The investigation into the death of a man found washed up on a Cornish beach with a sock stuffed in his mouth is a murder investigation in all but name, police have said.
However, the senior officer in charge of the inquiry has also said that suicide or an accident had still not been ruled out as he urged people to come forward with crucial information.
Alan Jeal was discovered with suspicious injuries and wearing just one shoe at Perranporth, on February 25.
However, despite a number of appeals including one to the gay community, police say they still need more information to piece together exactly what took place in Mr Jeal’s final hours.
On Monday, the 64-year-old’s brother, Derek, made an emotional appeal for help in solving the mystery of what happened.
Now Detective Chief Inspector Dave Thorne has re-issued a fresh appeal information, including from “an individual” captured on CCTV standing with Mr Jeal at a bus stop in Truro’s Lemon Quay the night before he died.
“Any information about his lifestyle could help tell us what he was doing or where he was going in the last few hours of his life,” he added.
DCI Thorne said the “structure” of the investigation was that of a murder inquiry though he was still not “100%” convinced that there had been foul play.
“It is certainly suspicious and murder is one option but there may well be perfectly legitimate explanation for how he died - it may have been an accident or suicide,” he added.
“Information from the post-mortem did not give a final cause of death which is why we are looking for more information about the hours leading up to his discovery. There is still a gap from 6.50pm on February 24 until 2pm the next day.
“We want to hear from anyone he may have met or been with. We are not interested in pursuing any other activities others may have been involved in, we just want to get to the bottom of where Alan was and what he was doing.”
Detectives are puzzled why Mr Jeal would have travelled from his home in Wadebridge to Truro.
Further mystery also surrounds a serious head injury that experts believe could not have been caused by drowning or being flung against sand or rock by the tide.
The sock found in the dead man’s mouth is thought to have belonged to him but officers are yet to find a light blue coat which was worn by Mr Jeal on CCTV footage.
Other items outstanding include an iPod shuffle and bank cards are also yet to be found.
“We are not drawing this investigation to a close - the public have been extremely helpful and we have had information from our earlier appeals last week which has helped us to build up a picture,” DCI Thorne added.
“There are more people out there who may have not heard out appeals who we would still like to speak to.”