'Heavenly Creatures' killer tells all

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Anne Perry says Pauline Parker had been her only true friend at a dark time in her life and the murder of Pauline's mother came at a time when both of their lives were falling apart.Photo / Supplied.
Anne Perry says Pauline Parker had been her only true friend at a dark time in her life and the murder of Pauline's mother came at a time when both of their lives were falling apart.Photo / Supplied.

A woman better known as the teenager who helped her friend bludgeon her mother to death and whose actions were portrayed in the film Heavenly Creatures says her new life has helped her to forgive herself.

Crime novelist Anne Perry - formerly Juliet Hulme - has started to speak to New Zealand media for the first time in almost 60 years about her role in the murder of her best friend's mother, Honora Rieper.

In June 1954, the 15-year-old school friends led Mrs Rieper into Victoria Park, in Christchurch, where they bludgeoned her to death.

They were convicted that year and served five years in Mt Eden Prison, before Juliet changed her name and moved to Europe.

In an interview in the latest edition of the Listener magazine, Perry reveals details of her relationship with Parker, what led to the murder and her new life as Anne Perry.

When she was 14, she spent time in a sanatorium and Pauline - who has since changed her name to Hilary Nathan - was her one true friend.

"I wasn't allowed visitors of any sort but she wrote to me every day and I felt I owed her for that friendship," Perry says.

She tells the magazine that because of those letters, she always felt that she owed "a lifeline" to Pauline Parker.

What came about was murder, but that was something that happened within 24 hours of their world coming apart.

"Within 24 hours I learnt that my parents' marriage was dissolving, my father lost his job and they were leaving the country and a girl to whom I felt I owed a great deal of debt hit the buffers as well and the decision had to be made within hours."

Perry also talks about Sir Peter Jackson's film, Heavenly Creatures, in which she was played by Hollywood star Kate Winslet.

"When the film came out, that was indescribably awful ... I don't want anything to do with it."

Over the years she learned to forgive herself, she says, as the actions back then were those of a child.

A biography written by Kiwi writer Joanne Drayton - The Search for Anne Perry - is also now available.

- NZ Herald

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