By MONIQUE DEVEREUX, South Island correspondent
It had been a rough night for Jarrod Mangels. After being thrown out of a Nelson nightclub for being too drunk and staggering across the road yelling abuse, Mangels had twice been offered a ride home with police.
He refused with a string of four letter words and ran off.
When police caught him, he struggled and lashed out, receiving a dose of pepper spray, a broken arm, badly bruised ribs, a long jagged gash on his forehead, several missing teeth and a date in court.
The night in the cells - January 31 last year - was not his first. The then 30-year-old beneficiary was already well known to Nelson police, despite having lived in the region for only a few years.
While being processed the next day for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges, Mangels was asked to give a blood sample for the national database on the basis that it might help clear him of future crimes.
He agreed in what one police officer has termed "a weak moment".
It was that simple two minute process of collecting a vial of blood that this week led to the resolution of one of New Zealand's longest unsolved murders.
Faced with overwhelming DNA evidence, Jarrod Mangels pleaded guilty to the murder of Arrowtown woman Maureen McKinnel.
The crime devastated the small tourist town. The independent, attractive 38-year-old woman was strangled in her home on Boxing Day, 1987 and dumped naked over the Arrow River Bridge to the river bank below.
She was reported missing after being absent from work for four days. Police broke into her house and found an obvious struggle had occurred. The bedroom was a mess and this told police they were not just looking for a missing person but a murdered person. Her body was found the next day.
Police moved quickly, and at the investigation's peak 76 officers were working on the case. But despite all the fingerprinting, grid searching and analysing of the crime scene there was no evidence of anyone untoward being in the house.
Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Hewett of Invercargill, who headed the case, said that although thousands of people were interviewed, no clear evidence pointed to anyone.
"It was what we call a whodunnit, a real whodunnit."
Except for the DNA.
After the murder, police cut Ms McKinnel's fingernails and kept the clippings. Perhaps one day they might reveal traces of the killer's blood or fibres from his clothes.
DNA profiling was in its infancy, and the clippings had revealed nothing for police.
Three years later, Hewett was asked to go through the vast piles of evidence that had been tested and stored at the ESR.
He threw much of it away. But he kept the "biological samples" - the fingernail clippings.
Over the next 10 years, scientist improved DNA testing techniques, making the samples needed to get a match smaller and smaller until the quantity needed is now minuscule.
As the science improved, Mangels was growing up.
Mangels was 15 when he killed Ms McKinnel.
His parents ran Arrowtown's Viking Lodge motel until they separated, and he attended the nearby Wakatipu High School until his criminal activities - a string of burglaries - caught up with him and he was sent to a boys home in Levin.
The big, burly lad was home for Christmas 1987, staying at his father's house 250m from Ms McKinnel's home.
Like every other man in town, he was questioned at length after the murder.
He had no alibi - he had walked home from a family friend's house late on Boxing Day evening but no-one in his own family could say what time he arrived - but no fingerprints linked him to being in Ms McKinnel's house.
After Levin, Mangels moved to Invercargill, where his clashes with the law continued. He never held a fulltime job, he had no educational qualifications.
One night, he was one of three people who attacked and robbed a young Invercargill man as he walked home from a pub.
Mangels was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for masterminding the attack. He served four.
In jail, Mangels took up rugby, playing lock for the Invercargill Blues club's second grade team. He got two weekly passes - to go to training and to play the game.
Coincidentally, Hewett was involved in the same club. He got to know Mangels and watched him play.
"He was a hardnose, Jarrod ... a tough man. Pretty fearless. He played with a lot of guts, maybe not the most skilful player but one who played with a lot of heart."
Also while in jail, Mangels became involved with the Invercargill chapter of the Road Knights gang. The Herald understands that after partying one night not long after his release, he left his own motorcycle at the gang house, to find it stripped when he returned the next day.
Mangels demanded the parts be returned.
Instead he was bashed almost to death and kneecapped with an iron bar. He was left blind in one eye, but made a remarkable recovery and discharged himself from hospital. He was questioned - by Hewett - but did not lay a complaint with police about the attack.
Almost immediately afterwards he left town, heading to Nelson for a fresh start.
He grew cannabis, converting his bath, barbecue area and wardrobe into plots. He was also caught with vast quantities of morphine in liquid and pill form, although he denies being a user.
He was known to Nelson police, but not for anything other than low level petty crimes.
"He was generally considered a loser," said one Nelson policeman who knew him.
When he appeared in court on the disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges in February last year, Judge David McKegg convicted and discharged him, saying he was in trouble only because he had been drunk, not because he was stupid or criminal.
But the scientific work on the McKinnel case was getting closer to revealing that Mangels was indeed a criminal, one of New Zealand's most wanted.
Another high profile murder started the process that led to Mangels' arrest last March for for murder.
Napier girl Teresa Cormack had been abducted and killed about six months before Ms McKinnel's death.
Developments in DNA testing led to evidence collected in the Teresa Cormack case being re-examined in late 2001 and the DNA profile of pubic hairs found on Teresa's body was finally matched with her killer, Jules Mikus.
That success prompted Hewett - by now the only officer assigned to the McKinnel case - to ask for his case to be subjected to new methods.
"I was aware they had re-looked at exhibits there ... so then we did the same."
His two top priorities were to get a DNA profile of Ms McKinnel, using her hairbush and blood, and to test the fingernail clippings for DNA.
"I knew she had long fingernails and it's just common sense isn't it, if someone is strangling you, you try to remove their hands. You don't just lie there and die."
Hewett's hunch proved correct in May 2002.
At the time of the murder, New Zealand scientists were performing DNA analysis, but they required large samples - up to 2 micrograms of DNA to be able to extract a profile.
But by the end of the 1990s, scientists worked with samples 1000 smaller less than that - spots of blood, specks of saliva, and single hair roots - and since then the techniques have been further refined.
In 2002, scientists re-examining Ms McKinnel's fingernail clippings were able to prove they held two DNA profiles, her own and someone they could not identify.
The rogue profile did not match any of the 38,000 individuals on the national DNA database.
Nor did it match the two men identified in 1991 media reports as top suspects, or five other suspects from whom blood sample were taken.
Yet Hewett was confident the investigation had already been in touch with the killer.
His next move was daunting. He would go back to everyone who was in Arrowtown at the time of Ms McKinnel's death - starting with those closest to her house - and collect DNA profiles to check against the one found in the fingernail scrapings.
It took four months to establish that this would be 43 people, and would cost the taxpayer $400,000.
Jarrod Mangels' name was near the top of the list of 43 priority one suspects because of to the proximity of his fathers house to that of Ms McKinnel.
Hewett sent his request for $400,000 funding to head office. He was still waiting for an answer when Mangels gave police the blood sample that was entered into the national database.
An urgent phone call pulled Hewett out of a meeting one hot February afternoon last year.
It was Sue Vintiner of the ESR on the other end of the phone with the words Hewett had been waiting 15 years for - "We've got a match".
Tests had found Mangels' blood sample was four billion times more likely to be from the same person who left the material found under Ms McKinnel's fingernails, than any other person.
Hewett's reaction? "A couple of deep breaths".
It was another month before an arrest was made. Hewett went back to the files and carefully reviewed Mangels' statements and alibi.
Finally, on March 24 last year, Mangels opened the door to his Nelson home and found two police officers standing on the doorstep.
He went with them to the police station for questioning, and denied any involvement in Ms McKinnel's murder. He was arrested and charged several hours later.
Even faced with the DNA match Mangels maintained his innocence. Until Monday.
The guilty plea brought relief not only for the McKinnel family but for the murdered woman's friends who were scheduled to give evidence at this weeks trial. And Hewett.
"There will be no appeals, no retrials with this case. The boy's pleaded guilty. The trial by Joe Karam won't be happening."
Maureen McKinnel would be 54 now if Mangels' had not made his murderous late night visit.
Instead she is buried near Gore at Charlton Park cemetery, a pretty resting place on a rolling green hill.
The smiling photo that New Zealand came to know through news reports of her death adorns her tidy black headstone and in front of it this week is a bouquet of freshly picked pink roses. Beside her is the grave of her parents, Mavis and Mait, who died after their middle daughter.
The McKinnel's only son, Stephen, has also died since his sister was killed - stomach cancer took his life at 39. Only Heather Provan and Audrey Fergusson remain from the family, and both have families of their own.
Maureen McKinnel does live on in part. In her late teens she fell pregnant to then-boyfriend Chris Willet.
The couple chose to have the baby girl adopted, and the young woman recently made contact with the McKinnel family.
After his surprise guilty plea in the High Court at Invercargill this week Mangels' asked to speak to McKinnels family in private.
He was granted time in the courtroom, where he apologised for what he had done. But he did not give the family the answer they wanted - why did he kill her?
Hewett has his own theory which he won't reveal. But he said Mangels must have had a burglary or a sex crime in mind when he entered Ms McKinnel's house.
He will ask Mangels when he sees him after sentencing.
The McKinnel murder has haunted Hewett for years. The trial put him under enormous strain.
The head of Southland's CIB, he
is a Southern man who drawls the letter r appropriately. He is also a tired man and is looking forward to a month-long break.
"It's been a long investigation. There were the times I did wonder if we would ever find a result but for the most part I was positive."
Ms McKinnel's family appreciated his work. A big box of chocolates and a bunch of pink roses are on his desk .
He used to see Ms McKinnel's mother around town, and she would tell him that "one of these days" he would solve her daughter's murder.
"She had more faith in me than I had in myself sometimes."
But there are still loose ends.
"There are certain things I'd love to know. I'd love to be able to find Maureen's garnet ring, she wore it all the time. I'd like to be able to give it back to her family."
By MONIQUE DEVEREUX, South Island correspondent