A South Taranaki town is hurting after the bodies of Stephen John Frost, 55, and his 15-year-old son Regan Frost-Lawn were found at a Manawapou Rd property on Monday.
As the Hāwera community comes to terms with the “ripple effect” of an alleged double murder, those who knew the deceased say they are still in shock.
The bodies of Stephen John Frost, 55, and his 15-year-old son Regan Frost-Lawn were discovered by police after officers were called to a house in Manawapou Rd, about 2.50am Monday.
A homicide investigation was launched and a 21-year-old man has been charged with their murder.
South Taranaki Mayor Phil Nixon said he was feeling hurt for not only the family and friends of the deceased, but the whole community.
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“It’s almost like it’s family to me when something like this is happening in the district,” Nixon said. “In a small community like this it ripples out.”
A man has appeared in court charged with murdering two people in South Taranaki in the early hours of Monday morning.
He used to be on the board of trustees at Hāwera High School, where Frost-Lawn attended, and said losing “one very young life” would not only rock students but staff too.
“He had this whole life ahead of him. It’s just so sad.”
Nixon said he didn’t know Frost personally, but understood he was a “real neat guy” and his death was a “real loss to our community”.
Someone who did know Frost well was former South Taranaki mayor Ross Dunlop, who employed him as a managing share milker for about seven years in the ‘90s.
Dunlop said Frost was a hard worker and a whiz with machinery.
The pair got to know each other very well. Dunlop was the emcee at Frost’s wedding and the photos were taken at his home.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s just hard to comprehend.”
Another who spoke highly of both Frost and his son was their neighbour, who last spoke to them earlier on the evening they died.
The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said the fact he may have been one of the last people to see them alive had been playing on his mind.
About 6.30pm on the Sunday night he spoke to Frost, who he only knew as “Frosty”, across the fence before he and Frost-Lawn left in a car.
“I needed a job done for a mate of mine. He said ‘when you see me in the morning, holler out, I’ve got two days off’.”
The neighbour said he’d called on Frost for handy man jobs on his car and home.
“He was a good guy. He would have given the shirt off his back to help others.”
The man said when Frost-Lawn was younger he’d offered to look after him after school while Frost was working.
The pair exchanged numbers and the neighbour still has a pink post-it note with Frost’s number in his wallet.
The man said he was still coming to terms with what’s happened.
“On the morning it was numbness – I couldn’t feel anything. Now it’s shock – it’s been a hard week.”
Ngāti Ruanui vice chair Ngapari Nui said the iwi offered its condolences to the whānau “at this sad time”.
“It’s just tragic,” Nui said.
Nui said he understood the council and other organisations were offering support, “and the iwi will be no different”.
“The town will take a while to recover.”