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Half-naked dead body dumped on oval for everyone to see, police say

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Sam Rigney, Matt Carr

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Man's body found stripped and bound

Newcastle police are investigating the killing of a 52-year-old man after his body was found lying in a Wickham park on Wednesday morning.

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Hog-tied, stripped naked from the waist and dumped face down and dead in the middle of a park for the first early morning walker and her dog to stumble upon.

Newcastle police are investigating the killing of a 52-year-old Mayfield man after his body was found lying in Thomas Armstrong Oval in Wickham on Wednesday morning.

This particular offence is not a matter of a body that someone has tried to dispose of or hide, it was out in the open and that is quite clear 

Specialist forensic officers were examining the dead man's Mayfield home on Wednesday night and police had also established a crime scene on Ash Island where a car, believed to be linked to the death, was found.

Mystery: police cordoned off the dead man's home.

Mystery: police cordoned off the dead man's home. Photo: Newcastle Herald

A vehicle was hauled off the isolated island late on Monday with a police escort.

Newcastle police have launched Strike Force Harrogate to investigate the death and say they have put the NSW Homicide Squad on notice.

Dumped in grass cut short for cricket season, the body should have been conspicuous to anyone crossing the Maitland Road railway bridge.

Evidence: police take a car off Ash Island.

Evidence: police take a car off Ash Island. Photo: Newcastle Herald

All they had to do was turn their head.

But it wasn't until a Wickham resident and her dog set off for their morning walk about 8.20am that the grisly scene was reported.

Footprints in the dewy grass appear to indicate the man was dumped there on Tuesday night.

Body found behind Hawkins Oval, Wickham Park. Forensic at the scene.

Body found behind Hawkins Oval, Wickham Park. Forensic at the scene. Photo: Simone De Peak

The woman, who lives two blocks away in Robert Street, called police. They taped off the entire park – a crime scene spanning several hundred metres from Maitland Road to Hunter Street and Albert Street.

Ambulance paramedics arrived but were called off once it was determined the man was dead.

Police combed the park throughout the afternoon, searching for a potential murder weapon while detectives canvassed neighbours in a bid to unearth a witness.

A nearby business owner said police told him they were searching for a knife.

Police identified the man on Tuesday night and were working on notifying his next-of-kin.

The man is believed to have been well-known to police.

"Police are treating the death as suspicious and we are appealing to the public for any information in relation to circumstances surrounding how this poor fellow came to his fate," Newcastle crime manager Jeff Little said.

Acting Inspector Little would not be drawn on motives for the crime, but did comment on the brazenness of leaving a body out in the open.

"Look, at this stage you will appreciate it's early days, this matter just came to police notice as of this morning, so I can't particularly go into that side of the investigation," acting Inspector Little said.

"The fact that it is in a location in a public area, in the open, an oval, on that note we are hopeful that someone may have seen something, and with that information we urge you to come forward.

"This particular offence is not a matter of a body that someone has tried to dispose of or hide, it was out in the open and that is quite clear."

He said the strike force would examine all avenues, including organised crime, sexually motivated links or drugs.

They are ruling nothing out, he said.

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