21 Jan 2016

Teen due in court over Te Atatu murder

5:09 am on 21 January 2016

A teenager will appear in court this morning charged with murdering west Auckland grandmother Cun Xiu Tian.

Police are looking for the killer of CUn Xiu Tian.

Police have been investigating Ms Tian's death since Friday. Photo: SUPPLIED / RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

The police announced late last night, on day six of their homicide investigation, that they had arrested a 19-year-old man who is from the same suburb of Te Atatu.

As well as murder, he also faces two charges of sexual violation.

Detective Senior Sergeant Roger Small said Ms Tian's family were being supported by the police's victim support team after being told of the arrest.

"I know that the arrest will bring some relief to the Te Atatu and wider community and we'd like to thank the public for their support and assistance over the past six days," he said.

The man is due to appear in the Waitakere District Court.

Detective Senior Sergeant Roger Small at the house where 69-year-old Cun Xiu Tian was killed.

Detective Senior Sergeant Roger Small at the house where the 69-year-old was killed. Photo: RNZ / Carla Penman

David Spackman, who helped organise a community candlelight vigil attended by more than 300 people the night before the arrest, said it would bring huge relief to nervous and anxious locals.

"I think the community is going to be stoked, it's great news," he said.

"The police have obviously done a great job and I think people will be able to sleep easy again.

"I'd seen earlier on social media that someone was saying they'd wake up and there'd be a small noise outside the window and it was probably a cat, and even that was scaring them," he said.

The Te Atatu community turned out in numbers for a memorial service for Cun Xiu Tian

The Te Atatu community turned out in numbers for a memorial service. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

There was a lot of police activity last night on the peninsula, Mr Spackman said.

"I drove past down by Rutherford College and there was about eight cop cars and there was a dog car.

"And then got home and my sister said the police helicopter was out so we knew something was definitely going down; it's just great news," Mr Spackman said.

Te Atatu resident Elissa Fisher told RNZ on the morning before the arrest that locals were "all on edge".

"I have a dog I walk, I'm now regularly checking around me, I'm telling my kids where I'm going walking," she told Morning Report yesterday.

Last night, she said she was relieved by the arrest after she and her neighbours had been in a state "of red alert".

But Ms Fisher said she was saddened that a 19-year-old who was "a member of some other family" was arrested.

"It's a whole family that's going to hurt now too out of that, so it's sad," she said.

The police said they appreciated that widespread interest would be generated from last night's arrest.

However, they said no further information would be released because of the court process.

Family grateful for community support

Ms Tian's body was found by family members when they got home from work at about 5.30pm last Friday.

She had lived in the area for many years and lived with her daughter and son-in-law on Glenvil Lane.

During their investigation, the police called the 69-year-old's death in her own home a despicable crime and said that she suffered a horrific death.

They said great force was used to strike her about the head and face many times.

Ms Tian's family released a statement through the police yesterday afternoon before the arrest was announced.

"We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to the entire Te Atatu community for their support in our time of grief.

"Last night's vigil for our Mum was very much appreciated and we are very humbled to know that so many people are thinking of our family.

"To everyone in Te Atatu and beyond who has put us in their thoughts and prayers, thank you, we really really appreciate it," the family said.