Police are likely to know by later this afternoon or tomorrow morning whether foul play was involved in the death of car salesman Shane Malcolm Bell.
Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer said this morning that they were steadily piecing together the mystery after Mr Bell's body was found in a burnt out Subaru near Loburn, North Canterbury, on Sunday.
Police were looking at CCTV footage and talking to people who had been in contact with Mr Bell just before he was last seen on Thursday.
Detective Senior Sergeant Archer would not comment on yesterday's post mortem examination.
The Press reported this morning that a police spokesman said last night that the investigation was "not a homicide inquiry''.
The remains of Mr Bell, of Dallington, were found in the driver's seat of a burnt-out 1989 silver Subaru station wagon near the southern end of Dunlops Rd, near Loburn. The car belonged to a business associate.
"A key component to this investigation is determining when the car was burnt out. We now believe this was prior to Thursday evening.
"A member of the public who was in the area has come forward and indicated they had seen the
burnt out shell of the car at around 4pm to 5pm on Thursday,'' said Detective Senior Sergeant Archer
Mr Bell was last seen at his Dallington home on Thursday morning.
He was a self-employed car salesman, who bought cars off Trade Me, repaired them and re-sold them.
Bullet holes found in the side of the car were not related to Mr Bell's death, or the fire.
"A group of recreational shooters came forward and told police they were in the vicinity on Friday evening. They have indicated that the car was already burnt out at that time and they fired shots at the vehicle using a rifle,'' Detective Senior Sergeant Archer said.
Police have spoken to Mr Bell's family and partner who were "extremely upset and are trying to come to terms with his death''.
A four-wheel-drive enthusiast yesterday told The Star of discovering the gruesome scene.
Mechanic Lance Henderson, 33, of Rangiora, and brother, Andrew, 45, were following each other when the burnt out Subaru caught their attention.
"It's just one of those places you drive through. Being a mechanic I am nosy, so I decided to stop and take a look. I noticed it was a Subaru because of the roof shape.
"I noticed there was something in the driver's seat. I walked toward the car. I thought someone had put a dead sheep in there to be funny.
"Everything except for the car shell was incinerated. The front number plate was on the vehicle."
Mr Henderson, who is a member of the North Canterbury 4WD Club, has lived in Rangiora for seven years and said the riverbed is his "local playground''.
"I always drive along that track. The police interviewed my brother and I,'' he said.
"I wished we had kept on driving because it was a grisly find. It really weirded me out. It's not unusual to see burnt out vehicles near the area.
"I've been driving along this track for about seven years and I've seen eight burnt out cars. It's going to take me a while to get over this.''
Anyone with information about Mr Bell or the 1989 silver Subaru station wagon is asked to contact police 363 7400 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.