Police investigating the fatal stabbing of 21-year-old William Holdback, whose body was found early on Wednesday morning, say the victim was chased down a suburban Adelaide street before being murdered.

Detectives are now searching for a car involved in the killing that was last seen travelling away from the scene. 

Emergency services were called to Barrpowell Street at Welland in the city’s inner north-west at about 1:30am after musicians practising at a nearby industrial premises “heard screaming and shouting” outside, police said.

“After a little while [they] went outside to investigate and found Will lying on the road critically injured. They did their best in what would have been extremely difficult circumstances,” Detective Superintendent Des Bray said.

The car allegedly used to transport the suspect.(Supplied: SA Police)

Police said Mr Holdback had earlier agreed to what appeared to have been a “clandestine meeting”, possibly related to drugs, on Musgrave Avenue, and that he had walked to the scene from his home at Flinders Park about a kilometre away.

“Along that way he’d been carrying a skateboard and he arrived at the location before the people he was going to meet,” Superintendent Bray said.

“Shortly after he got there a car arrived and there was communication between Will and the occupants of that car and we know that that conversation became heated.”

SA Police at the scene where the young man’s body was found.(ABC News: Guido Salazar)

Superintendent Bray said Mr Holdback then ran from the car but was “pursued by a man from that vehicle”.

“We know that that man caught up with Will and ultimately is responsible for Will’s murder about halfway along Barrpowell Street,” he said.

Police said the man then got back into the passenger side of the car, which was described by police as a dark-coloured four-door sedan with a sunroof and mag wheels.

Superintendent Bray said CCTV had captured various images of the vehicle, which U-turned and was last seen travelling west along Musgrave Avenue.

He said police had not yet recovered the weapon, and that while it was “not certain” why Mr Holdback had gone to the scene, the reason may have been drug-related.

“Given that it’s 1:20am, given that it’s a remote location in an industrial area, it has all the appearance of a clandestine meeting,” Superintendent Bray said.

“That, together with some other information we’ve obtained, makes us believe it was to do with a drug deal or the recovery of money.”

Police tape at the scene at Welland.(ABC News: Guido Salazar)

Superintendent Bray said Mr Holdback’s family had been left “devastated” by what had occurred, and described those responsible as “pathetic”.

“They’ve taken a young man’s life and I think when we get to the bottom of it, it will be just a senseless murder for something trivial,” he said.

An investigation involving about 50 officers is ongoing, and Mr Holdback’s death has been declared a major crime.

“We have a lot of resources committed to this investigation, and I’m confident of a result,” Superintendent Bray said.

Superintendent Bray points to CCTV showing the car leaving the scene.(ABC News: James Wakelin)

Posted , updated