Two teenage girls Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme in the tiny town of Christchurch, New Zealand, bludgeon one of their mothers to death.
June 22nd, 1954. Pauline Parker and her best friend Juliet Hulme embark upon a despicable and delusional gamble. Terrified that Pauline will be forced to move to South Africa due to her parent’s impending divorce, the two have concocted a plan to stop this move: murder Pauline’s mother. With her mother out of the way, Pauline will be allowed to move in with Juliet Hulme.
After having planned for two months – and having convinced themselves that a simple blow to the head would be mistaken for a gardening accident – the two girls swung a brick at the head of Honorah Parker.
Then, they swung again. And again.
Twenty blows later, Honorah was dead – an apparent murder. And the two girls? Pauline and Juliet?
…they never saw each other again.
The Story of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme
Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker met in their first year at Christchurch Girls’ High School. Juliet had moved with her family from London for her father’s new job: Rector at the University of Canterbury. The two bonded over their unique childhoods: both were previously hospitalized for debilitating diseases—Juliet for tuberculosis and Pauline for osteomyelitis – a disease of the bones.
According to Pauline’s diary, both girls were fascinated with disease and romanticized it. This wasn’t the only thing the two girls romanticized.
First, they took on new names. Pauline became Gina, while Juliet became Deborah. From there, they began to fashion their new world. This new world had a rich lore, filled with characters that the girls would dress up as – acting out scenes from their rich imagination. They wrote half-a-dozen books set in their new world and even created a religion where they worshipped the saints.
This world, filled with their characters and a new religion, seemed to be where Pauline and Juliet truly believed existed. In her diary, Pauline wrote, “we have an extra part of our brain which can appreciate the fourth world….”
Thanks to their enlightenment, this “fourth world” was an alternate dimension they felt they could occasionally glimpse. The source of this enlightenment? Their ever-intensifying friendship.
Pauline was spending more and more time over at the Hulme household. Weekends, school holidays – and whenever she left, Juliet was in a state of depression. The Parker parents became concerned about the intensity of their friendship, but the Hulmes didn’t interfere at the time, instead believing their friendship to be intense yet harmless.
Then, however, came an unexpected change. Juliet got sick.
Parents’ Decision to Separate Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme
Struck down by tuberculosis again, Juliet had to spend three months in the sanatorium. Pauline and Juliet furiously wrote to each other – still keeping their fantasy world intact. At the sanatorium, every day, Juliet was given experimental injections of mood-altering drugs to combat her tuberculosis. Later, these injections would be blamed for Juliet’s descent into mania.
Three months later, Juliet was released from the sanatorium, and she and Pauline resumed their intense friendship. Pauline wrote, “I believe I could fall in love with Juliet.” This intensifying friendship teetered on the edge of a full-blown love affair: the two girls bathed together and slept in the same bed. Both sets of parents became concerned that the girls were becoming homosexuals – then considered to be a mental illness. Their parents sought relief, first from a doctor who believed they’d grow out of their illness and then through more direct intervention methods. They’d need to break the girls up.
As fate would have it, destroying another relationship would help separate Pauline and Juliet. Juliet’s father, Henry Hulme, discovered his wife having an affair. He announced their divorce and his intention to take his children – Jonathan and Juliet – with him to South Africa.
Pauline desperately wanted to go with Juliet to South Africa but knew her parents would never allow this.
Planning Girls to Murder Mother
The obstacle? Her mother. The means? A murder – meant to look like an accident.
Pauline told her plan to Juliet – they were to beat Pauline’s mother to death with a brick. Incredibly, Juliet agreed. Her reason for taking part in the killing? A fear that Pauline would take her own life if her mother wasn’t killed.
In the run-up to their murder, the two girls stayed for weeks at a time at the Hulme household, swinging between planning to kill and acting out passionate fantasies.
At the same time, she confessed to romantic acts with Juliet, writing, “we acted out how each Saint would make love in bed… we have now learned the peace of the thing called bliss; the joy of the thing called sin.”
The day before the murder, Pauline wrote, we decided to use a rock in a stocking rather than a sandbag. We discussed the moider. I feel keyed up as if I were planning a surprise party.”
This was no longer a fantasy: two girls had chosen to end the life of another.
Murder of Pauline’s Mother
The next day, on June 22nd, the two girls led Honorah Parker to a secluded park. Juliet walked fast, just out of sight of Honorah and Pauline. She then scattered a handful of brightly colored pebbles she had collected – dropping them along the path that Honorah was about to walk.
As Honorah and Pauline rounded the path, Pauline called out one of the brightly colored pebbles, getting her mother’s attention.
Something overtook Juliet and Pauline. Perhaps it was mania, and perhaps it was anger, or perhaps it was fear – fear that one blow wasn’t enough to kill her mother. Whatever overtook the girls drove them to slam the brick into Honorah’s head – over and over again. 24 times the brick slammed into Honorah’s head.
They ran for help, covered in blood, screaming, “help, mummy’s been hurt.”
Investigation and Arrest of The Girls
Once the police discovered the body – clearly bludgeoned – they immediately treated the incident as a homicide. Shortly after, Pauline’s diary was found, and the two girls were charged with murder – or moider, as Pauline would say. Pauline’s diary – filled with plans to murder Honorah – provided the evidence necessary to convict.
New Life of Two Girlfriends
But as for Pauline and Juliet? Both lived under assumed names for decades. It wasn’t until a movie inspired by their lives, Heavenly Creatures, was released that people became interested in discovering what happened to Pauline and Juliet post-release.
Eventually, two journalists, Lin Ferguson and Chris Cooke tracked down Juliet and Pauline.
Juliet became Anne Perry. She had worked as a flight attendant before making it big as an actual crime author. Her books have been featured on The New York Times best-seller list; she’s sold over 10 million copies of her novels.
On the other hand, Pauline has lived a much more private life. She took the name, Hilary Nathan. According to her older sister, Wendy, she became a devout Roman Catholic. She has no TV or radio in her house. Instead, she passed her time by teaching horseback riding to children.
Both women have expressed regret and remorse for killing Pauline’s mother. Juliet stated, “When I was 15, I was very much involved in something which I regret. It is now common knowledge, and not something which I wish to dwell on.”
Pauline never gave a public statement. Her sister, Wendy, stated that “after it happened, she was very sorry about it. It took her about five years to realise what she had done.”
Since their imprisonment 68 years ago, the two former best friends have never spoken.