Case 1: Parker-Hulme Murder (Part 1)

CHRISTCHURCH, CANTERBURY. 22 June 1954. The body of forty-five year old Honora Parker 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 130m down the path, in a wooded area of the park near a small wooden bridge, Juliet and Pauline bludgeoned Honora Parker to death with half a brick enclosed in an old stocking.

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“Cryptic Sorrow”, “Day of Chaos”, “Leaving Home”, “Long note One”, “Redletter”, “Sincerely”, “The Pyre”, “Trio for Piano, Cello, and Clarinet”
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The podcast version is the intended way to consume this story but we make a transcript available for those that would rather read instead. This can be found below.

CHRISTCHURCH, CANTERBURY. 22 June 1954. The body of forty-five year old Honora Parker 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 130m down the path, in a wooded area of the park near a small wooden bridge, Juliet and Pauline bludgeoned Honora Parker to death with half a brick enclosed in an old stocking.


Fig 1. Heavenly Creatures

This shocking murder became the basis for Peter Jackson’s Oscar nominated film ‘Heavenly Creatures’. The film is a remarkably honest and true portrayal of the events leading up to the murder of Honorah Parker that Winter afternoon in 1954. Pauline Parker’s diary is a major focus of the film, with Jackson quoted as saying ‘The diaries provided a spellbinding, day-by-day account of the girls’ desperation and of Pauline’s escalating hatred for her mother. They chronicle the pair’s darkening fantasies and the contempt in which they held nearly everyone around them.’ According to NZ law enforcement and Department of Justice officials, Pauline Parker’s diaries do not exist anymore and haven’t for many years. What we are left with are the diary transcripts from the trial. These transcripts tell a story of a young girl struggling to find her place in the world. But when Pauline met Juliet Hulme, an English immigrant, of wealthy status. Their friendship blossomed into something more intense. We will be reading relevant diary entries as we make our way through the timeline of events; these will be punctuated with dates for clarity and be read in a female voice. These entries give an insight to the thinking and motivation that led to the case of matricide in June, 1954.


Pauline Yvonne Parker was born on May 26, 1938 in Christchurch, New Zealand. She was the second daughter of Honora Mary Parker (28), and Herbert  Rieper (42). Herbet Rieper had been married to another woman prior. A woman he had met when he was serving in World War I. When his service ended in 1918; Rieper returned to New Zealand with his new wife and they ended up living in Raetihi. By 1924, the marriage had produced two children. Rieper was working at a firm in Raetihi at this time.

Honora Mary Parker was born in 1909 in Birmington, England. When Parker was eighteen, she emigrated to New Zealand. She ended up working at a firm; in Raetihi. The same firm Herbert Rieper was working at. This is how they first met, in 1927.

Approximately two years after meeting, in 1929. Herbert Rieper and Honora Parker begin living together in Raetihi. Rieper and his wife never divorced, so Parker and Rieper could never marry. Rieper paid some support to his former family but apparently has no further contact with them.

In 1936, the twosome of Rieper and Parker moved to Christchurch. They settled in Phillipstown; a modest residential neighbourhood. Herbert Reiper got a job managing a Fish and Chips restaurant. Later in 1936, the couple had their first child. Unfortunately, the baby was born with cardio-pulmonary birth defects and died shortly after. Although one year later Honora successfully gave birth to a daughter, Wendy Patricia Parker.

In March, 1938. Pauline Parker was born. In 1943. Pauline, now aged 5, was hospitalized with severe osteomyelitis for nine months. Osteomyelitis (o·stee·ow·mai·uh·lai·tuhs) is an infection of the bone and can be life-threatening in acute stages. She underwent a painful surgical procedure. This resulted in permanent physical disability, chronic discomfort and pain as a child. Two years later, Pauline endured another painful surgery to drain the infection from her leg.

In March, 1949. Rosemary Parker was born. Rieper and Parker’s third daughter. She was born with ‘downs syndrome’ and was institutionalised at two-years-old.  The parents reportedly visited Rosemary regularly and had taken her home on occasion. Pauline was said to be very fond of Rosemary.

2 February, 1952. The first day of third form. Pauline; now 13, was attending Christchurch Girls High School, in the top academic stream. Feeling isolated and alone. Her family seemingly misunderstanding her. Pauline was in search of somebody to bond with. She sat in French class. This is where she was introduced to a new student. Thirteen year old, Juliet Marion Hulme.


Juliet Marion Hulme was born October 28, 1938 in London, England. She was the firstborn of Henry Rainsford Hulme (30) and Hilda Marion Hulme (26). Dr. Henry Hulme was a respected mathematical physicist, he met his wife Hilda the year before lecturing at the University of Liverpool. They had then moved to London in 1938 when Henry assumed the position of Chief Assistant at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.

In the early months of 1941, a two year old Juliet Hulme suffered ‘bomb shock’ in the London blitz, she was caught out during an air raid with her mother. ‘Bomb shock’ would be known today as ‘Post traumatic stress disorder’. She suffered from chronic screaming, nightmares and insomnia for many weeks following.

22 March 1944. Hilda gave birth to a son, Jonathon Hulme. In the subsequent weeks, Hilda suffered from serious post-partum medical problems and was hospitalized for an extended period. This condition was statistically most likely to be post-partum depression. In August of the same year, Dr. Hulme travelled to America on War work. Juliet was sent away to live in Liverpool at this time. Reasons for this parental separation were given as such; to escape war conditions and the severity of her mother’s illness.

Months later, Juliet, now six, contracted bronchitis and then near-fatal pneumonia. She was withdrawn from school and remained ill for two years. However later in 1946, Juliet contracted pneumonia once more. She was sent alone to the Bahamas by her parents on medical advice from her Doctors. She lived there with another family for thirteen months. Then she was sent to Bay of Islands, New Zealand, to stay with another family. One year later. Juliet was sent to a sanatorium somewhere in the North Island, due to a breakdown in her health. Juliet was evidently traumatised by the accumulation of repeated separations from her family.

22 October 1948. Dr Hulme assumes post of Rector; a senior role at the Canterbury University in Christchurch. Here, he moves with his wife and four year old son, Johnathan. Juliet joins them. Juliet was described by her mother as extremely clingy and difficult to discipline in the months after being reunited with her family. She lived with them for three months. In early 1949, Juliet was sent away to a private boarding school in Hastings, apparently for her health once more. Severely unhappy there, she returned to her family within the year. From the years, 1950 to 1951. Juliet attended Ilam School. She reportedly enjoyed her time attending the small school.

In 1952, Juliet measured an IQ of 170. Her mother, Hilda Hulme decided that Juliet would be more suited to the stimulation of a larger and more diverse public school environment. She was sent to Christchurch Girls High School. 2 February 1952. Juliet was running late for her first day of school. She walked into class belated. This is where she was introduced to the third form class, Pauline Parker among them.


The two teenagers first met in February, 1952. However the relationship did not start in earnest until the second term of school, beginning in May. In June, Juliet comes home from school and tells her mother “Mummy, I’ve met someone at last with a will as strong as my own.” Juliet and Pauline initially bonded over their shared experiences of childhood illness. The girls then grew closer and closer. Pauline’s mother told Juliet’s mother that she was pleased at the friendship because Pauline had been a lonely child with difficulty in making friends. This apparently normal friendship lasted only a month or two before giving way to something much more intense.

In August 1952, the two girls went for a bicycle ride into the country where they stopped by some light bush, removed their outer clothing and ran among the bushes ecstatically. They were so ecstatic that they went home leaving these clothes behind them. When referencing this episode, Pauline said that previously they had just been friends but after this there was an indissoluble bond between them. It would seem that two unusual kindred spirits had come together. From then on 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 out these fictional characters until the early hours of the morning. For Christmas that same year, Pauline Parker received a ‘Whitcombe’s New Zealand Handy Diary’.

Jan. 1, 1953
“New Year’s Resolution: To be lenient with others.”

During January, Pauline was staying in the country with some friends and did not see Juliet, her behaviour appeared to have been normal. She showed a healthy interest in an older boy and the normal jealousy of a young girl she saw as a rival. There was little talk of writing or fictional characters. She returned home with good intentions of doing well at school.

Jan. 31, 1953
“…Mother says she is going to have Training College boarders…”

This is the first reference to boarders that stayed at the Rieper and Parker house. These were Teachers Training College students. Usually men ranging between twenty and thirty-five years old. Pauline describes their arrivals in her diary:

Feb. 9, 1953
“…Harry arrived today. He seems quite nice and is about 35. He is very polite so far…”

Feb. 10, 1953
“…I do hope Ross turns out to be nice. I have been looking forward to his coming so much that I will probably be disappointed…”

Feb. 20, 1953
“…Ross was up late this morning. Out for dinner and by the time I got home, so I have not seen him all day.”

Mar. 9, 1953
…John helped me with my homework for about an hour. He says Damn a lot. I did a lot of homework…”

Mar. 11, 1953
“…Ross and John were home for dinner, to which Juliet came…”

This is the first reference to Juliet in the diary. Juliet’s presence becomes more and more renowned as the diary continues.

Mar. 18, 1953
“We have decided how sad it is for other people that they cannot appreciate our genius. But we hope the book will help them to do so a little, though no one could fully appreciate us.”

On March 20th 1953. Signs of the ferocity of what the relationship would become began to show. Pauline Parker wrote a doting poem after spending the day at Lancaster Park for school sports day with Juliet:

There are living among(st) 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 (yet) 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 realize
The wisdom that is hidden behind those strange eyes?
And these wonderful people are you and I.


During the Easter holiday break. Pauline Parker joins the Hulme family on their holiday at Port Levy; a small coastal settlement about an hour away from Christchurch. A diary entry written during this time, makes the first reference to the ‘Fourth World’.

April 3, 1953
“Today Juliet and I found the key to the 4th World. We realise now that we have had it in our possession for about 6 months but we only realized it on the day of the death of Christ. We saw a gateway through the clouds. We sat on the edge of the path and looked down the hill out over the bay. The island looked beautiful. The sea was blue. Everything was full of peace and bliss. We then realized we had the key. We now know that we are not genii, as we thought. We have an extra part of our brain which can appreciate the 4th World. Only about 10 people have it. When we die we will go to the 4th World, but meanwhile on two days every year we may use the key and look into that beautiful world which we have been lucky enough to be allowed to know of, on this Day of Finding the Key to the Way through the Clouds.”

The Fourth World contained the imaginary kingdom of Borovnia (Bo-rov-nia). This world was dreamed up in the minds of the two young teenagers. They began spending more and more time living within the confines of this imaginary kingdom. Having knowledge of the four principal characters of Borovnia, and which girls personified each character is integral to understanding the diaries.

Charles II, Emperor of Borovnia. Charles was described as a handsome monarch with the dulcet voice, of a youthful James Mason. This identity was adopted by Pauline on occasion.

Deborah was the identity taken exclusively by Juliet. Deborah was Charles’ wife. She was described as always dressed in romantic, flowing dresses and gowns, and she was always smiling and laughing.

Gina, the role that was principally filled by Pauline. Gina was described as an incredibly beautiful gypsy girl. She wore long, red velvet gowns and was very popular, and an excellent dancer.

Diello was the son of Charles and Deborah. Diello was described a murderous teen-age prince who’d kill anyone who was a problem to him. Diello seemed to be devoted to Gina as well, murderously looking out for her interests on many occasions. Diello is thought to be named after the 1952 film ‘Five Fingers’. Where James Mason played the part of Ulysses Diello, a suave and dangerous traitor and spy.

The tales of Borovnia evolved over time to became more and more violent, eventually featuring extreme violence, sadism, bondage, the rape of maidens and the torture of knights. These musings concerned the adults who were privy to some of these fantasies.

April 6, 1953
“The days I spent at Port Levy were the most HEAVENLY ones I have ever experienced… Mrs Hulme did my hair. She calls me her foster daughter.”

April 23, 1953
“Mrs Hulme says she wished I was her daughter, too…”

May 15, 1953
“Mrs Hulme told me they had found out today that Juliet has tuberculosis on one lung. Poor Giulietta! It is only now I realise how fond I am of her. I nearly fainted when I heard. I had a terrible job not to cry. It would be wonderful if I could get tuberculosis, too.”

May 16, 1953
“I spent a wretched night. It was a relief to see Juliet looking so well. … We agreed it was a great pity I had not tuberculosis too and it would be wonderful if I could catch it. We would be in the sanatorium together and would be able to write a lot. … We have decided we are the most incredible optimists.”

Juliet was taken to Cashmere Sanitarium for her tuberculosis on the 21st of May, 1953. One week later her parents traveled abroad to the United Kingdom. This trip was described by the Hulmes as a holiday but it was more likely that Henry Hulme was attempting to secure a new job. In Dr. Hulme’s time as Rector of the University of Canterbury, he had made a number of political blunders. One such was over the ‘School of Forestry’. The University Senate had voted in August 1948, before Dr Hulme’s arrival, to locate the School of Forestry at Auckland University College. The Canterbury University Council then proposed a motion to rescind that resolution in January, 1949. The motion for rescission was defeated by 16 votes to 9; among the ‘noes’ was Henry Hulme. Dr. Hulme voted against his own Council and Board. This was an extremely unpopular move. This invited conflict in the subsequent years. After years of administrative friction and academic politics. He was informed he would no longer be supported by his faculty. This information seemingly being the catalyst for his new job search.

May 29, 1953
“This evening I had a brainwave. That Juliet and I should write to each other as Charles and Deborah. I wrote a six-page letter as Charles and a two-page letter as Pauline. She has entered into the spirit of the thing greatly.”

My Dearest, Darling Deborah,
Affairs of state continue to occupy my time. I have to report that the lower classes are terrifically dull. Only yesterday, I was compelled to execute seven peasants just to alleviate the boredom. Diello insisted in coming along. In fact, he made such a fuss that I had to let him wield the axe himself. Heads did roll… Not just the prisoners, but the Royal Guard, my Valet, and several unfortunate onlookers copped it as well.

Juilet spent the next four months confined to Cashmere Sanitarium. Pauline and Juliet did not see each other for several months. Yet, correspondence was regular.

Oh Charles,
I am despairing enough to put Diello in the hands of the Cardinal, in the hope that a good dose of Religion will set the young chap on the right path!…

June 14, 1953
“Juliet and I decided the Christian religion had become too much of a farce and we decided to make up one of our own.”

There was the idea of Saints in this religion. The most important of those Saints was English actor and top box office attraction James Mason, he was referred to as either ‘The James’ or ‘Him’. Another to ascend to Sainthood was American tenor and Hollywood film star Mario Lanza, he was referred to as ‘Poor Mario’ or ‘He’.

The creed had a state higher than Sainthood, Gods. Among the Gods were English poet Rupert Brooke, Italian operatic tenor Enrico Caruso, Roman General Julius Caesar and Emperor of Borovnia Charles II.

In July of 1953. Pauline went to bed with one of their student boarders, John. This was stumbled upon by her father, Hubert. He promptly dismissed John from the house. Pauline was moved into the house, across the hall from her parents, so they could keep an eye on her. Living in such close proximity created a tense situation.

It was then that a new character entered the imaginary kingdom, Nicholas. Nicholas was Deborah’s tennis instructor in Borovnia, though he “has his eyes on Gina.” Gina being Pauline’s alter ego. Notably, John is referenced earlier in the diary as John. Yet, subsequent to the incident with her father. John starts being referenced as Nicholas in the entries.

July, 1953
“To think that so much could have happened in so little time caused by so few. A terrible tragedy has occurred… I lay there mesmerized. It was just too frightful to believe… When I got up I found Father had told Mother. I had a nasty foreboding feeling at first. But now I realize my crime was too frightful for an ordinary lecture… I am terribly cut up. I miss Nicholas terribly. Mother thinks I will have nothing more to do with him. Little she knows…”

September 9th, 1953. Juliet was released from the sanatorium. Her parents had returned from abroad. Juliet was considered ‘uncured’ but with her mother now available to nurse. She was in a stable enough condition to return home. Pauline was there to welcome her.

Sept. 9, 1953
“It was wonderful returning with Juliet… it was as if she had never been away… I believe I could fall in love with Juliet.”


Around this time. Pauline’s mother Honora Parker started to become concerned about the growing intensity of the relationship. When the Hulmes’ returned from abroad. Honora shared her concerns with them. Juliet’s mother, Hilda agreed. In testimony that Hilda gave later she noted “When we returned to New Zealand after an absence of 3 months I noticed a marked change in her disposition. She seemed more withdrawn and her friendship with Pauline seemed to be the only thing that mattered. This friendship seemed to dominate my daughter.”

Considering the cultural setting, some of the girls actions were rather provocative. Pauline and Juliet would hold hands walking in the school grounds. At that time, showing this amount of affection publicly was seen as unusual. Kissing, was also common. The girls weren’t furtive or secretive about their kissing either; it wasn’t something they only did when they were alone. They kissed quite openly. They also bathed together and took nude ‘cheesecake’ photographs of each other for when they made it to Hollywood. Whether these actions were innocent schoolgirl antics or the teenagers exploring their sexuality is ultimately open to interpretation. Another clue was that Juliet was also reportedly very jealous of the attention Pauline was getting from other boys, especially John.

October, 1953
“Nicholas was pleased that I was so early. We sat around and talked for an hour and then went to bed. I declined the invitation at first but he became very masterful and I had no option. I discovered that I had not lost my virginity on Thursday night. However, there is no doubt whatsoever that I have now.”

It was days later when Pauline seemling severed contact with John. She wrote about this ‘break up’ with John. “…not that I mind at all, it is so nice to think that Juliet and I could continue our friendship unmolested, with no outside interests.” At the end of October Pauline and John’s relationship was ostensibly finished. On Juliet’s fifteen birthday she wrote:

Oct. 28, 1953
“…told Nicholas this evening that I was no longer very much in love with him because of my imaginary characters.”

It was around this time that both Pauline and Juliet’s parents actively tried to intervene in the relationship. Honora Parker seemed to be the person spearheading this, at least in the mind of Pauline. Pauline and Juliet saw less and less of each other. Pauline’s entries in the diary started to become darker and began making references to self harm.

Nov. 2, 1953
“Today I felt thoroughly, utterly and completely depressed. I was in one of those moods in which committing suicide sounds heavenly.”

Dec 14, 1953
“Mother carted me off to see a doctor after work, which was a half-witted imbecile thing to do, especially as I feel perfectly well. The doctor was a bloody fool. I felt very tense and then we saw ‘Pandora and the Flying Dutchman’. It is the most perfect story I have ever known. The best picture (easily) that I have ever seen. Pandora is the most beautiful female imaginable and Him is far too wonderful to attempt to describe. I feel depressed and will probably cry tonight.”

The Doctor reportedly diagnosed Pauline as a ‘Homosexual’ during this session. Homosexuality in 1950s New Zealand was still mandated by the ‘Crimes against Morality’ section of the 1893 criminal code. Although the law is written in such a way to only punish men for sodomy. “Every one is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for life, and, according to his age, to be flogged or whipped once, twice, or thrice, those who commits buggery either with a human being or with any other living creature.” Being a homosexual was considered to be a form of insanity. Studies around aversion therapy were underway to cure the ‘illness’. The patient was asked to fantasise about men and received electric shocks as he did so. Later, nausea-inducing drugs were added as another negative stimulus. In the second phase of treatment, patients were shown films of naked and semi-naked women after being given testosterone to stimulate a sexual response. Both the Parker-Reiper family and the Hulmes feared this ‘illness’ was taking their children.

Dec 20, 1953
“Mother woke me this morning and started lecturing me before I was properly awake, which I thought was somewhat unfair. She has brought up the worst possible threat now. She said that if my health did not improve I could never see the Hulmes again. The thought is too dreadful. Life would be unbearable without Deborah. …I rang Deborah and told her of the threat. I wish I could die. That is not an idle or temporary impulse. I have decided over the last 2 or 3 weeks that it would be the best thing that could happen altogether, and the thought of death is not fearsome.”

For Christmas, Pauline received a brand new ‘Whitcombe’s New Zealand Handy Diary’ for 1954.


Jan. 1, 1954
“I rose at about 9 this morning, and spent until 2 working very hard helping mother. My New Year resolution is a far more selfish one than last year, so there is more probability of my keeping it. It is to make my motto ‘Eat, drink and be merry for to-morrow you may be dead.'”

Pauline and Juliet were separated for most of January. Pauline’s depression had caused her to lose weight, at this time she had also developed bulimia, she had lost approximately one stone or 6.5kgs. This caused Honora further concern for Pauline’s health. The teenagers were finally reunited in late January.

Jan. 28, 1954
“We procured bunches of grapes from the hothouse. We discussed various amusing topics. If we were prostitutes how much we should charge the various bods.”

Jan. 29, 1954
“I went over to Deborah’s room early this morning about 7:30. It suddenly occurred to me that we had not celebrated He’s day so we decided to today. In He’s honour we ate some birthday cake, drank to He’s health, played all He’s records and made a little edifice of He. We have shifted His to the Gods now. We worked out how much prostitutes would earn and how much we would make in such a profession and ‘should’ gradually changed to ‘shall’. We have spent a really wonderful day messing around and talking over how much fun we will have in our profession. We have worked out some glorious plans and worked out a whole new family for our future.”

By early February, Honora has separated the girls once more. These constant separations planted a seed of hate inside Pauline. This growing animosity was directed at her mother.

Feb. 13, 1954
“As usual I woke at 5 and managed to write a considerable amount. I felt depressed at the thought of the day. There seemed to be no possibility of Mother relenting and allowing me to go out to Ilam. This afternoon Mother told me I could not go out to Ilam again until I was eight stone and more cheerful. As I am now seven stone there is little hope. Also one cannot help recalling that she was the same over Nicholas. She said I could not see him again until my behaviour improved, and when it did she concluded it was not having his influence that caused it. She is most unreasonable. I also overheard her making insulting remarks about Mrs Hulme while I was ringing this afternoon. I was livid. I am very glad because [the] Hulmes sympathise with me and it is nice to feel that adults realise what Mother is. Dr Hulme is going to do something about it I think. Why could not Mother die? Dozens of people are dying all the time, thousands, so why not Mother and Father too? Life is very hard.”

The teenagers started concocting plans to remove the threat of their separation in late February, 1954. This is when they first discussed their plans of travelling to the United States to become Hollywood starlets.

Feb. 28, 1954
“Deborah and I started discussing our quest for ‘Him.’ We have now decided to hurry things up terrifically, in fact to start now. We had a marvellous time planning the life and the flight and how we will obtain all the money and what we will do.”

In April, a number of key events pertaining to the case happened. Pauline left school after her grades kept dropping and tried to obtain a job. After an unsuccessful search, she joined Digby’s Commercial College. Digby’s was a private vocational school where girls learned shorthand, typing, bookkeeping and other skills necessary for a clerical job. Digby’s was a secretarial ‘College’ and at the time looked down upon by the higher classes of society.

Around the turn of the year, an engineer moved into the guest house in the Hulmes  home. Walter Perry was a divorced man that Hilda Hulme had met earlier while working at the Christchurch Marriage Guidance Council. Juliet noticed her mother spending a lot of time around this man and on the 22nd of April she discovered them in bed together.

April 23, 1954
“I rose about 8 and helped Mother a little before going to Digby’s. This afternoon I played Tosca and wrote before ringing Deborah. Then she told me the stupendous news. Last night she woke at 2 a.m. and for some reason went to her mother’s room. It was empty, so she went downstairs to look for her. Deborah could not find her, so she crept as stealthily as she could into Mr Perry’s flat and stole upstairs. She heard voices from inside his bedroom, and she stayed outside for a little while, then she opened the door and switched the light on in one movement. Mr Perry and Mrs Hulme were in bed drinking tea. Deborah felt an hysterical tendency to giggle. She said, ‘Hello’. She was shaking with emotion and shock, although she had known what she would find. They goggled at her for a minute and her Mother said, ‘I suppose you want an explanation?’ Yes, Deborah replied, I do. Well, you see we are in love, Mother explained. Deborah was wonderful. ‘But I know THAT’ she exclaimed, her voice seemed to belong to someone else. Her Mother explained that Dr Hulme knew all about it, and that they intended to live as a threesome. Anyway, Deborah went as far as telling about our desire to go to America in six months, though she could not explain the reason of course. Mr Perry gave her 100 [pounds] to get permits. Everyone is being frightfully decent about everything and I feel wildly happy and rather queer… I am going out to Ilam tomorrow as we have so much to talk over.”

April 24, 1954
“I rose very early, did all the housework and prepared breakfast. It rained panthers and wolves. I biked out to Ilam and nearly froze on the way. Deborah was still in bed when I arrived and did not get up until some time afterwards… Then Dr Hulme came upstairs and asked us to come into the lounge to have a talk with him. He said we must tell him everything about our going to America so we told him as much as that we wanted. He was both hope-giving and depressing. We talked for a long time and then Deborah and I were near tears by the time it was over. The outcome was somewhat vague. What is to be the future now? We may all be going to South Africa and Italy and dozens of other places or not at all. We none of us know where we are and a good deal depends on chance. Dr and Mrs Hulme are going to divorce. The shock is too great to have penetrated in my mind yet. It is so incredible. Poor Father. Mrs Hulme was sweet and Dr Hulme absolutely kind and understanding… Deborah and I spent the day soaring between hell and heaven… Dr Hulme is the noblest and most wonderful person I have ever known of. Such a huge amount has happened we don’t know where we are, but one thing, Deborah and I are sticking together through thick and thin. We sink or swim together.”

This incident put into motion another plan. This time a scheme the girls were not privy to planning. In May, Henry Hulme consulted a Doctor about Pauline and Juliet’s relationship. The Doctor explained that their relationship had become ‘overtly homosexual’. The Doctor advised in favour of active intervention, to ‘reverse’ or ‘stave off’ Juliet becoming irreversibly homosexual. Dr. Hulme was convinced of the need to separate the two teenagers immediately. Henry formulated a plan to abandon his wife and her new lover to their own devices. He would then take custody of their son Jonathon. Dr. Hulme used the threat of ‘adultery’ on the divorce petition, and the threat of publicity and courtroom proof of Hilda Hulme as an ‘unfit mother’ to secure the release of Jonathon to his care. He would then quit his job and return to England. Delivering Juliet to South Africa to stay with an Aunt on the way home. Presumably South Africa was chosen ‘for her health’.

During this time Pauline’s hatred of her mother had blossomed further. Hatred fueled by her mother’s foreboding threats of separation. Furthermore, some references claim to loathe her family’s social class. The social situation of her parents was a cause for acute embarrassment for Pauline and she sneered at her families ignorance in some diary entries. Pauline claimed her mother ‘talked a lot of rot’. She yearned for the air of intellect that permeated the Hulme household. She saw the Hulmes as cultured, refined people, who respected and encouraged scholarship, imagination and things cerebral. These feelings continued to feed into her antipathy. It was from this contempt, that the ‘plan’ matured to include murder.

April 28, 1954
“Mother went out this afternoon so Deborah and I bathed for some time. However I felt thoroughly depressed afterwards–and even quite seriously considered committing suicide. Life seemed so much not worth the living and death such an easy way out. Anger against Mother boiled up inside me, as it is she who is one of the main obstacles in my path. Suddenly a means of ridding myself of this obstacle occurred to me. If she were to die…”

April 29, 1954
“I did not tell Deborah of my plans for removing Mother. I have made no definite plans yet as the last fate I wish to meet is one in Borstal. I am trying to think of some way. I do not want to go to too much trouble, but I want it to appear either a natural or an accidental death.”

April 30, 1954
“Mrs C. came to tea and was thoroughly objectionable. Her ghastly attitude towards the Japanese has made me fonder than ever of them. I did not write this evening but I sat up and talked to Mother. I told Deborah of my intentions and she is rather worried but does not disagree violently.”

In May, Honora Parker was informed of Juliet’s impending departure. With this news Honora allowed Pauline to see as much of Juliet as she desired. Pauline and Juliet became inseparable once more. The interim diary entries talk about Pauline’s elation at this arrangement.

June 6, 1954
“…We went to sleep at 4:30 tomorrow morning after talking all night. We were discussing at first how we sometimes had a strange feeling that we had done what we were doing before. We realized why this was, and why Deborah and I have such extraordinary telepathy, and why people treat us and look at us the way they do, and why we behave as we do. It is because we are MAD. We are both stark, staring, raving mad. There is definitely no doubt about it and we are thrilled by the thought. All the cast of the Saints except Nino are mad, too. This is not strange as it is probably why we love them. We have discussed it fully. Dr Hulme is MAD, as MAD as a March hare. We are feeling thrilled and scared by the thought.”

June 10, 1954
“Mrs Hulme has told Deborah a great deal about the old subject and we have discussed it fully. We know a great deal more now. …I am feeling particularly close to Deborah.”

June 11 was the day ‘IT’ was appointed a saint. Many new saints had been appointed in this time. IT, was Orson Wells. He was described by Juilet as “the most hideous person alive”. But by playing Harry Lime’ in ‘The Third Man’. He finally ascended.

June 11, 1954
“…we were then driven out to see ‘It’ in ‘Trent’s Last Case.’ It was the first time I had ever seen ‘It’. Deborah had always told me how hideous he was, and I had believed her, though from his photos he did not look too bad. ‘It’ is appalling. He is dreadful. I have never in my life seen anything that, so… in the same category of hideousness, but I adore him. We returned home and talked for some time about It, getting ourselves more and more excited. Eventually we enacted how each Saint would make love in bed, only doing the first seven as it was 7:30 a.m. by then. We felt exhausted and very satisfied…”

The references to making love are ultimately quite oblique. There is bountiful evidence that the girls were unusually sexually naive and unsophisticated for their age. For example, Pauline thought at first that John’s climbing into bed with her was sufficient to constitute her losing her virginity. They attended an all-girls school, and seemed to have had little social interaction with boys their own age. Juliet, in particular, seems to have led a particularly sheltered social life. Although, interesting of note. The ‘old subject’ that was discussed by Hilda Hulme two days before the references to ‘making love’ is assumed to be sex. They presumably used some of this knowledge in their ‘enactments’ of making love in whatever those events manifested as.

June 13, 1954
We gave ourselves two new Saints. ‘Onward Heel’ and ‘Buster.’ Of all people, my god. We had very amusing discussions about God, Christ and the Holy Ghost. In fact the whole day was very amusing and exciting… We spent a hectic night going through the Saints. It was wonderful! Heavenly! Beautiful! and Ours! We felt very satisfied indeed. We have now learned the peace of the thing called Bliss, the joy of the thing called Sin.”

June 16, 1954
“…We came to bed late and spent a very hectic night. It was wonderful. We only did 10 Saints altogether but we did them thoroughly. I prefer doing longer ones. We enjoyed ourselves greatly and intend to do so again. We did not get to sleep until about 5:30. Obviously I am writing this to-morrow.”

As Pauline knew that her mother Honora would never let her travel with Juliet to South Africa. Pauline began seeing her mother as the only person standing between her and Juliet being together, and with Juliet’s departure date impending, the ‘plan’ was discussed with more urgency. Pauline’s entries on these dates emanate nothing but apathy for her mother.

June 18, 1954
“…We had several brilliant ideas to write an opera each, to produce our own films and to murder all odd wives who get in our way. We went to town and bought books to paste our characters in. We planned our various moiders and talked seriously as well…”

June 19, 1954
“We practically finished our books to-day and our main idea 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 by the idea. Naturally we feel a trifle nervous, but the pleasure of anticipation is great. I shall not write the plan down here as I shall write it up when we carry it out (I hope).

June 20, 1954
“… I tidied the room and messed about a little. Afterwards we discussed our plans for moidering mother and made them a little clearer. Peculiarly enough I have no conscience… I was picked up at 2 p.m. I have been very sweet and good. I have worked out a little more of our plan for moidering mother. Peculiarly enough, I have no qualms of conscience.”

The plan to murder Honora Parker was planned ahead of time, in detail. Juliet would collect a large rock, which later became half a brick, and place it in a stocking. They would then lure Honora out near a small wooden bridge in Victoria Park. Juliet would then drop a small pink stone on the ground. When Ms. Parker would lean down to pick up the stone. Pauline would hit her on the head, with the brick in the stocking. Killing her. This would hopefully look like she had tripped and hit her head on the hard stone ground. By that time Pauline was calculating, harsh and cynical.

June 21, 1954
“I rose late and helped Mother vigorously this morning. Deborah rang and we decided to use a rock in a stocking rather than a sand-bag. We discussed the moider fully. I feel very keyed up, as though I were planning a surprise party. Mother has fallen in with everything beautifully and the happy event is to take place tomorrow afternoon. So next time I write in this diary Mother will be dead . How odd — yet how pleasing.


Heavenly Creatures (Primary Resource) –
Christchurch City Libraries –
NZ History –
Psychology Today –

Peter Graham, So Brilliantly Clever, 2011

7 thoughts on “Case 1: Parker-Hulme Murder (Part 1)

  1. Loving the podcast – I have listened to all but the first one as that is a very distressing story. Well done on the new narrative it’s much better. I’m looking forward to more episodes keep up the good work


  2. Am so stoked to come across a kiwi crime podcast and the great range of episodes. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I am impressed. U have a faithful follower in me. Keep up the fantastic work


  3. I really enjoyed this podcast! I been making a point of giving you some positive feedback and reviews and spreading the word about your podcast so others can enjoy them aswell.


    • You are very kind Jenn. At this point word of mouth is the only way we can market the podcast. So we really do appreciate your support. Also, it just feels nice to know people are out there talking about the show and enjoying what we do. Much love.


  4. Pingback: Heavenly Creatures: A Deadly Friendship - True Crime Roundup

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