Pauline Yvonne Parker (born on 26 May 1938)
is a woman from Christchurch, New Zealand who, together with her
friend Juliet Hulme (now known as acclaimed fiction author Anne
Perry), murdered her mother, Honora Rieper, on 22 June 1954.
It is believed that the two girls killed Honora
because Hulme and her father were leaving shortly for South Africa
and, though Parker wanted to accompany them, her mother forbade it.
According to their own accounts, Parker and Hulme were devoted friends
who collaborated on a series of adventure novels which they hoped
would be bought by a Hollywood studio and made into epic films. The
girls' friendship was documented in detail by Parker in a series of
diaries during her teenage years.
Relationship with Juliet Hulme
The girls met in their early teens, when Hulme's family moved to
Christchurch from England. They both attended Christchurch Girls' High
School, then located in what became the Cranmer Centre.
Both girls had suffered from debilitating illnesses as children —
Parker from osteomyelitis, Hulme from tuberculosis — and they
initially bonded over it. According to Parker's accounts, she and
Hulme both romanticized the idea of being sick. During their
friendship, the girls invented their own personal religion, with its
own ideas on morality. They rejected Christianity and worshipped their
own saints, envisioning a parallel dimension called The Fourth World,
essentially their version of Heaven. The Fourth World was a place that
they felt they were already able to enter occasionally, during moments
of spiritual enlightenment. By Parker's account, they had achieved
this spiritual enlightenment due to their friendship. Eventually, the
girls formulated a plan to flee to Hollywood.
Shortly prior to this, Hulme had discovered her mother was having
an affair and her parents were separating. This devastated Hulme as
well as Parker, who, due to having spent so much time with the Hulmes,
thought of Hulme's parents as her own. Both girls were unaware of the
fact that both sets of parents were collaborating at the time in an
effort to separate the girls, viewing their friendship as potentially
unhealthy or homosexual (which, at the time, was thought of as a
The Parkers and the Hulmes' efforts culminated in a plan for Juliet
to accompany her father to South Africa, where he planned to move
after the divorce, so Juliet would leave Pauline behind in New
Zealand. Parker's mother was particularly concerned about the nature
of the girls' friendship and was adamant that Pauline could not
accompany her best friend.
The girls began to plan the murder of Parker's
mother in June 1954. This plan was documented in Parker's diary
entries. On 22 June, the girls led Ms. Rieper to a remote area of a
park near Christchurch and beat her to death with a half brick
concealed in a stocking. They immediately ran to a nearby tea shop,
visibly upset and covered in blood, claiming that Pauline's mother had
slipped and fallen. When the body was discovered by police, their
story did not hold up in explaining the 45 wounds on the woman's head.
The torn, blood-soaked stocking with the brick in it was found nearby.
Trial and imprisonment
Parker and Hulme were tried by jury in Christchurch, and were found
guilty. A plea of insanity was rejected by the court. As the girls
were too young to be considered for the death penalty under New
Zealand law at the time, they were convicted and sentenced to be
detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. In practice, this sentence
meant they were to be detained at the discretion of the Minister of
Justice. They were released separately some five years later.
Prior to the trial, Pauline Parker had been known as Pauline
Rieper. Her mother, Honora Rieper, had been living with her father,
Herbert Rieper, but during police investigations, it was revealed that
they were not, in fact, married. Thus, during the trial, both Honora
and Pauline were referred to with the "Parker" surname.
Upon release, Parker apparently spent some time in
New Zealand under close surveillance before being allowed to leave for
England. As of 1997, she was living in the small village of Hoo near
Strood, Kent, and running a children's riding school. She has become a
Roman Catholic and for many years Parker had refused to give
interviews surrounding the murder of her mother and expressed strong
remorse about killing her.
The girls' story was made into a film, Heavenly Creatures,
by producer-director Peter Jackson, in 1994. Parker was played by
Melanie Lynskey and Hulme by Kate Winslet. As of 2011, Alexander Roman
has completed a documentary called Reflections of the Past, in
which Pauline Parker is played by Alice Drewitt. This film premiered
at Lincoln University (in lieu of Rialto Cinema, which was closed due
to the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake) on 9 May.
Beryl Bainbridge's novel Harriet Said was inspired by the
Born on 26 May 1938, Pauline Parker was the second
daughter of Christchurch couple Herbert and Honora Reiper. At the age
of five, she was hospitalised with osteomyelitis, a crippling bone
marrow infection. Though she survived the painful treatments, she
suffered chronic leg pain throughout her youth, which excused her from
physical activities at school. She had an interest in art and writing,
and showed talent sculpting with clay.
Though the Reipers were not a religious family,
Pauline and her older sister Wendy spent some time attending the East
Belt Methodist Church, and often went on church-organised outings and
holidays. At Christchurch Girls' High School she met Juliet Hulme and
formed the friendship that was to radically change the course of both
Juliet was a few months younger than Pauline, but
they were in the same year at school. Born in England, she had been
hospitalised with tuberculosis as a child, and had been sent to live
in South Africa and the Caribbean in the hopes that the warmer
climates would be beneficial to her health. When Juliet was 13, her
father Henry was appointed Rector at the University of Canterbury, and
the family moved to Christchurch.
Pauline and Juliet soon became inseparable. The two
girls fired each others' imaginations and soon created a considerable
fantasy world. They would spend hours concocting stories, renamed
themselves Gina and Deborah, and made plans for a life of fame and
fortune as actresses in America. While both families were initially
pleased with the friendship, they soon grew concerned.
When Juliet was once again hospitalised with
tuberculosis, the families saw it as an opportunity for the girls to
spend some time apart. Their friendship resumed with the same
intensity, though, once Juliet was discharged from hospital. Pauline's
parents, concerned at the co-dependence of their daughter's
relationship with Juliet, took her to see a psychiatrist, who informed
them that he suspected the pair of having a homosexual relationship.
It was around this time that Juliet and Pauline
discovered that Juliet's mother was having an affair with their
lodger, Walter Perry. As Juliet's parents' marriage broke up, the
Hulmes decided Juliet would leave New Zealand with her father. Pauline
and Juliet were panicked by this decision, and hoped that Pauline
could move with them. Both sets of parents flatly refused this
According to Pauline's
diary, the girls began planning Honora's murder early in June 1954. On
22 June Honora took Pauline and Juliet to Victoria Park. The three had
tea in the kiosk and then set out for a walk. A short while later the
two girls ran back to the kiosk, covered in blood and screaming for
help. The police were called, and Honora's body was found on the path.
That night police found Pauline's diary. The next day the teenagers
were arrested for murder. The jury rejected the defence assertion that
Pauline and Juliet were insane, and on 28 August they were convicted
Pauline spent around five years in Paparua Prison,
near Christchurch. On her release, she studied at Auckland University,
and graduated BA in 1964. She then spent a year working as a librarian
in Wellington, before moving to England, where she worked at a London
librarian for a time before giving up the profession.
Interest in the sensational 1954 murder case was
revived after the release of Peter Jackson's Academy Award-nominated
film Heavenly creatures (1994). In 1997 a New Zealand
journalist tracked Pauline Parker down in a small village in Kent,
England. The convicted murderer whose youthful folie-a-deux had
captivated the nations imagination was now a devout catholic named
Hilary Nathan, who taught children how to ride horses.
The Parker–Hulme Murder was a murder and
subsequent court case that occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand in
1954, in which Honora Rieper was murdered by her teenage daughter,
Pauline Parker, and her best friend, Juliet Hulme. The murder became
the basis for Peter Jackson's 1994 film Heavenly Creatures.
On 22 June 1954, the body of Honora Rieper was
discovered in Victoria Park, in Christchurch, New Zealand. That
morning Honora had gone for a walk through Victoria Park with her
daughter Pauline Parker, and Pauline's best friend, Juliet Hulme.
Approximately 130 m (420 ft) down the path, in a wooded area of the
park near a small wooden bridge, Hulme and Parker bludgeoned Rieper to
death with half a brick enclosed in an old stocking.
After committing the murder, which they had planned
together, the two girls fled, covered in blood, back to the tea kiosk
where the three of them had eaten only minutes before. They were met
by Agnes and Kenneth Ritchie, owners of the tea shop, whom they told
that Honora had fallen and hit her head. The body of Honora Rieper was
found by Kenneth Ritchie. Major lacerations were found about Honora's
head, neck, and face, with minor injuries to her fingers. Police soon
discovered the murder weapon in the nearby woods. The girls' story of
Rieper's accidental death quickly fell apart.
Before the trial began, it was discovered that Honora Rieper had
never married Herbert Rieper, the man known as her husband. She and
Pauline were therefore referred to by her maiden name, Parker, during
Parker came from a working-class background; while Juliet Hulme was
the daughter of Dr. Henry Hulme, a distinguished physicist who was the
rector of University of Canterbury in Christchurch.
As children, Parker had suffered from osteomyelitis and Hulme had
suffered from tuberculosis; the latter was sent by her parents to the
Bahamas to recuperate. The girls initially bonded over their
respective ailments, but, as their friendship developed, they formed
an elaborate fantasy life together. They would often sneak out and
spend the night acting out stories involving the fictional characters
they had created. Their parents found this disturbing and worried that
their relationship was sexual. Homosexuality at the time was
considered a serious mental illness, so both sets of parents attempted
to prevent the girls from seeing each other.
In 1954, Hulme's parents separated; her father resigned from his
position as rector of Canterbury College and planned to relocate to
England. It was then decided that Hulme would be sent to live with
relatives in South Africa—ostensibly for her health, but also so that
the girls would be more effectively, if not permanently, separated.
Parker told her mother that she wished to accompany Hulme, but
Parker's mother made it clear to her that it would not be allowed. The
girls then formed a plan to murder Parker's mother and leave the
country for the United States, where they believed they would publish
their writing and work in film.
Trial and aftermath
The trial was a sensational affair, with speculation about their
possible lesbianism and insanity. The girls were convicted on 28
August 1954, and each of them spent five years in prison as they were
too young to be considered for the death penalty. They were released
with the condition that they never contact each other again.
The murder was touched upon as strong evidence of moral decline
less than four months later by the Special Committee on Moral
Delinquency in Children and Adolescents in what became known as the
Mazengarb Report, named after its chair, Oswald Mazengarb.
After her release from prison, Juliet Hulme travelled to the United
States and went on to have a successful career as a historical
detective novelist under her new name, Anne Perry. She has been a
Mormon since about 1968. In March 2006, Perry said that while her
relationship with Pauline Parker was obsessive, they were not
lesbians. She now lives in Scotland.
Pauline Parker spent some time in New Zealand under close
surveillance before being allowed to leave for England. As of 1997,
she was living in the small village of Hoo near Strood, Kent, and
running a children's riding school. As an adult, she became a Roman
Catholic. For many years she refused to give interviews surrounding
the murder of her mother and expressed strong remorse about having
In 2011 Peter Graham published So Brilliantly Clever: Parker,
Hulme & The Murder that Shocked the World about the case. The book
revealed that Parker - now Hilary Nathan - was giving children riding
lessons in the Orkney Islands in Scotland.
We were not lesbians, says former Juliet Hulme
March 5, 2006
Juliet Hulme, of Hulme-Parker murder notoriety, has spoken out
about the killing, saying she and Parker were never lesbians.
Hume - who became British writer Anne Perry - and Pauline Parker
murdered Pauline's mother in Christchurch in 1954 by bludgeoning her
with a brick.
A film version of the story of the two 15 year olds, Heavenly
Creatures, portrays the lesbian relationship between the two.
But Perry has told the London Times Saturday Magazine that
although they were never lesbians the relationship was obsessive.
The schoolgirls lured Mrs Parker to Victoria Park in Christchurch,
on June 22, 1954, where they hit her repeatedly on the head with half
a brick in a sock.
Pauline planned the "moider" in her dairy. The girls wanted Mrs
Parker killed so that Pauline would be sent to live with Juliet/Anne
The subsequent trial became one of the sensations of the time. The
court was shocked with Pauline's diary. An entry for June 22 was
headed: The Day of the Happy Event.
The girls were jailed separately -- they never saw each other again
-- and given new identities on release.
Perry said of her part in the killing that she "made a profoundly
She added that she feared Pauline would take her own life "and it
would be my fault."
She also says doctors tried experimental -- now known to be
mood-altering -- drugs as part of her treatment for tuberculosis in a
" A long needle in your behind every third morning. They'd catch
you when you were still asleep."
Perry became the only child inmate in Mt Eden women's prison in
She said she spent the first three months in solitary where she got
down on her knees, cried and repented.
"I was guilty and it was the right place for me to be."
During the day we did hard labour but I collapsed after two weeks
and then I started sewing uniforms.
"The woman who kept that sewing room took a fondness for me; she
wrote to me until she died.
She was in Mt Eden for five and a half years.
Perry said the prison was raw and brutal -- no fruit and no
"I memorised the few books I had; screeds of the stuff. In prison
we got little time alone except the nights -- nights were a great
blessing, not having to share a room. And when the light goes out and
there's nothing, then the light goes on inside your head."
Perry was released aged 21 and was put on a flight to Rome to be
met by her father and taken to England.
She travelled and worked in a variety of jobs from air hostess to
She also attracted many boyfriends, but not daring to know anyone
well enough to explain about her past.
"I do know what it's like to feel like an outsider."
Perry, now 67, is a prolific crime writer of more than 50 novels.
She lives with her brother, a retired doctor who is now her
full-time researcher, in a stone barn -- restored with some of the
royalties from the 20 million books she has sold -- in Portmanhomack
on the east coast of Scotland.
She is also involved with the Mormon community after converting to
the church 35 years ago.
"I like its doctrine that you have to keep learning and that no one
is excluded, no one is penalised.
Parker became a riding instructor in Kent living under the name of
Parker - Hulme Murder Case
Source: Gurr, Thomas and Cox, H.H. Famous Australasian Crimes.
London: Muller, c1957. p148-167
Death in a Cathedral City
Christchurch is as English as a muffin.
English cars are parked neatly in the square, across which falls
the pointed shadow of the soaring spire of the cathedral. From the
cars step red-faced hearty men wearing tweed trout-fishermen's hats
and expensive but sagging suits of hairy-looking tweed. They hand out
their ladies, who wear cashmere jumpers and tweed skirts and sensible
shoes, and they walk into the hotels, the United Services and Warners,
talking together in accents so entirely English that no county in all
England can rival them for English purity.
These are the landed proprietors of the Canterbury Plains and their
ladies, all financially comfortable after years and years of raising
fat lambs for export in the best possible climate and on the best
possible pastures. Transport them to the England whence their
great-grandfathers came a century ago and more, and set them down upon
landed estates, and they would become squires in a minute, and as
naturally as breathing. Today they come into New Zealand's third city
from their rich farms and they are happy in the Englishness of the
atmosphere of the cathedral city.
In the spring, crowds of daffodils dance on the green banks of a
winding little river, called, inevitably, the Avon, a river so English
that you suspect it of being an art director's creation. The water,
running crystal clear, is so shallow that the ridiculously fat trout
have a hard time dodging the wheels of the bicycles which university
undergraduates, their black gowns flapping, have a habit of riding
along the river bed. Under the oaks, the willows, the planes and the
beeches the roses riot.
You will see houses and shops similar to those of New Zealand's
Christchurch in many an English provincial city, and when you are
walking along the flat, tree-lined streets in the twilight, with the
starlings twittering sleepily in the branches you will experience the
peace and the gentleness which you have felt in cities like Salisbury
and Cambridge and Exeter.
The "Canterbury Pilgrims", the 791 settlers who arrived here in
1848, found that Christchurch had been laid out for them with
mathematical care by the founder, an Anglo-Irish Protestant named John
Robert Godley, who, having selected the incredibly flat plain on the
western side of the Port Hills, tidily staked out the home sites. From
that day, everything about Christchurch has been tidy, from the street
gutters to the thinking of the citizens.
Therefore the crime of the Murdering Girls struck Christchurch with
One was sixteen years of age. The other was fifteen. They wore the
white blouses and blue tunics that were uniform at Christchurch Girls'
High School. Different as they were in family background, in
appearance, and in manner, they were close friends, bound together, it
seemed, in one of those intimacies which are so common among
adolescents, which seem so tremendously important at the time, and
which invariably end with schooldays. But this was no ordinary
friendship. It was deep and dark, and it was to become terrible.
Pauline Yvonne Parker was the sixteen-year-old one, a dark and
dumpy girl, five feet three inches tall, with cold brown eyes gleaming
watchfully from her olive-skinned face. She walked with the suspicion
of a limp. When she was five years old, she contracted osteomyelitis,
as a result of which she spent several months in hospital, and for
which, over a period of three years, she had a series of operations.
While other little girls of her age were laughing and playing in the
sunshine, little Pauline Parker had to lie in bed, weary month after
weary month, and watch them through the window.
Because of her slight lameness, Pauline Parker at sixteen was
unable to participate in the tennis and the running and the other
sports at the girls' high school. Her friend and classmate, Juliet
Hulme, owned a pony and often rode it when she came to visit her, and
so Pauline had developed an interest in horses. Lameness did not
matter, she said, when you were in the saddle. For some time she had
been pestering her parents for permission to keep a pony, so that,
like her friend Juliet, she could become a member of the Horse and
Pauline's father and mother said "No". Their daughter was becoming
a constant worry to them. In the house she often pointedly ignored
them. ("Pauline kept me out of her life," the father said sadly.) She
was constantly writing novels. One night, sitting before the fire, she
volunteered that she was writing an opera. This was a rare kind of
admission for her to make, but on this occasion, burning with the
creative urge, she could not repress the information.
Then there was Pauline's friendship with Juliet Hulme. Pauline was
crazy about Juliet, could not stop talking about her, seemed
perpetually to be in her company. Pauline's mother and father could
see all the factors which were responsible for their daughter's lack
of progress at school. Possession of a pony, concentration on yet
another craze, would result in marks even lower.
But Pauline had a pony. She kept it secretly in a paddock, had been
keeping it there for weeks, ever since, with the advice of her good
friend Juliet, she had bought it with money she obtained nobody knew
where. That was typical of the slyness of the lame Pauline, who among
other forbidden things had for a time been sneaking into a boy's
bedroom at night.
When the news about the pony was broken to them by the dark and
determined Pauline, her parents shrugged their shoulders in a resigned
manner and agreed to let her keep it, seeing she had had it so long
and seeing, of course, that if they did not agree Pauline would
metaphorically tear the house down.
And all Pauline's parents wanted was a happy home. They had been
through so much trouble together during their twenty-three years as
man and wife, had had so many difficulties to overcome.
In the first place, they were not married. The obstacle to the
performance of a formal ceremony of marriage was not stated during the
progress of the Christchurch case. Whatever the reason, the parents of
Pauline Parker, in an extraordinary gesture of honesty, proclaimed the
irregularity of their union for all the world to see. On the front
door of the near-white painted house in a Christchurch suburb, the
ground floor of which was their home, there was a carefully lettered
notice: "Mr. Rieper… Mrs. Parker."
Herbert Rieper, a gentle, pipe-smoking, carpet-slippered little
man, owned a reasonably successful wholesale fish business in
Christchurch city. Honora Mary Parker had been a good and loving wife
to him. They had had four children. The eldest was eighteen-year-old
Wendy, who had been no trouble at all to them, and who was an
affectionate daughter. Then there was Pauline, over whom they had had
all the worry and expense when she had the bad time with osteomyelitis
as a little girl, and who, now that she was sixteen and had her head
full of strange ideas, was still a worry.
There had been two others, and they didn't like to think about
them. One had been a mongoloid, a flat-faced, drooling imbecile, who
had been placed in an institution. And the fourth child had been born
a "blue baby", with a congenital heart defect. Mercifully it had died.
Pauline's schoolmate, Juliet Hulme, was the biggest worry of all
for Herbert Rieper and Honora Mary Parker. The two girls were crazy
about each other. They used to sprawl on the lawn of the Hulme home
and write "books" together. They had all kinds of secrets. It deemed
they could not bear to be away from each other. Their mutual affection
was so intense that it seemed to be abnormal. Mrs. Parker had taken
Pauline to Dr. Bennett, and while their daughter waited in the
consulting room had told him all about the friendship. The doctor had
had Pauline into the surgery, and had examined her and talked to her.
When the mother suggested that Pauline should leave the high
school, and go to another school where her progress might be better,
Pauline surprisingly agreed. And then, one day, Juliet's father called
at the house, and said he was leaving New Zealand and was taking
Juliet with him. This was the happiest news that Herbert and Honora
Mary had heard for many a day. To Pauline, it meant disaster.
Juliet Hulme. Fifteen years of age. Tall for her age, five feet
seven inches, and slim. Shoulder-length light brown hair. The clear
pink-and-white complexion of an English hedge rose - Juliet was an
English girl, bomb-shocked in the blitz at the age of two. Slanting
grey eyes, the clear eyes of youth; high forehead; a slim and graceful
body, and a confident air. Now she was intelligent and attractive.
Soon she would be intelligent and beautiful.
Juliet Hulme (pronounced, in the English manner, Hume) was an
intellectual, born and bred. The tall and stooping figure of her
father, bespectacled, forty-six-year-old Dr. Henry Rainsford Hulme,
had been a familiar one during World War II in the corridors of the
War Office. One of England's leading mathematical scientists, he was
one of two "boffins" who worked out the degaussing method which
countered the German magnetic mine.
After the war, young Dr. Hulme was being regarded as one of
England's bright minds in the atomic era when he dismayed his
colleagues by announcing that he was going to New Zealand to the 2,200
pounds a year post of Rector of Canterbury University College at
Christchurch, and to membership of the Senate of New Zealand
University. Hulme was not running away from his work in atomic
research because of ideological or any other reservations. He was
leaving for the single and simple reason that his elder child, Juliet
(there was a son, Jonathan, five years younger), was threatened with
active tuberculosis. Doctors felt that the clear air of "the
colonies", away from industrial smog, would benefit the girl
tremendously. With his coolly aristocratic wife, Hilda Marion, and the
children, Hulme arrived in New Zealand in 1948. Early in 1953 they put
Juliet in hospital. After four months' treatment she was discharged,
but not as cured.
If there is any overseas city in which an expatriate Englishman can
feel at home, it is surely the cathedral city of Christchurch. Dr.
Hulme lived in a sixteen-roomed stone mansion with extensive grounds,
called "Ilam". His salary, by New Zealand standards, was a good one.
His wife, Hilda, was prominent in welfare work and in cultural
movements And his position as Rector of the university college
established him in the front rank of the honoured citizens of
Christchurch. The Anglican Bishop was one of his best friends.
Then Walter Andrew Bowman Perry, another Englishman, arrived in
Christchurch, and the relationship between Henry and Hilda Hulme was
never the same again.
Big, moustached Perry was an engineer, and a man of considerable
charm. He was in Christchurch on a prolonged business visit, and, like
the Hulmes, was interested in sociology. He promised to assist them in
the conduct of a marriage guidance bureau. When the Hulmes suggested
he might be more comfortable in a self-contained flat which was part
of "Ilam", he was glad to move in. At the beginning, they were all
friends together, the donnish Rector, the calm and queenly Mrs. Hulme,
the lively young Jonathan, and Juliet. The latter could quote pages of
the classical poets, knew something about good music, could model in
clay like a born artist, could embroider like a maiden aunt or a
ship's captain, and also wrote. A brilliant girl, Juliet. All of a
sudden, like other brilliant people, this fifteen-year-old girl lost
one of her enthusiasms: she had decided that riding no longer
interested her, and wanted to sell her horse. The obliging Perry was
glad to buy it for 50 from his little friend, who now had a secret
reason for getting all the money she could.
Then one afternoon, Juliet found her mother and Walter Andrew
Bowman Perry in bed together. And, shortly afterwards, Dr. Hulme
resigned the rectorship of the university college to return to
England, where his outstanding scientific talent was required in the
British atomic research team led by Sir William Penned. He would, he
told friends, take Jonathan with him. Mrs. Hulme, however, would
remain with Juliet: "The girl's lungs aren't too strong, you know, and
the English winter.. ."
Then the Hulmes, who had been aware of, and disturbed by, their
daughter's obsession with her friend, the daughter of the fish-shop
proprietor, made an alarming discovery. Juliet and the dumpy Parker
girl, who often came to stay With Juliet at weekends, had written what
they called: "novels". Well adolescents did things like that. But the
alarming fact was, the girls had decided to go to America and sell
their novels there. And, as everybody knew, they were two very
determined young ladies. Their friendship could be quite unhealthy.
Twice, Dr. Hulme had called on that quiet fishman, Rieper, and talked
to him about it. In the circumstances, it would be an excellent plan
to separate the girls before something embarrassing, happened.
And so, Dr. Hulme told Juliet he intended to take her with him and
Jonathan as far as South Africa. She could return alone to her mother
in Christchurch. (Looming over this father-daughter discussion was the
affair between Perry and Mrs. Hulme, which the father guessed at, and
the daughter on the evidence of her own eyes, knew about. But neither
admitted it to the other. The relationship between a fortysix-year-old
father and a bright fifteen-year-old daughter is not always an easy
Juliet's reaction was a flat demand. Her friend Pauline must go to
South Africa with her. Impossible, replied Dr. Hulme tetchily.
Impossible, said Honora Mary Parker, firmly, when the two girls put it
For Honora Mary Parker, impossible was a fatal word. Her daughter
and her daughter's intimate friend were already planning her murder,
with all the enthusiasm and excitement which two high-school girls
might display in arranging the details of a school dance.
At 3 p.m. on June 22nd 1954, a grey winter's day, Honora Diary
Parker, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme left a refreshment kiosk in
Victoria Park, on the Cashmere Hills on the outskirts of Christchurch.
Topcoated against the cold, they walked down the track.
Juliet Hulme hurried along in front. Her hand in her pocket clutched
part of the plot a collection of brightly coloured pebbles, picked up
by the roadside during the preceding few days. When she had rounded a
bend in the track and was out of sight of the Parkers, she scattered
Pauline Parker, walking by her mother's side with that suggestion
of a limp, also had her hand in her coat pocket, and also clutched
part of the plot half a brick, which Juliet had brought from her home
to the Parkers' at noon that day. Pauline had slipped the piece of
brick into the foot of an old stocking, thus making an effective
Juliet was sixty yards in front, and still out of sight down the
track, when Honora Parker caught sight of a pink pebble, and Pauline
remarked how pretty it was. Honora bent down to pick it up. Behind
her, Pauline pulled the sling-shot from her pocket, braced her legs,
and swung. The brick crashed on her mother's head, and she collapsed.
And that was the moment when Pauline wished it hadn't happened. But
some force possessed her, drove her on, some inner voice which
commanded: It is too late to stop! She struck again, and again, and
now Juliet, panting from a sprint along the track, was kneeling beside
her, and swinging the sling-shot. Blood was spurting from twenty-four
wounds in Honora Parker's face and head. Sobbing hysterically, the
girls looked at each other and at their victim. The blood was only
trickling now. They had beaten Honora Mary Parker to death.
The plan had to be completed.
Blood was dripping from their hands when they ran the four hundred
yards back to the kiosk. "It's Mummy!" gasped Pauline to the
proprietress, Mrs. Agnes Ritchie. "She's terrible! I think she's dead.
We tried to carry her. She was too heavy."
"Yes, it's her mother!" Juliet burst out Her voice was breaking
with hysteria. "She's covered with blood!"
Pauline pointed down the path, in the direction in which the body
lay, and as she made the gesture Mrs. Ritchie saw that blood was
spattered upon her face. "Don't make us go down there again!" Pauline
And then: "We were coming back along the track. Mummy tripped on a
plank and hit her head when she landed. She kept falling, and her head
kept banging and bumping as she fell."
"I'll always remember her head banging," cried Juliet dramatically.
While Mrs Ritchie called her husband, the girls went to a sink to
wash the blood off themselves, and lairs. Ritchie heard them laughing
hysterically as they did so.
Kenneth Nelson Ritchie ran down the track. Under a tall pine tree by
the track, and lying on a bed of pine needles, was the battered body
of Honora Mary Parker. Ritchie hurried back to the kiosk and
telephoned the police and the ambulance. The police took the girls
away, and the ambulance took the body away. Doctors counted forty-five
separate wounds upon it.
Three weeks later, a magistrate committed Pauline Yvonne Parker and
Juliet Marion Hulme for trial on a charge of having murdered Honora
The trial was the most tremendous event in the history of
Christchurch. In a city where Rugby Union Football seems to challenge
Anglicanism as the popular religion, it drew to the court-room, on one
day of the hearing, a crowd of beribboned supporters of the opposing
teams in an interprovincial match, Canterbury v. Waikato, who remained
in court until within a few minutes of game time.
To the reporters who had flown in from Australia, to the Crown
Prosecutor and the defence, to the jury, and to the people of New
Zealand, stirred as they never had been before by human tragedy, one
single exhibit was the core of the case. It was Pauline Parker's
diary, and its contents, together with medical evidence and legal
argument, were to decide the vital question: Were Pauline Parker and
Juliet Hulme sane?
Most decidedly they were, Crown Prosecutor Alan W. Brown told the
jury. Furthermore, they were dirty-minded little girls. The motive for
the murder, the Crown Prosecutor said in measured tones, arose from
the opposition of Mrs. Parker to the girls' plans to go overseas
together. Their friendship was one of intense devotion. They spent a
good deal of time in each other's beds (but the Crown Prosecutor did
not add there was no real evidence of any immoral physical
relationship between them). They scribbled, said Mr. Brown scornfully,
what they called novels (so, the Crown Prosecutor did not see fit to
remark, have thousands of adolescents, some of whom eventually have
become novelists, some of whom have become lawyers).
"You may feel pity for these girls, but pity and sentiment have no
part in British justice," declaimed the Crown Prosecutor to the twelve
in the jury box.
And so, clearly and dispassionately, Crown Prosecutor Brown
described the crime, and the confessions of Pauline Parker and Juliet
Hulme, made shortly after its commission, to Senior Detective
MacDonald Brown. Revealing passages of these statements to the police
From Juliet Hulme's: "I gave the brick to Pauline…. I know it was
put in the stocking…. I wasn't quite sure what was going to happen
when we went to Victoria Park. I thought we might have been able to
frighten Mrs Rieper [Parker] with the brick, and she would have given
her consent for me and Pauline to stay together. I saw Pauline hit her
mother with the brick in the stocking. I took it and hit her, too.
After the first blow was struck, I knew it would be necessary for us
to kill her. I was terrified, hysterical."
From Pauline Parker's: "I killed my mother. Had made up my mind to do
it some days before. I don't know how many times I hit her; a great
many, I imagine."
The Crown Prosecutor produced the diary which had been found in
Pauline's bedroom. It was a bound book, with a space for every day in
the year, of the kind so many business men use to jot down in outline
the record of their activities. The entries were written in ink, in
clear, adult calligraphy. The story they told was one of the strangest
ever read in a court of law; it became a phantasmagoria; the twisted
shapes of a disordered imagination seemed to swirl visibly in the
heavy air of the court-room. And the two adolescents sat in the dock
and listened to its recital with calm detachment, Pauline with a brown
felt hat shielding her cunning brown eyes, Juliet, a pale green
Paisley scarf tied round her fair hair, staring coolly from her
slanted eyes at one person in court after another. From time to time,
Juliet leaned across the wardress who sat between them, and spoke to
dumpy Pauline, who did little more than nod in reply.
The diary was not put in as evidence in its entirety. But, as the
prosecution and the defence introduced passages from it, the diary was
revealed as one of the strangest and most terrible exhibits in
The diary referred to Juliet by the pet name of Deborah, and
revealed that Pauline was affectionately known to her friend as Gina.
Mr. Brown read these extracts:
"February 23th, 1954: Why could not Mother die? Dozens, thousands
of people are dying. Why not Mother, and Father too? Life is very
"April 28th: Anger against Mother boiling inside me as she is the
main obstacle in my path. Suddenly, means of ridding myself of the
obstacle occur to me. If she were to die…"
"June 20th: Deborah and I talked for some time. Afterwards, we
discussed our plans for moidering Mother and made them clear. But
peculiarly enough, I have no qualms of conscience. Or is it
peculiar? We are so made."
(The term "moider" had apparently been acquired by the pair in
reading crime fiction. It is the Brooklyn pronunciation of the word
"June 21st: Deborah rang and we decided to use a brick in a stocking
rather than a sandbag. Mother has fallen in with plans beautifully.
Feel quite keyed up."
"June 22nd: I felt very excited last night and sort of
nightbefore-Chrisnnas, but I did 'not have pleasant dreams. I am
about to rise."
And the top of the page for June 22nd was headed in printed letters:
"The Day of the Happy Event."
While his daughter was in custody awaiting trial, Dr. Hulme left
for England and his new career, taking the boy, Jonathan, with him.
Mrs. Parker lay in her grave in a Christchurch cemetery. And so the
parents who were left to stand the ordeal of the gaping crowds in
court, and the verbal probing of the barristers, were self-effacing
Herbert Rieper and cool, composed Hilda Marion Hulme. She, however,
had a bulwark to lean upon: the sturdy Walter Andrew Bowman Perry.
Rieper had two significant pieces of evidence to give: at lunch on
the day of the murder, Pauline and Juliet were in high good humour,
laughing and joking and in 1953 Pauline had been interested in a boy
(later identified by the name Nicholas) who had been staying with
them. Rieper had had to send the boy away.
At this time, the mention of Nicholas did not appear to have any
particular impact upon Juliet Hulme, who was engaged in a habit she
developed through the police court hearing and the trial, of trying to
outstare the occupants of the Press box, one after the other… But soon
there was to be a violent reaction.
A sensitive and demanding girl was her Juliet, Mrs. Hulme told the
court in her serene English accents. Because of the active threat of
tuberculosis, she explained, Juliet had had to spend quite a lot of
time resting in bed. Her friend Pauline would keep her company,
sitting at the bedside. Oh yes, she had read one of the books Juliet
had written, and considered it quite ordinary, certainly not
When Dr. Reginald Warren Medlicott, of the southern and Scottish
city of Dunedin, was called to give evidence of his psychiatric
examination of the accused, there began the real battle to decide the
fate of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme. He had talked to the girls,
but the diary was the basis on which the prim and precise doctor had
formed his views.
Juliet, he said, had told him that Pan was the favourite god of
Pauline and herself. The girls believed they lived in "a fourth
world", and their god was a more powerful version of the humans' God,
having greatly magnified powers.
The girls, said Dr. Medlicott, had extraordinary conceit. A poem
written by Pauline Parker was an example. It was called "The Ones I
Worship". The second verse:
"I worship the power of these lovely two,
With that adoring love known to so few,
'Tans indeed a miracle, one must feel,
That two such heavenly creatures are real,
Both sets of eyes though different far,
Hold many mysteries strange,
Impassively, they watch the race of man decay and change,
Hatred burning bright in the brown eyes for fuel,
Ivy scorn glitters in the grey eyes, contemptuous and cruel
Why are men such fools they will not realise,
The wisdom that is hidden behind those strange eyes,
And these wonderful people are you and I."
How did the girls feel after the murder? Pauline, said the doctor,
showed signs of remorse only when she told him that she now tried
always to sleep on her left side. When she slept on the right, her
mother "seemed to came back". However, the girls believed that by
their own standards what they had done was morally right. Pauline had
told him that she and Juliet were sane. Everybody else was off the
mark. The views of Juliet and herself were much more logical and
Early in January, said Dr. Medlicott, Pauline wrote in the diary
about Juliet having tuberculosis of one lung, and added: "I spent a
wretched night. We agreed it would be wonderful if I could get TB,
On January With, Pauline wrote excitedly about the latest scheme.
"We have worked out how much prostitutes should earn, 'and how much we
should make in this profession," wrote the enthusiastic Miss Parker.
"We have spent a really wonderful day, messing around and talking
about how much fun we will have in our profession."
An illuminating episode occurred at this stage of Dr. Medlicott's
evidence. The doctor was being questioned by the Crown Prosecutor
about the diary's revelations of Pauline making repeated nocturnal
visits to the bed of the boy Nicholas. According to Pauline, said the
doctor, the boy had had sexual relations with the girl only once.
Sexual relations … Juliet Hulme, sitting calmly in the dock, her
grey eyes gazing calmly at the official court reporter, suddenly
became aware of what Dr. Medlicott was saying. She looked as if she
had been struck across the face! Hands clenched, eyes flashing, face
suffused, teeth bared, she leaned across the wardress and hissed,
rather than whispered, to the dark and impassive Pauline. It was the
reaction of a mother who has found her young daughter in bed with the
The motivation of the murder, as the psychiatrist in the
witness-box saw it, was the girls' decision to go to America together
to have their novels published. The first reference to the planned
death of Honora Parlicr appeared in the diary on February lath. In
March Pauline was visiting shipping companies. On April 30th (and this
was one of the most important entries, in retrospect, in the entire
case) she told Juliet that she intended to kill her mother. Early in
May, the girls began a campaign of shoplifting to get money towards
their projected American trip. On May 27th, Pauline set out alone, in
the early hours of the morning, to rob the till in her father's fish
shop, but the sight of a policeman on the beat caused her to go home
The diary rose to a febrile crescendo. On June 19th Pauline wrote:
"Our main idea for the day is moider." (Always the Brooklyn rendition
of the terrible word which Pauline could never bring herself to
write.) "We have worked it out quite clearly."
Now the Crown Prosecutor, who was most ably following his brief,
which was to prove that the girls were sane murderers, referred Dr.
Medlicott to an entry in the diary of April 17th. Mrs. Hulme had been
"perfectly beastly to Deborah". It seemed that Juliet had gone to
Perry's rooms and taken a gramophone record. Juliet had had to
apologise, and this made the friends feel very cross, so they went to
a field, sat on a log, and watched members of a riding club. "We
shouted nasty jeering remarks to every rider that passed. About fifty
did. This cheered us up greatly, and we came back and wrote out all
the Commandments so that we can break them."
Now back to the deadly month of June. Passages from the diary: "We
are both stark, staring mad." And "Dr. Hulme is mad-mad as a March
Then there were the Saints, to which the diary referred several
times. They were creatures of the imagination, based on film stars, of
whom Mario Lanza was one, and the girls had spent a delirious night in
bed, imagining encounters with seven of them.
Did the girls know the legal penalty or the killing of Honora
Parker, Dr. Medlicott was asked?
In the dock, Juliet Hulme answered for him. She drew her finger
across her slim throat, and Pauline Parker looked at her from under
the brim of her brown felt hat and smiled.
The girls, said Dr. Medlicott, were mad. They suffered from a form of
insanity in which two persons were joined in their instability - folie
a deux. They were a couple of paranoiacs, as all the evidence had gone
And in support of Medlicott, the calm and cogent Dr. Francis O.
Bennett went into the witness-box. Of all the expert witnesses, he
knew best the characters concerned. He was the Rieper-Parker family
doctor, and he agreed that Pauline and Juliet were paranoiacs who were
cases of folie d deux. Seven months before the murder, both Dr. Hulme
and lairs. Parlcer had consulted him about the close attachment of the
two girls. He had thought there was a homosexual relationship between
them, and naturally had suggested that they be separated. The next
time he saw them was in prison.
"They suffer from paranoia," said Dr. Bennett, "and follow delusion
wherever it is. They become antisocial and dangerous. They think they
are superior to the general race of man. Intellectually they are a
little higher than girls of their own age, but they are not
intellectual giants. They had delusions of grandeur, formed a society
of their own, and lived in it. In this society they were no longer
under the censure and nagging of mothers."
Again the diary; for April 3rd, 1953 Dr. Bennett quoted Pauline:
"Today Juliet and I found the key to the fourth world. We saw a
gateway through the clouds. We sat on the edge of a path and looked
down a hill out over a bay. The island looked beautiful, the sea was
blue, and everything was full of peace and bliss. We then realised we
had the key. We know now that we are not genii, as we thought. We have
an extra part of the brain, which can appreciate the fourth world."
The girls, Dr. Bennett related in his steady professional voice,
had bathed together, gone to bed together, had dressed up and acted
together on the lawn in the moonlight. They had made a little
cemetery, and in it they had buried a dead mouse under a cross. When
the Queen visited Christchurch, they made no attempt to see Her
The Crown Prosecutor: "Is their relationship homosexual physically?" …
"I don't know. I'm inclined to think not."
The girls believed in survival after death. Heaven was for
happiness, paradise was for bliss. There was no hell, Juliet had told
him in the remand prison. The idea was "so primitive". "The day we
killed Mrs Parker," Juliet had added, "I think she knew beforehand
what was going to happen. And she did not bear any grudge."
The Crown now called its own medical witnesses, first the senior
medical adviser of Avondale Mental Hospital, Auckland, Dr. K. R.
Stallworthy, who had examined each girl four times in remand prison,
who had read the diary, and who was quite sure that neither girl had a
disease of the mind, and that each had known the nature and quality of
her act. They had written down what was going to happen. They had
given clear accounts of what they had done. They knew it was wrong to
murder, they knew they were murdering somebody, they knew it was
against the law. A primary requisite for paranoia was the presence of
delusions, which he did not admit with these girls. Juliet's mental
calibre was that of a highly intelligent person of much greater age.
Pauline's intelligence was considerably above average.
Dr. Stallworthy had no doubt there had been a physical homosexual
Dr. James Edwin Saville, medical officer at Sunnyside Mental
Hospital, had interviewed each girl five times. They were sane now,
and they were sane when they killed Mrs. Parlcer, he said.
Dr. James Dewar Hunter, superintendent of Sunnyside, echoed
Saville: Five interviews, same conclusion. Both sane then, and now.
In his final address, Crown Prosecutor Brown pithily summed up his
submission: "These girls are not incurably insane. They are incurably
For Pauline Parker, Dr. A. L. Haslam, a brilliant pleader,
traversed the evidence of "this rottenness, this disease" which had
made killers of two paranoiac girls. And for Juliet Hulme, bin T. A.
Gresson followed the same line. He told the jury that in "this
appalling case" the girls were incapable of forming a moral judgment
of what they had done.
The jury was out for two hours and thirteen minutes. The girls
returned to the court-room simultaneously with the jurymen, and they
smiled and laughed with the gallant disdain of the daughters of French
aristocrats arraigned before Fouquier-Tinville.
They took the verdict of "Guilty calmly. With an air of
indifference, they heard themselves sentenced to imprisonment during
Her Majesty's pleasure.
The crowd streamed out of the grey stone court-house.
At his home, Herbert Rieper sat by the fire and srnoked-his pipe
and sighed. Dr. Hulme, having taken his son Jonathan off the liner
Himalaya at Marseilles, had reached England by a circuitous route. And
in Christchurch, Mrs. Hulme was changing her name by deed poll to Mrs.
They sent Pauline Parker to Arohata Borstal, near Wellington, New
Zealand's capital city, and Juliet Hulme to Mount Eden, the grim
prison at Auckland where all New Zealand's hanging is done, and where,
in her first year of sewing uniforms there were four evening
executions on New Zealand's portable steel scaffold.
At Arohata, Pauline Parker studied for a year under the
Government's correspondence school scheme. In her cell, she sat for
the school certificate, marking graduation from high school, and
On her first day in Mount Eden in her prison dress of blue denim,
Juliet Hulme was introduced to the sewing machine, and to enable her
to operate it more efficiently a prostitute prisoner was kind enough
to clip her long, well-cared-for finger-nails. Alone in her cell,
Juliet knits, writes, according to competent judges, brilliantly, and
studies languages. When she refers to the murder, which seems to be
fading from her mind, she explains that she participated in it out of
loyalty to "Gina"—her dark friend, Pauline.
And, though "Her Majesty's pleasure" is generally accepted as a
sentence of twenty-five years, it would not be surprising if that of
the two Christchurch girls, Juliet Hulme will be the one who will
serve a short sentence; and it is possible that, under another name,
the world in time will recognise a writer of talent.
This assumes that Juliet Hulme's tuberculosis (a disease found
often in cases of sexual divergence) has been subdued, if not
conquered; that the New Zealand prison system provides psychiatric
treatment of a kind which, extended in 1953 to both Pauline Parker and
Juliet Hulme, could have taken them out of the nightmare world they
were making for themselves.
When Mr Justice Adams passed sentence, a man in the public gallery
called "I protest!" An Australian editorial writer heard in the minds
of thousands of others an echo of this cry against the sentence, but
for a different reason: "It is that two young human beings should ever
be in such a way the victims of a dark conspiracy of circumstance so
evil in its purpose and so appalling in its outcome."
The psychiatrists will explain it all, however, and contradict each
other in the explanation. Less knowing people will ponder upon the
fact that it was the same world of the normal child's imagination
which Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme extended into a universe of
sinister fantasy and gross design. They had vicious and depraved
tendencies, and without each other they might have remained problem
children; but their coming together, as if by the magnetism of some
strange force in the hinterland of their minds, was a fatal
conjunction of abnormality.
"Sane, legally, the girls may have been when, threatened vith
separation, they committed the murder, but it was surely the kind of
sanity that mocks at all reality. The normal mind shrinks from the
implications of this tragic story. In many other crimes, lessons of
some sort or other are to be found. Here there is little but horror,
sadness, and bafflement."
Parker - Hulme Murder Case
Source: Furneaux, Rupert. Famous Criminal Cases V2. London:
Wingate, 1955. P.32-49
The New Zealand girl murderers
We have to go back to Chicago in the early nineteen-twenties to
find a murder case as shocking as the killing of the mother of one by
two teenage girls in New Zealand in June 1954. Thirty years ago
Leopold and Loeb, the American youths who killed a smaller boy, were
found insane. Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme pleaded insanity but
they were found guilty of what was, according to the Crown Prosecutor,
"a callously planned and premeditated murder, committed by two highly
intelligent and perfectly sane but precocious and dirty minded girls."
Mrs. Honora Mary Parker was battered to death on 22nd June. Two
months later her daughter Pauline, aged sixteen, and Pauline's great
friend, Juliet Hulme, aged fifteen years and ten months, were tried at
Christchurch for her murder. Both pleaded not guilty. Mr. Justice
Adams presided. For the defence led, for Parker, Dr. A. L. Haslam, and
for Hulme, Mr. T. A. Gresson.
Opening the case against the two girls the Crown Prosecutor, Mr. A.
W. Brown, described how about 3.30 p.m., on 22nd June, two girls came
running into a tea shop in Victoria Park, gasping and saying, "Please
help us. Mummy has been hurt. She's hurt -covered with blood." A few
minutes later the body of a woman, her head terribly battered, lying
in a pool of blood, was found on a secluded path near a rustic bridge.
"She was a woman who was known as Mrs. Rieper, but her real name,"
said Brown, "was Parker."
That evening the daughter of the dead woman, Pauline Parker, and on
the next day, her close friend Juliet Hulme, were arrested and charged
with the murder. "I feel bound to tell you," Mr. Brown went on, "that
the evidence will make it terribly clear that the two young accused
conspired together to kill the mother of one of them and horribly
carried their plan into effect."
The circumstances of the crime are unusual, indeed unique. It is
rare that two girls of the ages of the accused should stand trial on
the charge of murdering the mother of one of them.
"The evidence will be that that the two accused came to the
conclusion, after much thought, that the mother of the accused Parker
was an obstacle in their path, that she thwarted their desires and
that she should be done away with. They planned to murder her and they
put their plan into effect by battering her over the head with a brick
encased in a stocking.
"Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme met at school and became friendly
and this friendship developed into an intense devotion. Their main
object in life was to be together, sharing each other's thoughts,
secrets and plans, and if any person dared to part them, then that
person should be forcibly removed. Mrs. Parker became perturbed at the
unhealthy relationship and tried to break it up. This was resented by
the accused and the resentment gradually grew into hate and eventually
requited in this ghastly crime.
"Early in 1954 Dr. Hulme, who had resigned his position as Rector
of Canterbury University College, decided to return to England and to
take his daughter Juliet to South Africa. It was discovered that the
two girls were planning to go to America to have their novels
published and that they had tried to acquire funds to pay their fares.
Both girls were determined not to be parted, and Pauline Parker wanted
to go to South Africa and Juliet Hulme wanted her to go with her. Both
girls knew that Mrs. Parker would be the one to object most
strenuously to their going away together. They decided the best way to
end Mrs. Parker's objection was to kill her in such a manner that it
would appear to have been an accident.
"Early in June when the cite of Dr. Hulme's departure had been
fixed for 3rd July, the girls coldly and calculatingly formed a plan
to kill Mrs. Parker. They pretended to be resigned to being parted and
they persuaded her to take them for a farewell outing. They planned to
entice her to a secluded spot and strike her on the head. They would
then rush for help, announcing that she had died as a result of a
"On the day of the outing Juliet Hulme took with her part of a
brick from her home. After the accident they both told the same
Mr. Brown next described the finding of Pauline Parker's diary. "In
it," he said, "she reveals that she and Juliet Hulme have engaged in
shoplifting, toyed with blackmail and talked about and played with
matters of sex. There is clear evidence that as long ago as February
she was anxious that her mother should die and that during the few
weeks before 22nd June she was planning to kill her mother in the way
she was killed."
Extracts of the diary were read in court.
13th February: Why could not mother die? Dozens of people,
thousands of people are dying every day. So why not mother, and
28th April: Anger against mother boiled up inside me. It is she who
is one of the main obstacles in my path. Suddenly a means of ridding
myself of the obstacle occurred to me.
29th April: I did not tell Deborah (her pet name for Juliet) of my
plans for removing mother … the last fate I wish to meet is one in a
Borstal…. I am trying to think of some way. I want it to appear
either a natural or an accidental death.
19th June: We practically finished our books (the novels the girls
were writing together) to-day and our main "ike" for the day was to
moider mother. The notion is not a new one, but this time it is a
definite plan which we intend to carry out. We have worked it out
carefully and are both thrilled with the idea Naturally we feel a
trifle nervous, but the pleasure of anticipation is great.
20th June: We discussed our plans for moidering mother and made them
a little clearer. Peculiarly enough I have no qualms of conscience
(or is it peculiar we are so mad ?).
21st June: We decided to use a brick in a stocking rather than a
sandbag. We discussed the moider fully. I feel keyed up as if I was
planning a surprise party. So next time I write in the diary mother
will be dead. How odd, yet how pleasing.
22nd June: I am writing a little of this up in the morning before
the death. I felt very excited and the night before Christmassy last
night. I did not have pleasant dreams though.
Concluding his opening address, Mr. Brown said, "You will hear that
Juliet Hulme carried a small pink stone to Victoria Park. The theory
of the Crown is that she would place it on the path and that Mrs.
Parker would be asked to bend down and examine it. While she was doing
so, Pauline Parker, armed with the brick in the stocking and standing
behind her mother, would strike her a heavy blow on the back of the
neck and kill her. The two girls would then arrange the body in such a
position as to give the impression of an accident. Their plan
miscarried. Perhaps Mrs. Parker did not bend far enough and so
received repeated blows, causing the terrible injuries she received."
Evidence was given that a brick and a stocking, on both of which
were blood and hairs similar to that of the dead woman, were found
beside the body. Both girls were hysterical when they reported the
death at the tea house. They both had blood on the face and clothes.
They told the woman at the tea house that Mrs. Parker had slipped on a
plank and bumped her head on a brick as she fell and that her head
"kept bumping and banging." A doctor who had been called to the scene
said that he found that he could not explain the woman's injuries as
having been caused by a fall, so he informed the police.
The pathologist who examined the body of Mrs. Parker said that
death had resulted from multiple head injuries and a fracture of the
skull. There were forty-five discernible injuries, twenty-four being
lacerated wounds on the face and head. The injuries showed that a
crushing force had been applied while the head was immobile on the
ground. If the brick had been in the stocking and swung with
considerable force it could have caused the injuries. The bruises on
the throat indicated that Mrs. Parker had been held by the throat. A
laceration on the finger suggested she received the injury when she
put up her hand to defend herself.
Herbert Rieper said that he had lived with the dead woman as her
husband for twenty-five years. They were not married. They had three
children, Pauline being the second and she had no idea her parents
were not married. At the age of five Pauline had been ill and had had
a number of operations which prevented her from indulging in sport. He
became worried because she cut herself off from her parents'
affection. Last year the friendship with Juliet Hulme became more
intense. Pauline stayed with her for days at a time. From the time
they met, she became moody, easily upset and easily made angry. At
Easter an approach was made to Dr. Hulme about breaking up the
friendship and he learned that Dr. Hulme was taking Juliet abroad.
In the witness box, Mrs. Hulme said that Juliet was born in England
in 1938, and in London suffered from bomb shock and had nightmares for
about a month. Juliet was already in New Zealand when she and her
husband came there in 1948. In 1948 her health had broken down and she
had had to go to a sanatorium. Because Juliet was shy and reserved,
she and her husband welcomed her friendship with Pauline. While she
and her husband were overseas in the summer of 1953 the friendship
developed and Mrs. Rieper (Mrs. Parker) was concerned. They learned of
the girls' plan to go to America, but they promised to put it out of
their minds. It was arranged for Dr. Hulme to take Juliet to South
Africa on 3rd July. Both girls knew it three weeks before that date.
She said that Juliet was always an excitable child and full of
fantasy. She found it difficult to stop playing her games and enter
into the less exciting family circle.
Mrs Hulme described how the two girls wrote to each other in the
characters of the stories that they were writing together. Juliet was
first Charles II, Emperor of Borovnia. Then she became Deborah, the
Emperor's mistress by whom she had a son, Dialbo. Pauline Parker
started as Lancelot Trelawney, a soldier of fortune, and he succeeds
in wedding the Empress of Bolumnia and becomes Emperor, and they have
a daughter, Mariole. Pauline assumed these characters in turn and
wrote to Juliet as such. The earlier part of the correspondence, she
said, is extravagant and grandiose but it later becomes suicide and
sudden death. Later violence and bloodshed figure to a
Mrs. Hulme was asked: "On 24th April there is an entry in the diary
referring to Dr. Hulme saying you and Dr. Hulme were likely to part
for private reasons and the future of the marriage was uncertain. Do
you know if that is correct?" Mrs. Hulme: "I understand that my
husband did say something like that to them."
Mrs. Hulme said that she and her husband had discussed with medical
friends their concern over their daughter's emotional development but
they were advised that it would be unwise to have her psycho-analysed
at such an early age. Asked, "Did you have any reason to suspect your
daughter was insane?" she answered "No."
Walter Perry, an engineer, also gave evidence. He came to New
Zealand on 2nd July, 1953. He had occupied part of Dr. Hulme's house
since Christmas, 1953. He said that Pauline Parker was a constant
visitor and was a very close friend of Juliet's. He had bought for 50
a horse from Juliet, giving the money to her father. On the evening of
22nd June, Pauline had told him that her mother had slipped on a piece
of wood and hit her head on a stone, and banged her head repeatedly on
In reference to Juliet's correspondence with Pauline, Mr Perry said
that the girls were vying with one another as to who could create the
most bloodshed and sudden death. Practically every letter contained
some reference to assassination or similar topic.
Senior Detective Brown gave evidence about his interview with
Pauline Parker after her mother's death and about a statement she
made. At first she said that her mother had slipped and hit her head
on a rock or stone. When he told her, "We believe the girl Hulme was
not present when the fatality occurred," she looked surprised. "I
then said, 'You are suspected of murder of your mother.' She made no
reply. I told her that she need not say anything then, but she could
make a statement if she wished. She said, 'No. Ask me questions."'
The statement that resulted was as follows:
Q. Who assaulted your mother?
A. I did.
A. If you don't mind I won't answer that question.
Q. When did you make up your mind to kill your mother?
A. A few days ago.
Q. Did you tell anyone you were going to do it?
A. No. My friend did not know anything about it. She was out of
sight at the time, she had gone on ahead.
Q. What did your mother say when you struck her?
A. I would rather not answer that.
Q. How often did you hit her?
A. I don’t know but a great many times I imagine.
Q. What did you use?
A. A half brick inside the foot of a stocking. I took them with me
for the purpose. I had the brick in my shoulder bag. I wish to state
that Juliet did not know of my intentions and she did not see me
strike my mother. I took the chance to strike my mother when Juliet
was away. I still do not wish to say why I killed my mother.
Q. Did you tell Juliet that you killed your mother?
A. She knew nothing about it. As far as I know she believed what I
told her, although she may have guessed what had happened, but I
doubt it, as we were both so shaken that it probably did not occur
Q. Why did Juliet tell the same story as you to the lady in the tea
A. I think she simply copied what I said. She might have suspected
what I had done and she would not have wished to believe it nor to
have got me into trouble. As soon as I had started to strike my
mother I regretted it, but I could not stop.
Brown said that the police decided to take Parker into custody. He
told how he had found fourteen exercise books, a scrap book and a
diary in her room. Later, "I told the girl Hulme we had reason to
believe her first written statement was not correct and that she was
present when the assault took place. I then said, 'You are suspected
of taking part in the death of Mrs. Rieper.' I told her that the girl
Parker had said we were to ask Deborah, and what she said would be
right. She said that she would rather not say anything then ".
At the police station a piece of paper which she had tried to burn
was taken from Parker. On it was written. "I am taking the blame for
Detective-Sergeant Tate told of his interviews with Juliet Hulme.
She made two statements. According to the first she was not with
Pauline when Mrs. Parker was killed. She was further up the path. She
came back to find her lying on the ground. Pauline told her that her
mother had slipped. She said that she had said that she was there at
the time to support Pauline's story. The next day, 23rd June, Juliet
apologized for misleading him, said Tate. She said she now wished to
tell the truth. In her second statement she said they decided to go to
Victoria Park with Mrs. Parker to have it out about Pauline
accompanying her to South Africa. "She knew that it was proposed that
we should take a brick in a stocking to the park with us. I had part
of a brick which I wrapped in newspaper. I know the brick was put in a
stocking at Rieper's house. I did not put it there."
She said that in Victoria Park, "there was a pink stone on the
path. I dropped it there myself. On the way back I was walking in
front. I was expecting Mrs. Rieper to be attacked." She continued, "I
heard noises behind me. It was loud conversation and anger. I saw Mrs.
Rieper in a sort of squatting position. They were quarrelling. I went
back. I saw Pauline hit Mrs. Rieper with the brick in the stocking. I
took the stocking and hit her too. I was terrified. I thought that one
of them had to die. I wanted to help Pauline. It was terrible. Mrs.
Rieper moved convulsively. We both held her. She was still when we
left her. The brick had come out of the stocking with the force of the
Later in the statement, Juliet said she was not quite sure what was
going to happen when they went to Victoria Park. "I though we may have
been able to frighten Mrs. Rieper with the brick and she would have
given her consent for Pauline and I to stay together. After the first
blow was struck I knew it would be necessary for us to kill her."
That was the prosecution's case. The remainder of the evidence was
given by psychiatrists, first for the defence and then in rebuttal by
other doctors for the prosecution. Their evidence took three day's to
hear. Only part of what they said can be given here. Before they gave
evidence both defence counsel, Mr. Gresson for Hulme and Dr. Haslam
for Parker, addressed the court.
Mr. Gresson said that the fact that Parker and Hulme assaulted Mrs.
Rieper and killed her is, unfortunately, clear beyond dispute. He went
on, "The actual killing or physical assault, therefore, cannot be
successfully refuted, and the sole but very important issue in this
case concerns the mental capacity, the sanity or otherwise, of these
girls when they committed their ill-conceived and disastrous assault."
The onus of proving that they were incapable of understanding the
nature and quality of their act and of knowing that such an act was
wrong, rested on the defence. The law assumed that a person was sane
until the contrary was proved. He said that he would call witnesses
who would say that Parker and Hulme were insane when they committed
their attack on Mrs. Rieper, and were still suffering from a mental
illness known as paranoia of the exalted type associated with folie a
deux, a phrase meaning communicated insanity. He concluded: "The Crown
has seen to fit to refer to the accused as ordinary, dirty-minded
little girls. Our evidence will show that they are nothing of the
kind. The Crown's description is unfortunate and medically incorrect.
They are mentally sick girls, more to be pitied than blamed."
Dr. Reginald Medlicott said that he had seen both girls and read
their writings. Each girl had had to endure a great deal of physical
ill-health. A younger sister of Parker was a mongolian imbecile. Her
parents' first baby was a "blue baby'' which died at birth. These
things raise a query as to the stock from which she comes. In
reference to the girls' friendship he said: "Their association, I
consider, proved tragic for them. There is evidence that their
friendship became a homosexual one. There is no proof that there was a
physical relationship, although there is a lot of suggestive evidence
from the diary that this occurred. There is evidence that they had
baths together, spent nights in bed together and had frequent talks on
sexual matters." Hulme said, "I don't wish to place myself above the
law. I am apart from it," said Dr. Medlicott.
"Pauline Parker said the fourth world was their idea of paradise,"
and Juliet that "we do believe we are geniuses."
When Dr. Medlicott interviewed the girls in prison they constantly
abused him. "Parker told me I was an irritating fool and displeasing
to look at. Hulme pulled me over the coals for not talking
sufficiently clearly. After I had physically examined Parker she
shouted out, ' I hope you break your flaming neck.'
"There was," he said, "a gross reversal of moral sense. They
admired those things which are evil and condemned those things the
community considers good. They had weird ideas and their own paradise,
god and religion."
He read to the court a poem, "The Ones That I Worship," composed by
There are living amongst two dutiful daughters
Of a man who possesses two beautiful daughters
The most glorious beings in creation
They'd be the pride and joy of any nation.
You cannot know nor try to guess
The sweet soothingness of their caress.
The outstanding genius of this pair
Is understood by few, they are so rare.
Compared with these two every man is a fool,
The world is most honoured that they should deign to rule
And above us these goddesses reign on high.
I worship the power of these lovely two
With that adoring love known to so few.
'Tis indeed a miracle one must feel,
That two such heavenly creatures are real.
Both sets of eyes, though different far, hold many mysteries strange
Impassively they watch the race of man decay and change.
Hatred burning bright in the brown eyes with enemies for fuel.
Icy scorn glitters in the grey eyes, contemptuous and cruel.
Why are men such fools they will not realise
The wisdom that is hidden behind those strange eyes
And these wonderful people are you and I.
In Pauline's diary there was, he said, an entry which says that
they had worked out how much prostitutes earned and wondered how much
they could earn that way. Pauline also talked a good deal of the fun
they would have out of their profession. On 25th April, Parker
records, "Deborah and I are sticking to one thing. We sink or swim
together." In another place she records, "We are so brilliantly
clever." There were references to shoplifting, blackmailing Perry and
getting money from her father's safe.
On 6th June, Pauline records that she and Hulme are stark, staring,
raving mad. "The whole thing," said Dr. Medlicott "rises to a
fantastic crescendo. In my opinion they were insane when they attacked
Mrs. Rieper. Paranoia," declared the doctor, ''is a form of insanity
in which there is a surface of apparent normality. I consider Parker
and Hulme certifiably insane."
Dr. Medlicott was subjected to a searching cross examination by the
prosecution. It was elicited that while the girls knew what they had
done was wrong, they considered themselves outside the law. They had
set out, he said, to break the Ten Commandments. Parker broke them
all, but Hulme only broke nine.
Questioned about homosexual relationships between the two girls, he
- "Your reading of the diaries showed that these young people
played about with each other sexually?"
"It is very suggestive but there is no clear evidence of it."
- "But she (Parker) did have intercourse with a boy over and over
"No, only once."
- "But she attempted to have it more than once?"
"It would appear so."
- "According to the diary the boy was in bed with her to 3 am.?''
- "And the following night he was in bed with her again and was
caught by Mr. Rieper?"
"That is so."
- "There are other references to them attempting intercourse?"
"That is so."
- "So she had a good deal of, knowledge of the other sex, didn't
- He said that the girls invented fictional characters, film stars
and saints. A diary entry for 12th June, 1954 read, "Eventually we
enacted how each saint would make love in bed. We felt exhausted but
"I have no doubts about their gross homosexuality," he told the
- Asked, "Did these young persons when they attacked Mrs. Parker
know what they were doing? "
Dr. Medlicott repined, "They knew what they were doing." "They
knew the nature and quality of their act?" "They did."
- "Did they know they were wrong according to the law?"
"They did but they did not recognize the law."
Dr. Haslam, for Parker, called Dr. Francis Bennett, who, he said,
had been consulted about the girls' friendship before the tragedy
occurred. Dr. Bennett, referring to the moral responsibility of the
paranoic, said it was the murder that was the actual proof of the
diagnosis. "There came the threat of separation. Anything that
threatens the paranoic makes him dangerous. They thought that by
removing Pauline's mother the way would be clear. This idea was stupid
but they have steadily maintained it was justified. Neither will admit
contrition or regret. Pauline told me she would still feel justified
to-day in killing her mother if she was a threat to their being
together. Juliet Hulme was more outspoken. She not only considers the
murder justified but also that other murders might be justified if
there was a threat to the association of the two accused."
- Asked, "Did these girls know when they were killing Mrs. Parker
what they were doing?"
he replied, "They knew they were killing Mrs. Parker."
- "Do you agree these girls knew they were committing what the law
calls a criminal act?"
he said, "That can't be answered yes or no."
"Because people can have two loyalties."
- "Did they know it was contrary to the law?"
- "Did they know it was wrong so far as the law was concerned?"
- "Did they not also know it was wrong in the eyes of society at
"They probably did, but I doubt very much if they gave any
consideration to what society thought."
By the Judge, Dr. Bennett's views were summarised thus "In your
opinion they knew the act was contrary to the law and contrary to the
ordinary standards of the community, but nevertheless it was not
contrary to their own moral standards?" "That is so, Your Honour. You
have exactly summarized it," Dr, Bennett replied.
Called by the prosecution, Dr. Kenneth Stallworthy, who had seen
the girls, was asked:
"Do you consider them sane or insane?" He replied, "I consider them
sane medically because I did not consider either certifiable, and I
consider them sane in a legal sense. They knew the nature and quality
of their act. I am of the opinion that they both knew at the time that
their action was wrong in law, and that they were breaking the law. In
the diaries there was evidence of motive, planning and premeditation."
In his interview with Parker she said, "We knew we were doing wrong.
We knew we would be punished if we were caught and we did our best not
to be caught." Hulme told him, "I knew it was wrong to murder and I
knew at the time I was murdering somebody. You'd have to be an
absolute moron not to know murder was against the law."
"The accused," said Dr. Stallworthy, "had some justification for
conceit. Hulme displayed a shrewdness in appreciating difficult
questions and a shrewdness in answering them more like that of an
older, sophisticated person. Parker was well above average in
intelligence and is able to write. These two girls were very very fond
of each other. The most important thing in the world to them was to be
together. There have been other great loves in the world where one
person would stick at nothing to be with the other."
Two other doctors, called by the prosecution, Dr. Saville and Dr.
Hunter, agreed that the girls were sane. All five doctors gave
detailed reasons for their opinions. Those called by different sides
came to different conclusions. As is noticeable in other murder
trials, when the issue of insanity arises, the question of the meaning
of the mental illness known as paranoia appears to be undecided. It
is, apparently, a compelling force under which people do things they
know to be wrong in the eyes of the law but to them are not wrong.
On the sixth day of the trial counsel for both girls and for the
Crown addressed the court, the judge summed-up and the jury arrived at
their verdict. The question for the jury was whether the girls knew
what they were doing was wrong. According to the defence, they were
"problem children," who at the time they committed the act were ill
and not criminally responsible for their actions. According to the
prosecution, they were two highly intelligent and perfectly sane but
dirty-minded girls. "In my submission," said the Crown Prosecutor,
"They are not incurably insane. They are incurably bad."
Mr. Justice Adams told the jury that the burden of proof of
insanity rested on the defence. "The gravamen of this ease," he said,
"is the defence of insanity. If the jury found it established their
duty was to return a verdict of not guilty. Your proper choice lies
between ' guilty ' and ' not guilty ' on the grounds of insanity." He
"Grave crimes are almost invariably committed by persons knowing that
they were doing wrong but nevertheless by some perversity of the
mental process are led to commit the act. In such cases the only
question is, did the accused know that the act was wrong?
"There is no doctor who has said or even suggested that either of
the accused did not know that what they were doing was wrong. Is there
anywhere else in the evidence any material on which you can properly
conclude that either of the accused did not know that the act was
wrong? If not, your duty is plain; the proper verdict is a simple
verdict of guilty."
The judge asked the jury to consider two important words: "knowing"
and "wrong." "As to the word ' wrong ' I tell you, as a matter of law,
that a person knows a thing can be wrong if he Or she knows it to be
contrary to the law of the land, and contrary to the moral standards
accepted by ordinary, reasonable members of the community. It is not
permissible to say, 'I knew this was a breach of the law and a breach
of the moral code, but I thought I was above or beyond the law and
that although it was illegal or immoral I might commit it without
infringing my own code of morality.' That is no defence in law.
"The other important word is the word 'knowing.' It has to be
considered at the very moment of the commission of the crime.
Were their minds so confused that they did not know the act was
wrong? " asked the judge.
After a retirement of two hours and fifteen minutes, the jury
returned a verdict of guilty against each of the accused. They also
found that both were under eighteen years of age. In consequence the
judge sentenced Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme to be detained during
Her Majesty's pleasure.
So ended the most sensational and the most tragic murder of 1954.
In time, no doubt, the murder of the mother of one by two young girls
will be quoted as the most dreadful crime of the century. It was a
premeditated, carefully planned crime by two girls who lived in a
world of their own. To prevent being parted, they committed murder. To
them the removal of Mrs. Parker was the obvious way out of the
difficulty. The compulsion was more powerful than was the fear of
discovery and retribution. It blinded them to their responsibilities
as human beings. To Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme the rights of
others were of no importance. Complete egotists, they were insane only
in the sense that their ideas were those of animals rather than of
human beings. Their law was the law of the jungle and like wild
animals they must be caged until they have shown themselves capable of
living together with other human beings. One day, perhaps, they may
have a second try at life.