There are currently 66 unsolved homicides in New Zealand, dating back to 1914. That's 66 men, women and children - some siblings or couples murdered together - whose deaths are a mystery. Justice has never been served for them or their families, and while in some cases police are confident that one day they will get a result, others will never be solved. Police provided the Herald with details of each of the unsolved homicides from 1914 to June this year.

For the next four days we will detail each murder: who the victim was, what happened, and when.

Today, we look at the unsolved murders between 1900 and 1940.

Police give every case they investigate a code.


Each of the 66 cases on the unsolved list has been given a homicide offence code - meaning it is a situation in which one person has killed another by murder or manslaughter.

The list does not include a number of high-profile cases where murder is suspected, including teen sex worker Jane Furlong.

Furlong's body was found buried in the sand dunes at Port Waikato almost 20 years after the mother-of-one was last seen.

Police believe she was murdered, but her case remains coded as a missing person.

The list also omits a number of murder victims in cases where alleged killers have been tried in court and acquitted.

Cases like Feilding farmer Scott Guy, the Kahui twins and the Bain family murders have also been left off the list.

The alleged killers in those cases - Guy's brother-in-law Ewen Macdonald, the twins' father Chris Kahui, and David Bain - were all either acquitted of murder charges at trial, had convictions quashed on appeal or were found not guilty at re-trial.

This is because police charged the person they believed was responsible for the deaths, and regardless of acquittals in court, they are not seeking anyone else in connection with the crimes.

"Police record an offence code when they have sufficient evidence to suggest that the specific offence occurred," police National Criminal Investigations Group spokeswoman Kathryn Wilson said.

"The outcomes of court proceedings are separate from the outcomes of police investigations.

"Police homicide investigations generally consider all lines of inquiry that might lead to the identification and prosecution of an alleged offender.

"Where there are further lines of inquiry following court proceedings, new information is provided or there is a likelihood of identifying or prosecuting further alleged offenders, police will continue to undertake investigative activities as appropriate and the investigation may be reopened."

One of the 66 victims has never been identified and police refused to release the names of three others.

They said the names were with-held because publishing the information "would be likely to prejudice the law including the prevention investigation and detection of offences and the right to a fair trial".

"Homicide investigations are often lengthy and the cause of death may not be known for some time," a police spokesperson said.

"There may be some deaths included [on the list] that, following thorough investigation, are re-categorised as not suspicious.

"Likewise, there might be deaths that are not considered to be suspicious until much later, therefore they would not be included."

The 66 unsolved homicides all centre around a person: a parent, child, friend, colleague and member of the community.

For their loved ones, many who have been interviewed by the Herald over the years, the pain of their death is compounded by not knowing who was responsible, not having any resolution of justice.

Today, as we remember those killed, we urge anyone with information on these cases to contact their local police - or offer details anonymously via Crimestoppers - and help them solve the mystery of what happened to the 66.

Frances "Fanny" Marshall

September 28, 1914

Marshall, a 43-year-old sex worker, was murdered at a vacant section on Nelson St, central Auckland.

Her throat had been cut, her head and scalp had been badly mutilated and she had been stabbed in the heart, lungs and breast.

Frances "Fanny" Marshall was badly mutilated in 1914. Photo / National Library

One man came to police attention after he turned up at an Auckland freezing works at 4am the next morning looking for work, his face covered in blood.

He was never found - and Marshall's killer never identified.

James and Hilda Holland

May 11, 1916

James Holland, 74, was attacked with an iron bar in a shed near the family home.

He tried to defend himself, dislocating his right arm in two places, but was killed by a blow to the head.

Hilda, in her 30s, rushed to help her husband but she too was bludgeoned to death in the yard then dragged into the shed.

The couple had a 3-year-old son, who was found safe and well in the house the next day.

The murder weapon was found wrapped in brown paper and tied with string under the shed.

Police found the iron bar after the family cat tipped off police after traipsing a piece of the bloodied paper into the house.

Francis Edward Jew

July 17, 1921

Jew's bloodied and battered body was found on a vacant property beside a Catholic church in Grey Lynn.

The 20-year-old had been beaten with a fence paling, receiving severe head injuries.

The case baffled police, who said there appeared to be no motive or reason for the killing.

Frances Jew was killed in 1921. Image/NZ Truth 24 September 1921
Frances Jew was killed in 1921. Image/NZ Truth 24 September 1921

They would interview at least 1500 people during the murder investigation and appeared to have a strong suspect for a time.

A friend of Jew's had been drinking with him during the day before the murder and was the last known person to see him alive.

But police never had enough evidence - even after an inquest where 66 witnesses were called - to make an arrest.

James Dorgan

August 27, 1921

Dorgan, 37, was a police constable based in Timaru.

While out on patrol, he and another officer intervened in a robbery in progress at a drapery shop.

While one officer went to find the shop owner to get keys for the door, Dorgan was shot at four times.

Police officer James Dorgan was murdered on duty in 1921. Photo/NZ Police
Police officer James Dorgan was murdered on duty in 1921. Photo/NZ Police

He stumbled out from behind the shop shouting "he fired four shots at me and ran up the back. Get me a drink, I'm done, I'm done!".

Police took 70 sets of fingerprints and closely questioned several suspects in the search for Dorgan's killer - but an arrest was never made.

Dorgan was married with three children and had been a policeman for nine years.

Margaret Emily Oates

October 26, 1923

The 32-year-old housewife was beaten to death in her own home.

According to the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Oates left her husband in his shop in the city to go home.

He closed up and followed her soon after.

Housewife Margaret Oates was beaten to death. Image/Northern Advocate
Housewife Margaret Oates was beaten to death. Image/Northern Advocate

When he walked into the kitchen he was violently attacked by someone in the house -
struck with a "bludgeon" knocked down, kicked and knocked out.

When he woke, the attacker was gone and he found his wife dead in another room.

The killing became known as the Aramaho murder. Even after police offered a cash reward for information, no one was ever arrested.

Allen Cornell

November 5, 1927

Further details unavailable

Elsie Walker

October 5,1928

Elsie, 16, disappeared from the home of her uncle and aunt at Papamoa, near Tauranga and her body was found five days later in scrub at a disused quarry in Tamaki.

Elsie had a fractured skull but no cause of death could be determined - a Coroner later ruled that there was no evidence to show whether the blow on the head had been deliberate.

Elsie Walker was murdered on her way home from school. Image/NZ Truth 8 August 1929
Elsie Walker was murdered on her way home from school. Image/NZ Truth 8 August 1929

Later, it would emerge that a car owned by her aunt and uncle also went missing at the same time as Elsie.

Her cousin, William Alfred Bayly, 28, was considered a suspect and investigated extensively by police but never charged.

Bayly was later hanged for the murder of his neighbours at Huntly.

Nina Chibba

1931 - Exact date not recorded by police

Chibba, a fruiterer, died in 1931.

Few details have been published about her murder.

Police ascertained that the last person seen in her shop had "bloodstains on his overcoat" but the man was never charged with the murder.

Donald Fraser

November 18, 1933

Fraser, 41, was the licensee of the Riccarton Racecourse Hotel and was killed in the middle of the night in his bedroom as his wife slept nearby.

He was gunned down by an intruder with a double-barrelled shotgun.

Riccarton Racecourse Hotel publican Donald Fraser was gunned down in his bed as his wife slept nearby.
Riccarton Racecourse Hotel publican Donald Fraser was gunned down in his bed as his wife slept nearby.

Police interviewed many people and offered rewards for information but no one came forward with anything that cracked the case.

They established the shotgun shells found at the death scene were purchased on the West Coast but could not pinpoint who they belonged to.

A Coroner later ruled that Fraser had been murdered "by a person or persons unknown" - adding he doubted the honesty of some witnesses.

Joan Rose Rattray

July 2 1936

Joan was just 6 years old when she was killed on her way home from school.

She was found dead in the mud in a Hastings creek bed.

Joan Rattray died in 1936. Image/Northern Advocate
Joan Rattray died in 1936. Image/Northern Advocate

A Coroner would later find that Joan was violently assaulted and then had her face pressed into the mud until she stopped breathing.

An impression of a man's show was found near Joan's body. It was clear she had struggled.

Ernest Severin Nelson

July 9, 1936

Police do not hold a physical file but had Nelson listed as an "unknown" victim on their list of unsolved homicides.

A Northern Advocate story published the day after the murder named Nelson and gave the details of his death.

The 55-year-old was found dead "in mysterious circumstances pointing to murder" about 100 yards from his home.

He was found by his mother-in-law lying near a fence with a "gaping gunshot wound" on the back of his left side.

He had been shot at close range and there was no gun at the scene, so suicide was ruled out.

Tomorrow we visit the unsolved homicides from 1940-1980.<