The Parker Hulme Murder – 22nd June 1954

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“Please help us!!! Mummy is hurt, covered in blood!”

Kenneth and Agnes Ritchie didn’t know what to think as two blood-covered teenage girls ran up to them at Victoria Park’s Tea Kiosk from the nearby walkway. Agnes recognised them as just having eaten in the tearooms just minutes earlier. As she led the distressed girls inside, Kenneth headed off down the walking path in search of Mrs. Honorah Rieper and 130 metres in, on one of the flattish part of the track, he made a gruesome discovery. As he took a closer look, he knew this woman hadn’t fallen and hit her head as the girls had claimed; the police needed to be called. It was 3.30pm on 22nd June, 1954.

As police combed out over Victoria Park that early evening, the blood splattered Christchurch Girls High school mates, Pauline Rieper and Juliet Hulme, took a bath at the Hulme resident (Ilam House) on Ilam Road. They were quiet and calm as their clothes were collected up to be dry cleaned at Hick’s Drapers at the corner of Clyde and Fendalton Roads. As the radio played softy, the girls then began to act very differently. Pauline said nothing, her face very pale whereas Juliet suddenly wouldn’t shut up, and was keen to talk about anything but the accident. Both girls were in bed by the time the police were at the door. The police insisted to see them.

Upon the discovery of half a brick in a bloodied stocking thrown under some nearby trees and the extremes of Honorah’s fatal injuries, the police came for the truth. Juliet was the first to change the story, claiming that Pauline and Mrs. Rieper had had a fight but she hadn’t been there at the time, believing that Mrs. Rieper had fallen and got hurt, just like they said. Pauline backed this story, saying Juliet hadn’t witnessed the fight. Pauline was taken away by police that night for further questioning and that was the last time the girls were ever alone again.

The next morning, after Pauline’s diaries (found in her room at 31 Gloucester Street) were read by the police, it was clear that Juliet had very much taken part in the murder and she was arrested. The city of Christchurch was reeling! Teenage girls don’t go around murdering their mothers!

The girls had met just two and half years earlier, finding their joint ill health as a strong foundation for a friendship that developed quickly. Both loved to write and delighted in a fantasy world where they became Gina and Deborah. After the girls were discovered to have been sneaking out at night to be together, both girls parents set about to separate them. A task that proved harder than they thought – as the pair were quite obsessed with each other.

Things came to a head when Juliet’s parents decided to separate and Juliet was to move to South Africa to stay with family while her father returned to England and her mother began a new life with her new lover. A heartbroken Pauline asked her parents if she could leave with Juliet where Honorah understandably said no. She wasn’t the only one to say no but she seemed to stand out as the main factor to the girls being separated. Murderous plans were hatched. Unbelievably, the two girls believed they would go to Hollywood and become famous actresses and writers – after the main problem in their way was removed. The trip to Victoria Park was supposed to be one of the last activities the girls would do together before Juliet left New Zealand.

The girls were convicted of murder on 28th August 1954 after a six day trial – receiving just five years. Pauline Parker (now referred to by her mother’s maiden name as she had never married Pauline’s father and was in fact still married to someone else) was imprisoned here in Christchurch whereas Juliet did her time in Auckland. Upon their release, they were not to see each other again.

Juliet went to America with her mother and Pauline was moved on to Auckland. Ironically Juliet lived out her dream and became a novelist by the name of Anne Perry. What does she write about? Murder – of course. In recent interviews she claimed that she had helped Pauline kill her mother because she had threatened suicide.

Pauline has ended up in England known as Hilary Nathan. She runs a children’s horse riding school and has refused all interviews.

* image of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker Profiles: – Helter Skelter Forum –  http://www.helterskelterforum.com*
* image of Pauline’s diary entry courtesy of Luis Drayton*
* image of Pauline and Juliet during trial courtesy and death site of CoNZervative – https://conzervative.wordpress.com*
* image of Juliet Hulme/Anne Perry courtesy of Historical True Crime – https://www.pinterest.com*
* image of Hilary Nathan courtesy of http://pixgood.com*

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