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Tip Site Search for Severed Hands

Tip Site Search for Severed Hands

New Zealand Police National News Release
3:03pm 25 July 2006

Police today began a detailed search of a football field sized section of the Happy Valley Landfill for the hands of homicide victim Tony Stanlake.

The 62-year-old Karori man's mutilated body was found at Owhiro Bay on Sunday morning, 9 July. One man has been arrested and charged with his murder and a second with being an accessory after the fact to murder.

Detective Inspector Mike Arnerich, head of Operation Red Rocks, said that investigators have tracked the disposal of a rubbish bin via a rubbish truck to an area at the landfill. It's believed Mr Stanlake's severed hands were in the rubbish bin.

"The landfill contractors are being very helpful and have set aside a target area for us," he said. "It's a big, messy and smelly job sorting through commercial and household rubbish that is up to a metre deep."

Forty police staff including 32 recruits from the Royal New Zealand Police College are helping detectives and specialist search group staff sift their way through the mountains of trash. The job could take up to two days.

"We're getting pretty used to searching the landfill in Wellington homicide operations so we know to expect some unpleasant conditions," Detective Inspector Arnerich said.

Staff safety is important and all officers are wearing gumboots, overalls, disposable overalls, masks, shoulder length gloves and using trowels to minimise any risk of infection.

Detective Inspector Arnerich said that despite the working environment, the recruits were "giving it 100 percent" and making the most of getting in some early scene examination experience.

Recruits have also helped the investigation team with coastline searches at Owhiro Bay and area inquiries.

Detective Inspector Arnerich said the investigation team is still focused on establishing Mr Stanlake's movements on Thursday, 6 July, the day he was last seen alive shopping at Bunnings in Newtown.

Police want to hear of sightings of Mr Stanlake that day, and also his blue 1994 Ford Laser registration number SU472. His car was found parked in the garage of his Lancaster Street home but the keys are missing.

Officers also want to hear from people who saw Mr Stanlake visit the house at 14 Strathavon Road, Miramar, at any time.

People with information are urged to call the 0508 Red Rocks hotline - 0508 733 762.


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