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Onehunga homicide: Police identify person of interest in killing of 77-year-old Maria Brown

A forensic investigation is under way following the discovery of the body of a 77-year-old woman inside her Onehunga home shortly after...

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A forensic investigation is under way following the discovery of the body of a 77-year-old woman inside her Onehunga home shortly after 10am. Video / Hayden Woodward

Police have identified a person of interest in relation to the killing of Maria Brown, a treasured Auckland grandmother who was found dead at her home at the weekend.

A homicide investigation was launched after a family member found Brown, 77, deceased at a Moana Ave, Onehunga address about 10am on Sunday.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said a person of interest “has been identified and that this person is not at large in the community”.

“Police are satisfied that this person does not pose any risk to the community,” Beard said.

“The investigation is ongoing, and updates will be provided in due course.

“We would like to reassure the public that police are not seeking anyone else in relation to this incident.”

On Wednesday a family member told the Herald that Brown “helped so many people” and had funded the education of many children.

Police at the Onehunga address. Photo / Hayden Woodward
Police at the Onehunga address. Photo / Hayden Woodward

Her adopted granddaughter, Fetu Leiloanaisaua Leapai-Saili, spoke to the Herald from her home in Apia, Samoa, to pay tribute to Brown.

Leapai-Saili said her nana, a widow who lived alone, left behind a “devastated” twin sister, who lives in American Samoa.

Born and raised on Savai’i, Brown had immigrated to New Zealand with family many years ago.

Leapai-Saili said Brown and her twin had adopted and raised her mother.

“They basically raised my mum and us,” she said.

“I’m grateful that she took my mum under her wing and raised her and raised us as well.

“Because we wouldn’t be where we are right now without her help.”

Her nana would always go the extra mile for her family and for anyone and everyone in need, Leapai-Saili said.

“She loved so many people. She helped put so many kids in school, paid for school fees. Every time she comes here she makes sure everyone gets lunch money.

“Everyone gets a share.”

Brown had five children and many grandchildren, Leapai-Saili said.

Leapai-Saili said the family were waiting for police to confirm her cause of death.

“She has been living there for more than 10 years and her neighbours are so lovely as well.”

Leapai-Saili said she remembered Brown counselling her about life, especially marriage.

“So, now I’m married with a son, and I can think of all she has taught me, I can definitely say ‘you did a great job Grandma, thank you’.

“Now my marriage seems balanced and good, because you have taught me what to be aware of.

“She also was a lovely wife to her husband.”

Leapai-Saili said she had comforted Brown’s twin, who was devastated by the news of her death.

“Both of them, they loved me so, so, so much.”

Brown was due to celebrate her birthday on the day her body was found.

“That’s very heartbreaking.

“If police confirm she died on Sunday, then that means she died on her birthday.”

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