Leslie Winder, 52, was knifed in the chest and the stomach by the intruder, who was then seen running off. Mr Winder, of Washington, Tyne and Wear, was killed as he checked the house, belonging to his daughter Dawn, who was away on a camping holiday.
As he walked through the backyard of the house in Stockley Road, Washington, on Saturday night he met an intruder coming out. The burglar, wearing a woolly hat and leather jacket, stabbed Mr Winder repeatedly before fleeing on foot. He is believed to have plunged the knife through Mr Winder's heart.
A 17-year-old factory worker who was on his way to his girlfriend's house said he saw the killer run away. 'He was tall with broad shoulders and wearing a leather jacket. He was running with his hands down by his side as if he was trying to conceal something. I heard a yelp of pain and I took a peek over the garden fence. I saw a man lying on his side with his face down on the concrete of the yard. He was bleeding heavily.
'I followed the man running up the street to see if I could recognise him. He stopped to look down into a car's wing mirror and was wiping something from his face. Then he ran off round the corner and I lost him in the side streets.'
He returned to the injured man, who was by then being tended to by neighbours. He said: 'I looked over the gate. Some neighbours brought out a blanket and covered him. He was still breathing but not very easily and he was in a lot of pain. Then the police arrived.'
A 15-year-old schoolboy who was passing by said: 'I was on my way to play football when I heard a groan and the sound of a man trying to draw breath.
''I stood still and just watched as a man who had obviously been stabbed wandered out into the street then went back again. A minute later I saw a man with a knife - a long one like a bread knife. He was walking quickly and pulled his hat down over his face like a mask so I couldn't see him.'
Police launched a murder hunt after Pat O'Brien, 47, the landlady of the Surrey Arms in Walworth, south-east London, was found stabbed to death in a flat above the pub.
Three youths were being questioned last night by Southampton police after a man who tried to stop a gang of youths urinating on his car was stabbed in the face and chest. The victim, 31, will be scarred for life.