"Partners in Crime." Blitz Editions, Leicester, 1993.
[sb] pp. 43-49. "PARKER & HULME // Their Secret World"
The material in this chapter is apparently recycled from several sources. It contains many errors in fact: some small, some significant, but some new information, too. Which, in light of the volume of errors, should be weighted appropriately. It is a typical example of a 'sensational' popular account and can be used to get a feel for how much these accounts can inform, and how much they can possibly mislead. The tone of this account typifies the public perception and reaction at the time of the murder, and so this is a useful example in that regard, as well.
Also useful, oddly enough, are the more 'titilating' facts from the trial included in this chapter. More sober treatments tended to leave these out (e.g. Furneaux's chapter, section 7.7.2). It is interesting to note that this account, though 'sensational,' actually leaves out all reference to the personal lives of people other than Pauline and Juliet, even though those tidbits were also the stuff of headlines during the trial.
Stripped of the surrounding moralizing and editorializing found in sensational treatments, the lurid facts that oftentimes can only be found in these sources can be used to fill in background information about the family lives of the girls, and about the activities of the girls which weren't directly related to the planning and execution of the murder. Personally, I tend to dismiss these aspects unless I can obtain confirmation, but it is not automatically true that sensational material must be fictional.
This article also has informative photographs of the Hulme family, the murder site and outside the courthouse during the trial. Photographs are more like raw data; the viewer can use them to draw independent conclusions. [jp]
Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme were anything but normal schoolgirls. These teenage lesbain lovers bashed in the head of Pauline's mother who had tried to separate them. Were they criminally insane or just murderous little minxes?There is much in 'Partners in Crime' that dwells on the madness generated by two people that would not have occurred had the partnership never been formed. Normal lives and patterns of behaviour vanish as two personalities, each bland and safe on its own, ignite into intrigue and danger when combined.
Such was the madness that descended on two adolescent girls in New Zealand in the 1950s--girls who retreated into their own special world of aloofness, superiority and forbidden sex, a world that held murder.
When Juliet Marion Hulme and Pauline Yvonne Parker were brought before the Crown in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1954 the case received worldwide attention because of its morbid themes. Like the case of Loeb and Leopold (Chapter XXX), psychologists were at pains to try to explain the fusion of two normal minds into a single entity bent on misery and death. For that is what happened to Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker when their perfect world was threatened.
In order to prevent separation from one another, they plotted and carried out, the murder of Mrs Honora Mary Parker. Mrs Parker, forty-five, Pauline's mother, was bludgeoned to death by the two, who tried to cover their tracks by claiming she had fallen. But in the end their own inflated ideas of their intelligence and skill failed them badly and the most basic police methods proved that they were the killers. The full extent of their wickedness and depravity revealed at the trial shocked this colonial outpost as nothing before or since.
It was on 22 June, 1954 that the two hysterical girls, covered in blood, shattered the tranquility of afternoon tea at a sedate Christchurch restaurant when they burst through the doors. 'Mummy's been hurt,' blurted out Pauline. 'She's hurt, covered with blood.' [note: Inaccurate quote. jp] Tearfully they begged the manageress of the restaurant to phone for police while they gulped down sugared tea in an apparent attempt to ease their shock. Some of the customers went with police and the girls to a beauty spot in a nearby park close to a smal bridge over a stream. Lying in a pool of blood, her face unrecognizable, was Mrs Parker. Her head was brutally batterred. It was a bad fall.
Initially the girls told police that Mrs Parker had fallen and slipped on a board. 'Her head just kept banging and banging,' blurted out Pauline to police, in a none-too-convincing explanation of why her mother came to have some forty-nine serious head wounds, any one of which would have been enough to render her unconscious [note: No such conclusion entered into testimony. jp]. The officers knew that they were dealing with something far more sinister than an accident and both young girls--Pauline was sixteen and Juliet fifteen years and ten (sic) months [note: 8 months. 10 months at the trial, which is the phrase used by Furneaux in 7.7.2. jp]--were taken into custody for further questioning.
As they were led away a sharp-eyed policeman found near the pathway, a few feet from the body of Mrs Parker, a brick wrapped in an old stocking [note: JMH and contemporary press stated the brick was not found in the stocking. jp]. It was found to be covered in blood and great clumps of her hair were stuck to it. Clearly, this and not a board or a plank of wood had been the instrument which despatched the unfortunate woman. Later, a pathologist examined the corpse and said that there was bruising around the throat consistent with her having been held down as blow after blow rained down on her head.
Once in custody Pauline confessed almost immediately to the murder. She said she had 'made up my mind' a few days before the event to kill her mother during an outing in the park and that Juliet, who was walking with them, was not implicated in the crime. She told detectives: 'She knew nothing about it. As far as I know, she believed what I had 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 to her.'
But while she was being questioned, one of the officers guarding her turned his back to her, and she tried to burn a piece of paper on which she had written: 'I am taking the blame for everything.' This was seen as a message that she intended to smuggle to Juliet--Juliet, who, on learning of the abortive bid to contact her, changed her story immediately and confessed to being a willing accomplice.
IT WAS TERRIBLE BUT INSANE?
'I took the stocking,' said Juliet, 'and hit her too. I was terrified. I wanted to help Pauline. It was terrible--she moved convulsively. We both held her. She was still when we left her. After the first blow was struck I knew it would be necessary for us to kill her.' [note: Partial quote. jp]
There would have been no need for a protracted criminal trial, along with all its publicity, had the pair pleaded guilty to murder. Instead, they chose to plead Guilty of murder by insanity (sic) [note: They actually pled 'Not Guilty' of murder by reason of insanity. jp]--something the Crown was not prepared to accept. While in custody they had both seemed perfectly aware of what they had done, had both shown little remorse and had both only wanted to return to their 'perfect world'. Their insistence on a plea of insanity meant that the spotlight would now be directed at their dark world.
In his opening speech the prosecutor Mr Anthony Brown ominously told the jury: 'I feel bound to tell you 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. It was a plan designed solely so they could carry on being together in the most unwholesome manner.'
Brown went on to explain how something 'unhealthy' had developed between the two girls; how they had met at school as friends but then their relationship had deepened and broadened into something much more than girlish camaraderie. He remarked that it was a relationship 'more commonly seen between members of the opposite sex, and of a more advanced age', than that seen between two schollgirls. Unhappy when apart, disturbingly attached to each other when together, Mr Brown painted a portrait of two girls sharing an unnatural love.
Mrs Parker, not surprisingly, was most unhapy about the relationship and was doing her best to break it up when she met her end. She had been in touch [note: Herbert Rieper testified that he had made the initial approach to Hulme, but this seems more consistent with Honora. jp] with Juliet's father, Dr Hulme, a (sic) Rector of Canterbury University College, New Zealand. Earlier that year he had resigned his post with the intention of taking a new position in Cape Town, South Africa. [note: Incorrect. Hilda Hulme testified Henry Hulme planned to travel to UK via S.A., and to leave JMH in S.A. jp] He agreed to take Juliet with him, to get her away from Pauline. The date agreed for his departure was 3 July--and the two girls vowed to kill Mrs Parker before then, her punishment for engineering their separation. [note: This conclusion of vengeance or retribution is inconsistent with trial evidence. see 7.4. jp]
'Their first idea was to carry out this crime in such a way so that it apeared that it was an accident which befell Mrs Parker,' said Brown. They persuaded Mrs Parker, having pretended for a couple of weeks prior to her death that they no longer cared about being separated [note: No evidence presented in trial to support this conclusion. jp], to take them on a picnic to the country. Juliet Hulme brought along the brick from the garden of her home and the deed was accomplished. All (sic) this was corroborated in a sensational diary kept by Pauline Parker and in notes passed between the two--correspondence which the Crown said was definitely the work of people who were quite aware of what they were doing.
'In it,' said Brown, waving Pauline's leather-bound diary before the jury, 'she reveals that she and Juliet Hulme have engaged in shoplifting, have toyed with blackmail and talked about and played around in matters of sex. There is clear evidence that as long ago as February she was anxious that her mother should die, and during the few weeks before 22 June she was planning to kill her mother in the way in which she was eventualy to be killed.' It was damning evidence.
On 14 February, (sic) he read:'Why, oh why, could mother not die? Dozens of people, thousands of people, are dying every day. So why not mother and father too?' Later, in April, she wrote: '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. I am trying to think of some way. I want it to appear either a natural or an accidental death.'
In June it continued: 'We discussed our plans for moidering [sic] mother and made them a little clearer. Peculiarly enought (sic) I have no qualms of conscience (or is it just peculiar we are so mad!)' On 22 June, the actual day of the crime, Pauline penned this entry: 'I am writing a little bit of this up in the morning before the death. I felt very excited like the night before Chrismassy (sic) last night. I did not have pleasant dreams, though.' She did not elaborate on these.
[note: The diary quotations above are not all accurate, or complete. see 7.4. jp]
The reading of the diary caused a stunned shock to the court. The two looked for all the world like normal schoolgirls and yet they had plotted and committed murder. There was even more damning testimony about them which showed that they were sneering, arrogant vixens who enjoyed illicit adult pleasures wrapped up in a fantasy world of their own making. And much of this damaging testimony was delivered by Juliet's mother.
THE STRANGE DEBORAH AND LANCELOT
Mrs Hulme told the court how the girls were planning to publish a novel (although they hadn't yet written one) and practised writing in strange letters to each other using romantic pseudonyms. Juliet was often called Charles II, Emperor of Borovnia, then she changed to Deborah and then Bialbo. Pauline Parker, at the start of this bizarre correspondence, had called herself Lancelot Trelawney, a Cornish mercenary. Names of medieval drama.
The letters were initially full of romance as they created a fantasy world into which they escaped, but soon the tone changed to something far more sinister. They became violent, sadistic, with maidens raped and knights tortured as the girls' own lust for each other became ever more urgent. Soon they were sleeping together and even indulged in bondage. One said: 'I loved how we enacted how each saint might make love in bed. We have never felt so exhausted...but so satisfied!' [note: Inaccurate quote. jp] It is no surprise that their parents wished to see the girls parted permanently.
Further details emerged of how they spent their days when they were supposed to be in school. They often slipped away to a country barn where they frolicked in the hayloft as lovers, finishing their day by washing each other in a country stream. They talked of going to America, of becoming rich and famous and buying a house together where they would have eunuchs as servants.
Juliet said she wanted to be 'safe' with Pauline--as a child she was brought up in the East End (sic) of London at the time of the London Blitz [note: Hulmes lived in Greenwich, normally referred to as part of 'the South Bank' of London. The 'East End' was and is an extremely economically depressed, industrial area hard-hit in the blitz. jp], something which traumatized her deeply. One of their 'games' involved Pauline cradling her as she made noises like bombs exploding around her. And all the while they played out this weird relationship, all schoolfriends and other playmates were excluded; it was, as described in one of Juliet's missives to Pauline, 'their perfect world', one to which no other was admitted. [note: I have not been able to confirm this aspect of the relationship in any other source as yet. It must be viewed as suspect, therefore. jp]
Initially, Mrs Hulme, who had emigrated with her husband and Juliet when the child was five years old [note: These statements are all wrong. see 7.3. jp], welcomed her friendship with Pauline because it seemed to bring her out of her shell. 'Had I known where this would lead, I would have killed it stone dead there and then,' she sobbed.
Another entry in Pauline's diary, and one which was instrumental in proving their sanity, was the one which read: 'Prostitution sounds a good idea to make money and what fun we would have in doing it! We are so brilliantly clever, there probably isn't anything we couldn't do.' Was this, said the prosecution, the words of a pair who claimed they did not know what they were doing? Further, when Pauline was called to testify (sic) [note: Neither girl testified on the stand at the trial. jp], her own arrogance virtually broke their defence. When asked if she knew that it was wrong to murder she sneered: 'I knew it was wrong to murder and I knew at the time that I was murdering somebody that it was wrong. You would have to be an absolute moron not to know that something was wrong.' [note: Inaccurate quote, it was made by JMH and it was entered into testimony by Dr Kenneth Stallworthy. see 7.1. jp]
Lawyers for the two girls said there was no question that they were the killers but that they should not hang--a possibility, despite their age because they were being judged as adults [note: Unlikely in the extreme. see 7.7.1. jp]--because of the abnormality of their minds. One medical expert, a Dr Medlicott, pointed out that each of the girls had suffered bad physical health as toddlers and that their siblings were also prone to illnesses, suggesting somehow that this contributed to the unbalanced state of their young murderers' minds. [note: The trial statements about siblings referred to PYP only. jp]
Discussing the bizarre relationship between them the doctor told the court: 'Juliet told me: "I do believe that we are indeed geniuses. I don't wish to place myself above the law--I am apart from it." And when I performed a medical examination upon Miss Parker she turned to me and said: "I hope you break your flaming neck." In my opinion they are agressive, dangerous, but most certifiably insane."
It was not (sic) an opinion shared by expert Dr Charles Bennett [note: Bennett was a witness for the defense and the following quote is out of context. see 7.1. jp] who told the court: 'I find that they probably, very probably, knew what they were doing and knew it was wrong in the eyes of society at large. But I doubt very much if they gave any consideration whatsoever to what society thought of them at all.'
In the end, after a careful summing up by the judge, it was left to the jury to decide whether the girls were mad or not. Mr Justice Adams said: 'The 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 this act was wrong? This is what you, ladies (sic) and gentlemen of the jury, have to consider.' [note: Quote embellished. The jury was all male. jp]
Consider it they did and in just two and a quarter hours returned a verdict of Guilty. There was a fleeting smile flashed between the two girls, these supreme egotists, when they were spared the rope by a merciful judge and ordered to be detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure--which meant indefinitely. But in a move which, to many, seemed to mock justice, they were freed just four (sic) years later after intense psychiatric counselling. [note: JMH and PYP released Nov/Dec 1959, five years later. see 7.3. jp] They remained friends but the spark from that earlier relationship had been extinguished by the separation. [note: This is completely wrong; there was no communication or contact between them after August 28, 1954. see 7.3. jp].
Herbert Rieper--he was with Pauline's mother for twenty-five (sic) years although he never married her--never recovered from her death. He never forgave the girl and when his daughter was freed he said: 'It still doesn't make up for robbing a person of their life. It was evil between them that did it. Pure evil.'
Caption, Fig. 1, p. 42: Juliet Hulme, on the left, and Pauline Parker were so in love that they were prepared to murder anybody who threatened their relationship.
Caption, Fig. 2, p. 43: The childish face of Juliet Hulme hid a passionate nature and a willful nature.
Caption, Fig. 3, p. 44: The distinguished father of Pauline (sic), Dr H.R. Hulme, Rector of Canterbury University College, Christchurch. He intended to take his daughter away from her friend.
Caption, Fig. 4, p. 45: Juliet Hulme photographed at the time she was involved with Pauline but before they turned into killers.
Caption, Fig. 5, p. 46: The girls ran into the Victoria Tearooms, crying that Mrs Parker had fallen and was badly hurt.
Caption, Fig. 6, p. 47: Mrs Hulme broke down frequently during the trial of her daughter for murder. She refused to speak about the case for many years after the event.
Caption, Fig. 7, p. 48: It was on this pathway, near the planking, that the two girls bludgeoned the mother to death.
Caption, Fig. 8, p. 49: The trial aroused tremendous interest. Crowds clamoured outside the court for a glimpse of the young lesbian killers.