Homicide detectives are urging a man to hand himself in after a body was found in a St Kilda rooming house on Monday morning. Police would like to speak with Earl Jones over the death of Stephen Lowry, whose body was found inside his ground floor unit in the Regal rooming house, Little Grey Street, about 5am.

It is believed a man savagely attacked Mr Lowry with a knife after confronting him about an ongoing dispute.

Mr Lowry, 45, was well-known among residents of the other rooming houses in the street.

Homicide Squad Detective Inspector Mick Hughes said there was no sign of forced entry. He would not comment on the type of weapon used in the attack, other than to say it was not a gun.

A weapon found at the scene may have been used, he said. Police were called after raised voices were heard coming from the unit.

“I’d suggest from the argument that we will be looking for associates related to the victim,” Detective Inspector Hughes said. “This is definitely targeted, there’s no doubt about that.”

Police have released an image of 29-year-old St Kilda man Earl Jones, urging him to hand himself into police.

He is described as 175 centimetres tall, medium build with dark hair and brown eyes. Police want to speak to St Kilda man Earl Jones over a death in a rooming house.

Mr Lowry is believed to have lived alone. He moved to the Regal last year after allegedly being evicted from the Beach House, a rooming house on the opposite side of the street, residents of his former address said.

One resident claimed Mr Lowry stole from him, and stabbed another resident in the rooming house laundry, before he was evicted about a year ago. Mr Lowry allegedly carried a paring knife.

He was allegedly a minor drug dealer who angered clients by selling product that was heavily cut with other substances, the resident said.

“After he stole from me, I swore I’d kill him myself,” the former neighbour said.

Another former neighbour of Mr Lowry also alleged he ripped off rooming house residents.

The Port Phillip Housing Association managed the Regal on behalf of Port Phillip council.

“[We] will provide bereavement information and support to tenants in the coming days,” association acting chief executive Jack Panton said in a short statement.

“Directors and staff extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.”

Other residents in the rooming house were concerned about the slaying and had spoken to police, Detective Inspector Hughes said.

The killer is not believed to be another resident.

Police want to speak to a man seen walking in Little Grey Street towards Grey Street with a backpack shortly after the attack. He may have been wearing a light coloured top and either light coloured or khaki pants.

Locals should not be concerned that the attacker would offend again, Detective Inspector Hughes said.

“If a man will go to this extreme, obviously that’s of concern to us, but from a community perspective this seems to have elevated at the address and an offender like that tends not to offend again.

“Having said that, it’s a pretty brutal attack, so people just take care.”

Detective Inspector Hughes would not comment on whether Mr Lowry was known to police.