Michelle Hoffman-Tamm family horrified at gruesome killing

By Katie Holland

Michelle Hoffman-Tamm's family have spoken of their horror at the gruesome way in which she died, which included having her ears cut off and one shoved in her mouth.

In Rotorua District Court this morning, Rotorua process worker Gwenda Leigh Sloane aka Pluss, 44, pleaded guilty to the murder of her lover Ms Hoffman-Tamm in Rotorua on November 7.

Ms Hoffman-Tamm, 51, went missing that night after leaving the Philip St home she shared with her long-term female partner to visit a friend. 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, Sergeant Bill Scott of the Rotorua police read out the summary of facts, which revealed details of a frenzied attack that left Ms Hoffman-Tamm with 33 stab wounds and her ears severed and one shoved in her mouth.

Outside court Ms Hoffman-Tamm's daughter Monique told The Daily Post the family had previously been told most of those details, but she hadn't expected them to be read out in court.

"It was gut wrenching," she said.

Monique said she felt nothing but anger to wards Sloane, who she had known and called "aunty" her whole life.

"All she could do was hang her head down," she said. "If you love someone you can't do that [to them]."

She said she was relieved Sloane had pleaded guilty but it "still doesn't make it seem any more real".

In emotional scenes outside court, Monique embraced a family member of Sloane's, telling her friends it wasn't their fault.

Ms Hoffman-Tamm's sister Jan Donlan said it hadn't been very pleasant hearing what had happened to the woman she described as her sister and best friend.

However she said she hoped the family could now work towards some sort of closure.

"I am just grateful she [Sloane] did plead guilty. .. saved us the experience of having to sit through a trial," she said.

"Hopefully now we can bring this tragic situation to an end."

Ms Donlan said she was also grateful Sloane had told police where Ms Hoffman-Tamm's body was.

Accordning to the police summary of facts 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 approximately 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 some where 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 with out this they were unlikely to have found it.

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 it's 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.


- Rotorua Daily Post

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 27 May 2017 13:43:57 Processing Time: 490ms