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Eric Stanley GRAHAM






A.K.A.: "Stan"
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Revenge - Spree killer
Number of victims: 7
Date of murders: October 8, 1941
Date of birth: November 12, 1900
Victims profile: Sergeant William Cooper, 43, and Constables Frederick Jordan, 26, Percy Tulloch, 35, and Edward Best, 27 / George Ridley (agricultural instructor) / Richard Coulson and Gregory Hutchison (home guardsmen)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Kowhitirangi, New Zealand
Status: On October 20, 1941, was shot by Auckland Constable James Quirke. Died the next day in hospital

On October 1941, Stanley, a farmer on the west coast of the South Island, shot dead seven men including four police officers.

Was fatally wounded after a 13 day man-hunt in the West Coast bush.


Eric Stanley George Graham (12 November 1900–21 October 1941) was a New Zealand mass murderer who killed seven people.

Early life

Graham was born and raised in Longford, Kokatahi, New Zealand. He then moved to Kowhitirangi, an agricultural district 12 miles from Hokitika in the South Island where he worked as a farmer and where he lived with his wife and two children. He became argumentative and alienated from the community from 1938 onwards, alleging that neighbours were poisoning his cows. As income from his farm dropped he fell into debt and his behaviour towards others became more threatening. His behaviour took a turn for the worse and he started threatening and abusing neighbours passing his house. Graham and his wife practiced target shooting out the back of their home in the middle of the night. Graham was an expert marksman and had an assortment of firearms.

During 1941, he was in dispute with the police who wanted to relieve him of his .303 firearms because of his mental condition.

The day of the rampage

On October 8, 1941 Graham confronted a neighbour with a rifle. Later that morning Constable Edward Best, 27, attempted to discuss the matter with Graham but backed off with Graham pointing two rifles out the window at him. Best retreated to Hokitika for back-up and returned to the farm with Sergeant William Cooper, 43, and Constables Frederick Jordan, 26, and Percy Tulloch, 35.

Graham fired at them as they approached the house, and Sergeant Cooper and Constables Jordan and Tulloch were killed instantly, Cooper having at least four bullet wounds in his body. Constable Best was also shot and died three days later

Graham also shot an agricultural instructor, George Ridley, who came to his door, and fled his house. He returned the next evening and killed home guardsmen Richard Coulson and Gregory Hutchison in a firefight.

More than 100 police and army personnel searched dense bush for Graham for 12 days, with orders to shoot on sight if they found Graham still armed. On October 20 an injured Graham was shot by Auckland Constable James Quirke as he walked out of the bush carrying his rifle. He died the next day in hospital. Constable Quirke reported Graham told him he was intending to give up that night.


A New Zealand movie, Bad Blood, was made about Stanley Graham and his chain of killings, as well as the dimensions of historical context and social injustice involved. There have been several biographical accounts of his life and the murders published in the intervening half-century since the tragedies occurred.


  • Andrew Brown (Scriptwriter, Producer): Mike Newell (Director): Bad Blood: Sydney: Hoyts: 1983 [Video

  • Rex Holliss: Killer on the Coast: The Story of Stan Graham: Wellington: Denis Glover: 1953, 1959.

  • Howard Willis: Manhunt: The Story of Stanley Graham: Christchurch: Whitcoulls: 1979: ISBN: 072330629X

  • Howard Willis: Bad Blood: The Story of Stanley Graham: Auckland: Fontana Collins: 1981: ISBN: 0006349250



Stanley Graham

Stanley Graham, NZ first mass killer was brought up in Longford, Kokatahi. He was baptized Eric Stanley Graham but was called Stan. Graham's mother had left him a 40 hectare farm in Koiterangi. In 1931, after obtaining a loan from a retired Koiterangi farmer called Joseph Max, Stan and his wife Dorothy moved onto the property. The loan was for 550 pounds and would enable the Grahams to build a home and sheds, and buy livestock to start their farm.

Graham's property was situated in the middle of Koiterangi, facing the main road and opposite the main hall, school and church. The Grahams were not sociable and never attended community dances.

The Grahams had two children, a boy and a girl. In early 1938 Graham started to provoke arguments and alienate himself from the community. The Depression hit hard in New Zealand. Graham was one of the farmers who faced extreme hardship. He soon became financially strapped. As the problem got worse, so did his grasp on reality. His milking shed was unhygienic and the Westland Cooperative Dairy Company returned his cream (dyed blue) which caused him to become more furious. In April 1939, Graham threatened a national mortgage agent from Greymouth who was trying to come to an arrangement over a debt for 40 pounds.

Graham was behind in mortgage repayments and had no way of meeting his commitments.

His behaviour took a turn for the worse and he started threatening and abusing neighbours passing his house. Graham and his wife practiced target shooting out the back of their home at 4:00am. Graham was an expert marksman and had an assortment of firearms.

To help the war effort in May 1941, the police were directed to collect all .3O3 rifles from householders, to be used in the war.

Local constable, Ted Best, went to visit Graham to collect his .303 rifle which Graham said he didn't have and then changed his story and said he would send it to him. He did not send the rifle as promised. On another visit, Graham told Constable Best the police would have to prosecute him to get it. An inspector in Greymouth, on receiving Constable Best's report on Graham decided to prosecute him for not handing over his rifle.

On the fifteenth of July 1941, Graham said he'd give the rifle to the police, so the prosecution was dropped.

Graham's persecution complex worsened. He thought his neighbours were poisoning his livestock. It was in fact his lack of hygiene in the milking shed that caused stock to die.

When he confronted his neighbour and a carpenter with a rifle, Constable Best was called. The Constable had no success reasoning with Graham and withdrew to get reinforcements.

Four police returned to Graham's farm, Sergeant William Cooper and Constables Best, Tulloch and Jordan. After a struggle Cooper was shot in the arm and Best in the hand. The other constables were gunned down on the track from the farm. Best tried to help them and was shot in the back. Cooper tried to get away but was also shot dead. Best though wounded, was still alive.

Graham escaped into the bush and one of New Zealand's largest manhunts followed. After 13 days he was shot and died the next day in hospital. He had killed seven people.


Eric Stanley George Graham, known as Stan, was born at Kokatahi, Westland, on 12 November 1900, the son of John Graham, a farmer and proprietor of the Longford Hotel, and his wife, Mary Spring. Little is known of his early years, although he attended school in Kokatahi and was described as slightly reserved but fairly well behaved. By early manhood he was less than five feet six inches tall but of strong build, a non-smoker and light drinker who kept himself physically fit. His sporting interests included boxing, wood-chopping, shooting and later cock-fighting. He was a member of the Kokatahi gun club in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Graham met his wife, Dorothy McCoy, when she moved from Rakaia in the late 1920s to work at the Longford Hotel. They married in Christchurch on 22 December 1930, living there for six months before moving to a dairy property at Koiterangi (Kowhitirangi) on the West Coast. They were to have two children.

Through the late 1930s Graham maintained reasonably good relations with neighbours although he and his wife took little part in the district’s social life. By 1940 the Graham family was under severe financial pressure, having had cream condemned by the Westland Co-operative Dairy Company and having incurred debt from a venture into cattle breeding. William Jamieson, a neighbour and member of the dairy company’s board of directors, was aware of the decline in Graham’s cream, and noted a corresponding deterioration in Graham. ‘In himself he was different. I thought he might be slipping mentally’. Graham thought he was being persecuted by the police for not surrendering a requisitioned rifle, and by his neighbours, some of whom he believed were poisoning his cows. His wife shared his suspicions.

Matters came to a head on 8 October 1941. Constable Edward Best was called to Koiterangi because of Graham’s threatening behaviour, which included aiming a rifle at a neighbour. Best visited Graham, recorded the complaints of his neighbours and went to Hokitika for assistance. He then returned to Graham’s house accompanied by Sergeant William Cooper, and Constables Percy Tulloch and Frederick Jordan. Graham met the policemen at his front door. The details of what followed are unknown, but Cooper, Jordan and Tulloch were shot dead; Best suffered grave wounds from which he later died. Also shot on arriving at the Graham house was an agricultural instructor, George Ridley, who died of his wounds in March 1943. Graham fled the property, returning the following evening. In an exchange of shots, home guardsmen Richard Coulson and Gregory Hutchison were hit. Coulson died immediately and Hutchison the following day. Graham was wounded but made his escape in the darkness.

The manhunt that followed was overseen by Commissioner of Police Denis Cummings and involved hundreds of police, soldiers, home guards and volunteers. On the evening of 20 October, after 12 nights’ hiding in forested hill country, Graham was sighted by Constable James Quirke, of Auckland, approaching the adjacent Growcott farm. The general instruction was that Graham, if armed, was to be shot on sight. Quirke later told the coroner: ‘I was quite satisfied as to his identity and the fact that he was carrying a rifle. I fired at him … and wounded him and subsequently found that he had a rifle and a .32 calibre automatic pistol’. According to Quirke, Graham told him, ‘I am done. I was going to chuck it tonight, I am done, I have paid in full’.

Graham died of his wounds in Westland Hospital in Hokitika the following day and was buried in the local cemetery. On the rim of the cement pad is one word: ‘Stanley’. The Graham home was burnt to the ground four days later and Dorothy Graham and her children left the area. There was some public feeling that Graham could have been captured without being fatally shot and he has been romanticised as a man alone against the world. Several novels, portraying him as a victim of society, and the 1981 film Bad blood , have been based on his story.


Eric Stanley Graham


The police officers killed by Stan Graham in 1941, in the deadliest incident in the history of the New Zealand Police Force.



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