'Horrific' Palmerston North death a mystery

Last updated 12:57 09/02/2014

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Police are working with translators to try to piece together the events that left a Palmerston North man dead with extensive burns to his body, and a woman seriously injured with stab wounds.

The Russell Street house where Friday night's violence occurred was occupied by a large family of Chinese descent and police were using a translator to talk to the occupants.

The body of the dead man, who was in his late 60s, had been so badly burnt that formal identification is expected to take some time. A post mortem is being conducted today.

The woman, who is in her mid-30s, had a second round of surgery in Palmerston North Hospital last night for stab wounds to her face and upper body, and remains in a serious but not life-threatening condition. Police have not yet been able to speak to her.

Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Sheridan said there might have been children at the house at the time of the incident.

Police have not confirmed the relationship between the two, except to say they are from the same Chinese family.

The scene examination is expected to be completed by late this afternoon.

It is not being treated as a homicide investigation.

"Our focus ... is to conduct a thorough scene examination and to locate any weapons.

"Another key focus for us is determining the series of events that led up to this tragic incident and understanding the family dynamic.

"This has been a horrific time for the family and they are completely devastated at what has happened.

"Officers are working closely with the family and in the coming days we will formally interview them. We hope to hand back the property to the family as soon as possible."

There was no record of previous police attendance at the address and police were not seeking anyone else.

"We are working closely with the coroner on this investigation and once we have a clearer picture of what has happened we will present this information to them," Sheridan said.

A neighbour, Barbara Bradnock, said a young couple with two sons, aged 1 and 5, lived at the house. A set of grandparents and another adult, a brother of one of the couple, with his twin daughters, were staying with them.

The family would often deliver her mail to her front door and she described them as friendly and polite. Bradnock heard nothing, but had been asked by police to stay inside.

"I was just putting the jug on and looked out and there was a cop with a gun.

"I'm mortified ... they were the most amazing neighbours that you could ever wish for and I feel heartbroken that anything bad has happened to them."

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Kay Wilkinson, who had been walking on Russell St, said she saw a man lying on the ground in a driveway. "I just saw a glimpse of a lady sitting with [someone] lying on his stomach ... I just happened to look and thought he had been hit by a car."

- Sunday Star Times

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