The investigation into the death of John Anthony Hall has switched to a village near Sunderland as Northumbria Police take on the case.
The 46-year-old’s body was discovered in the West Rainton area of Durham last Sunday.
Northumbria Police are now investigating potential crime scenes in the village of Shiney Row, around four miles away from the spot where Mr Hall’s body was discovered at Mark’s Lane, West Rainton.
Detective Chief Inspector Christina Barrett, of Northumbria Police, who is leading the inquiry, said: “Although it is unusual for a murder investigation to be transferred from one force to another, it has become clear that the majority of the investigation will continue within Northumbria’s boundaries and therefore a decision was made for Northumbria Police to be given ownership of the inquiry.”
Five men were arrested by Durham Constabulary on suspicion of Mr Hall’s murder and the force initially led the investigation.
The men, aged between 32 and 48, are all from the Shiney Row area and are being held at police stations across County Durham, where they are helping police with inquiries.
Mr Hall’s body was discovered by a dog walker at about 7pm on Sunday, September 15, near to the railway bridge on Mark’s Lane in West Rainton.
A post mortem concluded that 46-year-old Mr Hall, of Shiney Row, died from multiple injuries.
Det Supt Kevin Weir said: “Leading up to his death Mr Hall had been subjected to a vicious and violent assault.
“With this in mind I would urge anyone with any information that can help us to come forward.
“We are working hard to piece together Mr Hall’s movements in the hours leading up to his death in order to help us understand the circumstances in which he died.
“An incident room has been set up and I have a team of detectives working around the clock.
“I would like to take this opportunity to stress that I do not believe Mr Hall was the victim of a random attack.
“The public should be reassured that we are doing everything possible to bring those responsible to justice.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police officers on 101, or alternatively ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.