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Wendy Snowdon
Wendy Snowdon, aged 23, had her life brutally cut short by Gary McKinley when he attacked and raped her as she was jogging through a New Plymouth park.
On Friday, November 21, 1986, Wendy was planning to spend the day studying and had the day off from her job as assistant planner at Olex Cable Limited. She was taking a New Zealand Certificate of Engineering paper and her final exam was on Monday. Determined to keep fit for the National Lifesaving Championships each year, she was an avid jogger. She had arranged to jog with a friend but at the last moment the friend was unable to make it and she went jogging on her own, for the first time. She planned to jog through Brooklands and Pukekura Park in New Plymouth, which back onto each other.

Around 10am she ran down the grass slope and into the Brooklands Park. It is believed that her assailant, Gary McKinley was hiding in bushes where several tracks converge together. Wendy according to Police would have been attacked by surprise and was knocked unconscious with a rock wielded by McKinley.

McKinley carried her body to a more remote location on the track and raped her. He then tried to strangle her and left her lying on the track thinking she was dead.

A person walking a dog, who heard noises coming from further along the track, found Wendy approximately twenty minutes later. She was rushed to Taranaki Base Hospital and placed in intensive care. She never regained consciousness. After an agonizing 16 days for family and friends, Wendy Snowdon, an attractive, outgoing woman, died of her injuries.

Police interviewed over 120 people who had been in the surrounding Brooklands Park area on the day Wendy was attacked. An Okato man was finally arrested and charged with Wendy’s murder. His name was Gary Lawrence McKinley, a 26-year-old unemployed machine operator. He had a record of past convictions including burglary, theft and aggravated assault.

When interviewed, McKinley said that he had been taken over by another personality. Psychiatric evaluation of him at Lake Alice Hospital found no evidence to support his claim.

Gary McKinley was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and six years jail for the rape charge in the Hamilton High Court on June 1987.

Notably, Wendy’s parents hold no malice for the man that took their daughter’s life; instead they have looked to their Christian faith to help heal their wounds – truly inspirational people.

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Wendy Snowdon, aged 23, had her life brutally cut short by Gary McKinley when he attacked and raped her as she was jogging through a New Plymouth park.

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