Police have charged two 17-year-old boys with murder following the death of a Canberra man earlier this month, and a third boy, also 17, has been arrested.
The body of 56-year-old Peter Keeley, who police say met the boys on the dating app Grindr, was found in bushland at Broulee, on the NSW South Coast, on the afternoon of February 2.
An autopsy found he had suffered head and facial injuries, though the findings were inconclusive.
On Thursday morning police arrested two 17-year-old boys at homes in the Broulee area. They were taken to Batemans Bay police station.
During searches of their homes, officers seized mobile phones, laptops and other electronic equipment.
Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said one of the boys allegedly spoke with Mr Keeley through Grindr.
“One of the lines of inquiry was the method of communication used by the victim … there were a number of dating apps that were used, and one of those apps was Grindr,” Superintendent Doherty said.
“That appears to be the method of communication that links him to one of the teenagers.”
Asked whether police would allege the murder was a gay hate crime, Superintendent Doherty said there were a number of motives that might be brought before the court.
“Whether that happens to be one of the motives we’re still unclear on,” he said.
“We also have to look at other considerations, such as whether there was any drug-related information, whether it was robbery-related, or whether it was some type of hate crime.”
In a statement, Mr Keeley’s family said they were still coming to terms with his death.
“All that can be said is we have been deeply affected by this tragedy and we are still grieving,” the statement read.
“Our family is devastated.”
Superintendent Doherty said the boys, who were friends, were not previously known to police.
The pair appeared before the Batemans Bay local court on Thursday, and were refused bail.
On Thursday afternoon, police also arrested a third 17-year-old boy at a home in the Broulee area. He was taken to Batemans Bay Police Station and is expected to be charged in relation to the incident.