All true crime stories - whether a book, podcast, or documentary series - start with reporters, often in the daily newsroom, gathering the facts.
What happened? Where and when? Who is the victim? And how did the police catch them?
NZME has some of the best crime reporters in the country. They have spent years knocking on doors, spending time with victims (and those accused of horrific crimes), and listening to evidence in courtrooms.
These tales can be harrowing, bizarre, or even, in rare circumstances, oddly inspirational. We asked our journalists to take readers behind the headlines of crimes they still think about, even years later.
Steve Braunias, senior writer, New Zealand Herald:
Chris Wang killed two men with a knife. He bought it from the Made in Tokyo store in Queen St – I went there, too, and bought an exact replica, and take it with me whenever I give talks at primary and intermediate schools about crime reporting – and had used it the night before the killings to cut up a pizza. The two men came to his opulent home in Mt Albert in the morning. They said he owed them money. He said they attacked him, that he fought for his life, and took theirs. There were three trials. After the second trial, which had to be abandoned, I sat with him in a dark kitchen and stared at his hands.
Simon Wilson was my editor. He said, "I'd rather you didn't."
He meant going to Wang's home to talk to him about the killings.
I said, "What's he going to do?"
The killings were – gee, you don't say – frenzied. One of the men made it down the grand staircase, through the front door, and died in the driveway. There were a lot of crime scene photographs and most of them were red with blood.
I hate going up to people in courtrooms and introducing myself. They might tell me to go away and that would hurt my feelings. I rehearsed what I would say to Wang: nothing. At the end of the second trial, I gave him my business card with two hands, a custom I had seen in Japan and thought was wonderfully polite. He looked at it, and I mimed a phone call. He texted the next day and I conducted the only interview of my career with a man who had killed two people with a knife.
The jury found him not guilty of each charge of murder. He was found guilty of one charge of manslaughter. "I accept you acted in self-defence," said Justice Geoffrey Venning, "but that you went too far." He made it sound like a minor chastisement and sentenced him to four years in prison.
Kelly Makiha, senior journalist, Rotorua Daily Post:
There it was, abandoned in bushes, a gold Ford Laser with a firearm wedged between the two front seats. The police had spent all week looking for the murder weapon and getaway car used in the horrific home invasion of Beverly Bouma and here we were standing in remote bush south of Rotorua looking at it.
Five days earlier on November 30, 1998 the gun had been used to shoot the adored Reporoa wife and mother after four men broke into her home. Beverly and her husband, Henk, were tied up at gunpoint and their money cards were stolen. While two of the offenders drove Bouma's vehicle to Taupō to empty the accounts, the other two remained guard at the farmhouse, during which time David "Blue" Poumako shot Beverly Bouma dead.
On December 5, photographer Stephen Parker and I had just followed an Armed Offenders Squad convoy to Kaingaroa, where police arrested the suspects. We were heading back to the office when we noticed the Eagle helicopter hovering above part of a forest. We parked up and headed into the bush to investigate and it wasn't long before we came across the Laser hidden in the trees.
Next thing, we found ourselves surrounded by the Rotorua Police Armed Offenders Squad screaming at us to get away. We did what we were told and carefully retreated. Our shoes - including my Baby Spice-inspired black boots on massive platforms (it was the 1990s after all) were confiscated to allow forensic examiners to remove our footprints from the scene of the crime. It was months before we got them back.
While the police believed we were listening to their scanner and had acted on information we'd heard, the way we found ourselves there was more of a coincidence. It appeared the Eagle chopper was called in as support for the Kaingaroa arrests and while it was hovering above, it spotted the gold Laser and alerted police and squad members, who were wrapping up in Kaingaroa.
The chopper was keeping tabs on the car until they arrived. They never imagined we'd get there first.
Beverly Bouma's murder was a crime that angered the nation and was the first time the words "home invasion" were used to describe everyone's worst nightmare. Although all four offenders were held to account – with Poumako, Dillon Hitaua and brothers Mark and Luke Reihana all being jailed for murder or manslaughter - the tragedy's twists and turns continued in the years to come.
In 2001, Poumako died in prison from a heart attack and 10 years later Hitaua was stabbed to death by his long-term partner as she fought him off during an argument.
Four years after the violent death of his wife, Henk Bouma died from liver cancer in 2002.
Matt Nippert, business investigations reporter, New Zealand Herald:
I first knew him as Alex Newman, international businessman, who talked up his job with international luxury brand Tom Ford and rubbed shoulders with All Blacks at New Zealand Fashion Week.
He was charming and had a posh English accent, but claimed he was unable to meet for an interview as he was in Auckland Hospital recovering from a chest infection. My natural cynicism wasn't helped by finding out these were all lies - Auckland Hospital had no patient of that name, the universities he claimed to have graduated from had never heard of him, neither had Tom Ford. A tip about one of his previous aliases allowed a thread to be pulled, revealing him as an inveterate liar fresh out of prison, who the Parole Board called a "prolific, high-risk, narcissistic conman".
His true identity, Wayne Eaglesome, was confirmed after tracking down a Canterbury policeman who'd arrested him in 2003 when he was wearing priest vestments and running up bad debts at hotels while pretending to be "Father Antony Garibaldi". In the time since, he'd racked up two prison terms - for sexual assault and witness tampering - and at least 20 false identities.
He didn't go quietly, refusing to supply a photograph or meet to have one taken, and then trying to derail his outing in the newspaper by calling editors claiming to be "Tom Wiles", a flatmate of Eaglesome's concerned about the consequence of publicity on his mental health.
After being presented with overwhelming evidence, he confessed to being Eaglesome - even taking some pride in his creative noms de plume - and a lied-to former lover set up a mid-morning coffee date with him, then let me know where to send the photographer.
That photograph - the first ever published of the conman - would be the end of his anonymity and ability to rebrand after each of his identities was successively burned.
After his exposure in the Herald, Eaglesome first tried to ride out the publicity - dying his hair, and once more changing his name - before realising the gig was up and fleeing to Christchurch to start over.
Inevitably, there he soon became a regular fixture in the local district court and crime pages.
Miriyana Alexander, Premium content editor, New Zealand Herald:
It takes your breath away, coming face to face with a murderer. It was June 1998, and I was walking down a Tauranga driveway when Lester Roberts pulled up. He looked at me. I looked at him. As moments go, it was up there.
Technically, he wasn't a murderer then. It would be another few days before a Rotorua High Court jury would find him guilty of murdering his wife, Rosemary, after he ran her down with his ute near their Bay of Plenty farm in March 1997.
Roberts had been having an affair with his neighbour. He used to leave the marital bed at 5am, supposedly to go milking. Instead, he was going next door.
The Crown said he killed Rosemary so he could continue the relationship without having to pay his wife a $500,000 divorce settlement, her share of their farm, and so he could keep their three children with him.
Rosemary certainly had her suspicions. The night before she died, she rang a friend asking her to go with her to a lawyer the following week. She wanted to know her rights should she and her husband separate.
The day he murdered her, Roberts rang Rosemary on his way home from a job to suggest she walk to meet him. That he and his young son would pick her up and they'd drive home together.
In court I found myself fixating on that call, wishing it had gone unanswered. If only she'd been in the bathroom, or outside, anywhere but at home doing cross-stitch. Instead, Rosemary was summoned to her death.
The Crown said Roberts cold-bloodedly planned his wife's execution with that phone call. He said he hit his wife by accident. That he did not see her until it was too late, that she'd "jumped out" at him. As if. They were the pathetic, awful excuses of a man going straight to jail.
The jury took just four hours to reject his version of events. Justice.
Throughout the trial Roberts denied the lover motive. I was about to ask for her version of events when Roberts turned up in the driveway. The trial had been adjourned for the day and he was on bail, free to visit her. Fears of an aborted trial meant I had no choice but to leave.
So Roberts spent some of his last hours of freedom with his lover. I hope it was cold comfort.
Kurt Bayer, senior journalist for the New Zealand Herald in Christchurch:
Some things you never forget. Even as a 17-year-old cub reporter at a North Canterbury community newspaper, I knew the woman sitting across from me had experienced the pits of hell.
Her face was cut and bruised. Hands hugged a coffee mug. As my senior reporter colleague, Joanna Barrell, gently interviewed her, the woman's eyes jittered the room. Even deep inside the old Rangiora Police Station, she expected the man who had abducted her during her morning jog - then still at large - to come charging in. Eight days later, police caught up with Devon Charles Bond.
Some names you never forget. And when I saw Devon Charles Bond written on a charge sheet at Christchurch District Court 20 years later alleging abduction and rape - for a brutal home invasion a year before the other attack - my heart stalled.
It took me back to that dank police station two decades earlier. And to those faraway, haunted eyes. I'd been at the paper just five months, fresh from high school.
At the police station, a detective briefed us. The victim was deeply traumatised. Be gentle. We asked if I could take photographs. Only a couple.
But afterwards, in my youthful exuberance, I opened the camera without rewinding the spool and wiped the first two shots. The third and final was useable. Just.
The story was published on the front page the next day. The photograph didn't do it justice, but I will never forget the terror in that poor woman's eyes as she courageously retold her story.
And I will never forget his name. Devon Charles Bond.
Carolyne Meng-Yee, senior investigative reporter, New Zealand Herald:
One case which has stuck with me is the unsolved mystery about a father who picked up his stepson from school and drove their car off a cliff and into the sea in 2015. The bodies of John Beckenridge and Mike Zhao-Beckenridge, 11 at the time, were never found.
Did they die or was it a meticulously orchestrated plan to flee the country to rebuild a new life together?
Their disappearance sparked a major police hunt and interest from the media, as more and more intriguing details became known about John Beckenridge's past, a former helicopter pilot in Afghanistan with four known aliases, and purported sightings of the pair overseas.
The 4WD was later found underwater off the Southland coast with no bodies inside, yet both front seat belts were engaged.
The family's extensive search for answers led them to employ a private investigator, Mark Templeman, who believes John Beckenridge fled by sea with "fake passports".
Through all the media and police attention, Mike's mum, Fiona, never spoke publicly about his disappearance. It took me three years to build up enough trust and rapport for her to give this interview.
And after five years without a trace of Mike, who will turn 17 next month, she firmly believes he is still alive.
I'm obsessed with gritty crime stories and especially cold cases and often wonder what really happened in this complete mystery.
Anna Leask, senior crime and justice reporter, New Zealand Herald:
Christie Marceau's death was one of the most horrible homicides I have covered.
The 18-year-old was stabbed repeatedly in her family home and died in her mother Tracey's arms. The offender was a teen she had pitied, befriended and who had then kidnapped and assaulted her. He was on bail and banned from having any contact with Christie when he forced his way into her home one morning armed with a kitchen knife, chased her as she tried to escape and took her life.
Just over a month later I did the first interview with Christie's parents in their living room, just metres from where she took her last breath. Their grief was something I had never experienced before - even after covering countless murders and tragedies in my career up to that day. They shared their story, her story.
Their bravery in speaking about the brutality of her death and their fight to keep her safe and their unfathomable levels of guilt absolutely took my breath away. Over the next couple of years, I followed their journey for justice - the birth of Christie's Law, which resulted in tighter bail rules, the killer's court case and eventual insanity plea, the coroner's inquest, where the ball drops and the failures of so many, who should have protected the Marceaus, were uncovered.
It was a case that moved me immeasurably and it's not often a day goes by where I don't think about Christie, her family, the utter tragedy of it all, and what that girl could and should have been. I became close to her family - which isn't unusual I guess, for crime reporters and the people they write about. But this was different.
After working closely with them on countless stories and a book about their precious girl's life and death, the Marceaus became my friends and, ultimately, like family to me.
Christie was killed in November 2011. She would have turned 27 this year. It's now been almost a decade since her death, and her family - including a baby niece born last year and named after her - are only just beginning to really start healing.
Hers is a name and face that I will never forget.
Kirsty Johnston, senior investigative reporter, New Zealand Herald:
I'll never forget the day I found out my former journalism lecturer had been charged with rape. I was at my desk. I got an email from a colleague. It said Professor Grant Hannis, from Massey University, had assaulted an elderly woman with dementia, in her rest home.
At first, I didn't believe it. I called the court to check. As the registrar confirmed, I felt dizzy. I put my head on my desk. "Are you still there?," she said. I hung up and walked to the bathroom to be sick. Afterwards, I sat outside, shaking.
Everything about the case was awful. That I knew and trusted him, and didn't want to report on it, but felt someone had to. His unthinkable, predatory behaviour. The unique vulnerability of the victim. Her shame, her family's grief.
He refused to plead to a charge of unlawful sexual connection, only admitting guilt when it was downgraded to indecent assault as part of a plea bargain - agreed to by police in part to save the elderly victim the trauma of a trial.
The judge described Hannis' offending as "unbelievable" and he was given six months on home detention.
The once-celebrated Wellington academic, argued during sentencing that his attack on the dementia sufferer was "not lengthy", there was "limited premeditation" and it should be seen as "opportunistic offending".
The worst thing, in my opinion, was that I knew police had investigated a possible alleged assault on a second elderly woman. Hannis denied the second assault, or even any knowledge of the police investigation.
I spent six months trying to get the story across the line, to get the file. In the end, we could only publish scant details because the alleged victim asked for privacy. We wrote that the second alleged incident was similar.
That the police had sought to charge Hannis a second time but were unable to gather enough evidence to prosecute is not unusual. About 80 per cent of aggravated sexual assault cases where police believe the victim are not prosecuted.
I still think about it all the time. He's out now. He even had a swimming pool installed while he was incarcerated at home.
Melissa Nightingale, journalist for the New Zealand Herald in Wellington:
Fifty years ago Welsh tourist Jennifer Beard was found badly decomposed under a bridge outside Haast, one of the most isolated towns in the country. Nobody has ever been charged over her death, but police believe she was strangled in a sexually motivated attack after hitching a ride with a predator.
Even though many people these days won't know her name, it was one of New Zealand's largest-ever manhunts at the time and led to tens of thousands of police interviews.
I received a tip that South Island man Reg Wildbore had confessed to murdering Jennifer, before taking his own life back in 2003. Months of investigation uncovered more and more evidence that Wildbore could have been her killer.
It was amazing how much lined up – I had one person swear in an affidavit that Wildbore confessed the murder to him, I had family members tell me Wildbore's ex-wife always said he'd confessed to her, and I had proof he lived in the area at the time Jennifer disappeared.
After publishing a podcast to mark the 50th anniversary of her death, more people came forward. They said Wildbore became depressed and tearful every year on the anniversary of Jennifer's death, and that he would break down crying and tell them he needed to speak to the lead detective in the murder case. They said he even told them he'd tried to hand himself in to the police.
On top of that, he was also an accused sex offender and, according to people who knew him, was violent and abusive to his wives and children.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely we'll ever have closure over Wildbore's involvement with the case because a bungled investigation meant rumours of his confessions to the murder were overlooked by police.
Now he's dead, there's nothing that can be done with that information.
Jared Savage, investigative reporter, New Zealand Herald:
I was on the bus heading to work when a source texted me, suggesting I get to the High Court at Auckland quick smart.
I had never written about methamphetamine or organised crime before, but what I heard in the courtroom that day fascinated me and drew me into a world on which I would spend the next decade reporting.
The case was the sentencing of Ri Tong Zhou, who had pleaded guilty to significant drugs charges, as the head of an Auckland meth-dealing syndicate. By today's standards, the 3.7kg of Class A drugs he admitted supplying in one-ounce bags seems small. But in 2009, Operation Manu was a big deal.
The details of the case were fascinating too; crims with nicknames like "Four Eyes" and "Visa", police breaking into a safety deposit box holding $558,000 in cash, and Zhou running everything from the VIP lounge at SkyCity casino, where he gambled millions of dollars in a few months. The sums were eye-watering.
When the sentencing judge took the opportunity to criticise SkyCity for letting Zhou use the casino as his "office", it felt like Justice Rhys Harrison was looking right at me in the back of the courtroom as if to say "write this down".
There were no other reporters in the court and I couldn't quite believe my luck as I walked back to the Herald office on Albert St, where I'd been working only a few weeks, with the scoop scribbled down in my notebook.
It was my first front-page story for the Weekend Herald and I was curious to learn more about the world of organised crime, where there are so many terrific yarns from the cat-and-mouse games between clever crooks and dogged detectives.
Since then I've had a front-row seat to the evolution of the criminal world in New Zealand, which now includes Mexican cartels, Australian '501' motorcycle gangs and meth seizures of up to 500kg, as well as the wider social issues which contribute to addiction.
Elizabeth Binning, senior journalist, New Zealand Herald:
I knew from the moment I interviewed Mark Pakenham that he had killed Sara Niethe.
It was the little things he said - the desperate attempt to appear so honest, to paint himself as the victim of gossip and speculation and a whole heap of other things that just didn't ring true.
I think the police probably knew it was him from the start as well.
But there are the things we suspect and the things we can prove and it was eight years before police had enough evidence and I could tell readers the truth.
The mother of three vanished on March 30, 2003 after drinking with Pakenham at his Kaihere home. He initially told police she'd had a few drinks before leaving about midnight. Officially police said they had an open mind but it was quickly evident she hadn't just crashed on the way home - despite extensive searches there was no sign of her distinctive light blue/green Honda Civic and her bank account hadn't been touched.
The 30-year-old was also a devoted mother and it was out of the question that she would abandon her children, one of whom was about to celebrate her 10th birthday.
About a month after Sara went missing, I persuaded Pakenham, whom she had been seeing casually, to be interviewed for this story.
I knew in my gut that he wasn't telling the truth. His comments about being so worried that he went to church and prayed for her just didn't ring true. He also summed up his character pretty well when he told me she left that night because she didn't want to f**k him, so he told her there was no point in staying.
Over the coming weeks and months that followed, Niethe's disappearance consumed me. I was obsessed about how a woman with such distinctive red hair and driving such a peculiar-coloured car could simply vanish into thin air.
I kept in touch with the police and the Niethe family for years, writing stories about rewards for information and significant milestones. Sadly, each year brought the next anniversary of her disappearance without any progress.
The best update came in 2011 when police charged Pakenham with murder after secretly recording partial confessions he made to associates.
He later pleaded guilty to manslaughter - he said he gave her a fatal dose of P - and was sentenced to six years and seven months imprisonment. But, tellingly, he refused to tell police where her remains were.
To this day, I often think of Sara Niethe, and her mother who died three years ago without ever knowing the full story, and her children.
Whenever there is a report of old bones being discovered I hope "this is it, they've found Sara" and her family will finally have some closure. They're still waiting.
Sandra Conchie, senior crime and justice reporter, Bay of Plenty Times:
By covering the crime and justice round for more than 20 years I have written hundreds of stories about heinous crimes. I am also a cold-case junkie and often watch TV crime dramas about how DNA profiling helps to solve crimes.
One case always stuck vividly in my mind. A 17-year-old girl was asleep in a caravan in Mt Maunganui in 2002, like hundreds of holidaymakers do every summer, when she was raped. Her attacker was never found.
Ten years later I just happened to be in one of my favourite haunts, the Tauranga District Court, when I noticed Barry Rikihana Farrell's name on the list of accused due to appear in the dock that day.
He ended up pleading guilty to rape but I didn't make the connection to the 2002 cold case until I got my hands on the police summary of facts, and pulled up the original Bay of Plenty Times story from the archives.
Forensic science had indeed caught up with Farrell as predicted by the original officer-in-charge and so had the long arm of the law.
He had been compelled to give a DNA sample to police when he was arrested on a 2012 burglary, which gave the police a forensic hit on the rape 10 years ago.
This was a story the public had to read. I tracked down the detective in charge of the original investigation and, to my surprise, also persuaded Farrell's family to speak to me. They were in shock.
His victim talked to me, too. The sexual attack on her as a 17-year-old girl made her hit rock bottom, she had considered taking her own life. Farrell had stolen 10 years of her life but now she had a voice to claim back some of the power taken from her in the dead of night all those years ago.
David Fisher, senior investigative reporter, New Zealand Herald:
The killing of George Taiaroa at his stop-go sign was a despicable act of racist violence.
If you could boil down the Crown case, that was the essence of why Quinton Paul Winders pulled the trigger.
And yet the crucial evidence that put the murder weapon in his hands - despite the firearm never being found - was not emotional rhetoric but clinical, forensic science.
The 2013 murder was a puzzle. Taiaroa seemed an unlikely victim - he would be 75 next month if he had lived, so this was no young man managing traffic at the isolated single-lane bridge north of Taupō where he was killed.
There was little about George Taiaroa that answered the question: Why were you killed? Media and public assumption attempted to fill the gaps, and did so focusing on his ethnicity with inaccurate and tired stereotypes - Māori equals gangs equals drugs.
The first time I spoke with his wife, Dr Helen Taiaroa, the pain caused by these mistaken assumptions was so clear. It was there during our next conversation, and almost every time we spoke after that.
As became clear later, the answer to the question lay entirely with the killer.
Winders was a racist, and when his father's impatience at the traffic stop led to a minor accident, that smouldering hate flared.
He blamed George Taiaroa for the accident, then came back to kill him.
The evidence against Winders was shocking. It included testimony from neighbours who had been shot at by Winders in repeated acts of extreme territorial defence of his property in remote Whangamomona.
It is odd the police were not told about Winders' aggressive behaviour although, crucially, the remote region was not beyond the reach of the law when it came to checking firearms licences.
The police officer who inspected Winders' firearms took the extra step, which was not required of him, to write down the serial numbers of the guns.
After the murder, detectives could not find among Winders' weapons any rifle which matched the calibre of bullet removed from Taiaroa's skull
Without the rifle, there would be no way of forensically matching the bullet with the weapon that fired it. For a prosecution, it was a yawning and uncomfortable gap.
But in an extraordinary breakthrough, the serial number on the rifle - written down in the notebook of the officer who inspected the firearms all those years ago - was tracked back to the Canadian factory that made it in the 1970s.
From there, the search was on for sibling weapons that rolled off the same production line as police worked on the theory that a series of rifles made from the same length of barrel would share similar qualities when examined.
It was actually even better than that - New South Wales police scientists showed the missing murder weapon would make the same barrel markings to the fatal bullet as its sibling rifles, tracked down in obscure parts of the world.
In that Rotorua courtroom, police did not have the murder weapon and yet, in a way, they did. Scientific study of the missing rifle's siblings brought it to life - an almost ghostly image that became increasingly real as detective work and science placed it in the hands of the killer. Winders was found guilty of murder.
The murder stays with me. If for any reason, it's because of the space George Taiaroa left behind. He seemed a man who thoroughly filled his life and those of those around him, and the vacuum left was immense.
And there was the stroke of luck and innovative police work which placed the missing murder weapon in Winders' hands. It is hard to explain just how clever that was, and the wonder of it is hard to escape.
Kristin Edge, senior reporter, Northern Advocate:
Over two decades of police and emergency services reporting across much of the North Island I have, unfortunately, covered hundreds of tragic fatal car crashes.
But one of them is a mystery and still has me asking years later: Whatever happened to Bobby Roberts?
Te Paewhenua "Bobby" Roberts, 53, was driving a Fulton Hogan work van which crashed through a stone wall and plunged 250m off the Kaimai Range summit into dense bush around 8.30am on November 30, 2004.
I arrived at the summit, along with the police and fire service, soon after the crash and spoke to witnesses, who described how they had seen the van accelerate at the wall and "fly" off the side of the mountain range, which separates the Bay of Plenty from the Waikato.
I watched as police launched themselves on abseiling ropes over the top and into the bush to start their search for Bobby. They thought they would find the body under the van or nearby, as the windscreen had exploded and Bobby, who was not wearing a seat belt, was catapulted further into the bush.
But they never did.
I watched the van being winched up through the bush and back into the car park, broken tōtara branches and ponga fronds poking out at odd angles, the windscreen shattered, but no Bobby.
The day after whānau gathered and joined a 55-strong team to help search for him. They stayed at the marae at the base of the Kaimai Range for weeks but had to pull the pin when even cadaver dogs didn't pick up a scent.
For months, the family held out hope he was still alive using his bush and hunting skills to survive in the rugged terrain. And even in 2017 at a coroner's inquest, his son, Lester Roberts, said he believed his father was still alive.
Two other men came forward after the inquest to say they had seen Bobby Roberts.
Police followed up the reported sightings but still, nothing. No remains have been found, either.
Bobby has never accessed his bank accounts or applied for a benefit.
Every time I drive over the Kaimai summit I stop, walk to the stone-walled lookout barrier, look down into the native bush and wonder whatever happened to Bobby Roberts?