Murder in Paeroa
Speculation still swirls about the unsolved 2012 murder of pizza-shop owner Jordan Voudouris, a mystery that prompted Ryan Wolf to launch his own investigation, reported in his podcast, GUILT. In the first of three pieces on the case for North & South, Wolf describes his initial inquiries, and the surprises they revealed.
By Ryan Wolf
It was a cold winter’s morning, 18 June 2012, in Paeroa, when Tatiana stood and saw her beloved boss and pizza shop owner lying dead, crumpled against a chain-link fence, in a pool of blood, behind his iconic Mykonos Pizza. Murdered in cold blood by a single round from a .22 calibre rifle.
“He was bright, bubbly, he always had a yarn to tell people. He was the sort of guy that if somebody was in need he’d offer them a plate of chips or a couple pieces of pizza, and wouldn’t ask anything for it.”
It was a moment that would forever change the life of then 15-year-old Tatiana, and a small rural New Zealand town. Ten years later, despite an extensive police investigation, the case remains unsolved. In the vacuum of information, rumours have swirled as to who was responsible and why? Why kill Jordan Voudouris? A popular member of the community. A larger than life Greek immigrant known for his generosity and vivacious character.
Left: Paeroa’s pizza man Jordan Voudouris. Right: A photo of Voudouris as a young man in the army.
It was a mystery that had always bothered me. Eventually, in September of 2021, I purchased recording equipment and launched what was to become my investigative podcast GUILT. I set out not only to tell Voudouris’s story, but to revisit every element of this case, interview every witness I could find, with the goal of finally solving this mystery. It’s a journey that has left an indelible mark on my own life and, I believe, may finally have shone a light on who killed Voudouris, and why.
We begin the story, in my car, on the streets of Paeroa, as I nervously test my equipment. In a few minutes, I’ll cross the street, and walk into Arkwright’s Antiques, but before I do that, it’s important to get a sense of Paeroa the town, and the man that was Jordan Voudouris.
Paeroa’s pizza man
In many ways, Arkwright’s Antiques typifies the town itself. Quiet, but busy. Packed to the rafters with old, interesting things. Much like the store, Paeroa is a place that fills you with that warm feeling of nostalgia, but somewhere you don’t stay long. You peruse what it has to offer, then continue on your way. It’s a town local teacher Darren described to me as “a nice quiet little place, but the gem of it is that it’s only a hop, skip and a jump from Hamilton or Tauranga or Auckland… a neat little place to grow up, where we spent our time fishing in the river, riding bikes around town or playing cricket.”
When I speak to Paul Milner, PaeroaWard councillor, who was born and bred in the area, he describes a town that considers itself to be the “greatest little town in the middle of everywhere”, that takes pride in its community spirit and general vibe, and of course the many antiques shops – some good, some great. Paeroa has in fact become an antiques mecca, but in 2012 there was another feature of the main street other than pre-loved goods – the red and white tablecloths of Greek restaurant Mykonos and, more than likely sitting there with a coffee in hand, its vivacious, larger- than-life owner, Jordan Voudouris.
Milner describes a man who became entrenched in the community quickly after deciding, on a chance passing through Paeroa, that he would move here from Auckland and set up a pizza shop. “He was bright, bubbly, he always had a yarn to tell people. He was the sort of guy that if somebody was in need he’d offer them a plate of chips or a couple pieces of pizza, and wouldn’t ask anything for it.”