Remains found entombed in concrete at a central Auckland house have been identified as the property's owner, who has been missing for a decade.
The bones found on the site belong to David Stanley Hart, police say.
"Police are treating Mr Hart's death as suspicious, however the cause of his death and how he came to be entombed under his house is still unclear," police said today.
"The investigation has identified a number of persons both within New Zealand and overseas that have resided at the address and who have been spoken to.
"Police are seeking further assistance from anyone who may have interacted or had contact with Mr Hart from March 2004 onwards or had any interactions at the address of 3 Marlborough St, Mt Eden or with persons living there up until 2016 when it ceased operating as boarding house."
Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Franich says police are pleased to be able to progress this case to a point where the remains have been identified.
"It is a credit to the investigation team and to ESR that we have been able to get to the stage where an identification of Mr Hart has been made as it has been a long, complex and exhaustive process."
Missing man was a 'recluse'
Neighbours previously told the Herald that Hart was a "recluse" who went abruptly missing at least a decade ago.
Murray Goldings, 45, has lived in Marlborough St his whole life and said Hart had lived at the property ever since he could remember and used to run a boarding house out of it for older residents.
In 2017, 3 Marlborough St was sold to a new owner.
Other residents in the street also remembered Hart but told the Herald they hadn't seen him in years.
"We kind of knew him. He was a bit of a recluse. Haven't seen him in a long time," Goldings said.
"He used to always have a little garage at the front that got knocked down. He was always in there tinkering away. He was in his 70s."
Prior to the 2017 sale, the house had continued on as a boarding house of sorts - but neighbours just stopped seeing Hart there.
"Yeah there was all kinds of people coming and going," Goldings said.
Goldings and another resident on the street said they understood the bank eventually took the house and resold it after being unable to get in contact with Hart.
"That's what we heard [the bank took the house]. Because it came up for a mortgagee sale," Goldings said.
"Our guess was that he'd gone missing and he had money in the bank and they had taken money out until the money dried up and they couldn't find him.
"There were rumours he went to Australia and there was another rumour he had dementia and had gone to a home somewhere. I reckon it would be over 10 years ago.
"He disappeared, no one knew [why] and there were all these rumours."
In November 2018 the Grey District Council sought Hart in relation to a property he owned at Blackball.
A notice in the local paper stated that unless Hart claimed the land at 24 Stafford St and paid all outstanding rates within a month, the council would apply for a court order declaring it to be abandoned and to authorise the sale or lease.
The notice stated Hart's whereabouts were "unknown".
Property records show 24 Stafford St is still currently owned by Hart.
Other neighbours in Mt Eden remembered Hart as "always friendly".
"If you were doing anything in your yard, he would offer advice, whether it be on the house or in the garden.
"He always had something to say. You would take it with a grain of salt."
The neighbour could not recall when they last saw Hart but said it was "quite some time ago".
"He was here one minute and then you realise, 'Hang on, I haven't seen Dave for a while, he's gone'."
They described the discovery of the remains as "a sadness".
Others said Hart had been a miner in the past.
They heard he had built out the basement to the property but that it wasn't council consented.
When the new developer bought it they were apparently working to fix the basement and might have found the body then, a neighbour said.
After learning the body had been found in concrete, another neighbour said: "Presumably he's someone's dad or brother and it's good to see he's getting the respect and hopefully some sort of outcome or justice.
"The big issue for us is that police find out what went on and someone or a family member can bury him - I'm presuming it's a him."
"We know that before the house was sold a lot of energy was put into locating him by the council and the bank, even hiring a private investigator."