Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

Blessie case: Murder accused lived alone

Police during their search of the cemetery on Eskdale road in Birkdale in relation to the disappearance of Blessie Gotingco (inset). Photo / Chris Gorman
Police during their search of the cemetery on Eskdale road in Birkdale in relation to the disappearance of Blessie Gotingco (inset). Photo / Chris Gorman

A neighbour of the man charged with the murder of Blessie Gotingco says the accused lived alone and only moved to the area a few months ago.

The accused man was granted name suppression when he appeared in court this morning before Judge Philippa Sinclair.

He was arrested yesterday, after the 56-year-old mother-of-three's body was found yesterday in an area of bush at the Birkenhead-Glenfield cemetery on Eskdale Rd.

The accused did not apply for bail and he was remanded in custody to reappear in the High Court on June 18.

Read more of the Herald's coverage of the Blessie case this morning:
Blessie murder-accused's name suppressed

His neighbour Greg, who didn't want his surname published, said he had seen the accused coming and going and thought he had always kept a tidy home.

"He was renting here, I think he'd been here for six or seven months."
Greg said when he looked out his window yesterday morning and saw police officers on the road he got a shock.

"I thought it might be linked to the missing woman," he said.

The crime wasn't typical of Birkdale, he said.

"This is a nice, quiet place. It can happen anywhere," he said.

Greg said the residents in the 48 apartments in the private cul-de-sac in Birkdale kept to themselves and were quiet folk most of the time.

He said he was getting sick of the "rubber-neckers" driving along the street to have a look around.

"People are saying 'there goes the neighbourhood'."

He said he had spoken to some of the other neighbours in the area about the arrest and the crime, but none seemed nervous.

Nobody he had spoken to since the arrest had had any interactions with the accused, he said.

Earlier today, the grieving husband and children of Mrs Gotingco thanked the public and media for helping find her body and assisting the police investigation.

Speaking from their Birkdale home, where friends have been calling to pay their respects throughout the day, Antonio Gotingco said the publicity around his wife's disappearance had helped "in trying to track down the perpetrator and trying to solve the case".

His son, Vincent, agreed: "We're thankful to the media for getting the story out.''
Antonio spoke to APNZ with Vincent and daughter Bea at his side.

Watch: Man charged with murder


"Personally, on behalf of my family I would like to thank all the media people in New Zealand for all the concern, the sympathies and all the publication that my wife has received.'' he said.

"My wife is a very private person and overnight she became a sensation, and I don't think she's going to like it, but I'm sure she's happy ... it really helped the case.''

People from all over the country had paid tribute to Blessie on social media sites, he said.

Most did not know his wife or the family personally, but they were grateful for the sympathy and offers of support they had received, he said.

Neighbours and people from the community had left messages in their letterbox offering help - from making dinners to mowing the lawn, the family said.

Police search and rescue teams set out along Salisbury Road for clues. Photo / Chris Gorman


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