The suspected murder of Eddie Peters is far from the first to baffle police in Hawke's Bay.

Here are 10 of the most highly-profiled mysteries, from those where people just disappeared to those where it was obvious they had been murdered.

Joan Rose Rattray — 1935. Found dead. Murdered.

The six-year-old girl disappeared on her way home from school in Hastings on July 2, 1935. Her body was found the following day in Kāramu Creek. It is believed she was forced into the mud in the creek and held under until she suffocated, but there was no evidence of other assault or violation of the girl.


Despite community outrage and a huge police inquiry, no motive nor reason was established and no arrest was ever made.

Annie and Rosamund Smyth — 1942. Found dead. Murdered.

The sisters were murdered on or about August 8, 1942, in their home at the Salvation Army hall in Wairoa. But it was 13 days before they were found and the deaths reported to the police.

They'd been attacked with an axe and a poker, and during the lengthy police inquiry a reward of £500 was offered, without success. The murders remained unsolved and in January the following year a coroner delivered an open verdict of "murder by some person or persons unknown".

Neither sister had married, and Annie, who was 63, was remembered as the New Zealand Salvation Army's first overseas missionary and one of its most outstanding officers.

Herbert Brunton — 1948. Found dead. Murdered.

A 69-year-old railway worker, Herbert "Bunny" Brunton was found in his hut near the Wairoa railway station, with multiple head wounds after being attacked with an axe.

A single bloody fingerprint found at the back door sparked the country's biggest fingerprinting exercise, with more than 5000 people inked — more than the population of the town — as police tried to identify a killer amid fears that a maniac was on the loose.

In 1962, dying Leo Silvester Hannan, who had been serving life for the 1950 murder of Wellington night watchman Frederick Andrew Stade, confessed to his lawyer that he had killed Brunton and, six years earlier, sisters Annie and Rosamund Smyth.

Mona Blades — 1975. Disappeared. Presumed murdered.

The 18-year-old Mona Blades disappeared while hitchhiking from Hamilton to her parents home for Queen's Birthday weekend. Because it was a surprise visit, her disappearance wasn't noted or reported for about three days and her last confirmed activity was found to have been when making a gift purchase in Taupo on the Saturday morning of May 31.

Searches focused on the Napier-Taupō road and an unsubstantiated sighting of her being with a man and an orange Datsun. Neither the man nor the vehicle were identified, and no trace of the teen has been found.

In April last year a cold-case documentary revealed the possibility she never reached the Napier-Taupō road and there were possible links instead to bikie gang members travelling from Auckland to Wellington.

Kirsa Jensen — 1983. Disappeared. Presumed murdered.

The 14-year-old Napier girl disappeared while exercising horse Commodore on the afternoon of September 1, 1983.

The horse was found near a World War II gun emplacement on the Awatoto foreshore and on the Napier side of the mouth the Tutaekuri River. Attention soon turned to Whakatū orchardist John Russell, who had first surfaced as a possible witness after reporting what he had seen while driving past on SH2 — what inquiry head Ian Holyoake called on the anniversary last September "a stupid bloody white truck" that probably never existed.

Russell's varying accounts, including stopping at the scene, made him a prime suspect, in 1985 he tried to make a public confession, and in 1992 he took his own life. A piece of rope used to tether the horse was matched to a type of rope used by Russell at work.

There was never any trace or evidence of what happened to Kirsa Jensen, but she is presumed to have been murdered.

Joseph Tuhi — 1994. Disappeared. Presumed dead.

A father of two, Joseph Gary Tuhi was a transient man from Mōhaka in Northern Hawke's Bay.

He had not been seen for several months before his disappearance was reported, and a police inquiry was faced with little information other than that he was last reported as alive when walking along SH2 in the Mōhaka-Raupunga area about June 1994.

A man later confessed to a killing and was charged with murder, but no body was ever found as there was no trace of the missing man, and it was established that if the man who confessed to the killing had killed anyone it could not have been Joseph Tuhi, who was aged about 42 when he disappeared.

Richard Woods — 1996. Disappeared. Presumed dead.

Richard Woods was known as a performing Elvis Presley impersonator and as a man walking the streets of Napier, but he vanished without trace on the sunny Saturday afternoon of March 23, 1996.

It was then that he left his accommodation at Lincoln Grange, a health services operate half-way house on the hills of Napier, apparently to walk into the city.

Nothing was missing from his room which might have indicated any plan not to return, his bank account was never touched again, and there was no further call on his medication. A father of four, he was prone to depression and suffered forms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

He had visited his daughter earlier in the day before returning to Lincoln Grange for lunch, and called his brother to say he did not feel too well and wanted to go to hospital to get checked out.

Phillip Cowan — 2001. Disappeared. Presumed murdered.

Enveloped by the cannabis world of users and dealers, Hawke's Bay man Phillip Cowan disappeared during a visit to Wellington, where he was last reported to have been seen at a cleaning business on March 25, 2001.

Concern was raised when he did not return to Hawke's Bay, and escalated when police were tipped off more than two months later to the possibility of foul play.

They found his car had been dumped near Bulls (about 150km from the capital), but there was no other physical evidence of his whereabouts apart from blood in the vehicle.

Police did charge three men, including one who had grown up in Hawke's Bay, but the murder trial was abandoned midway in October 2003 when a Judge ruled it was "manifestly unjust" to continue. Testimony from two claimed eye-witnesses had been discredited and wasn't supported by other evidence. The men cannot be retried.

Annabell Tumanako — 2007. Disappeared. Missing person. Presumed dead.

There have been no confirmed sightings since she left a Maraenui address late on the afternoon on June 23, 2007.

It was several days before she was reported missing, and it was discovered that her car had been abandoned that night near the Westshore Hotel, although by the time police became involved it had been impounded.

Seeking answers, police tried to jog memories by highlighting it was the night of an All Blacks test against South Africa and the start of the America's Cup series between Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi, watched by hundreds of thousands on TV during the night and early morning.

But nothing was ever heard of what happened to the 35-year-old missing woman who had been living with the father of her youngest child.