Forty-seven days after Wanganui barmaid Tania McKenzie was found dead in the Whanganui River, police yesterday arrested a 26-year-old man and charged him with her murder and sexual violation.
Shane Daniel Randle, of Wanganui, faced the charges during a brief appearance at the Wanganui District Court yesterday.
Operation Somme head Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Oxnam said the arrest, which occurred yesterday morning, was an indication of success ? but there was still a lot more work to go.
He declined to give details about the nature of the work but said the police team would stay together until it was done.
"I have a rule ? I don't discuss the investigation.
"From an investigation point of view, the arrest is satisfying. There's been a lot of hard, concentrated, professional work gone into it by a large team of investigators," he said.
"There's still the prosecution to go."
"These things have another side to it, the victim's family? at the end of the day, Tania was a loved, cherished daughter of Naelene and Garry McKenzie. This is just another event in their lives. Their lives will never be the same," he said.
About 40 officers remain on the Operation Somme team which has been investigating the brutal killing of Ms McKenzie since her body was found on January 7.
In a rare move, police publicly described the killing as savage, painful and involving a "degrading" sexual violation.
A post-mortem examination revealed she died of massive head injuries.
No-one besides Randle had been arrested yesterday, despite rumours circulating in Wanganui that a woman was in police custody.
Mr Oxnam wouldn't comment on whether anyone else was being sought by police in connection with Ms McKenzie's death. He declined further comment on the investigation.
"I don't want to prejudice the trial in any way," he said. Meanwhile, Ms McKenzie's former employers and co-workers at The Red Lion Inn said they were relieved an arrest had been made.
Mr Oxnam told the Chronicle Ms McKenzie and Randle were "workmates". They hadn't been in a relationship as was reported by some media.
Last night Garry McKenzie welcomed the arrest.
"We're pleased there has been an arrest, but it's still not going to bring Tania back," he said.
Mr McKenzie said the family had been coping, "as best we can", since the homicide investigation began.
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