Thomas Lamb, 46, was found fatally wounded in the early hours on Saturday by terrified members of the public.
They had been alerted to noises from a disturbance in Edinburgh’s Restalrig Circus.
Ambulance crews and police were called to the scene at around 1am on Saturday, after which Mr Lamb was rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
But the popular father - who was well liked by neighbours and locals – later died of his injuries and police have launched a murder inquiry.
It is thought Mr Lamb was drinking in The Tor pub in Restalrig shortly before the incident, where there may have been an argument over a game of pool. The attack is the second tragedy to hit Mr Lamb’s family after his daughter, Donna, 17, died suddenly in her sleep only two years ago.
Detectives said they wanted to speak to three men reported to have been in the Restalrig Circus area at around 1am.
They have urged anyone with information to contact them.
A police source said: “We are investigating the possibility that Thomas was killed after hearing noises in his garden which he went out to investigate.
“We are keen to trace three men in the area round about 1am. We have also been told by locals there may have been a skirmish in his local pub over a game of pool.
“It’s crucial we piece together the last few hours of Thomas’ life in order to discover what led to his death.”
Thomas, known locally as Tam, was described as a “quiet man” by friends.
Local residents have today spoken of their shock at his death and said he was the last person they would have imagined as the victim of extreme violence.
One, who asked not to be named, said Mr Lamb was very popular with locals and suffered intensely following the loss of his daughter.
He said: “He spent a lot of time in the Tor pub with his dad. He was a really nice guy but very quiet.
“Everyone is really shocked by this as Tam is the last person you’d think would be murdered.
“He didn’t have a problem with anyone.”
The friend added: “At least he’s with Donna now. He took her death very hard, as did all the family.”
Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie said: “This is a murder inquiry and we are keen to trace three men who were seen in the area at the time.
“We believe the victim had been in the Tor public house prior to the murder on Saturday.”
He added: “Anyone who believes they heard or saw anything that could help with this investigation should contact police on 101.”