Tributes pour for Upper Hutt homicide victim Lois Tolley

Flowers laid outside the Ward St flat in Upper Hutt where homicide victim Lois Tolley was found (Newshub)
Flowers laid outside the Ward St flat in Upper Hutt where homicide victim Lois Tolley was found (Newshub)

Few of Lois Tolley's neighbours knew her - but many will never forget her screams.

A homicide investigation is underway after the 30-year-old was found dead in her Upper Hutt flat on Saturday.

Last Friday was a warm, quiet night on Ward Street.

But just after midnight, a loud bang could be heard from Ms Tolley's flat. This was followed by a piercing scream and the sound of shoes hitting the pavement.

A neighbour says her husband was awake at the time and told her the bang sounded like "something slamming against a billboard".

The scream, she says, was something he will never forget.

"By the way she screamed he knew it was something serious," the neighbour, who declined to give her name, told Newshub.

Ms Tolley was found dead at her flat a short time later.

Tributes pour for Upper Hutt homicide victim Lois Tolley

Lois Tolley (NZ Police / supplied)

Police are still on the hunt for four young men seen walking towards Ms Tolley's house just before midnight on Friday and then leaving the property a short time later.

"We're appealing for them to come forward before we come knocking on their door," Detective Senior Sergeant Warwick McKee said.

He urged the men to be "brave".

Ms Tolley was the youngest of four siblings and was part of a large family, some of whom have flown in from Australia, including her mother Cathrine.

She had turned her life around and lost about 100 kilograms over the past four years. Friends have also said she loved her two cats and enjoyed cooking.

Close friend Jacinda Lea Markopoulos said she's heartbroken.

"My darling girl words can not explain how I'm feeling, I'm so lost I can't believe this," she wrote on Facebook.

Another friend, Amber Kearns, said Ms Tolley's enthusiasm for positive change was infectious.

"You were so proud of your achievements and you'd smile when telling me about what new dishes you had created," she said.

Police are looking for a knife and firearm used in the killing. They've also said it wasn't a random attack and they believe the men went to Ms Tolley's flat for a reason.

Det Snr Sgt McKee said several witnesses had given them some valuable information and officers are continuing to go door-to-door in the area.

Descriptions of the suspects are vague, with police describing them as "all about 182cm tall and wearing dark clothing with hooded tops".

People on Ward Street spoken to by Newshub described the neighbourhood as quiet and said they didn't know Ms Tolley personally but had seen her around.

Several bunches of flowers have been laid outside Ms Tolley's flat which remains a crime scene. A note on one read: "To our darling baby girl, We will love you always".