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Hunt for killer: Kaikohe dialysis patient attacked in home she shared with whānau

Author
Raphael Franks and Peter de Graaf,
Publish Date
Sat, 3 Jun 2023, 9:04am
Kaikohe's Linda Woods was killed during a home invasion. Photo / File
Kaikohe's Linda Woods was killed during a home invasion. Photo / File

Hunt for killer: Kaikohe dialysis patient attacked in home she shared with whānau

Author
Raphael Franks and Peter de Graaf,
Publish Date
Sat, 3 Jun 2023, 9:04am

The female dialysis patient killed by an intruder in her Kaikohe home has been formally identified as 71-year-old Linda Woods.

Police also confirmed today that Woods shared her Taraire St home with four generations of her whānau.

“All occupants of the house are female,” Detective Inspector Rhys Johnston said today.

“We extend our sincere sympathies to Linda’s loved ones at this incredibly difficult time.

“We continue to support her family as we work to get answers for them, and to hold the offender to account.”

Johnston said a scene examination was continuing at the property today.

“Later today police expect to be able to release details of items left at the scene by the offender,” he said.

The killer is believed to have fled barefoot and left his shoes at the scene after the fatal attack on Thursday night.

Linda Woods died while undergoing dialysis care when an intruder entered her Kaikohe home. Photo / Peter De GraafLinda Woods died while undergoing dialysis care when an intruder entered her Kaikohe home. Photo / Peter De Graaf

‘My daughters were there. They were the ones trying to fight him off’

Earlier today the Herald reported that Woods was killed in the Thursday night home invasion by an intruder who ripped out her breathing tubes as she tried to defend her whānau.

She died after a struggle with an intruder who then fled the Taraire St property barefoot, leaving his shoes behind.

Woods’ niece Shianne Maaka told the Herald the man had pulled out the breathing tubes from her aunt’s nose after beating her. She said Woods had a heart condition and diabetes.

“My daughters were there. They were the ones trying to fight him off,” Maaka said.

“I mean, they had to ... not only were they fighting for their lives and trying their hardest to deal with that man, then Auntie Linda goes in and they have to see him bashing her.

”[One daughter], she was the one that put the biggest fight up. They’re both not good at the moment. [One] is going through a breakdown, shaking and scratching. I’ve never seen it. She’s really traumatised.

”He ripped out her, you know those things, those tubes up her nose, the breathing ones.

”He was beating her up. She took a lot, you know, she took quite a bit of a beating. And then he rips the cords out.”

Some dialysis patients require a ventilator to help them breathe during treatment. This is because with each normal breath, the diaphragm drops. This pulls air into the lungs. But if the lungs are very damaged, air must be pushed in to fill them.

Maaka said she was now anxious walking down the street in case she saw the offender, and said she hoped police caught him soon.

”The eerie feeling around Kaikohe is he could be walking past us when we’re in town. We just don’t know. He could have just slotted back into society acting all civil.

”I wish he was caught. It would help with a lot of anxiety.”

Maaka said the support she and her family had received from the wider community was helping them cope.

”What’s sort of helped, though, is the amazing support. The community has really pulled together and has helped with a lot of ease, I suppose.

”We’re waiting for our other family members to arrive now. My auntie has been sent down to Auckland. We probably have to wait around for two weeks.

”Her house was always packed with all the cousins and she always had us and the girls. That was their nan.”

Homicide a ‘savage event’

Woods’ death shocked and frightened residents in her Far North town, where she was a valued member of the community.

Former NZ First MP and Northland politician Shane Jones called the tragedy a “savage event” which had cast a “dark, sad cloud over all of Northland”.

Jones and other community members have said crime and anti-social behaviour were increasing in Kaikohe, a town where most people still kept their doors unlocked.

Far North Mayor Moko Tepania said he and the wider community were reeling from the incident and called the circumstances scary.

A police officer stands guard at the Taraire St home where a homicide investigation is under way. Photo / Peter de GraafA police officer stands guard at the Taraire St home where a homicide investigation is under way. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Emergency services responded to reports of an intruder at a Taraire St property about 11.30pm, a police spokesman said.

A neighbour said she heard a scream and a loud crash before police arrived just before midnight. She then heard someone call for help.

During the previous two nights, her dog had been “going off” as if an intruder was about, but she had brought him inside on Thursday evening because of the weather.

Knowing someone had harmed her neighbour and got away made her “pretty angry”, she said.

One of the women at the house had health issues so nurses paid regular visits. Another neighbour told the Northern Advocate Woods was on home dialysis.

Detective Inspector Rhys Johnston of the Northland criminal investigation branch said officers had been trying to work out what happened.

Officers spoke to several witnesses on Thursday evening to try to identify and find the offender, who fled before police arrived, Johnson said.

“At this stage, no arrests have been made,” he said.

“We know residents will be waking up this morning to this shocking news and we want to reassure them our inquiries are well underway to locate the person responsible and hold them to account for their actions.

“We would like to hear from anyone who may have been in the area overnight and saw something, or someone, which may assist us with our inquiries.”

In an update last night, Johnston said the offender left a pair of shoes and another item of clothing at the scene before he was seen running away barefoot.

“This may stick in the minds of anyone who was around [on Thursday] night, and we are very keen to hear from you,” he said.

“This is an absolutely devastating incident for this family, who are not only coming to terms with the sense of violation of someone entering their home but are now also grieving a vulnerable member of their whānau.

Detectives and a scene-of-crime officer arrive at the Taraire St home where a homicide investigation is under way. Photo / Peter de GraafDetectives and a scene-of-crime officer arrive at the Taraire St home where a homicide investigation is under way. Photo / Peter de Graaf

“Our team’s priority is to locate the person responsible, and the community can be reassured we are treating this incident extremely seriously.”

Mayor Tepania urged people affected by the incident to seek support.

“It is incredibly tragic what has happened. We need to take extra care.

“I want to share my condolences to the whānau and I want to send my aroha to everyone.”

People in Kaikohe did not usually lock their doors, Tepania said, so the incident would come as a “word of caution” about being secure in their homes.

“This is not something anyone wants to happen in their home,” he said.

Community leaders have said Thursday’s death is part of a wave of crime sweeping Kaikohe recently.

Kaikohe community leader Jay Hepi says it’s time for the community, hapū and iwi to step up. Photo / Peter de GraafKaikohe community leader Jay Hepi says it’s time for the community, hapū and iwi to step up. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Kaikohe Business Association vice-chairwoman Linda Bracken said the death had “shocked the whole community”.

There had been an increasing number of people accessing drugs and alcohol, Bracken said. Mental health was on the decline.

Community leader Jay Hepi said he lived just up the road and knew the family involved, and called for the community to step up to keep Kaikohe safe.

“It’s a shock for the neighbours to wake up to, and especially for the wider family,” Hepi said.

He said burglaries, car thefts and violent crimes had been happening for a long time because police in the area were understaffed.

“It’s got to the stage where there’s a free-for-all in this town. There are no consequences. We have to stand up and say this isn’t going to happen any more.”

Shane Jones said a “cancer of social decay” had taken hold in Kaikohe.

“[There is a] lawlessness and inability of the police to intervene and loss of deterrence.

He said he personally knew the whānau and community who live at Taraire St and said they were blighted by the offender’s “feral cockroach behaviour”.

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