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

Stolen car may link to murder, say police

This Mitsubishi Mirage was stolen from West Auckland around the time Lee McMurdo was killed and it was recovered in Northland. Photo / Supplied
This Mitsubishi Mirage was stolen from West Auckland around the time Lee McMurdo was killed and it was recovered in Northland. Photo / Supplied

Police investigating the murder of Auckland man Lee McMurdo almost a year ago are looking for sightings of a stolen car believed to be connected to the crime.

Mr McMurdo, 32, was found dead at his Helensville home by his 12-year-old daughter in July.

Police started a homicide investigation and said Mr McMurdo, a father of three, died violently between July 26 and 29 but have refused to give the exact cause of his death.

The murder remained a real "whodunit" but police have said it could have been the result of a debt recovery gone wrong.

Although the cause of death has not been made public, police have said he was the victim of an assault.

They have been asking for information about a silver and blue Mitsubishi L300 van seen near Mr McMurdo's address close to the time he died.

Yesterday Detective Sergeant Roger Small told the Herald a second car may be linked to the murder.

The silver 1987 Mitsubishi Mirage, registration SA2782, was stolen from a property in Massey, West Auckland on or about July 27 last year.

It was driven around the Auckland area for several days and then driven to Northland on or about July 31 last year.

"The vehicle has recently been recovered from Northland, sporting damage believed to be caused by striking a cattle beast in the Wellsford area on the trip north in late July 2011," Mr Small said.

He could not give any further detail about the relevance of the car to the investigation, but said it was important for anyone who had seen it to contact police.

Mr McMurdo was well known in the Helensville community.

After he died police acknowledged he had become involved in the local drug scene, attracting their attention when he was charged with cultivating cannabis.

Soon after the killing, Mr McMurdo's father, Bruce McMurdo, made an emotional appeal for information about his son's murder.

"Lee died a violent death and, although he appeared to be on the wrong side of the tracks when he was killed, it wasn't always so," he said.

"He fathered three wonderful children, was a skilled golfer and was well loved and liked by many. But ... he got caught up in a drug scene. That doesn't mean he deserved to die the way he did."

Anyone who saw this silver 1987 Mitsubishi Mirage after July 27 last year should contact the Operation Manu team on 0508 00 6268 or Alternatively anyone with information can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

- NZ Herald

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