The suspicious death of an elderly man in a Whangamata home has startled neighbours - including the parents of cricket star Daniel Vettori whose next-door driveway formed part of a forensics probe.
A modest one-storey home in sleepy Achilles Ave has become the centre of a homicide inquiry after a 76-year-old man was found dead by emergency services about 1.30am yesterday.
Police have revealed little about the death, but said an occupant of the house was being spoken to.
"The investigation is currently in its formative stages and it is too early to comment on the nature of how the victim died or any type of weapon used," Detective Senior Sergeant Graham Pitkethley said.
A Coastal News journalist arrived at the scene soon after the incident to find police speaking with a middle-aged man in the back of an ambulance.
The house is owned by a man, who could not be reached yesterday, and a woman from Hamilton who declined to comment. It is understood the man had listed his address as Achilles Ave since at least March last year.
Residents believed the house had been occupied by a man in his 50s, who could often be seen walking to the dairy. The man had also been seen washing his red Toyota Hiace van, which remained in the car port yesterday.
The property remained cordoned off yesterday as a team of forensics investigators focused on an area at the back, and a section of driveway over the fence. Robyn Vettori, who with husband Renzo owns the neighbouring holiday home, said police had not told her what it was they were interested in there. She slept through the incident then woke to find the house next door cordoned off.
Mrs Vettori phoned son Daniel to tell him she was safe, "because I thought our place and next door might be on TV".
Other neighbours were surprised that such an incident could have happened in an area described as safe, quiet and filled with unoccupied holiday houses.
A woman who declined to give her name heard a door slam loudly in the house late on Monday.
"It was a really loud bang - it sounded like a really heavy door," she said.
Another neighbour noticed that lights at the house were unusually still on at midnight.
"It's just awful to think what happened there."
Louise Everton, holidaying on the street with her Wellington family, went to the house last month to gather flowers for her 21st birthday party.
She woke yesterday to find police standing guard outside it: "It was pretty strange".
Police appealed for anyone with information on the death to phone the Operation Tiger team at Whangamata Police Station on (07) 865 0300, or leave a tip anonymously on 0800 555 111.