The family of schoolgirl murderer and repeat sex offender Jules Mikus have asked for privacy as preparations are made for his funeral.

Mikus, 62, abducted, raped and murdered Napier girl Teresa Cormack in 1987.

He was finally arrested in 2002 using DNA evidence.

In September the Herald revealed the killer - who served time on multiple occasions for other sex offending - battling a brain tumour in Rimutaka Prison near Wellington and was being housed in a medical unit.

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Corrections confirmed today that he died on Friday.

READ MORE:
Teresa Cormack's killer Jules Mikus dying from brain tumour in prison
Teresa Cormack case: The day life changed - for everyone

A woman who was in a relationship with Mikus for five years and had two children with him supported him after his arrest and conviction for Teresa's brutal murder.

Shirley Te Kooti said today she had no comment to make and that her family wanted privacy.

Mikus' mother Maria Rozsas died in 2012.

He has two sisters and a brother who could not be reached for comment.

Has a number of other children to various women but it is unclear if they had any contact with him.

Corrections said Mikus' death had been referred to the Coroner.

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Teresa Cormack, 6, was murdered by Mikus in 1987.
Teresa Cormack, 6, was murdered by Mikus in 1987.

"Once the coroner has completed his investigation into the death in custody, the body is then turned over to the family to organise funeral proceedings," a spokesman said.

"However should a prisoner die in custody with no friends or family in the community to arrange funeral/burial and have no finances available for this purpose, Section 49 of Burial and Cremation Act is utilised."

The Act empowers a local authority with the control and management of a cemetery and any person with the control and management of a crematorium to - upon a court order - bury or cremate an unclaimed body for free.

The Act provides burial for the body of "any poor person, and of any person from any hospital, prison, or other public institution, on the request of the person in charge of such institution".

Before that can happen the judge signing the order must be satisfied that the deceased person has not left sufficient means to pay the burial charge, and that his or her relatives or friends are unable to pay.

If the deceased person is known or believed to have belonged to any particular religious denomination, they will be buried in the portion of the cemetery - if any - set apart for that denomination.

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Former Napier detective Keith Price, now a long-serving Napier City Council, arrested Mikus and last saw the killer sitting in the dock as the officer gave evidence at the October 2002 trial.

He said he learnt of the murderer's death on Friday, and said: "I didn't grieve for too long - I didn't grieve at all."

Price said he had not seen Teresa's mother Kelly Pigott for some time and would know how she might react to news of Mikus' death.

"She has been very strong," he said.

"But it doesn't go away, it just doesn't go away."

Corrections said Jules Mikus' death has been referred to the Coroner.
Corrections said Jules Mikus' death has been referred to the Coroner.

The Herald revealed in September that Mikus was gravely ill.

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Six-year-old Teresa's body was found face down in a shallow grave at Whirinaki Beach near Napier eight days after she disappeared on June 19, 1987.

Mikus got away with her murder for 15 years - but when advances in DNA enabled police to match him to samples taken at the time of Teresa's brutal killing, he was finally captured.

Teresa Cormack, 6, was murdered by Mikus in 1987.
Teresa Cormack, 6, was murdered by Mikus in 1987.

He had been a suspect early in the investigation but had an alibi that was not challenged.

Mikus has been denied parole several times - most recently in April 2016.

At that hearing the Parole Board made a postponement order for five years, meaning they would not see Mikus again until December 2020.

At the time board panel convenor Justice Marion Frater said Mikus had consistently failed to engage with the parole process "from the beginning".

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"Nor has he taken any steps to address his very serious sexual and violent offending. He has declined to participate in assessments for the Parole Board and declined to participate in any interventions with a departmental psychologist," she said.

"Given his assessed very high risk of sexual reoffending we are satisfied that even if Mr Mikus changes his mind and engages now, it will take at least five years before there is any prospect that he could safely be released.

"Accordingly, we make a postponement order of the maximum duration."

A spokesman for the Parole Board said his postponement order had not changed and no application had been made for an earlier hearing date or compassionate release.

After he was sentenced the Herald revealed Mikus had a raft of offences to his name, starting in his teens.

Brian Schaab, the detective who caught Mikus, died from cancer in 2017.

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The making of predator Jules Mikus

This feature originally ran in the Herald in 2002 after Mikus was jailed for the murder of Teresa Cormack.

A shaft of dim light from the skylight in the courtroom ceiling illuminated the face of the man everyone had come to see.

Wiry strands of hair he refused to cut dangled over his salt and pepper beard and occasionally fell on his long nose. His mouth was locked shut - he never smiled, hiding his toothless top gums. He stared straight ahead through eyes that would be compared to Charles Manson's.

Beyond the dock where Jules Mikus sat in the Napier District Court this wintry July day, another face could be seen over his shoulder. Kelly Pigott, the mother of Teresa Cormack, was sitting in the back of the courtroom. This was the first chance she had of seeing for herself the man accused of killing her daughter.

Outside, it was pouring down and so cold it chilled each breath. Veterans of the Cormack murder inquiry compared it to the morning 15 years and four days earlier when Teresa's body was found on a stormy beach just outside the city.

Pigott sat alongside Teresa's father, Ross Cormack, and Sara, their second daughter, just 2 when her sister disappeared.

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They had come to this depositions hearing to hear publicly for the first time the case against the man accused of killing and raping Teresa on June 19, 1987, the day after her sixth birthday.

Horrifying as it was, they were desperate to know what had happened. How could an innocent little girl be snatched from the suburban streets of Napier to be raped and crudely buried?

Who was the man who lived for nearly a third of his life with the secret that he was responsible for a murder that had haunted the country?

To understand Jules Pierre Nicolas Mikus, the trail has to begin in the uproar of revolution behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s.

Mikus' father Jules snr and mother Maria were among the more than 1100 men, women and children who ended up in New Zealand after an international effort to help refugees who had fled Hungary when Soviet tanks rolled in to crush the anti-communist revolution in 1956.

Jules snr, a French-born Hungarian, and Maria Rozsas, from Budapest, married at the Trentham migration centre near Wellington in January, 1957. Mikus was born 20 months later, on September 28, 1958. Two daughters followed in quick succession and another son came along in 1967. All four were born in Lower Hutt.

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The children grew up in an unhappy home. Mikus had a hard time at school, struggling to learn. Years later, he would admit that he could not read and put it down to the fact Hungarian was the language spoken at home.

Life in New Zealand was not easy for any of the 1956 Hungarian refugees. Attila Mosonyi, who studied the group's experiences for an Auckland University social history thesis, says their lives had been tumultuous - from the euphoria of a revolution, to the sinking realisation that it had failed, to the upheaval of fleeing Hungary.

"The 56ers [refugees] were rapidly processed for migration and as a result they had very little chance to overcome psychological problems which often accompany migration," wrote Mosonyi.

"In many cases this could not be done until they were already living in a country often far removed from Hungary. This caused emotional problems to some refugees, even years after their settlement."

The turmoil for the Mikus family continued when Jules snr divorced his wife in 1972. Mikus was 13. Soon after, Jules snr was charged with bigamy following an Interpol tip-off that he had been married in France in 1947. In one of the odd twists of Mikus' life, he too would later face a bigamy charge.

Aside from the break-up of his parents' marriage, Mikus' childhood was devastated by sexual abuse. Shirley Te Kooti, who has been Mikus' partner for five years, says Mikus told her that he and his oldest sister were molested as children from pre-school age. The abuse left Mikus with a stutter, which remains with him, she says. He is receiving ACC-funded counselling for the abuse.

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Te Kooti says that there is one figure in Mikus' life who he describes as an animal. "He has terrorised those children," Te Kooti says of him. The man denies the allegations and there are no recorded convictions for abuse against him.

But there is evidence of inappropriate sexual behaviour. Mikus' elder sister became pregnant as a 13-year-old and gave birth to a baby which was adopted.

His younger sister says the family is not close.

"I do not have anything to do with [Mikus]. The only people sticking by him are mum and Shirley." Referring to her father, she said: "He left when I was about 12 and he has never been there for us as long as I can remember."

Mikus' father declined to be interviewed, except to say: "I have had nothing to do with this man [Mikus] for well over 20 years."

Oldest Mikus was 14, his sex abuser became his role model. In March 1973 he recorded his first criminal conviction - having sexual intercourse with a girl aged under 12.

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He was sentenced to two years supervision. It did not stop him. His sexual offending was just beginning.

The next year he was back before the courts charged with indecently assaulting an adolescent girl. Two weeks before his 16th birthday he was taken away from the home where he was living with his mother and was sentenced to borstal.

Soon after his release, Mikus was sent back to borstal on the same count and a clutch of other charges including taking a car and "frequenting" - loitering with intent to commit a crime. In April 1977 he was finally sent to prison for again indecently assaulting a girl.

Police watched with growing alarm the steady development of Mikus, the predator. Gary Orr, at the time a young detective based at the Lower Hutt CIB, listened as colleagues talked about what could be done to stop him.

"He [Mikus] was peeping and peering around houses [committing] sex offences, frequenting, burglaries - all alarm-bells stuff. He was a guy that we were always worried about," says Orr.

By now Mikus was almost 20. The steady string of sex crimes and appearances before the courts had dominated his teenage years - from ages 14 to 19 - as sport and school dances would most normal teenagers. Some of his victims were known to him. One was close to him.

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But Mikus was getting on with life. In mid-1979 he married a 16-year-old, Raewyn Smith. She was already pregnant to Mikus - the baby was conceived when she was 15.

Before their son was born Mikus was back in prison for carrying an offensive weapon and conspiring to commit burglary.

When he came out, Mikus went straight for a while. He got a job welding (his father had been a welder once too) and, apart from one burglary and breaching periodic detention, he kept out of trouble.

It was a settled time in his life and there was no evidence of sexual offending. It did not last.

As Mikus' marriage deteriorated he committed another sex crime.

He was living in Taita with Raewyn Smith and their son. One afternoon he beckoned a 14-year-old schoolgirl into his house and pounced on her. She escaped and he was charged with assault with intent to commit rape.

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Orr, who did not work on the inquiry itself, remembers the incident as a nasty attack.

"It reaffirmed to us that this guy was going to be a problem again, because he had been quiet on the sexual stuff for some time. That was when we really started to worry about where this guy was going in the future."

The attack also led to an embarrassing admission from the police, when the officer in charge of the case had to admit that he was having an affair with Mikus' wife, Raewyn Smith, during the trial.

At the time she had already started separation proceedings against Mikus, was seeking custody of their son and was said to have been hostile to Mikus. The first trial was overturned by the Court of Appeal. The officer was disciplined by the police. Mikus faced another trial and was sentenced to two years' jail in March, 1984.

Orr says he met Mikus many times over several years following that attack

"He's a really strange bugger. Very quiet, very much a loner. When you interviewed him, he was never difficult. When he came up against authority figures, he was very servile. Very keen to please you, but there was just a part of him that was always out of reach.

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"Everybody talks about the similarity to Charles Manson in terms of his physical looks. I would say, yeah, he was like that even back then. But having seen footage of Manson, that guy's got evil eyes, whereas this prick's just nothing, soulless if you like. His eyes are dead. You don't see evil in his eyes. You don't see anything.

"There was something missing in him, that spark of humanity."

It was during his prison sentence for the attack on the schoolgirl that the chain of events which would lead Mikus to Napier began. He met a woman who believed she could save him from his criminal ways.

Miss X (her name was suppressed when she gave evidence against him) was working for a prisoner rehabilitation group in Wellington when she met the long-haired Mikus in 1985.

She took him on as a special project and they formed a friendship when he was released. Eventually they became sexually intimate. She fell pregnant to him by the end of 1985 when they were living together in Wellington.

For Christmas that year, they travelled to Miss X's South Island home town and her father remembers Mikus staying. "My wife described him as very polished," says the father.

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"Extremely good-mannered - far better mannered than the average New Zealander. He didn't look as bad as he is now." But the father says he was not taken in by Mikus, describing him as a "secretive ratbag".

"He went to a car dealer and said I was his father-in-law. He apparently took [a car] from where he got it straight up to Wellington and they had to repossess it. I suppose he wanted to use my good name to get credit."

Miss X returned to Wellington and gave birth to a son in July 1986, but the couple were living apart. The boy initially took his father's surname, but within a month his name was changed to his mother's.

The couple did resume their relationship eventually, but within months Miss X had had enough of Mikus and decided to escape, moving to Napier.

Mikus stayed in Wellington and got in trouble again, dabbling in fraud. Back in Napier, Miss X and her baby son had found a house near the centre of town at 135 Shakespeare Rd. It was a small, 1910s weatherboard house behind a white picket fence. Miss X was initially happy. She became friends with her neighbours and it seemed she had moved on from Mikus.

Then, in Easter 1987, her neighbours went away on holiday and Miss X felt lonely. She made what would turn out to be a fateful decision - to ask Mikus to come to see her.

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Passion flared again and they decided to marry at the Napier registry office on a Monday in April, 1987, although he was still legally married to Smith, leading to a charge of bigamy.

Mikus, Miss X and their 10-month-old son lived together at Shakespeare Rd and neighbours remember them chugging around town in their red Vauxhall Viva station wagon.

But marriage had not sorted out their domestic problems. On June 11 1987, eight days before Teresa's disappearance, Miss X and her son fled the house after a confrontation with Mikus and sought help at a refuge. She went back once with the police to collect some belongings.

A terrible cycle of Mikus' life was about to repeat. Relationship problems had preceded his last serious sex attack - and now he was alone again.

On the other side of Napier, little Teresa was living with her mum, sister and grandfather in the suburb of Maraenui, a slightly rough-edged family suburb.

The morning after her sixth birthday, Teresa woke up excited about her presents. It was June 19, a Friday, but she didn't want to go to school.

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Around the streets of Maraenui locals noticed Teresa wandering along. She had walked to the school gates, but decided to turn back.

About 10.30am, insurance saleswoman Brianna Smith was driving along Latham St, several kilometres from Richmond School, when a little girl wearing a long raincoat bolted across the road in front of her. What really struck Smith was that the girl seemed to be with a scruffy man. "He had Charles Manson eyes, horrible, cold."

In Wellington, Detective Inspector Ron Cooper, already a 20-year veteran of the police by 1987, was watching the inaugural Rugby World Cup final with friends on June 20.

Barely had he watched the All Blacks cap their 29-9 victory when his phone rang. He was the detective inspector for the Wellington region and was not supposed to be on duty this weekend, but colleagues in Hawkes Bay needed help.

The detective inspector in Napier, Barry Hunter, was already busy dealing with a homicide inquiry after the discovery of 16-year-old Colleen Burrows' naked body on June 19, the same day Teresa went missing. Cooper was asked to help with the Cormack inquiry.

As he drove through the night to Napier to start work on Sunday, he was hoping for the best. Maybe there had been a mix-up and Teresa had gone to stay with a friend whose mother thought she had her parents' permission.

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"We started off in the bright hope that would be the case and she would turn up," says Cooper. "But as the week wore on and we made contact with everyone who knew her, that became less likely."

Cooper was at the police station about 9am on the Saturday when he got the call he had dreaded. Loma Dickinson, a resident of Whirinaki Beach about 14km north of Napier, had been out walking her dog when she saw a little girl's body.

Squads of police cars took the drive north through the grim weather to where State Highway Two curled around Whirinaki Bluff, a local landmark. Off to the right of the highway, the Pacific Ocean thundered.

Detective Sergeant Brian Schaab, an officer normally based at Hastings, pulled into a shingle carpark which sloped down to the beach. Cooper had appointed Schaab officer in charge of the scene.

Teresa was face-down on the beach, under a tree.

About 3.30pm Schaab and several other officers rolled the little girl into a body bag. He silently promised her he would catch her killer.

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The discovery of Teresa's body increased the intensity of the murder inquiry.

With the arrest of two men for the murder of Colleen Burrows, Cooper had more police on his team. Numbers swelled to about 60. They were working 7am to midnight. A large photograph of the little girl was hung up in the inquiry base and the detectives pasted copies in the front of their notebooks.

Back in Lower Hutt, Detective Constable Gary Orr was racking his brain, like every other policeman in the country. They had been asked to think of anyone they had dealt with who may be responsible for Teresa's murder.

Orr thought of Mikus. He knew the convicted multiple sex offender had recently moved to Napier - at the time Orr wondered whether Mikus had gone there to make a fresh start and escape police attention. Considering Mikus' background, Orr picked up the phone and rang the Cormack inquiry.

"He was somebody I knew had the right sort of background to be considered a suspect," says Orr. "There was nothing about him at that stage in my wildest dream that would have made me think he was THE offender, but he was certainly somebody worth checking out."

In Napier, Detective Sergeant Barry Searle was handed the message recording Orr's concerns. On July 9, Searle knocked on the door of 135 Shakespeare Rd and asked Mikus if he could come to the Napier police station and answer questions about where he was on June 19, the day Teresa disappeared.

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Mikus barely flinched. He told Searle he had woken early that day, then gone to the Social Welfare office at the bottom of Shakespeare Rd to arrange an emergency benefit to pay his rent. He was there about 9.30am and had been seen by his estranged wife, Miss X.

Social Welfare staff dealt with him by 10am and told him to come back later to pick up his cheque. Mikus told Searle he went home and weeded the garden. He went back to Social Welfare about 1.30pm, picked up his cheque and was followed home by his landlady, Michelle Cassidy. She came in to pick up the rent .

He spent the afternoon alone, he told Searle, saying the only other interruption was the man who came to read the power meter. "I just sat around watching TV and writing letters," Mikus told Searle. "I went to bed quite late."

The next day Searle came back to ask Mikus why he had recently painted his wife's Vauxhall Viva. The car was searched, but nothing was found. On July 20 Searle took Mikus to have blood and saliva samples taken, and on August 4 he photographed him at his home.

All this attention suggested the police were interested in Mikus when, in fact, they were losing interest in him. Investigations into his alibi had established that Mikus was, indeed, at Social Welfare about 9.30am the day Teresa went missing.

On a suspect check-sheet later reviewed and agreed to by Cooper, a detective noted that the alibi "tended to eliminate" Mikus from the inquiry. The police believed at the time Teresa had gone missing just after 9am.

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Cooper stayed in Napier until November, before returning to Wellington. He resumed normal duties, but the fact the case was not solved made it tough for the seasoned investigator. "It took months to stop thinking about it all hours of the day and night," says Cooper

In the months after Teresa's disappearance, Mikus went through more emotional highs and lows. Miss X, his estranged wife, had moved back in on June 25.

She says she did this only to make Mikus move out - she had been to the family court to see if anyone could help her claim her house back and had decided that there was no one who could help her end her relationship with Mikus. She had to do it herself.

Booted out of his home, Mikus went up to Auckland for a while and ended up back before the courts on driving charges. Trouble followed him back to Lower Hutt later in 1988, when Orr arrested him for minor fraud and theft matters.

In December 1988 Mikus was back in Napier and locked up on driving and drugs charges. Detectives still busy hunting Teresa's killer did not realise their man was sitting in the cells downstairs.

Unexpectedly one day in 1989, he turned up at 135 Shakespeare Rd, spooking his ex-wife, Miss X. His visit affected her so much she moved out of Napier, scared he might turn up again.

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Mikus too had enough of Napier. He initially moved to Wanganui, but ran into trouble there for growing cannabis.

He continued to make regular appearances before the courts - most recently in December 1997 - but the offences were relatively minor. His criminal record was notable for the fact that there were no convictions for sex crimes since the attack on the schoolgirl in 1984. Certainly nothing since June 1987, when Teresa disappeared.

He returned to Lower Hutt in the early 1990s. He and new partner Shirley Te Kooti lived a transient life, moving around addresses and staying in temporary accommodation.

His friends and people he stayed with included paedophiles and sexual offenders. Social Welfare authorities intervened at one point, telling Mikus he, Shirley and their newborn baby could not stay with one group of friends because of the friends' history of sexual offending. If he did not move out, officials told him, they would take his child off him.

Mikus went through a string of relationships. He has had about eight long-term relationships with women and has fathered at least seven children. Not many of his former partners speak of him kindly. Miss X describes him as abusive.

Shirley Te Kooti, though, who met him about five years ago and remains loyal to him, describes Mikus as a good father to the son they had together and to her children from previous relationships. "We had just got our lives together. We were very happy."

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Over the years, Mikus seems to have got on with life without thinking about Teresa too much. Dr Devon Polaschek, an experienced criminal justice psychologist at Victoria University, says while the reaction of most people to a crime like the Cormack murder would be to break down, a chronic serious offender would be able to blank it out.

"They are accustomed to the fact that the likelihood of getting caught is very low and getting caught seems to occur randomly, so if they want to stay in the community, they put it behind them.

She did not know Mikus, but Dr Polaschek said people like him did not have empathy for others, so would not be bothered by what they had done.

"They also have a style of living which protects them from being tormented by things, because they tend to live day by day. They are living often a very hedonistic lifestyle where they are really just focused on feeling good and, of course, to do that you need to put behind you things that don't make you feel good."

Although Mikus had not been caught for any other sexual offences since Teresa's murder, Polaschek believes it's possible he may have committed many which have not come to light. Child welfare authorities are now reviewing their casebooks to see whether any children in his care have been abused.

While Mikus was carrying on with his life, police who had been on the case since the beginning could do nothing but think about Teresa. Brian Schaab, a cop's cop, who had taken charge of the case in 1995, stewed over his silent promise to Teresa. How was he ever going to catch her killer?

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Over the years, Schaab would receive phone calls from the public and other police nominating suspects for the Cormack murder. They never came to anything. Then, in March last year, came a confounding series of developments.

Schaab was told about a man living in Palmerston North who the inquiry team had never heard about.

"I sent the file down to Palmerston North for the guys there to get some blood off him with the idea that one day we could eliminate him or tie him into the inquiry."

The blood was sent to Steve Cordiner at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR.) When Cordiner was putting that sample away with the others, Cordiner looked at the slide of DNA material found on Teresa's body and said, "We should be able to do something with this now."

Cordiner sent the DNA evidence to the institute's Mt Albert laboratory where forensic scientist Susan Vintiner tried to produce a DNA profile of Teresa's killer - something that had been tried and failed at least twice over the past 15 years. Schaab was hopeful but not confident. One morning in March last year, his phone rang. It was Cordiner.

"Brian? We've got a profile."

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Schaab put the phone down, whooped and yelled. For the first time, the police had a DNA profile of the man who had killed Teresa. In his excitement, he had to tell someone, so he rang his wife, Jude. "Don't tell anyone, keep it secret," he told her.

Now police had the hard job of finding the man whose DNA matched the new profile.

Like the rest of the country, Mikus heard about this breakthrough when the police went public in August last year, announcing they were carrying out a mass collection of blood samples. He had told his partner, Te Kooti, that he had once been a suspect in the case, so when the breakthrough made the TV news, she watched his face. "I looked at Jules to see the reaction and he was calm as anything."

Unknown to Mikus, in January this year police and scientists decided that they could test the 250 samples of blood they had collected from Cormack suspects back in the 1980s.

The blood sample Mikus voluntarily gave in 1987 was in the second batch the lab tested.

Schaab was in his office on Friday, February 22, this year when he intercepted a call for his boss from Detective Superintendent Bill Bishop. "When I said my boss wasn't available he said, 'Oh, well, I'll tell you,"' said Schaab. "As if I wasn't interested!"

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Bishop told Schaab that the profile had matched the sample taken from a man called Jules Mikus. Schaab scratched his shaven head. He had never heard of the guy. "I had to go over to the basement of the district office and dig out the original copy of his file to find out who we were talking about."

At 7am four days later, Schaab and Detective Sergeant Keith Price knocked on the door of 64 Dyer St, Lower Hutt. A long-haired, bearded man came to the door in his jeans.

"Jules Mikus? I'm Detective Sergeant Brian Schaab." Mikus let them in and did not blink when they mentioned why they were there.

After being questioned by Schaab and Price and denying his involvement in Teresa's death, Mikus appeared before the Lower Hutt District Court and the country learned of his arrest.

Ron Cooper, originally in charge of the case, was on holiday at Cooks Beach when Bishop rang. "I was delighted and stunned," says Cooper, now the police area controller for the Western Bay of Plenty in Tauranga. "It was 15 years on and all of a sudden ... they didn't just have a clue, they had an absolute. It was just stunning news."

Driving to his new job at the Ministry of Fisheries with a former police colleague, Gary Orr switched on the radio news and heard Mikus' name. "We looked at each other and said, 'Bloody hell. Him?' We immediately knew the guy and it all came back," says Orr, who originally tipped off the inquiry about Mikus.

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For Kelly Pigott, Teresa's mum, the news was unbelievable.

It was frightening after all these years for her to see the eyes and face of the man who was the last person Teresa saw. But Pigott was pleased.

"Now I'll be able to look at a picture and know what I'm looking at," she said. "I'm very pleased to have a face."