Epsom double murders: Stabbed husband and wife ‘lived for their son’

A “staunch God-fearing Christian” couple killed in a stabbing in Epsom had expressed unhappiness that their 25-year-old only son wanted to move out of their family home, the Herald has learned.

Police on Sunday named the two deceased as Herman Bangera, 60, and his wife Elizabeth Bangera, 55.

They died on Friday after being discovered in the house with critical injuries.

A man who is related to the couple remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition under police guard. Police will formally interview him at an appropriate time.

Police have launched a homicide investigation and describe the tragedy as a family harm incident.

A friend told the Herald Herman started posting family photos since Valentines Day, February 14, on social media, such as Facebook and WhatsApp chats, to make a statement that his family was “a single unit not to be broken”.

“Herman didn’t have any hobbies, but he is deeply religious and would spend much of his time with his Christian organisation,” said the friend who did not want to be named.

Herman was a member of the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), which according to its website is a “bible-centred organisation composed of born-again believers whose purpose is to evangelise boys and girls with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living”.

The friend last met Herman and Elizabeth in January for dinner at their home, and they had planned to catch up again over Easter.

“He wasn’t too happy that his son was thinking of moving out,” he said.

The friend, who learned about the fatal stabbings only through the media, said he was still in shock. He had known Herman and his family for about 30 years, even before they moved to New Zealand.

Both Herman and Elizabeth were born in Mangalore, but the couple worked in Mumbai for a multinational company Godrej Group. Herman, a native Kannada speaker, was an administrator at the Udayachal School in Maharashtra.

“At the time, he knew I was moving to New Zealand so he often had questions for me about it. Ultimately, Herman wanted to move so his son could have a better education and a better life,” said the friend.

“Herman is a simple man, he doesn’t have any vices that I know of … he doesn’t even drink alcohol. In fact, when we had dinner at their home, we just had juice.”

The couple moved into the Epsom block of flats around 2007 to be in zone for Auckland Grammar when their son, Sheal, attended.

Another friend, who also did not want to be named, said Herman had told him last month he was opposed to Sheal wanting to move out.

“Herman and Elizabeth lived for Sheal, so the idea that he wanted to go out there on his own hurt him deeply,” he said.

The friend said the proudest moment for Herman was when Sheal graduated from Massey University with an engineering degree a few years ago.

“On Valentine’s Day he posted a family photo taken at Sheal’s graduation, I guess as a way of saying he loved his family and that it is a single unit not to be broken,” he said.

Samuel Kim, a senior member of CEF, said he did not know Herman but was “so sorry to hear about the sad news”.

The director of the organisation has also been contacted for comments.

Meanwhile, University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater has sent out an email to staff, saying the news of the slaying had come “as a shock to us all, especially those who worked closely with Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth worked at the university as a group services co-ordinator in the School of Pharmacy and was described as a highly respected colleague and friend.

A police cordon remained at the block of flats on the corner of The Drive and Alba Rd today.

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