The case of the human remains found entombed under an old Auckland villa could be one step closer to being solved.
Police were called to the house on Marlborough street in January, when contractors renovating an old boarding house uncovered bones under the property.
Today, it was announced they had identified those remains as David Stanley Hart, who is listed as one of the home’s former owners.
Residents of the street weren’t surprised by the revelation, or that his death was being treated as suspicious.
“The obvious, I guess, David Stanley Hart, it was probably the obvious call, and I guess it just puts the neighbourhood at rest a little bit,” said neighbour, Malcolm.
“It’s no more complicated than we’d all suspected. Very sad for David and I’d be surprised if they get to the bottom of it, but who knows.”
When Hart owned it, he ran it as a boarding house, with a raft of interesting characters passing through.
And when news of the bone discovery first hit the headlines, neighbours RNZ spoke to said Hart had disappeared almost 15 years ago.
Murray Golding, who had grown up on Marlborough street, said the boarders had always struck him as odd and he wondered if they had something to do with it.
“I think maybe something happened with one of his boarders that was there.”
“He might have said the wrong thing and done something to him and buried him under his own house.”
Hart also owned a second property at Blackball near Greymouth, where he enjoyed goldmining.
An old neighbour there, Neville Sheehan, said Hart was a bit eccentric but the pair enjoyed chatting when he came to town.
Sheehan also kept an eye on the property when Hart was away, and ran sheep there to keep the grass low.
The house in Marlborough Street in Mount Eden is now owned by Peter Marsden, who was renovating the rundown hulk when the bones were found.
He said everyone had been a tad suspicious about the lump of concrete, but had not thought a whole lot about it until the discovery.
“Pretty horrific, I hadn’t seen human bones before, so yeah, so my builder… they phoned me up and said that they’d found human remains that was underneath this sort of, big pile of concrete.”
Marsden said police told him a while ago they knew who the remains belonged to, but things had gone quiet.
He learned today they were Hart’s but said he was not surprised.
“It was 99 percent sure that it was him, but that was without the confirmation, but yeah, nah it was good to hear that it was him.”
Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Franich said the process of identification had been long and exhaustive.
The cause of death and how Hart ended up entombed under his own house still unclear.
He said the family had been notified and the police were now appealing for help from anyone who interacted with Hart as far back as March 2004.
They wanted to speak with anyone who interacted with tenants at the house until 2016, when it stopped being used a boarding house.