A 15-year-old jointly charged with the murder of an Ōkaihau man has been on the run since late last month after escaping from a youth justice facility.
Michael John Biggins, 62, was found in a vehicle crashed in a paddock off Imms Rd on September 27.
He died at the scene, despite the efforts of emergency services.
The incident was initially believed to have been a car crash but police later charged two teenagers with Biggins' murder.
A 15-year-old is facing a charge of murdering Biggins using a stabbing/cutting weapon.
He entered a not guilty plea and is set to go to trial at the High Court at Whangārei in March 2023.
A 12-year-old has appeared before the Youth Court.
Neither can be named due to their ages.
The Herald has learned that the 15-year-old was being held in custody at a North Island facility awaiting his next court appearance but absconded on December 29.
The facility is run by Oranga Tamaraki.
Deputy chief executive of youth justice services Allan Boreham said the youth escaped at 10.45pm on December 29.
"A full review is being conducted as to how this absconding occurred," he said.
"Our absolute priority is locating this young person and we are working with police to do this."
Police said earlier they are concerned about the teen's welfare.
"He does have family in the Masterton and Northland areas so there is a possibility that he has travelled to these regions," they said.
"If anyone sees him we would ask that they please call 111 rather than approach him.
"It's important that anyone with information on his whereabouts contacts police as we want to ensure he is safe."
The Herald has sought further comment from police on what is being done to locate the murder accused.