As police searched for Palmiro MacDonald in April, gang members were telling media he was already dead.
Whispers from the 36-year-old father's Horowhenua community suggested the same - that he'd been killed, his body cut up and dumped somewhere nearby.
MacDonald, a Nomads associate, was last seen alive on March 23. Skeletal remains believed to be his were found yesterday.
Nomads members told media in the days after MacDonald disappeared that Head Hunters members had sent a text out saying MacDonald, also known as "Powser", was dead and other Nomads members were next.
On the day police officially announced an investigation into his disappearance, March 26, a Nomads-owned Hokio Beach house that he regularly visited near Levin was torched.
It was thought he may have had a confrontation with the rival gang over methamphetamine at the property.
"There's been messages some of the boys have gotten from the 88s saying that Powser is dead and they're next," a gang member told Fairfax in April.
"We don't have the why part yet, which we'll get soon. But we do know it was over crack houses."
Human bones were found dumped in bush in the foothills of the Tararua Range during a search of the Mangahao Dam area yesterday.
There was a "good chance" it could be MacDonald, police said.
Forensic testing was ongoing to determine the bones' identity.
Central District crime manager Detective Inspector Ross McKay said the area in which the remains were found was of interest to officers.
"Given that we've yet to locate him, it has got to be a possibility that it's Palmiro MacDonald.
"However, there are other unsolved cases of people who've been reported missing in this area over the years.
"Until the forensics are completed, which could take days, we can't confirm the identity of the deceased."
It was possible the bones could belong to a hunter who went missing in the same area in 1952, police said.
MacDonald's family had been told of the developments in his case, police said, but social media posts from earlier in the year indicated they already believed he was dead.
Several posts by those close to MacDonald urged people to tell them where his body was.
One woman even asked an online medium for help in May, saying the situation was bad.
"We just want find hm nd take hm home [sic]."
When it was announced today that the body could be his, extended family commented on Facebook saying they hoped it was.
The last reported sighting of MacDonald was when he was seen travelling as a passenger in a silver and grey 1994 Mercedes Benz 320 saloon. The car had distinctive chrome wheels.
Police made a fresh appeal last month on its programme Police Ten 7 for information to help solve what happened to Palmiro and provide answers for his family.
Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Baskett said last month police were suspicious of MacDonald's disappearance since the beginning.
"Police have known there has been something not quite right with Palmiro's disappearance, which did lead police to launch a homicide investigation."
The Operation Palm team had appealed for anyone who saw the Mercedes to contact them.
Police would also like to speak with any holidaymakers who were visiting the area around the Easter period.