Gruesome murder details revealed

By Katie Holland -
Gwenda Sloane has pleaded guilty to the murder of Michelle Hoffman-Tamm. Photo / Stephen Park
Gwenda Sloane has pleaded guilty to the murder of Michelle Hoffman-Tamm. Photo / Stephen Park

A Rotorua woman has admitted the gruesome murder of her lover Michelle Hoffman-Tamm, including cutting off her ears and shoving one in the dead woman's mouth.

(Warning: This story contains explicit content)

Gwenda Leigh Sloane, aka Pluss, 44, a process worker, pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court this morning to the murder of the 51-year-old in Rotorua on November 7.

Ms Hoffman-Tamm, 51, went missing after last being seen on her red mountain bike on November 7, when she left the Philip St home she shared with her long-term female partner to visit a friend, but never arrived.

Police found her body on November 23 in a forested area just off State Highway 38 near Murupara.

Sloane was originally charged with assault but that was upgraded to murder on December 3.

In front of a packed courtroom today, Sergeant Bill Scott read out the police summary of facts.

It said Sloane and Ms Hoffman-Tamm had been friends for more than 20 years and had a casual sexual relationship over the years which had become more intense prior to the murder.

About 11pm on November 7, Sloane sent Ms Hoffman-Tamm a text message saying "hello my little monkey want to have some fun".

Ms Hoffman-Tamm went to Sloane's Holland St home and they drove to Liquor King where they bought three dozen stubbies of beer.

They returned to Sloane's home where they drank and slept together. At some stage during the evening Sloane became "enraged" and launched a "frenzied attack" on Ms Hoffman-Tamm.

She used two knives to inflict 33 stab wounds - one a large knife 4.5cm in width and the other about 1cm in width.

The wounds were mainly to the chest and back. Ms Hoffman-Tamm also suffered blunt force trauma to the head and lost several teeth.

The summary said up to 25 of the stab wounds had potentially been inflicted after death including a cut across Ms Hoffman-Tamm's throat and a cut from her mouth across her face. Both ears were severed after death and one was put in her mouth.

Her lifeless and bloodied body lay at Sloane's house on her kitchen floor for more than a day.

On the morning of November 9, Sloane purchased black plastic bags and duct tape and wrapped up the body, put it in the back of her Subaru and drove towards Whakatane looking for somewhere to dispose of it.

She discovered a 1.5m deep ditch near Murupara and buried the body, covering it in rubbish and dirt.

She then went home and hired a domestic carpet cleaning machine to clean up the house.

The statement said Sloane was spoken to three times by police during their routine investigations but she offered no assistance and attempted to distance herself.

Their inquiries led them back to her on November 22 when she admitted what happened and led police to the body. Police said without her assistance, they were unlikely to have found the body.

In her explanation to police, Sloane said she thought Ms Hoffman-Tamm had taken $20 from her wallet and she had "lost it".

She told police as she had been drinking she only recalled parts of what happened that night but remembered attacking Ms Hoffman-Tamm, punching her and stabbing her.

She also remembered Ms Hoffman-Tamm being face down on the floor, straddling her and hitting her repeatedly on the back of the head with a kitchen drawer.

She said she left the body on the kitchen floor all the next day, November 8, while she sat on the bed drinking the rest of the beer before disposing of the body the following morning.

She put cleaning materials in rubbish bags and dropped them on a neighbouring street where they were picked up by the council during its usual rubbish collection. She also took Ms Hoffman-Tamm's bike to a bike stand on Te Ngae Rd.

The summary said Sloane appeared genuinely upset about what had happened.

Sloane was remanded in custody for sentencing in the High Court at Rotorua on February 4.

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