Paul Russell Wilson was given numerous second chances by family, friends and the justice system. Two young women paid the price. SAM SHERWOOD AND MARTIN VAN BEYNEN investigate.
At important junctures in his life, Paul Wilson convinced people his past was behind him.
Friends and relations in Hokitika on the West Coast put their faith in him after he tried to shoot someone who defended his ex-girlfriend Kim Schroder in the local pub.
They thought he would resume a normal life when he got out of jail and leave the sociable Schroder alone. But he took her life in a heartless murder that would see him locked up for the next 16 years.
Eventually people trusted it was a one-off. Over his prison years, countless hours were invested in psychological counselling and programmes designed to send him out into the community without posing a risk.
Finally expert psychologists and the Parole Board were persuaded he could live the rest of his life in society without causing further harm.
Seven years after release, he killed again, another planned and callous murder - Nicky Tuxford, a young woman who trusted him.
Two lives lost to a man who couldn't or wouldn't change.
Wilson stood in the dock on Wednesday dressed in a grey T-Shirt bearing the name Kauri, shorts and jandals. His hair was cut short and he showed no emotion as he pleaded guilty to raping Tuxford. Last year he admitted her murder but wanted to defend the rape charge.
With suppression orders lifted the gates were about to open on a man who may never see the outside of a jail again.
Kim Schroder was a live-wire 21-year-old close to her parents Gary and Nancy, with a wide circle of friends and a good job as office manager for Hokitika firm Evan Jones Construction. She was the only female on a staff of 40 but more than held her own.
"Kim was well known and well-respected. She was a very warm, open person. She was so bloody happy," says Jones, who employed Kim straight from school.
The Schroder and Wilson families, both with strong West Coast roots, grew up together.
Wilson's mother, Diane, is part of the large and respected Tainui family. His father Ernie, who was 19 when he was born, left the family when Wilson was still young and now lives in Mosgiel.
Wilson was an average student and eventually started work at the Westland Milk Products factory.
He and Kim started dating in 1989 after they met through one of Hokitika's then social hubs, the Kiwis Rugby Club, one of three rugby clubs in the town. By then Wilson, who was 10 years older than Kim, had already fathered a child by another woman.
For a brief period Kim and Wilson moved in together but the age difference and Wilson's possessiveness doomed the relationship. By late 1992, it was over as far as Kim was concerned.
Wilson had other ideas.
FRIENDS RALLY TO HELP HIM
Seeing her at the Westland Hotel in Hokitika, he demanded to know where she was going but she refused to tell him. Her cousin Bruce Schroder and a few mates took him outside, roughed him up and sent him on his way.
He returned with a loaded shotgun. Bruce put himself between Wilson and Kim and Wilson pulled the trigger. The gun failed to go off and Bruce and others wrestled the gun from him.
The incident shocked Wilson's family and friends.
Jenny Keogan, who still lives in Hokitika and manages a tourist shop, counted both Kim and Wilson as good friends.
"Call it naive... we just believed at the time that it was so out of character for him to do that and we just believed that this had to be a one off. We all thought we knew him so well.
"We all rallied together and we got petitions and stuff, got references about his great character. We rallied together as a community and did what we could to support him."
A petition vouching for his good character collected 800 signatures.
Gary Schroder's younger brother Nigel, who went to school with Wilson and played for the same rugby club, didn't sign the petition.
"I've never understood why he wasn't charged with attempted murder. I didn't like him at all. I always thought he was a liar and pretty gutless."
He remembers Wilson telling everyone he was so devastated at being dumped by Kim he was going to take his own life. Being on the brink of suicide would be a recurring theme in Wilson's life.
"He was trying to get people to feel sorry for him and help. But I thought, 'he won't kill himself, he hasn't got the guts'. He was very clever at manipulating people," Nigel says.
Wilson pleaded guilty to a charge of assault and possessing a loaded firearm in a public place and was jailed him for ten months. He was out in five months and would later say the jail experience "knocked me to pieces".
The Schroders kept supporting him. On almost every Saturday of his prison term, Kim and her mother Nancy travelled to Christchurch to visit him. Wilson said Nancy was always there to pick him up when he fell..."more of a mother to me than my own mother".
A DEADLY OBSESSION
He spent Christmas of 1993 with the Schroders and thought he could renew his relationship with their only daughter. But Kim was moving on and had started another relationship. Wilson found out and began visiting her flat at night, torturing himself by listening to the couple's lovemaking. Kim began calling him her stalker. One night he knocked on the door and punched her in the face.
On May 17, 1994, he went to her flat about 9pm. Earlier in the day Nancy Schroder had dropped off a jersey she had knitted for him. Wilson was greeted at the door by Kim's flatmate pharmacist Sean Reilly. Making an excuse to come inside, he held a knife to Reilly's throat and forced him to crawl on all fours to his bedroom where he taped his wrists and ankles, gagged him and tied him to the bed end.
Wilson threatened to cut Reilly's throat if he made any noise and waited two hours for Kim to come home. He hid in Reilly's bedroom as Kim came through the door and waited while she made a hot drink and watched television.
He confronted Kim when she went to the bathroom before bed. They struggled, Kim receiving a deep cut to her right hand. Reilly, still tied up, would later say he heard Kim pleading with Wilson to take her to hospital. Instead he forced her into her bedroom and Reilly heard Kim crying, saying she had not had sex with anyone since breaking up with Wilson. He called her a "lying bitch" and gagged her with strips of torn towelling.
He then forced her into her bed, cut off her jeans and underwear and raped her. Later he claimed the sex was consensual. Kim's ordeal lasted about two hours and ended with Wilson cutting her throat with the large carving knife his grandfather used to cut up dog rolls.
After wrapping Kim in bedding, he biked to a small hill above the Arahura River that hosts the Arahura Pa and a Māori cemetery. Near his grandmother Muriel's grave, he cut his wrist in a half–hearted attempt to kill himself.
A short while later he turned up at an address where his grandfather Max Tainui was dying and his mother and three aunts were keeping vigil. "I've just killed Kim Schroder", he said, as he collapsed on the woodbox. He told them to call the police.
Keogan says she was "absolutely gobsmacked" when she heard about Kim's death.
"I honestly just didn't think he was capable of doing something like that. It's actually really unnerving. You think you know somebody so well and you want to believe in them because they're a good friend of yours and then you hear what happened and that he was capable of even doing that.
"We've all really struggled in lots of different ways after Kimmy died. It does affect your trust in people, it affects your relationships. I wanted to be with Gary and Nancy, this was their only daughter."
FIRST TRIAL FOR MURDER
At his trial in November, 1994, Wilson did not deny killing Kim but said he had "exploded" after she taunted him with talk about sex with her other boyfriends. He called on the defence of provocation, which no longer exists in New Zealand.
The jury didn't buy it and took only a few hours to convict him of murder. Justice Neil Williamson jailed him for life with a minimum non-parole period of 15 years. He had looked for signs of regret in Wilson during the trial, the judge said, but found him, "unusually cold with no obvious signs of remorse".
Wilson's counsel, Steve Hembrow, said his client was in an emotionally bizarre state on the night of the murder and had a picture in his head of a fantasy relationship with Kim Schroder.
"She was the one person in the world he would not have wanted to harm."
The 15 years non–parole was later reduced to 13 years by the Court of Appeal.
Wilson began his jail sentence while Kim's family and friends began a sentence of their own.
"It had a massive impact on Gary and Nancy's lives," says Keogan.
"Nancy became quite reclusive and stuck to a core group of people like us that sort of hung out with them. My grief back then became my fight for Kimmy. I threw myself into what I felt I needed to do then to help be a voice for Kimmy."
A MODEL PRISONER
Wilson appears to have made the best of his long lag. He gained a qualification as an electrician and attended hundreds of counselling and therapy sessions. He had regular visits from family and was a trouble-free prisoner, apparently determined to make the most of any opportunities to help him resume a normal life.
He was eventually transferred to the hut complex at Paparua Prison (now Christchurch Men's) where he continued his friendship with David Bain who was serving a life sentence after a jury at his first trial found him guilty of shooting his family in June 1994.
By 2007, Wilson was eligible for parole and appeared before the Parole Board for the first time. The board noted he had been an excellent prisoner but turned him down on the grounds his therapy had not focused on the serious sexual aspects of the "appalling offence".
Another hearing in 2008 resulted in the board ordering he continue treatment for the "central aspects" of the offending and complete a comprehensive release prevention plan.
As they did and would do for each of his parole hearings, Kim's parents joined by Gary's brother, Nigel, and Keogan went to the 2008 parole hearing to reinforce their written submissions.
Gary and Nancy, in statements to the Parole Board, said: "We all live in fear of what we still believe Wilson is capable of and the only peace of mind any of us have had until now is knowing that he is behind bars and unable to be living in our community."
As the board dealt with another hearing in 2009, Kim's parents, said in letters to the Parole Board, the loss of their daughter "doesn't get any easier".
"How is it possible to have someone of this evilness walking our streets a free man. He hasn't shown any remorse. He is a sly, cunning liar who will do anything to have people believe he has changed.
"Our greatest fears now are that if and when released this psychopath will have an opportunity no doubt to enter into new relationships and we honestly believe he will do it again and destroy someone else's family as he had done to ours."
'HE WILL REOFFEND'
The board, in its 2009 decision, noted Wilson was apparently contrite and accepted full responsibility. They referred to expert opinion he was a low risk of violent or general offending and, if such offending did re–occur, "it would most likely be in the context of relationship difficulties leading to an escalation in his attempts to influence and control his partner".
Despite his progress, the board was not satisfied it was safe to release him.
"This has to do with many factors including the appalling nature of the offending, the impact of it on his victims and whether he has learnt the lessons and made the changes asked of him."
It also ordered a further psychological assessment on his risk including a consideration of whether he was a psychopath.
Wilson's hearing in 2010 soon came around. Gary and Nancy Schroder repeated their earlier warnings and wrote: "He is nothing but a cold–blooded, callous, evil murderer... He will never change... he says what you want to hear. He will always be a danger to society no matter how much counselling he has."
In its decision the Parole Board reminded itself that three psychologists had reported a low risk of reoffending with the high risk situation residing in close or intimate relationships.
The latest report, the board noted, discounted psychopathic personality traits. Wilson had a safety plan to prevent "it happening again" and was said to have made considerable gains in treatment, the board said.
Despite the positive signs, the board, in a decision early in 2010, denied Wilson parole but supported day releases.
The board reviewed the decision in December 2010 and finally released him, subject to conditions over his workplace, residence and associates. The first year of parole was to be based in a residential treatment facility in Christchurch.
"We are satisfied that Mr Wilson is aware of his high risk situations and has appropriate strategies to address them," the board said.
In their last submission Kim's parents said: "He may have ticked all the right boxes in the psychiatric reports but that is his way to convince people he is changed and on his way to a crime free life. We know this is absolute rubbish. He will re-offend."
Nicole Tuxford wanted to help people on their spiritual journeys.
Described by her family as funny and bubbly and as someone who could light up a room, she was employed by logistics company Royal Wolf and loved her job.
In her spare time she did courses put on by the Phoenix Light Foundation to pursue her ambition to be a spiritual life coach.
When she died it was still more of a hobby than anything more substantial, but she was passionate about helping people.
"Through my own journey I have discovered there is a way through the other side, even with the highs and lows life hits you. I have become a teacher to share my knowledge, experience and skills, so you too can find direction on your path, explore within yourself to understand and be freed," she posted on the Phoenix website.
Wilson and Tuxford met at a scrap metal firm, where Wilson had worked as a labourer since 2015 and where Tuxford worked in administration.
Tuxford was friendly and understanding and Wilson became infatuated with her. If he recognised the danger signals and the need to activate his safety plan, he didn't do much to avert the impending disaster.
He had led a quiet life outside work, living in a tidy Aranui complex of small flats where his neighbours were elderly and where he was desperate to stay. People didn't ask too many questions and he was polite, respectful and friendly.
He used an electric bike to get to work but bought a car which he proudly showed off to fellow residents.
It's understood Tuxford knew his criminal background and, although sympathetic, was in no way interested in a relationship with the former prison inmate nearly 30 years her senior. When she left the scrap metal firm, they kept in touch. She had him over for dinner one night in the weeks leading up to her death.
Clay Saunders watched Tuxford set off from his house early on April 7. They had been together for nearly four years and Tuxford spent most of her time at his house in Woolston while keeping her flat in Merivale.
They had met through a mutual workplace and were planning to buy a house together.
"She took people for the way they were. She saw the good in people," Saunders says.
They had a small, close-knit group of friends and she was close to her mother and family.
Saunders says he heard her speak of Wilson only once and believes she thought him reformed.
If Tuxford believed she could help Wilson, it was from a spiritual life coach point-of-view not in a professional way, he says.
"She was looking at it from a spiritual life coach point-of-view. She was looking at positive thinking. Hey look what has happened has happened. You've got me as a friend, you've got these friends. Push forward. She wanted to find the best in people."
Tuxford drove to her Merivale flat to meet an electrician who was due to do some work on the switchboard on the exterior of the house.
She parked in her driveway about 7.40am, and, once inside, was confronted by Wilson with neighbours hearing her scream.
Wilson overpowered her and held her in a spare bedroom of the flat. About 8am the electrician knocked on the door. Wilson restrained Tuxford to stop her raising the alarm. She bit him and tried to fight him off, receiving cuts to her hand and a punch to the face.
As the attack continued, the electrician walked around the house, knocking on a spare bedroom window. To stop Tuxford alerting him, Wilson tied a scarf around her mouth and secured it with tape, which he also used to bind her wrists.
The electrician heard muffled noises from inside the house, probably Tuxford stomping on the floor.
Wilson raped and then strangled Tuxford, breaking her thyroid cartilage. He used a knife to cut her throat several times, almost severing her head from her body.
He removed the scarf and tape and placed Tuxford's arms across her body and covered the lower half of her body with her trousers and his jacket.
Having taken Tuxford's car, he crashed it in Bealey Ave after having a seizure. Emergency services found him unresponsive and he was taken to Christchurch Hospital. Police found him there and he confessed to murdering Tuxford.
Still feeling uneasy about what he heard, the electrician returned to the house about 11.40am. He banged on the doors and windows, then climbed through a window into the house and found her body.
Wilson had waited eight hours in Tuxford's flat before attacking her. Police stopped him the previous evening at a drink-drive checkpoint in Bealey Ave and confiscated two knives from his car.
He had been drinking at his local bar for several hours and tested three times over the allowed breath-alcohol limit.
Police processed him and confiscated his car. He then took a taxi to Tuxford's two-bedroom flat in Exeter St, Merivale where he arrived about 11pm.
Tuxford previously told her life coach Wilson wanted a sexual relationship with her and she was trying to help him by meeting him for coffee. She felt sorry for him, she said. Tuxford told her mother she was helping her eventual killer with counselling and life coaching.
Two weeks before her death, she invited him by text for a drink at her house for 90 minutes but he told her he wanted to spend more time with her. She made it clear it would only be for 90 minutes.
A few days later he found out Tuxford was in a steady relationship and he sent her a text saying he hated being lied to and was "pissed off".
Two days before the killing, he told an associate he was worried if he went out drinking he would "do something crazy". Later he told an associate he had been kicked in the guts by someone he trusted and wanted to lock himself away from the world.
Police told the Schroders about Tuxford's killing the day after her death.
They took it hard.
Nancy and Gary rang Keogan straight after the detectives called.
The couple were devastated, she says.
"Gary knew the fight we'd put up, he knew how hard we had tried. He was absolutely inconsolable. We'd been there, we'd gone through that whole horrendous grief process. Gary had gone through the whole rawness of the trial... He had so much empathy for this family now and this young girl's family and what they were going to go through."
Gary had overcome a cancer scare earlier in the year but Tuxford's killing was unbearable. Three days after Tuxford was killed, the man described as a big teddy bear and a lovely, kind–hearted man, died. It is thought he took his own life.
Gary's brother Nigel, a carpenter for the Department of Conservation, was also soon aware of Wilson's latest victim and was angry, particularly at the Parole Board.
"We always thought if he got in a relationship with a girl, the same thing would happen. I wasn't surprised."
He regrets he didn't go to see his brother before going to work on Monday for a stint in the bush. When Gary died, it was days before he could be reached.
Former Detective Sergeant-turned private investigator Rob Nicholl, who led the investigation into Schroder's murder, also reeled when Nancy Schroder told him about Tuxford's death.
"I was bloody shocked. I was stunned," he says.
"While I knew it was a possibility, I don't know that I thought it would have ever actually come to pass."
Less than 24 hours later a friend visited to tell him Gary Schroder had died in a suspected suicide.
"I thought I had compartmentalised pretty well until I heard of Gary's death and it blew my socks off. Gary taking his life has been tough.
"There's an undeniable, close bond between the officer-in-charge of a murder inquiry and the family because they look to you to see justice for their loved one that's been taken. This Wilson's latest act, it would seem to me, it was the thing that broke the camel's back."
He believes Wilson fooled everyone.
"I'm not critical of the justice system or the Parole Board. He presented a face that you'd probably accept he had rehabilitated but plainly that wasn't the case. He presented one face but beneath was another beast and that was hidden with everyone.
"The whole thing is the most tragic bloody set of circumstances I've seen in New Zealand's criminal history."
A SHRINE TO NICOLE
Saunders' small house is full of reminders of Nicole Tuxford. He looks after her two "handbag" dogs who boss his big Rottweiler Crunch. Her crystals are on the coffee table and a collage of photographs of her adorn one wall.
He has attended each hearing leading up to Wilson's guilty plea.
At Wilson's first appearance in the High Court in Christchurch by video link, he cried.
"I never looked him up online. When I saw what he looked like – I thought, a person like yourself could do that? I thought he would be more scummish looking."
After police had finished with Tuxford's flat he spent days cleaning it and packing her things and tidying up. Her family offered to help, but he suggested they stay in Dunedin. He felt it was his job.
"It was the least I could have done. It gave me a sense of closure I suppose."
He has only one request.
"If you are going to write about Nicole, make it beautiful because that is what she was."