The Case
Christchurch, New Zealand, 1954. On June 22, Pauline Parker and her friend, Juliet Hulme, murder Pauline’s mother Honorah Rieper (also known as Honorah Parker, her legal name) in a violent and premeditated attack using a brick in a stocking. Parker was 16 at the time, while Hulme was 15. Portions of Pauline's diary were read as evidence at the trial. The murder has inspired plays, novels, non-fiction books, and films including Peter Jackson's 1994 film Heavenly Creatures.
Below a timeline of (more or less) important events, illustrated when possible.
March 23, 1948
Ten-year-old Juliet Hulme arrives in New Zealand with the Brown family, coming from The Bahamas. She'll stay in the Bay of Islands for more than half a year.

October 15, 1948
The rest of Hulme family arrives from England. Dr. Henry Hulme assumes the post of Rector of Canterbury University College.
The Hulme family moves to Ilam homestead.
February, 1952
Juliet (aged 13) arrives at Christchurch Girls' High School and joins Pauline (aged 14) in class 3A.

June, 1952
Juliet tells her mother: "Mummy, I've met someone at last with a will as strong as my own". This is Pauline, according to dr. Medlicott's testimony during the trial in '54.
January 1, 1953
Pauline has recieved a 'Handy Diary for 1953'.
From the diary: "New Year's Resolution: To be lenient with others".

February, 1953
Pauline buys a horse secretly around this time, and hides the fact from her family. Her father, Herbert Rieper, finds out three months later, when she has difficulty with grazing fees, but he relents and allows her to keep the horse, thinking it will distract her from her friendship with Juliet, so there is already serious concern about the relationship in the Rieper house by April, 1953. Herbert Rieper testifies later that Pauline had ridden horses for years.

April, 1953
Pauline spends the Easter holidays with the Hulmes at Port Levy.
From the diary: "Today Juliet and I found the key to the 4th World ... We saw a gateway through the clouds...The days I spent at Port Levy were the most HEAVENLY ones I have ever experienced".
Mrs. Hulme calls Pauline "her foster daughter".

May, 1953
Juliet is confined to a sanatorium with TB for nearly four months - she will not return to Christchurch Girls' High School at all. In the mean time, Henry & Hilda Hulme leave for England (looking jor a new job), only to return in August.
Pauline 'records that she had a brain wave that Juliet and she should write to each other as Charles and Lance'.

August 9, 1953
Pauline visits Juliet in the Sanatorium. They discussed 'these imaginary characters and had a play acting scene. They appeared to have discussed Diello's various females', according to dr. Medlicott's testimony during the trial in '54.

September, 1953
Juliet returns home from the sanatorium, not completely cured. She'll have to continue to strengthen at home to get better.
This picture is taken in the garden at Ilam.
It is also featured (in original black & white) in 'Heavenly Creatures', see this screenshot.
Pauline's class photo is taken at Christchurch Girls' High School.
'The only girl who hung her head' the press would later state...

December, 1953
Pauline and Juliet begin calling themselves Gina and Deborah.
Herbert Rieper testified that around this time dr. Hulme came to advise his wife at her request concerning the girls' relationship.
Hilda Hulme testified that she advised Honorah Parker to seek medical advice for Pauline because she had expressed concern to her about Pauline's weightloss and her relationship with Juliet.
Anyway, Honorah Parker takes Pauline to be examined by dr. Bennett. The result of this examination is that she forbids Pauline seeing Juliet 'unless her health improves'. Pauline gets depressed by the threat of permanent separation from Juliet and considers suicide.
It's also the beginning of the summer holidays. The girls are actually separated by their parents, and they will not see eachother again until the end of January 1954.
January 1, 1954
From the diary: "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'."

February 13, 1954
From the diary: "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. "... "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."

March, 1954
Dr. Hulme is asked in writing by his colleagues to resign as Rector of Canterbury College. He basically gets fired.
Honorah Parker says she won't keep Pauline in school. Miss J.I. Stewart, headmistress of Christchurch Girls' High, and Hilda Hulme intercede to try and keep her in school.

April, 1954
Honorah Parker goes to see Miss Stewart. Pauline leaves the school, and starts at Digby's Commercial College, a private vocational school where girls learn shorthand, typing, bookkeeping and other skills necessary for a clerical job.
Juliet catches Hilda Hulme and Bill Perry in flagrante in his flat (both denied this at the trial, providing an alternative story).
From the diary: "Deborah went as far as telling [Hilda and Bill] about our desire to go to America in ... six months.... 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... 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....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... I do not [want] to go to too much trouble, but I want it to appear either a natural or an accidental death.... I told Deborah of my intentions and she is rather worried but does not disagree violently."

May, 1954
From the diary: "[Mrs Hulme] made a lovely remark. She said Won't it be wonderful when we are all back in England. Do you think you will like England Gina. I was delighted. ... "
Honorah Parker gets in touch with Dr. Hulme again, with new concerns about Pauline and Juliet's relationship. She is told by Dr. Hulme that he will be leaving New Zealand with Juliet in a matter of weeks. It is Honorah Parker who makes the decision to allow Pauline "to see as much of Juliet as she desired, pending her departure".

June 3, 1954
Official farewell ceremony for Dr. Hulme as Rector of Canterbury University College in the College Hall.

June 11, 1954
With Honorah Parker's blessing Pauline begins her 'last visit' for 10 days with Juliet at Ilam, the Hulme residence, before Juliet's planned departure for South Africa.

June 19, 1954
From the diary: "We practically finished our books today 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 21, 1954
From the diary: "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."

June 22, 1954
According to Pauline's diary this is 'The Day of The Happy Event' ...
On this day the girls kill Honorah Parker in Victoria Park.
Pauline Parker is charged with murder and taken into custody late that evening after the police finds her diaries.

June 23, 1954

“The body of a middle-aged woman was found in a hollow in Victoria Park, below the tearooms, about 4 p.m. yesterday,” The Press reported on this day.

Juliet is also arrested after implications by Pauline: During her interrogation at the police station, a piece of paper was confiscated from Pauline. Later, during a subsequent interrogation session, she grabbed it and threw it into the fire. It was only partly recovered. Courtroom speculation was that Pauline intended to put the piece of paper into her diary later that day. She herself never made a public statement about the paper. It was enormously important in terms of defining the course of the investigation, of course. On it had been written the following: The detective stated that the note commenced with a reference to Pauline finding herself in an unexpected place. She then made reference to having committed her 'moider'. She then went on to write about the treatment she had received: ‘All the Hulmes have been wonderfully kind and sympathetic. Anyone would think I've been good. I've had a pleasant time with the police talking 19 to the dozen and behaving as though I hadn't a care in the world.’ There were then several sentences he couldn't remember but the final sentence was: ‘I haven't had a chance to talk to Deborah properly but I am taking the blame for everything.’

July 16, 1954
Pauline Yvonne Parker, 16, and Juliet Marion Hulme, 15, leaving a magistrate's court in Christchurch, after a preliminary hearing which results in their being ordered to stand trial on murder charges in relation to the death of of Pauline's mother, Mrs. Honorah Mary Parker, 45.
They are committed for trial by jury in the Supreme Court of New Zealand. It had been conclusively established that Herbert and Honorah Rieper had never legally married, so from now on both mother and daughter will suffer the indignity of being officially known by Honorah’s unmarried name, 'Parker'.

August 23, 1954
The trial of Pauline & Juliet begins. Both plead ‘Not Guilty’. During the six day trial the defense enter an insanity plea, several doctors testify, Hilda Hulme, Herbert Rieper, Walter Perry testify. Portions of Pauline's diary are read. Press from all over the world flocked to Christchurch.

August 29, 1954
The verdict: "Sane and guilty".
It takes the jury less than three hours to find both girls guilty of murder. Since they are under 18, they are not be sentenced to death, they will be imprisoned "during Her Majesty's pleasure".
Pauline will be moved from Paparua Prison, Christchurch, to a Borstal north of Wellington, Arohata Women's Reformatory. She will spend most of her incarceration here, some time at Mt Eden and finally back to Paparua.
Juliet will be flown by Air Force plane to Whenuapai, Auckland, and taken to Auckland Prison (Mt Eden), to the women's wing.

December 12, 1954
A very interesting article in the Sydney 'Daily Telegraph'. Some astounding quotes:

"Pauline, much less erudite than Juliet, is a sulky, moody girl. Up to this week she stubbornly refused to take her position seriously. She has convinced herself that within another six months everyone would forget the murder and she would be free to renew her association with Juliet. She has revealed this in her conversations and in the diary she has kept since her conviction. In a letter she tried to smuggle to Juliet she said she 'hoped to be with her very soon.'"

"Recently Juliet said in jail: 'What I wrote in my diary was true. I can understand mother not wanting to admit it. But I can never forgive her for standing up in the witnessbox and saying I had written a lie in my diary. I would not have minded had mother come to me before she gave her evidence and said that to protect her reputation she intended to deny what I had written. But she did not come and tell me.'"

Read (and or download) the full two-page article here.
November, 1959
Late in 1959, soon after her twenty-first birthday, Juliet Hulme is released secretly from prison (a public announcement will be made two weeks later) and given an anonymous new identity. One of the terms of her release is that she will leave the country.
Pauline will be released on parole two weeks later.

December 3, 1959
S.T. Barnett, NZ Secretary of Justice, announces Juliet and Pauline released from prison and given new identities. "Neither girl knows where the other is living.”
Juliet becomes Anne Steward (later Anne Stewart Perry, and finally Anne Perry) and goes to Sydney, Australia, and later joins Hilda and Walter Perry in the U.K.
Pauline becomes Hilary Nathan, and is released on parole until 1965. Upon her release from parole she also moves from New Zealand to the U.K.
Read more in the 'people' section.
somewhere between 1985 and 1997
Hilary Nathan makes a large artistic mural in the upper bedroom in her home in the village Hoo, which clearly refers to the events of the 1950s. It is both beautiful and terrifying.
Read more in the 'pauline parker' section.

  • the Heavenly Creatures F.A.Q.
  • Peter Graham, 'Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century' originally published as 'So Brilliantly Clever', 2011