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Roadworker death: Police close in on suspect

Published: 10:07AM Friday April 19, 2013 Source: ONE News

A month after the death of a roadworker south of Tokoroa, detectives say they are closing in on a suspect.

George Taiaroa was fatally shot as he operated a stop-go sign in south Waikato on March 19.

The 67-year-old was gunned down on Tram Road, Atiamuri and police say they have a "main suspect".

Throughout the investigation police have focused on finding a blue Jeep Cherokee which they say was involved on the day of the killing.

After carrying out a number of search warrants across the North Island, and following up on leads from the public, police are confident they now have the vehicle and believe they know who killed Taiaroa.

Police said they reached a turning point in their investigation several days ago.

"The key to solving this crime was to find this blue Jeep," Detective Inspector Tim Anderson said at a media conference this afternoon.

"We wanted to find the driver, we now believe we have found that person.

"We now have a main suspect in relation to the shooting."

Police would not disclose when the vehicle was found, the circumstances in which it was located, or the nature of forensic tests carried out on the vehicle. ONE News understands the Jeep was picked up in the Bay of Plenty area.

Police are also staying tightlipped about the identity of their suspect but Anderson said they have narrowed their focus in terms of a motive.

ONE News understands they have spoken to him, he's not in custody and it's not known whether or not he's co-operating.

"It's just a matter of massing the information that we have and narrowing that down towards the focus of this inquiry," Anderson said.

Police are confident a handful of people know what happened to Taiaroa and that the killer has been receiving help.

"Part of our inquiry is looking at the possibilities that this person was assisted," Anderson said.

Anderson warned anyone with information that the team has worked tirelessly for over a month and is prepared to be extremely patient in solving the case.

"I am always confident," Anderson said when asked about whether he was confident they would find the killer.

He reiterated that Taiaroa had no skeletons in his closet and appears to have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Police are still appealing for sightings of the Jeep around the time of the shooting.

More than 30 officers have been investigating the death.

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