Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

DNA probe to identify headless skeleton

DNA samples are being taken to try to identify the skeleton. Photo / Thinkstock
DNA samples are being taken to try to identify the skeleton. Photo / Thinkstock

Police are taking DNA samples from the families of missing men in a bid to identify a headless skeleton found in the garage of a vacant Auckland property.

The bones were found in September by contractors demolishing a house on Barrack Rd in Mt Wellington.

The property had been empty for more than a year and police believe the remains were put there after the former residents moved out.

An autopsy revealed the man was 1.57m to 1.64m tall, but his age and date of death were not known.

A limited edition shoe found with the bones was available for only a short time in 2007 and police believe it may help identify the mystery man.

The left shoe was a size 8 Converse Chuck Taylor-brand shoe and a special edition, as the top-lace eyelet is red.

Detectives have worked their way through a list of 380 missing men and have now contacted the families of those who had not been eliminated from the list of potential victims.

Detective Senior Sergeant Kevin Hooper said some missing person files did not contain DNA samples. Getting those samples from family members was simply the next phase in terms of ruling people in or out.

Many missing people had already been eliminated based on other inquiries.

He said people approached by police should not get their hopes up. But either way, the results would give them some kind of answer.

The family of Indian student Srikanth Rayadurgam, missing since October 2009, are among those helping.

Police are expected to visit his sister Padma Priya tonight for her DNA to compare with the bones.

Mr Hooper said it was highly unlikely, because of the difference in height between Mr Rayadurgam and the remains, that it was him.

But the police had to keep an open mind.

"We have to get DNA so we can run it against the remains and definitively include or exclude each missing person," he said.

"We are prioritising the missing people into low, medium and high likelihoods.

"This particular person [Mr Rayadurgam] is in the low category ... he was significantly taller than the height estimate we have [for the bones]."

Mr Hooper said one way or another, Mr Rayadurgam's family would get an answer.

SEARCH LIST

* DNA samples are being taken to try to identify a headless skeleton found on an Auckland property.
* An autopsy revealed the unidentified man was 1.57m to 1.64m tall, but his age and date of death were not known.
* The left shoe was a size 8 Converse Chuck Taylor-brand shoe and a special edition, as the top lace eyelet is red.
* The family of Indian student Srikanth Rayadurgam, missing since October 2009, are among those giving samples.

- NZ Herald

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