAIR ENSOR
A Palmerston teenager has been charged with murdering North Otago dairy farm worker Justin Conrad McFarlane, who was found dead on Wednesday.
Steven Kenneth Boskell, 18, appeared in Dunedin District Court today.
He was remanded in custody to reappear in the Timaru High Court on October 1. No plea was entered.
He was charged with murdering McFarlane, jointly with a person or persons unknown. Police are still seeking others thought to have been involved.
The arrest follows the discovery of McFarlane's body at his home in Elderslie, near Oamaru, early on Wednesday. His burnt-out car was later found 25 kilometres away.
Acting Detective Inspector Colin Blackie said police were also calling for sightings of a grey Nissan Skyline car involved in a short police chase on Wednesday morning on State Highway 1 just south of Oamaru.
The vehicle was travelling on roads around Elderslie and Maheno, inland from Oamaru, before joining the state highway.
The vehicle had since been impounded and police believed it could be linked to the circumstances surrounding McFarlane's death.
Blackie said police believed those involved in the farmer's death were known to him and the incident was not a random act.
The ongoing police investigation was focused on establishing the events leading up to McFarlane's death and interviewing people who were connected to him.
Earlier, Blackie said a weapon had not yet been found. He would not be drawn on how McFarlane died as he did not want to prejudice the case, but could confirm it was a violent death.
The body was found at 4.30am on Wednesday by a colleague who went looking for him after he failed to turn up to work at a dairy farm.
Police are working to establish McFarlane's recent movements and the events leading up to his death.
Blackie said inquiries were being made with people who knew McFarlane, including his family, friends and associates.
The body was removed yesterday and an autopsy will probably take place today.
McFarlane's killing is the talk of the town in Oamaru.
Locals believe he was involved in drugs and say he had a "chequered past". It is understood he had two young children.
Police would not comment about his history.
Elderslie Dairy Farms director Stanley Ruddenklau said McFarlane's colleagues were shocked and saddened to learn of his death.
"He was a very hard working young man. We are pretty cut up about it all.
"It's a pretty tricky time."
McFarlane, who had split with the mother of his children, had worked for the company about five years.
He had lived in the three-bedroom farm house where he was killed for about two years, Ruddenklau said.
Elderslie Dairy Farms Ltd is a 440-hectare farm, which milks about 1050 cows. It employees six staff.
Sheep and beef farmer Sheree Kennedy said she discovered the burnt wreckage of McFarlane's burgundy red car in Serpentine Rd, Maheno, about 25 kilometres from McFarlane's home. She called police.
"It was just an empty shell. It must have been fairly hot at some point."
Police are calling for assistance from the public who might have seen the 1992 Mitsubishi GTO, which they believe was taken from his address around the time of his death. The red sedan had the registration number YE4901.
About 40 police staff and experts are working on the case assisted by Environmental Science and Research and the Fire Service.
Anyone with information on McFarlane's movements during the days before his death are asked to ring the Oamaru police station on 03 433 1400.
Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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