Missing woman case - Police find body

By Anita Moran, Katie Holland, news@dailypost.co.nz

Police investigating the disappearance of Rotorua woman Michelle Hoffman-Tamm found a body about 2.30pm yesterday. It was found in a forested area just off State Highway 38 between Rotorua and Murupara, an area police had been searching since "significant developments" in the case on Thursday.


The body has not been confirmed as Ms Hoffman-Tamm. [UPDATE - Identity confirmed - see here]

Other areas of Rotorua have been brought to the attention of police with regard to the case.

The red bike Ms Hoffman-Tamm was riding when she disappeared on November 7 was found at the intersection of Te Ngae Rd and Basley Rd; a scene examination of a Holland St house has been carried out; and police were searching at the Rotorua Landfill looking for items of interest relating to the case.

Detective Senior Sergeant Zane Smith of Rotorua CIB said police had received a lot of information from the public, which had helped lead them to the scene where the body was found.

He said it could not be confirmed whether the body found was that of 51-year-old Ms Hoffman-Tamm, who has been missing since she left her Phillip St home on her bike to visit a friend.

However, police have confirmed Ms Hoffman-Tamm's disappearance is being treated as a homicide inquiry.

Mr Smith said the body was to be removed from the scene last night and would be taken to Auckland for a post mortem examination.

The formal identification process would take a few days.

Mr Smith said Ms Hoffman-Tamm's family had been informed and were "understandably distraught".

The discovery came just hours after a 44-year-old woman appeared in the Rotorua District Court before a community magistrate accused of assaulting Ms Hoffman-Tamm on or about November 7.

The woman, who was granted interim name suppression, didn't enter a plea and was remanded in custody until December 3.

Mr Smith said police hadn't ruled out further charges against the woman but said investigations would continue.

Yesterday, security guards were at the scene where the body was found. They had blocked the entrance to the off-road area beside the main highway. A tent was up and officers in white suits were seen searching a nearby area of forest and bush.

While The Daily Post was at the scene, police were scouring the area and putting items in plastic bags.

A Murupara man who stopped at the side of the road to see what was happening, and didn't want to be identified, said local Maori would want to bless the site once police had finished their investigation.

Mr Smith said police and a forensic team were at the scene for most of the day.

About 12 police and search and rescue volunteers also spent most of yesterday searching the Rotorua landfill.

Police said it was being searched for "items of interest" in the investigation, but could not confirm what the items were.

They were sifting through the rubbish with spades and rakes and were likely to be there for the next few days.

A scene investigation is also being carried out at a Holland St house which police described as a "place of interest".

Ms Hoffman-Tamm's bike was found at Te Ngae and Basley Rds on Thursday. The Daily Post understands it was in bike stands outside a block of shops.

Mr Smith thanked the Rotorua community for the information received but said police still needed help.

"At this stage, we are appealing for sightings of a two-toned Subaru Legacy station wagon. We are particularly interested in sightings of that vehicle in Rotorua, between Rotorua and Whakatane and between Murupara and Rotorua."

He said police wanted to hear from people who had sighted the vehicle between November 7 and 11 and had seen the red mountain bike.

Anyone with information can contact Rotorua police on (07) 348 0099 or 0800 TIPOFF.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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