The man who owned a Mt Eden property where human remains were found encased in concrete disappeared "abruptly" more than a decade ago.
Bones were discovered during construction at a Marlborough St property last week.
Police yesterday revealed they were of human origin.
Their investigation is in the early stages but the Herald has learned the remains were found in concrete and the death is considered suspicious.
Police are appealing for anyone who lived at the property, which operated as a boarding house for some years, to come forward.
The property was owned by David Stanley Hart until recently.
Neighbours told the Herald 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.
The Herald has sought comment from the local council.
Other neighbours in Mt Eden remembered Hart today.
"He was always friendly," said one.
"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.
A funeral home vehicle arrived at the property on Monday afternoon. Police remain at the scene.