Quinn Martin's children spent years thinking their father had abandoned them following his sudden disappearance from a NSW property on a night in December 2012.
Police struggled to get reliable information on his whereabouts and his family was divided over suggestions the 33-year-old was alive and living elsewhere.
But on Thursday, state coroner Les Mabbutt found Mr Martin - known as Dicky - had died by homicide between his last sighting on December 7, 2012, and December 31, 2014.
"His kids thought that he abandoned them and didn't love them, and he did," Mr Martin's partner, Jana Murphy, told reporters outside Glebe Coroner's Court.
It's still not known exactly how Mr Martin died or who killed him and the coroner recommended his case be referred to the unsolved homicide squad.
The inquest heard his remains were found near two stolen safes in bushland in September 2015, about 2.5km from the Colo Heights property where he was last seen almost three years earlier.
Mr Martin told his partner he would be busy for one-and-a-half hours and then they would go home, but she never saw him again.
Seven adults were known to be on the property during the course of that night.
The inquest heard police had returned to Parr State Forest to find Mr Martin's remains following a tip-off from a prisoner.
Detective Senior Constable Peter Nassar said they got information that another person "witnessed Quinn get shot and the body fall in the bushland out the back, and that's where the body was left".
He said the biggest problem they had with the investigation was "no one liked Quinn Martin enough" to come forward with good evidence.
"He had a lot of enemies," he said.
Coronial advocate assisting the coroner, Ben Hart, said Mr Martin was a heavy drug user, had disagreements with criminals and was on bail for break-and-enter offences at the time of his disappearance.
But outside court, Ms Murphy said her partner, who had struggled after a series of personal tragedies including the death of his parents, was loved and adored by his family.
"He wasn't as bad as what they thought. He was a really good man, loving father, loving partner," Ms Murphy said.
"Every step of the way we're gonna follow this and we're gonna make sure things happen.
"We're gonna make sure the truth comes out and justice gets served. We're not gonna let this lie."