Bloody handprint found in murder hunt
A bloody handprint has been found in a clothing bin a few streets away from the Ashburton house where Sina Solomona was murdered.
It may be a key clue in the hunt for the 22-year-old's killer.
Detective Senior Sergeant John Rae said police were checking clothing bins across Ashburton for any items of interest or bloodied clothing that may be related to Solomona's violent death.
Rae revealed today that Solomona's injuries were predominantly to the head and included blunt trauma and "several" blade wounds to the face and throat.
Police are considering a sexual motive to the attack, which happened between 2.20am and 2.40am on Saturday in Solomona's Cass St home.
"She was a single woman alone in a house at that particular time. We can assume [the motive] is likely to be sexual; that's part of it," Rae said.
He said there was nothing to suggest she had been raped. She was fully clothed.
The killing had the hallmarks of a planned attack and it was likely the killer knew she would be there by herself, he said.
There was no sign of forced entry to the house, and the back door was unlocked and closed when she was found in a pool of blood by her stepbrother about 2.40am.
The front door was locked and the windows were closed.
"We assume whoever it was went in the back door," Rae said.
There was no evidence of a fight or scuffle, and there was no sign of defensive wounds to her hands and arms.
"It's quite likely there was some planning in it. Whether they were disturbed or someone knocked on the door and she was there, I don't know," he said.
The stepbrother who found her had believed she was trying to speak to him, but Rae said this was likely to be a "misinterpretation".
"It may have seemed she was trying to talk but she probably couldn't."
Rae said police were confident of an arrest.
There were about 20 officers working on the investigation, but this would increase tomorrow.
Police were today carrying out forensic mapping of the house and were in contact with the family about returning her body to them.
"We'll bring someone to justice for it; it's a horrific crime," Rae said.
Police said they believed the killer was an associate of Solomona, and there was no risk to the public.
Solomona's colleagues returned to work last night for a tough shift without the ''bubbly'' 22-year-old.
Solomona's supervisor at Canterbury Meat Packers (CMP), Mark Broker, said the colleagues had ''rallied together'' but he had to send some staff home before the shift ended.
''It was tough getting through last night,'' he said.
Solomona had finished her shift at 1am on Saturday and spent time at a friend's house before the partner of her twin sister dropped her home just after 2am.
Broker said Solomona was ''a great girl'' and a good worker who ''always had a smile''.
''She didn't deserve it,'' he said.
Her workmates were being offered counselling, he said.
Rae said earlier today that the evidence indicated Solomona was killed by somebody known to her.
"This does not appear to be a random attack. It is much more likely that the victim was killed by somebody she knew or was familiar with."
An autopsy was concluded this morning, but police would not comment on the results before a pathologist's report was received, he said.
The forensic examination of the Cass St property is expected to finish late today or tomorrow.
A team is continuing to comb the area around the property and neighbouring properties, searching for items that may be related to the murder.
Investigators would also search rubbish bins for any items that may have been discarded, Rae said.
Rae revealed yesterday that a weapon had been recovered from the Cass St property.
He declined to say whether the weapon was used in the killing.
"At this stage, police are not in a position to elaborate on what the item is, nor to confirm whether it was used in the attack on the victim," he said.
Solomona was still alive when her stepbrother found her about 2.40am.
He ran for help, and family members were understood to have gone to the house and attempted CPR before she was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
Rae said it appeared the killer was someone "close" to Solomona.
"[The attack] was targeted to her," he said.
"We're trying to ascertain who might want to do this."
Rae said police had spoken to Solomona's current partner and her former partners.
"We've got detailed accounts of their movements and at this stage there is nothing to suggest they are involved in this."
The father of Solomona's 3-year-old daughter had not lived in Ashburton for months, he said.
No residents from the house - where Solomona lived with her mother, twin sister, daughter, two brothers, her mother's partner and her sister's partner - were in when she arrived home just after 2am, Rae said.
Police were considering associates and friends of associates.
Rae said the weapon recovered by police was among "items of interest" found at the scene.
The items would be shown to family members to determine whether they were from the house or "introduced".
Anuella Solomona told the Ashburton Guardian her daughter was a loving and beautiful person, and the family were in deep shock.
"They just don't believe someone could do something like this. If there was any people hate us, any people had trouble, problem with us . . . I don't think so."
She said when her stepson found Solomona, initially he could not open the back door and thought she was playing around by not letting him in, but then he saw she was injured and ran down the street in a panic to get help.
He ran into a man on a bike who cycled to a service station to raise the alarm, the paper reported.
A family friend said the whole town was reeling from the news. "It's dumbfounded the community."
People at the Devon Tavern, where Solomona and her twin sister had their 21st birthday party, said her death was "a bloody shock".
Bartender Toni Guy said Solomona was "very bubbly, happy and friendly".
"I didn't know her well, but what I knew of her, when she was around you want to smile," Guy said.
The Devon has started a collection bucket on the bar for Solomona's family as her stepsister worked there.
Cleaner Laura Davis said her son used to work at CMP with Solomona.
"We all know her. All the CMPs come in here and have their breakup dos. She used to come in with her family. She's nice, a hard case - happy go lucky," she said.
"It's a bloody shock."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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