An Auckland man who found human remains entombed in concrete beneath his Mt Eden villa says he and builders working at the site had joked about it being a dead body for a year before realising it was true.
Remains were discovered at the Marlborough St property in January, and police were on Friday able to reveal they were that of former owner David Stanley Hart.
Hart went missing years before the bones were discovered, and his cause of death is still unknown.
Current owner Peter Marsden said the afternoon of January 31, when a builder called him to say they'd found remains in a lump of concrete, was "surreal" - not least of all because they'd been joking about it looking like a dead body for months beforehand.
"The foundations are being redone, and there was this big lump of concrete that wasn't part of the foundations," Marsden told Newshub.
"It was underneath the house, but it wasn't part of the building. There was a door that'd been Gibbed over - behind the Gib there was a door, then inside that room, there was this pile of concrete.
"I shouldn't laugh about it, but we'd been joking about it being a dead body for a whole year before it was actually revealed to be a dead body. The first day we saw it we were like, 'Oh my God dude, that looks like a body'.
"We worked around it because it was such a heavy piece of concrete, we couldn't do anything with it - we'd literally been stepping over it, walking around it. Everyone who came over to the house said 'that looks like a body' and we were like 'we know'. Then it actually ended up being one."
After reporting the remains to police, detectives were on the property for three days and then had the house blessed two days after they left.
Marsden hasn't been told anything by police since then, and only found out the remains had been identified when he checked the news on Friday morning. He's pleased they've found out whose body it was, but gutted detectives haven't yet been able to work out how Hart ended up there.
"It would just be nice to know how he wound up to be buried underneath his own house for such a long time. It's such an interesting mystery, but we don't get an answer yet," he said.
The death is currently being treated as suspicious, with police now speaking to a number of people that had previously resided at the property.
Marsden's unfazed by the prospect a homicide may have taken place on the property and is confident there are no other literal skeletons in the closet.
"Forensics have been through and made sure any human bone remains have been removed," he told Newshub.
"I double-checked that because we found some other bones and sent them to forensics and they were like, 'Nah these are dog bones'. I'm pretty confident there's nothing inside the house left."
Police are asking anyone who may have had contact with Hart from March 2004 or involved in the house until 2016 to phone them on their non-emergency number, 105.
Hart's family has been notified of his death.