The children of jogger Anne McCullough were in court yesterday to see the man who police allege killed their mother.
Grace and Ollie McCullough were joined by other family members and their mother's colleagues at the New Plymouth District Court appearance of Matthew Kinghorn.
Police charged the 27-year-old with manslaughter on Saturday after Mrs McCullough's body was found inside a Holden Commodore abandoned at a rural New Plymouth reserve.
Yesterday, that charge was upgraded to murder.
The officer in charge of the case, Detective Grant Coward, said that after four days of investigations, murder was the most appropriate charge.
He would not go into details about the case or the accused, but said sightings of the car that hit and killed Mrs McCullough, 45, were still needed.
She was killed while out jogging on Saturday afternoon and her funeral will be held today.
Kinghorn was tidily dressed in blue jeans and a grey T-shirt, and stood with his head down for much of his appearance.
His right hand was heavily bandaged.
The children sat in the front row of the courtroom but declined to speak to reporters outside court.
The judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation to be completed before Kinghorn appears in court next month.
Mrs McCullough's body was found about 2.30pm on Saturday, about 10km from where she was struck, in the back seat of an abandoned car near the Meeting of the Waters.
Mr Coward said police were appealing for any sightings of "a distinctive purple 1987 Holden Commodore sedan with mag wheels" driving around New Plymouth on Saturday afternoon.
"More specifically we are looking for sightings in the location of the top end of Frankley Rd, Carrington Rd, Baker Rd, Mangorei, Junction Rd and the Meeting of the Waters."
• If you have information, contact the police on (06) 759-9456 or (06) 759-5500.
- APNZ and Andrew Koubaridis