The discovery of a 67-year-old man's body in his Greenisland home on Monday night was sparked by a strange sequence of events, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.
The dead man has been named as Eddie Girvan, who lived at Station Road in the Co Antrim town.
The pensioner was found dead in a chair on the ground floor of his property, with his hands tied and with a stab wound to the chest.
The discovery was made after police entered the property on Monday night at around 9.30pm.
They had gone directly to the house after earlier arresting a person in Belfast on what is believed to have been an unrelated matter. Enquiries with the arrested person then prompted police to visit Mr Girvan's address.
When officers got to the pensioner's home they found the doors locked. After gaining entry, they found Mr Girvan dead in the chair, the victim of a brutal attack.
A post mortem is expected to determine the time of death.
Three people, including a 29-year-old woman and two men, aged 23 and 24, have been arrested in Belfast on suspicion of murder. They are being interviewed at Musgrave police station in Belfast.
Locals say Eddie Girvan is the father of Belfast-born actress and assistant director Amanda Girvan, who appeared in TV series Give My Head Peace and I Fought the Law.
Mr Girvan was said to be a very private man who collected antiques. According to neighbours he collected Rolex watches and other valuable antiques including old guns, but the police insist robbery is not a line of inquiry they are pursuing.
Mr Girvan had a number of CCTV cameras around his property, in the porch and in an upstairs bedroom.
The PSNI also want to trace the movements of Mr Girvan's silver Hyundai car, which was seen driving dangerously towards Belfast and was later found in the Verner Street area of the city.
Detective Chief Inspector John McVea is the officer leading the investigation.
He said: "A post mortem examination will take place to confirm the exact cause of Mr Girvan's death. However, I can confirm that, at this time, we are treating his death as murder.
"An incident such as this is unusual for a community like Greenisland and I am appealing to local people for their assistance.
"Detectives are making house to house enquiries because we need to speak to those local people who knew Eddie Girvan and saw him in the past few days.
"I also want to hear from anyone who saw or heard any activity at Mr Girvan's home at 162 Station Road over the past weekend until Monday morning around 7am."
The detective added: "My final appeal point is about Eddie Girvan's car, a silver Hyundai Sonata, registration number MKZ 9818. I need to hear from anyone who saw this silver car any time over the weekend, either in Greenisland or Belfast until it was recovered in the Verner Street area of the city in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
"We know it was spotted being driven dangerously along the motorway between Rathcoole and Belfast.
"This is a shocking crime and our sympathies today are with Mr Girvan's family and friends.
"It is too early to say why Mr Girvan was killed. Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at Seapark on the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, anyone who does not want to provide their details can phone the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."
The community in Greenisland has been left in shock following the murder. Just a few doors up the street from Mr Girvan's house is the Hairways salon belonging to Julie Bell. She said she heard the news yesterday morning and could not believe it, as Eddie regularly came into her salon for a coffee.
"I spoke to Eddie last Wednesday," said Julie. "He always came in here for a coffee and a chat. I can't believe anyone would do this.
"He was a character and has been living here for over 40 years. It is desperate this has happened in such a quiet area.
"Eddie was separated and has two daughters. He was very nice but also very lonely.
"His cat, Sam, would always come here to be fed and would sleep here most of the day. He used to be a plumber but hasn't worked in years.
"I simply cannot believe he is gone. It is very sad indeed."
Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said the police were at Mr Girvan's house last week. However, the PSNI would not confirm this.
Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said he was shocked by the death of Mr Girvan, a man he knew well. Mr Dickson said: "This stretch of road is a quiet residential area and this death will stun people there. I am very shocked and saddened by this incident, particularly as I knew the deceased well, as did many people in the area. This death will be hard to fathom for the whole community. My deepest condolences are with this poor man's family and friends at this most traumatic of times.
"I would appeal to anyone with information on this sad incident to contact police immediately."