'Botched burglary': Daughter found body

By Amelia Wade, Anna Leask

An ordinary Friday turned into a "shocking tragedy" for a West Auckland woman who returned home from work to find her mother dead - possibly murdered during a botched burglary - in their family home.

The woman and her husband went to work as usual at about 9am. When they returned home just after 5pm they found Cun Xiu Tian dead in their Te Atatu home.

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Mrs Tian had been attacked sometime during the day and her body lay in the house until her family made the grisly discovery.

Emergency services converged on the street. The daughter and her husband were taken away in an ambulance, overwhelmed by shock.

A homicide investigation started and police began to scour Glenvil Lane and those who live there for clues.

A senior police source told the Herald Mrs Tian's death was "random" and another said it was "a real whodunnit".

She may have known her killer, but police say it is too early to speculate on what may or may not have happened in the quiet cul-de-sac.

One of Mrs Tian's neighbours spoke to detectives at the Henderson police station at length on Friday night.

Police say it is too early to speculate on what may or may not have happened in the quiet cul-de-sac. Photo / Nick Reed
Police say it is too early to speculate on what may or may not have happened in the quiet cul-de-sac. Photo / Nick Reed

She told the Herald on Sunday that police said Mrs Tian's death was the result of "a robbery gone wrong".

Yesterday officers in forensic suits worked behind the cordon, which was manned by armed police, trying to piece together what happened at the house.

Mrs Tian's body was removed and taken to the Auckland City Hospital mortuary where a post-mortem examination was carried out last night.

Detective Senior Sergeant Roger Small gave little away about the specifics of Mrs Tian's death.

He would not be drawn on where in the house her body was found, what injuries she suffered, her cause of death or whether a weapon was used and if so whether it had been recovered.

Mr Small said it was too early to speculate on the motivation behind the attack on Mrs Tian.

Police were working to establish her movements and whether anything was missing from the property.

Yesterday officers in forensic suits worked behind the cordon. Photo / Nick Reed
Yesterday officers in forensic suits worked behind the cordon. Photo / Nick Reed

"It is too early to speculate on what may or may not have happened," he said.
"We are keeping an open mind."

Mr Small said police could not solve the mystery of Mrs Tian's death on their own.

He said the community had provided police with valuable information already and he encouraged anyone else who could help track down the killer to come forward.

"We are asking residents, particularly in the areas surrounding Glenvil Lane who saw any people or vehicles in the area on Friday to come forward. Even if you don't think it was anything out of the ordinary, we still want to hear from you.

"We are also asking for residents in the area who may have private CCTV systems to please check their surveillance for any unusual activity in their own properties or for movements of interest and please contact police."

Mr Small said the attack on Mrs Tian was isolated and there was no evidence anyone else was at risk.

Mrs Tian's family are "devastated" and did not want to speak about her death yesterday.
Residents of Glenvil Rd were shocked by the incident.

Police were working to establish her movements and whether anything was missing from the property. Photo / Nick Reed
Police were working to establish her movements and whether anything was missing from the property. Photo / Nick Reed

Most were alerted to something happening when police, fire and ambulance vehicles roared into the street. The Eagle helicopter was also hovering as armed police and dog handlers responded.

Steven Columbus said he was surprised to hear of the death.

"It's just a quiet street ... it's just shocking," he said. "I won't sleep for a few nights."

Mr Small would not be drawn on whether an incident on Lincoln Rd near the Northwestern Motorway off ramp was connected.

A man was seen sitting on the ground with his hands behind his back while police checked his car.

A Te Atatu man later said on Facebook that he was the person on the ground.

It was intimated in comments that he matched the description of someone police were looking for at the time.

A police spokeswoman said there was no suggestion Mrs Tian's death was connected to a violent incident in Te Atatu on Tuesday.

Police are hunting Renata Tanitu Panui, 32, after a man was assaulted with a hammer.

The victim was taken to hospital with serious injuries and suffered a fractured jaw.

A warrant is out for Panui's arrest for failing to appear in court in relation to serious family violence matters, police said.

"Police would like to reassure the community that the assault is not believed to have been random, and the victim was known to the alleged offender."

CAN YOU HELP? Call the Operation Nepal team on 0800 772 271 if you have information about the death of Cun Xiu Tian.

- NZ Herald

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