The victim’s body was discovered by dog walkers in Tweed Heads, famed for its ability to change time zones simply by crossing the street, due to its proximity to the Queensland border, where people can celebrate New Year twice within an hour.
Only an hour away from the I’m A Celeb camp, a manhunt was launched prior to the arrest of 34-year-old Kevin James Pettiford.
The discovery forced the ‘I’m a Celeb’ producers to put the jungle camp on lockdown with additional security, unbeknown to the celebrity campmates inside for their own protection.
The celebs were being watched 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a team of staff meaning security measures were extremely tight in the days leading up to Pettiford’s arrest.
It took New South Wales detectives only 5 days after discovering the victim, who was believed to be homeless, to make the arrest of Pettiford who was set to travel on a Sydney-bound bus from Tweed Heads on the New South Wales interstate border.
Acting Inspector Daren Edwards explained local detectives have issued an arrest warrant for Pettiford and he will be extradited to Queensland on a second murder charge as soon as possible, pending the progress of the NSW case, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Edwards said the suspect has been difficult to track down, explaining:
“The man charged by NSW police was of interest to us; we’d engaged a lot of resources to try and track that male down.
He moved to Sydney for some time, then back up to the border area of Coolangatta and Tweed Heads, and he moved around and wasn’t easy to track.
He did go to extreme methods to take flight, evade police, change his description and discard clothing. Fortunately, we were able to recover some of those items.”
The murder has been described as a ‘random attack on a homeless man…a particularly brutal and violent attack on someone who is essentially helpless’, states Detective Chief Inspector Brendon Cullen.
It has emerged following the arrest that Pettiford is also wanted over a second alleged murder of a homeless male on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The two murders share chilling similarities, David Collin, 53, was allegedly murdered as he slept in the street behind a community centre in Maroochydore. Collin had suffered severe head injuries and in similarity to the murder of the latest victim, was found in his sleeping bag.
Pettiford awaits extradition to Queensland on the second murder charge pending the progress of the case in New South Wales, reports Sydney Morning Herald.
Tracking Pettiford down had been difficult, with Pettiford trying to evade police by changing his description, discarding clothing and moving around frequently.
Pettiford has been described as a ‘psychopath’ who ‘simply had a desire to kill somebody’ and is due back in court on January 22nd, 2020 after refusing bail when appearing at court for the first time on November 28th.