Police are still on the hunt for three assailants armed with knives and baseball bats who fatally injured 60-year-old Philip Steele at his home in Whitebridge on Monday morning.
Mr Steele sustained “serious injuries to his body”, according to police, including a significant wound to one of his arms.
He died soon after paramedics took him to John Hunter Hospital.
The commander of Lake Macquarie Police District, Superintendent Daniel Sullivan, confirmed at a press conference on Monday morning that Mr Steele was known to police.
He said detectives did not know if the attack, which occurred at 2.38am on Lonus Avenue, was targeted.
“The victim is known to police, and that’s a line of inquiry we are pursuing,” Mr Sullivan said.
Mr Steele’s two brothers, Gary and Trevor, were in the house at the time of the invasion but were not injured.
Mr Steele most likely opened the door to his attackers, Mr Sullivan said.
“There is evidence that he answered the door.
“We were told assailants entered the home and then went into the deceased man’s bedroom.”
An early statement issued by police at 6.30am on Monday said three people entered the house with their faces covered, armed with knives and baseball bats.
Police have not released further information on the appearance of the attackers.
Mr Sullivan confirmed detectives were investigating a stolen vehicle in relation to the incident.
Police examined a blue Holden Astra in bushland at Charlestown on Monday morning, as well as a car’s bumper on Kenibea Avenue, Kahibah, a few streets away from the crime scene.
The superintendent urged anyone with information to come forward.
Forensic officers were still present at the weatherboard house on Lonus Avenue, near Kopa Street, on Monday afternoon. Police were searching the park opposite the house.
Neighbours of Mr Steele said he and his brothers “kept to themselves”. Philip Steele was known for walking his two dogs along the street.
Dennis Hall, who lives two doors down from the three men, said they grew up on Lonus Avenue.
“It was their parents’ house. They’ve both passed on. I haven’t had much to do with them really,” Mr Hall said.
“You think something like this is never going to happen, and then it does a couple of doors away.”
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