Neighbour to the murder victim Michael Fogden, ACT Policing are still investigating the murder at Mansfield Place in Phillip. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Neighbours say the victim of an apparent murder in Phillip was a cannabis dealer, with one telling of hearing terrified screams as the 71-year-old man's body was discovered on New Year's Day.
The small group of residents at the 12-unit Connorville Gardens block were in shock on Thursday. Police continued to stand watch over the Mansfield Place unit, the scene of the ACT's second apparent murder in a week.
Foul play is suspected but police have so far stopped short of publicly declaring it a murder.
Police probe suspicious death in Phillip
Police and SES conduct a search in bushland along the roadside on Hindmarsh Drive, Red Hill. Photo: Jay Cronan
They will conduct an autopsy on Friday and are expected to release further details in coming days, including the man's name.
Those who lived close to the victim said he lived alone, and variously described him as "reclusive", "rudely quiet", but also as harmless and a "really good bloke".
Two immediate neighbours said they strongly believed the victim dealt in cannabis, while other residents said they suspected drugs were being peddled from the small block of units where he lived. Those who knew the victim said he kept his door permanently locked, and police say there are no signs of forced entry.
Daniel Alarcon said he had encountered the victim and his little white dog walking through the area almost every day.
Mr Alarcon, who had only ever spoken to the victim twice, said he remembered the moment he thinks the body was first discovered.
"This lady was running around outside screaming, terrified, saying, 'Call the cops, someone call the cops,'" he said.
Detective Station Sergeant Bob Wynn would not comment on whether the victim was known to police, nor would he comment on possible drug links, or if it was being treated as a targeted killing.
"It's a little bit too early to tell,'' he said. ''The circumstances are yet to sort of fully unravel. We're still trying to track down the movements of the deceased prior to his death, so we're a little bit uncertain as to how exactly it's played out."
Another neighbour, Michael Fogden, said he knew the victim dealt in cannabis, but said he had little
idea how the death had occurred or who might have been involved.
Mr Fogden said he had spent a lot of time with the victim, who he described as harmless. “He never had a bad word to say about anyone ... he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” he said.
Forensic police continued to scour the scene and search the surrounding area for evidence on Thursday, aided by the ACT State Emergency Service.
Sergeant Wynn would not comment on whether there were signs of a struggle at the scene, or on the nature of the victim’s injuries.
The forensic examination of the crime scene is expected to continue for two to three days as police continue to canvas the area for witnesses.
On Thursday, another neighbour returned home from a trip, saying he had “freaked out” when he saw news of the death on television. “It’s not every day your next door neighbour gets murdered,” he said. “He was my neighbour and he was a good bloke, a really good bloke.”
The small, residential street is densely packed with clusters of homes sharing common driveways but divided by narrow, overgrown paths running between houses. At the end of the street is a bushy bike path and parkland.
Residents close to the crime scene said their small enclave was quiet and incidents were rare, but sometimes screaming and commotion could be heard from the block where the suspicious death occurred, which was frequently visited by people in cars who did not stay long.
“You do hear things but you just keep to yourself,” one woman said as she described walking the paths near the flat where the victim was found.
Sergeant Wynn said police would continue to speak with residents as the street came to terms with the suspicious death.