A man wanted by police in connection with the disappearance of Waiuku man Lance John Murphy, found dead in a field at the weekend, has been arrested after almost three weeks on the run.

Steven Gunbie, 37, was detained at a Waihi property yesterday.

He has been charged with kidnapping and will appear in the Manukau District Court today. Police have not ruled out more-serious charges.

Mr Murphy was last seen leaving the BP service station at Warkworth on November 21. Five days later his car was found at a property 2km away.


A forensic examination of the car revealed Mr Murphy's blood inside.

Gunbie lived at the property.

On December 8, police made a public appeal for information about Mr Murphy's disappearance. They also revealed they were looking for Gunbie and said they believed he was connected to the disappearance.

At the time there was an arrest warrant out for Gunbie.

Mr Murphy's body was found in a field near Wellsford. A 51-year-old man has been charged with his murder. He has been granted name suppression.

Last night, police thanked members of the public for their help in finding Gunbie.

Mr Murphy's family did not want to speak publicly about his death or the arrests.

Gunbie was arrested at a house on Savage St in Waihi.

Residents in the area said the arrest came soon after 30 armed offenders squad police gathered near Waihi Hospital.

Sonja Ireland said she noticed the police helicopter circling around Waihi College about 2.30pm. She checked Facebook to find other residents saying their streets had been blocked off and armed police had surrounded a house on Savage Rd. Last night, police could not say what Gunbie's connection to Waihi was.

Gunbie is the brother of Renee Gunbie, whose hand was severed in a Samurai sword attack by Antoine Dixon in 2003. Waihi is just 50km from the assault town of Pipiroa, where Dixon's rampage happened.

While on the run, Gunbie posted comments on the Counties Manukau police Facebook page. He did not respond to messages from the Herald.

A woman named as his partner on Facebook also did not return messages. Her page has since been deactivated.