Troubled teenager Shaun Finnerty moved to Christchurch for a fresh start. What the 16-year-old got was a beating that left him lying dead in a city park.
Police hunting the killers of the former Dunedin resident have now revealed Shaun was in the custody of Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and was placed in a family home just days before his death.
CYFS reported him missing two days before he died and said it was working closely with police as they investigated his death.
"Our deepest sympathy goes out to Shaun's family and loved ones at this tragic time," said South Island regional director John Henderson
"Shaun was placed at a CYFS home in Christchurch after care arrangements broke down at the weekend. In family homes, every effort is made to duplicate a normal home-type environment for children and young people in need of care and protection.
"They are not locked up and enjoy similar freedoms as other children and young people.
"Shaun failed to return to the family home on Monday night, when he was due back at 7pm, and he was reported missing."
His uncle, Graeme Finnerty, said the family were unclear about Shaun's final days after he had run away from his aunt's home in Christchurch, where he had been staying.
"We were hoping it would be a fresh start by sending him to Christchurch to live," Mr Finnerty said.
"He actually quite liked Christchurch. Unfortunately it didn't work out. He basically wanted his freedom to come and go as he pleased and do what he pleased, and my sister didn't agree with that lifestyle."
Shaun had his difficulties "but wasn't a bad kid. If you said the sky was blue, he said it was pink. He just saw things differently".
Before his shift to Christchurch in November, Shaun had left Otago Boys High School and started in a trade, but did not like it.
Detective Inspector Greg Williams said yesterday police were making "significant progress" in their homicide investigation.
Witnesses had come forward after seeing Shaun with a group of Maori or Pacific Island youths in Auburn Reserve, in the suburb of Riccarton, where he was found dead.
Police also believed they knew the identity of a person who called anonymously for an ambulance for Shaun from a phone box near the reserve, about 5.47am on Wednesday.
"He will be well aware of this, and I urge him to come forward," Mr Williams said.
Police were also tracking Shaun's movements on Monday and Tuesday, and had released a video image of him taken at Riccarton Mall.
A post-mortem examination had been completed.
"All I can say at this time is that Shaun has been seriously assaulted and this is likely to be a contributing factor in the cause of his death."