Pauline Yvonne Parker (May 26, 1938)
[currently Hilary Nathan]

Pauline was born on May 26, 1938 in Christchurch, NZ, as third child of Herbert Detlev Rieper (aged 43) and Honorah Mary Parker (aged 29). As a young child of five, Pauline contracted osteomyelitis and was hospitalized for nine months. She was near death at one point, and the illness and treatment were extremely painful for her. Little Pauline was reported to have borne the pain bravely and quietly. Two years later, at the age of seven, she was forced to undergo a second painful operation to drain infection from her leg. Pauline's illness left her with a permanent, though not crippling, handicap which would excuse her from physical education and sports throughout childhood. Pauline had chronic, recurring pain in her leg throughout her childhood and youth and she took pain killers quite frequently throughout this time. Otherwise, her childhood was described by her father as "uneventful." She attended a local primary school but had to be in a class by herself for nearly two years following her discharge from hospital because of the school's organization.
Pauline was eight when her family moved to 31 Gloucester Steet. Throughout much of her later childhood, Pauline attended East Belt Methodist Church regularly with her sister, Wendy, though her parents were not regular parishoners. She and her sister went on outings and vacations in the country sponsored by the Church. Pauline was described as a serious, mature, bright girl and an imaginitive, gifted writer. She became interested in creative modelling in plasticine and wood and became quite accomplished. Upon entering Christchurch Girls High School in February 1952, at the age of 12, Pauline was placed into the top stream. Note that Pauline entered High School at the normal age, despite having been hospitalized for the better part of a year.

 

Enter Juliet
Soon after Juliet Hulme began attending Girls' High, Pauline Parker began a friendship with Juliet that would come to distance Pauline from her family. The friendship between the two girls was also to push the bounds of local social norms in many ways; their physical closeness at school was disapproved of and commented upon as early as mid-1952. Glamuzina and Laurie paint Pauline's family, in particular, as becoming progressively more concerned at the growing friendship between Pauline and Juliet, disapproving of the changes they saw in Pauline and in her behaviour and her attitudes as the friendship grew. The two girls were separated for the first time by Juliet's quarantine in the TB sanatorium. Pauline Parker was a loyal, loving and extremely important friend to Juliet during this very difficult time in Juliet's life. In later years, Juliet Hulme would comment that she would come to feel an extreme debt of gratitude and obligation to Pauline Parker because of Pauline's unwavering support and companionship during this "dark and lonely time." Juliet would refer to Pauline's friendship as a "lifeline" during her confinement at the sanatorium.
Pauline wrote extensively during this time, in the form of letters to Juliet, stories and in personal diaries beginning in January, 1953. Pauline's diaries would eventually provide most of the physical evidence for premeditation of Honorah Parker's murder. They would also be used extensively by the army of psychiatrists in their testimony during the trial. Glamuzina and Laurie claim that much of Pauline's diaries have been sensationalized and mis-interpreted.
Pauline's school picture from October 1953 shows her to be a serious, rather short, dark-haired girl with an oval face and full, dark brows. At "seven stone" (98 lbs) she appears slim compared to her classmates and rather more sad than brooding, with arms held quite stiffly behind her and her face downcast. Her hair is dark and had been curled and pinned on either side of her head, a little untidily. All the girls around her have short hair styles. Pauline's uniform is well-fitting, neat and pressed, her collar starched, and her tie is loosely but correctly knotted and placed.

 

Gear up for murder
When the Hulme family started disintegrating, Pauline became concerned and upset at first, according to her diary. Pauline had formed a close relationship with Hilda Hulme before this upheaval, or perhaps a close attachment would be a more correct description, according to her diaries. Pauline had apparently believed that Hilda and Henry Hulme would support her in her desire to leave her family for theirs. The Hulme family upheaval changed all that, and it seems that Pauline and Juliet came up with several alternative 'escape' schemes.
Honorah Parker was apparently pleased that the relationship between the girls would be broken up and she became very pleased when she learned that Dr Hulme was to leave the country, with Juliet, according to evidence presented during the trial. Around this time Honorah removed her daughter from school and enrolled her at Digby's Commercial College. According to Glamuzina and Laurie, "Suggestions were made that she had fallen behind in her schoolwork [when she left the High School]. The school record shows no indication of this".
Just 12 days before the Hulme household was due to disintegrate completely, Pauline Parker murdered her mother, with Juliet Hulme's assistance, on Tuesday June 22, 1954. The girls led Ms. Rieper to a remote area of a park near Christchurch and beat her to death with a half brick concealed in a stocking. They immediately ran to a nearby tea shop, visibly upset and covered in blood, claiming that Pauline's mother had slipped and fallen. When the body was discovered by police, their story did not hold up in explaining the 45 wounds on the woman's head. The torn, blood-soaked stocking with the brick in it was found nearby. At first, both girls maintained that Honorah Parker's death had been an accident, but Pauline confessed to the crime later that evening when she was interrogated, alone, at Ilam.
She apparently planned to exonerate Juliet, hoping that Juliet would escape punishment, but it was in vain. After making her brief, rather uninformative confession, Pauline Parker offered little more concrete information about the murder in the weeks and months ahead, or her reason for committing it, and she has kept her silence on these matters to this day. She admitted, during questioning, that she was aware of her crime and that it went against the moral standards of the community--sufficient evidence to find her legally sane.
Prior to the trial, Pauline Parker had been known as Pauline Rieper. Her mother, Honorah Rieper, had been living with her father, Herbert Rieper, but during police investigations, it was revealed that they were not, in fact, married. Thus, during the trial, both Honorah and Pauline were referred to with the "Parker" surname.

 

at Her Majesty's pleasure
Parker and Hulme were tried by jury in Christchurch, and were found guilty. A plea of insanity was rejected by the court. As the girls were too young to be considered for the death penalty under New Zealand law at the time, they were convicted and sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. In practice, this sentence meant they were to be detained at the discretion of the Minister of Justice.
Pauline was removed to a Borstal (roughly equivalent to lower-security Juvenile Detention) near Wellington, Arohata Women's Reformatory, where she served out most of her sentence. This more lenient environment, compared to Mt Eden, was partly the result of lack of prison facilities in New Zealand and also because Pauline was viewed by the public, after the trial, to be slightly the dupe or victim of Juliet Hulme's intense persuasion. The public perceived the murder, for reasons best known to itself, to have been something of a 'thrill killing' in some respects, possibly at Juliet's instigation. There may have also been a little racism and English backlash involved in these sentiments, too. Pauline and Juliet were not allowed to communicate in any way or meet during their incarceration. It was reported that Pauline was extremely distraut by these circumstances in the early stages of her prison term.
Pauline Parker's relationship with her family members was extremely strained after the murder, as might be expected. Her father was not present at her conviction or sentencing and he made brief and bitter statements to the Press after the trial and upon his daughter's release from prison. Pauline was visited once by her father in prison and it would appear that this was their last contact. Pauline was moved to Christchurch Womens' Prison, Paparua before Juliet was moved to Arohata in the later stages of her incarceration. She was visited by other family and friends when she was moved back to Christchurch.
Early in her incarceration Pauline converted to Roman Catholicism and apparently became a devout Catholic. Pauline enrolled in courses in English, French, Latin, Mathematics, Drawing and Design and, later, Maori. She completed University Entrance and made considerable progress towards her Bachelor of Arts degree, eventually completing it soon after her release from prison.

 

Hilary Nathan
In late 1959, Pauline Parker was furnished with a new identity under the name Hilary Nathan and released on parole after Juliet Hulme had been released and had left the country. During her parole, Pauline was subject to controls in terms of her movements and her employment and she was closely monitored. Department of Justice officials noted their concern over Pauline's association with lesbians during her probation period, a good indication of the scrutiny under which she was placed. It also illustrates the type of official labelling, discrimination and repercussions in this timeperiod.
After her release from prison Pauline studied at Auckland University, graduating with a BA before training as a librarian. She remained on parole until 1965.
Upon her release from parole, she moved from New Zealand to Britain in 1965 where se spent some time in London. In 1985 she eventually settled in Hoo St Werburgh, in the Medway district of Kent, retrained as a teacher, and taught mentally handicapped children at Abbey Court special school in Strood until her retirement in 1994, by which time she had become deputy headmistress.
She was also running a children's riding school, Abbots Court Riding School, which boasted ten horses, including an Arab stallion, which were kept in makeshift stables in her tiny backyard and in a field nearby.
Pauline Parker had become an anonymous private citizen after her release from prison and she has continued to maintain her anonymity as late as 1997, when a New Zeland reporter found her.
She was a regular worshipper at English Martyrs' Roman Catholic Church in the town, where members of the congregation were astonished to learn of her past. "It's so difficult to believe," said one woman who did not wished to be named. "She seems like such a good woman. This is a terrible shock to us all".
Villagers stated that 58yr old Miss Nathan was a reclusive, devout woman. Diminutive and grey-haired, she does not own a tv, radio or oven and is said to live on a diet of sandwiches and currant buns. A villager said: "She is very eccentric and very much keeps herself to herself. She is very well spoken and appears very intelligent and well educated". A source close to Abbey Court said at the time, "This I know will come as a shock to the whole school. Nobody knew anything about it... She was very much a loner but she was well liked and there were never any problems. But I did notice when school photographs were taken she used to hold herself back out of the picture". Miss Nathan refused to answer questions. "I have absolutely no comment to make," she said. But her sister Wendy, speaking from New Zealand, said, "She has led a good life and is very remorseful for what she's done. She committed the most terrible crime and has spent 40 years repaying it by keeping away from people and doing her own little thing". Parker took five years to realise the enormity of her crime, said Wendy, but now is so repentant she spends most of her time praying. Her next door neighbour, Joyce Hookins, said, She is very quiet and always very business-like in her dealings with people around here. But she has always seemed very nice, and she clearly loves children. She has never said anything to us about her past. We didn't even know she was from New Zealand". Wendy, a year older than Pauline, still found it hard to explain why her sister and Juliet lured Mrs Honorah Parker into a Christchurch park and took turns clubbing her to death. "She has never spoken to me about the details of the way she took our mother's life. Well it was absolutely overboard, wasn't it? The story is: they met, they were ill-fated and they committed a dreadful crime".

 

The mural
Hilary moved from her house in Hoo around the time 'Heavenly Creatures' was shown nationwide in Britain, according to Peter Graham in his book 'So Brilliantly Clever'. She sold the house to Andrew Ayres with her original art still on the walls of the house! He was looking to by a house around 1997, and went for a viewing of a small cottage in the middle of nowhere: “It was completely covered by ivy and no part of the brickwork could be seen. To the side of the house were many homemade stables and out buildings – it was quite a mess, to say the least!
I knocked on the door and it was opened by a very small and skinny lady. When we went in we couldn’t believe how someone lived in the house in such a humble way. In the front room was a workbench along one wall with many dolls on it. The kitchen just had a sink and very basic cooking instruments indeed, there were a couple of tiny dogs running around that kept getting under your feet, but you could tell they were loved and they loved their owner back. The bedroom where she slept was just a mattress chucked in the corner and nothing else, there was just one lump of coal on the coal fire which didn’t even tackle the cold.
If you were to ask me what I thought of Hilary that would be very simple: she was extremely nice, to the point and maybe a bit eccentric but we connected and things went very easily with the sale. During the sale we had quite a lot of contact and as before I couldn’t have wished for a nicer person.
It was not until we moved in we found out who Hilary was, and in total fairness it never did and never has changed my opinion of her – she was a very nice lady – just a little different. She was very well known in the area, mostly for what she had done but also for the good she did in the community where she showed many children how to ride horses”.

Do check out the Flickr gallery of Pauline Parker's artwork as seen on the walls of her house, see the links-section.

 

Orkney
Around the turn of the century she moved to Scotland, to the remote Orkney Islands, where she still lives a quiet life today in the town of Burray.

 

 

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