Parker - Hulme Murder Case

Source: "Solved: Hulme's greatest secret" The Press, Saturday, August 6, 1994. Page 4 (Weekend)

Solved: Hulme's greatest mystery.

Teenagers Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme spent five years in jail for the 1954 murder of Parker's mother at Victoria Park in Christchurch. After their release, both girls slipped from view and until a week ago both remained that way. Last week, 40 years after the killing, an Auckland newspaper revealed Hulme now lives in Scotland where, under a new name, she achieved success as an author of best selling murder mysteries. These reports, "Press" writers, background Hulme's writing career and the murder that made her a household name.

In the fantasy world of Juliet Marion Hulme, there could be but one place to go, the publishing capital of New York. The teenage Hulme and her companion Pauline Yvonne Parker had been writing feverishly and were in no doubt their work would be in great demand. As the pair increasingly delved into a fantasy world that led them on a path to murder they set their sights across the Pacific and even began saving for the journey. Their plan was to find a New York firm to publish their books before going on to Hollywood to choose their actors and supervise the filming of their novels. Later, they decided to forward their photographs to Hollywood where they expected they would eventually be hailed as actresses.

Dr Reginald Medlicott who gave evidence of insanity in both girls' defence during their trial later wrote of their New York plot ''Ambitious plans are not unusual in adolescents but there was more than usual neglect of reality here.'' "Parker and Hulme," he said. ''had not the slightest doubt that they were outstanding geniuses so far removed from the common people as to need no-one's approval but their own". Ultimately Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker did leap to international attention - but only for plotting and carrying out the murder of Pauline's mother, Honora, in Christchurch in 1954.

Yet in a bizarre twist it now appears Hulme's teenage fantasy finally became reality: writing under the name of Anne Perry, she has become the author of best selling crime novels. The novels, set in Victorian London, have been published in New York and are also gaining in reputation in the United Kingdom. There is talk of a film and television serialisation.

The evidence that Anne Perry and Juliet Hulme are the same person is overwhelming. Ms Perry's entry in the reference book "Contemporary Authors" lists her birthdate as October 28 1938. This would make her approaching 16 at the time of the murder. It gives her mother's name as H. Marion Perry (nee Reavley), and her father's as Walter Perry. These details are identical to Juliet Hulme's. (Walter Perry was Hilda's Hulme's lover at the time and they later married). Photographs of Juliet Hulme and Anne Perry, though separated in time by many years, are remarkably close in appearance. The "Sunday News" which broke the story last weekend, says that it has subsequently been confirmed.

The girls rocketed to infamy in 1954; after they had lured Honora Parker to Victoria Park on the Port Hills and rained blows on her with a brick in a stocking until she lay dead with some head injuries. It was not the ferocity of the attack that lifted the case to world attention, in fact the girls had expected she would die from just one blow to the head so that could attribute her death to a fall. The case gained international notoriety through the discovery of Pauline Parker’s diary which gave an insight into the girls fantasy world and their plans for murder referred to throughout the diary as "moider".

The trial focused on the girls' state of mind, defence lawyers maintaining the diary entries pointed to insanity. But senior Crown counsel Alan Brown argued the entries showed the killing be "a callously planned and premeditated murder committed by two highly intelligent but precocious and dirty-minded girls". Motive has since proved controversial. The jury rejected the girls' insanity defence, finding both guilty of murder. The insanity issue aside, it seems clear that family conflict, the threat of the separation with the Hulme family intending to return to England, and the delusional world in which they found themselves, all contributed to the terrible finale on a tree-lined track on June 1954.

The Crown repeatedly stung defence with references to the diary; entries that left no doubt the pair was planning murder. As their fantasy world reached a crescendo, it was clear the lives, their plans, their writings were hopelessly entwined. Parker's diary entry for June 19 read "We practically finished our books too and our main like for the day was to moider mother. This 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 anticipation is great".

Juliet Hulme was the elder daughter of Henry Hulme, an English physicist who arrived from England in 1948 to become rector of the University of Canterbury. Juliet, then aged nine, had not enjoyed good health. She befriended Pauline Parker at high school and, while both girls' parents were pleased at the friendship at first, its intensity soon caused them concern.

Pauline Parker visited Juliet Hulme at her Ilam home for days at a time and appeared to become entranced by the Hulmes' flamboyant lifestyle. As their relationship intensified the girls slid into a world of fictional characters and prolific writing. The fate of their fiction is unknown, the Parker diary providing more than enough ammunition for the Crown.

Dr Medlicott and the late Brian McClelland, QC, who was Junior defence counsel for Juliet Hulme, both read works by the pair. In 1991 Mr McClelland recalled the girls' obvious excitement over a play outline written by Juliet Hulme. "They really believed it was so brilliant that it would be filmed in Hollywood. They were going over there to arrange all this. The whole thing was ridiculous."

Brian McClelland had been upset by the verdict, believing that Juliet Hulme was insane. He never saw Hulme again after the trial. "Frankly I did not want to. There was nothing I could do. Juliet needed a doctor, not a lawyer."

Dr Medlicott made extensive reference to the girls' writings in a report to the British "Journal of Medical Psychology" in 1965 in which he outlined his psychiatric diagnosis of the pair. The doctor described the young Juliet Hulme as excitable, self-willed demanding, and intolerant of criticism. From the age of three she was precocious, sensitive, full of fantasy, and found it difficult to stop playacting games, and liked to remain a fairy or some other fantasy figure long after her playmates had become bored. Intelligence tests before entering high school indicated an IQ of about 170.

Dr Medlicott said the "apparently normal" friendship of Parker and Hulme lasted only a month or two before giving way to something "much more intense". "They began to build up and share a rich fantasy life. By the end of 1952 they developed an increasing urge to write: they had their own fictional characters and they would creep out at nights for midnight sprees in which they would act these fictional characters until the early hours of the morning." "These fictional characters they commonly referred to as their 'families'. "They questioned the whole scheme of things, and gradually the substance of their writings changed from the not unusual highly imaginative outpourings of adolescents to an increasingly morbid preoccupation with evil. 'They quickly became a self-satisfaction unit, more and more self-bolstering, less and less dependent on others and the scene was set for a break with society and it's morality.''

While in Christchurch Juliet Hulme devloped tuberculosis and was admitted to a sanitarium. During this time they wrote to each other extensively, he said, assuming parts of the characters in their stories. "Sudden death, suicide, and murder assumed extravagant proportions. They were preoccupied with ideas of great power, especially to murder without reprisal, and vicious characters were greatly respected." Volumnia was one of their fictitious countries. Its empress, said Dr Medlicott, was only 13 and had a violent temper, once killing all those who incurred her wrath.

Both were writing feverishly in the months preceding the murder. "By the time of the murder they had completed or were in the process of writing six books between them, in addition to plays, poetry and an opera." He later wrote: "In their stories their favourite fictional characters act above the law." Dr Medlicott concluded that the pair had developed paranoia of an exalted type in a setting of folie a deux a communicative form of insanity. ''They presented gross conceit and arrogance, were exalted in mood, held ideas of a grandiose delusional nature, showed gross reversal of moral values, and finally murdered the mother of one of them.

The jury's guilty verdict meant the inevitable separation of Parker and Hulme. Hulme was sent to Mount Eden Prison and Parker to Paparua Prision for a time while a new secure unit was completed at Arohata near Wellington. The pair entered a penal system undergoing reform and during their five years in custody the emphasis swung toward rehabilitation rather than punishment, although the conditions at Mount Eden in which Hulme was kept were primitive and unpleasant. They were not allowed to write to each other.

Hulme was released first, having completed her sentence at Arohata and Parker at Paparua. Hulme left the country within days of her release to join her mother, Hilda Hulme, and Walter Perry, who had married during her jail term.

Perry was a former boarder of the Hulmes and it seems Juliet Hulme adopted their surname. Parker remained in New Zealand until the mid-1980s when her probation term ended and she headed overseas.

Three years after Juliet Hulme's release she was in England working as an air stewardess in Northumberland. By the mid-1980s she was working as a buyer for a department store and then a property underwriter.

From 1967 to 1972 she lived in California. Anne Perry now lives in Portmahomack in north-east Scotland, with a string of critically acclaimed books to her credit, the first published in 1979.

The central character in her Victorian crime novels is Charlotte Pitt, a woman of genteel upbringing who married "below herself" to a police inspector. She works with her younger sister Emily behind the scenes on the crimes being investigated by Inspector Pitt, often without his knowledge or approval.

Anne Perry says of her books in a biographical dictionary of crime and mystery writers: "I see mysteries as stories of what happens to people and communities under the pressure of fear and suspicion, especially the violent changes in perceptions and relationships brought about by investigation." "There are so many understandable motives for crime, social ills, injustices, many of which are with us today, albeit in transmuted form. I hope my stories reflect expressions, emotion, social comment and enjoyment."

Anne Perry has for 34 years escaped the glare of ongoing fascination about the murder in the park. There has been a book as recently as 1991 presenting a lesbian view on the case. A Christchurch playwright wrote a play performed by the Court Theatre and a film, ''Heavenly Creatures", is close to official release. Public reaction will doubtless be mixed to the revelations about Anne Perry. Many will be disappointed that she has not been left in peace to continue her work as an author, building a reputation based on talent, not notoriety. Others will be less sympathetic, less willing to dismiss the brutal past. Successful author Anne Perry is, understandably saying nothing; perhaps contemplating the next chapter in her life.

Perry's pages packed with corpses.

The computer screen at the Canterbury Public Library shows 18 separate listings under the name of Anne Perry. This week a single copy was left on the shelves. Library sources confine that she is a popular author.

The novels have names such as; Belgrave Square", "Cardington Crescent", "A Dangerous Morning", "Highgate Rise", "A Sudden Fearful Death". These are Victorian murder mysteries, with a bent for bizarre and gruesome deaths and a penchant for a bit of sexual perversion in passing.

"Cardington Crescent" one of the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series — opens with the discovery of a woman's dismembered corpse: "The parcel was about nineteen inches square … paper torn and pulled away to expose the meatlike flesh and several inches of fine-grained, white skin smeared with a little blood. There were flies beginning to gather. He did not have to touch it to see that the portion showing was part of a woman's breast."

In "Farriers' Lane" a judge fails ill and dies of opium poisoning, which raises the spectre,as the blurb on the book puts it, of "one of the most sensational cases ever to inflame England, the murder five years before of Kingsley Blaine and the crucifixion of his body against a door in Farriers' Lane." Chapter one of "Highgate Rise" begins with the discovery of a body — "grotesque remains', burned so badly it was no longer even whole—and yet hideously, recognisably human"—in the burned-out remains of a house. At the outset of "A Sudden and Fearful Death" Inspector William Monk is called into investigate a case of rape, then moves on to pursue the identification of a nurse's murderer when her body is discovered stuffed into a laundry chute.

The plaudits from reviewers on the back covers of Anne Perry's books range from "gripping and intense" to "surpassingly excellent". Anne Perry is evidently not only well read, but well liked by her fans and respected for her command of the murder-mystery genre. The extent, to which a work of fiction relates to the life and experiences of its author is a perennially debated question in academic circles. Many critics regard the life of the author to be utterly irrelevant; others say it is an essential resource for revealing meanings in the texts. It is a fair bet that until now the past of Anne Perry has escaped anything other than mild public scrutiny. In "A Sudden and Fearful Death" Perry has a character say: "We all try to forget what hurts us, it is sometimes the only way we can continue."