A man is being sought as a “person of interest” after a body believed to be that of Lena Zhang Harrap was found in Auckland on Wednesday afternoon.
A homicide investigation was launched on Thursday after a body was discovered in Mt Albert at 4.30pm on Wednesday, Detective Inspector Aaron Pascoe said in a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
The discovery was made by a member of the public walking along the track between Summit Drive and Grande Ave.
While the formal identification of the body has not yet been completed, the woman is believed to be Lena Zhang, also known as Lena Zhang Harrap.
Zhang Harrap left her Mt Albert home for a walk, believed to be from Jersey Ave, along Richardson Road and then up Grande Ave between 6.30 and 7.30am. She was reported missing by her family at 1pm after she failed to return.
“It is clear from the scene, from how she was found and from the post-mortem that she is the victim of foul play,” Pascoe said.
The 27-year-old, who was vision impaired and had Down syndrome, was 130cm tall and “walked at a slow pace”, he said.
She was wearing a purple top and dark pants with police releasing a CCTV image of Zhang Harrap’s last movements.
Police are also seeking a “person of interest” who was seen on CCTV walking up Grande Ave towards the walkway towards Summit Drive at 7.30am, Pascoe said.
“It’s important that we identify and locate this male as we believe he can assist our investigation.”
The man is described as being a dark-skinned with dark hair balding on top, a receding hairline and a distinctive mark on his forehead.
He was wearing a blue hoodie and a face mask.
"We know the local community will be shocked and saddened," he said.
Pascoe is calling for anyone who may have seen Zhang Harrap walking between 6.30am and 7.30am, or has CCTV footage along the route she was believed to have walked, to contact the Operation Daleyza investigation team on 0800 352 399, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.