Mystery over woman's death

Victim 'recently split from partner'

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 10:19 11/05/2012
Salisbury Rd
MARTIN DE RUTYER/FAIRFAX NZ

CRIME SCENE: Nelson police photographer Rob Sorensen and forensic scientists at the scene of a suspicious death in Salisbury Rd, Richmond.

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A woman whose body was found in a Richmond flat last night had recently ended a relationship with her partner, police said.

Police launched a homicide investigation after the 39-year-old Richmond woman was found dead in her Salisbury Rd flat.

The woman was discovered at 6.30pm yesterday by a family member who did not live at the address. The woman had not been at work yesterday.

Police this morning were not releasing details of the circumstances surrounding the death.

Police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn would not say how police believed the woman died or how long she was thought to have been dead before she was discovered.

"We believe she may have quite recently ended a relationship," Ms Dunn said.

She said the woman's flat had been secure.

Police would be canvassing the neighbourhood today for information.

The woman would be formally identified tomorrow and police this morning were awaiting the arrival of ESR scientists from out of town to help with their investigation.

Ms Dunn said police believed the woman lived in the flat by herself.

The area and footpath around the woman's Salisbury Rd flat was cordoned off this morning. Two police buses and a police car were parked outside at the scene.

The Richmond crime scene was highly visible to students walking to the nearby schools Waimea College and Intermediate.

The woman's flat is the front flat facing onto Salisbury Rd and one of a number of joined brick flats.

Neighbours said they hadn't heard or seen anything suspicious. They first they knew of the women's death was when police knocked on their door to make inquiries at about 8pm yesterday.

The neighbours, who did not wish to be named, said a man and woman lived in the flat although they didn't know anything about them.

"I'd walk past four times a week and say hello if I saw them but I didn't know them  they always kept to themselves,'' one of the neighbours said.

Another neighbour said the couple moved into the flat "about a year ago or longer'" although he said "I haven't seen the man for a while''.

"I didn't see much of them but I always appreciated their garden  it was beautifully kept,'' he said.

Another neighbour said she told police she last saw the woman three days ago "outside her flat having a cigarette''.

She said the police told her when they called last night 'that it had happened in the last 12 hours'.

"Nobody knows any details but it's dreadful. It's a nasty business _ there will a sad family around today.''

Employees at a nearby car sales and medical centre across also said they rarely saw the man and woman who lived in the flat.

"I got quite a shock when I heard about it,'' an employee at Unique Autos said. "I work just over the road but I hardly ever saw them.''

Richmond Mayor Richard Kempthorne said this morning news of the homicide investigation was a "bombshell" for Richmond.

"I'm absolutely gutted this has happened in our community. Our thoughts are with the family and we will do anything we can to help them.''

It is the second homicide investigation for Nelson police this year. In March Michael William Beca, 44, walked into the Nelson police station and said the body of Lisa Maree Corbett, 37 was in a nearby parked car.

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Beca is on murder charges in the Nelson District Court.

Last April Nicole Jean Barker and Thomas Hiki were found dead by police at the Maitai Valley Motor Camp. Hiki shot Ms Barker before turning the gun on himself. Ms Barker had ended their abusive relationship.

In November 2009 Nelson man Troy Minto was shot in the chest and died during a pre-arranged fight in Nelson's Maitai Valley.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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