Parker & Hulme: A Lesbian View by Julie Glamuzina & Alison J Laurie
-001- pi: [Intro] Lesbian audiences turned out, too, for the 1995 re-release of the bisexual-killer cult classic. Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!, as well as for two recent independent films that used true stories as the basis for exploring their lesbian killer-couples: Fun and Sister My Sister. New short films with killer heroines attracted huge audiences on the lesbian/gay film festival circuit in spring 1995.
-002- pvi: To this end, the defense strategy of arguing that the murder was the result of a folie à deux assumes great significance. This version of an insanity pleas, supported by testifying defence psychiatrists, contended that the two girls, although seemingly sane individually, actually were changed by each other’s company so as to assume a joint madness precipitated by their shared fantasies.
-003- ppvi-vii: There’s also a history to this psychiatric strategy, traceable to two other cases from the 1930s: one in Chicago, the other in Le Mans, France. At the time of Honora Mary Parker’s murder, the New Zealand press referred to Pauline and Juliet as the country’s own Leopold and Loeb. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were the pair of wealthy young Chicagoans who, united by homoeroticism and a taste for crime, kidnapped and murdered a young boy. Clarence Darrow their defence attorney, tried to save them by arguing the pathologizing effects of homosexuality; he succeeded, at least, in averting the death penalty.
There’s also the 1933 French case of the Papin sisters, a pair of maids who savagely killed their mistresses and then starred in a particularly spectacular trial at which the prosecution speculated that an incestuous and homosexual love for one another figured as motivation and explanation. The trial was made notorious by the famous writers and intellectuals who wrote about it: Jean Genet (whose The Maids is based upon the case), Jean-Paul Sarte, Simone de Beauvoir and Jacques Lacan. It was Lacan who employed the term délire à deux to offer a psychoanalytic explanation of the drives that produced the horrific act. And it was this Lacanian reading, I suspect, that formed the basis of Medlicott’s own diagnosis.
All three murder cases under discussion here involved a pair of killers of the same gender bound by ties of love or affection. All three couples were young and attractive. All three killed directly and brutally, with hands or brick, without knife or gun. All three, despite the insanity which their societies felt compelled to project upon them, were consigned to prison rather than mental asylums. Finally, all three cases have become the basis of dramatic films in the past five years: Swoon by Tom Kalin, one of the first of the New Queer Cinema hits; Sister My Sister by Nancy Meckler, a British theatre director turned filmmaker, who was surprised by the film’s enthusiastic reception at gay and lesbian film festivals; and Heavenly Creatures, the biggest crossover hit of the three, thanks to its Miramax distribution, visual style, and real-life tie-in to Anne Perry.
-004- p18: All events happen in a social and political context. We think that reducing the motive for murder to a single individual expression of violent ignores the context in which it occurred.
-005- p28: Pauline O’Regan in her book Aunts and Windmills discusses the fears of the Canterbury Company that activists who talked about ‘a world where everyone was equal’ or worse still, Irish immigrants, might slip through the screening process.
-006- p35: As we have shown, during the early 1950s Christchurch had a special character, reflecting its origins as a white, class-conscious, Anglican settlement. It was here then, on the day following Tuesday, 22 June 1954,that Christchurch residents learned that a middle-aged woman had been battered to death the previous day in beautiful Victoria Park. They were even more shocked when they learnt that her daughter was charged with her murder. And a day later they were told that the daughter of the Rector of the University and of a woman prominent in the local Marriage Guidance Council and on the local radio was also implicated. Social commentator, Ian Hamilton, expressed his perception of the reaction in October 1954:
‘These girls lived in Christchurch…and they eked out their existence in a respectable high school…Then suddenly all there veils are torn apart and we’re faced with bloody murder and no remorse. It’s shocking, there’s no other word; and if only somebody would explain.’
For other people, the events were not as surprising. Writer Fay Weldon, reported in a 1987 interview, said of her early years in Christchurch that:
‘It didn’t surprise her to learn shortly after her departure that two girls from her old school…had taken one of their mothers…and battered her to death… Weldon [recalled] post-war New Zealand as ‘repressive and repressed.’
Clearly, for some observers, much lay under the surface of the apparently ‘respectable’ Christchurch.
-007- pp38-9: Pauline was eleven when her younger sister Rosemary was born. Rosemary lived at home until 1951 when she was two years old. At that time the Riepers placed her in Templeton Farm, an institution for the intellectually disabled, not far from the centre of Christchurch city. Templeton Farm was close enough for the family to visit regularly and for Rosemary to be brought home to Gloucester Street from time to time. In giving evidence at the Supreme Court trial in support of his diagnosis of Pauline Parker, defence psychiatrist Dr Medlicott stated:
‘…her younger sister is I understand a Mongolian imbecile… The first baby…was a blue baby and died within 24 hours. I consider that background raises a query as to the stock from which she came.’
This statement clearly gave the impression that he considered there was a heredity factor in her ‘madness’. A belief in genetic or hereditary causes for mental and physical illness was common at the time. Attitudes towards mental and physical difference were generally negative. People who did not fit a narrowly defined concept of normality were commonly regarded with pity, suspicion, or even hostility. This applied to intellectual, emotional and physical disability. Often people confused mental and physical disability so that physically disable people were treated as if they were mentally ill or intellectually disabled as well. The NZ Listener reported in 1953 that:
‘Not very long ago a child born deaf was automatically regarded as dumb also and sometimes treated as mentally defective.’
-008- p39: Intellectual disability and mental illness were sometimes interpreted as a punishment for something the parents had done. Some people even thought that a whole family was ‘tainted’ because one of its members was mentally ill. Such families were sometimes ‘cold-shouldered’ by their neighbours.
-009- pp42-3: At the trial, both Juliet and Pauline were said to be extremely intelligent. Many people believed that intelligence was an inherited and fixed characteristic which could be measured. Ideas that ‘genius’ was often accompanied by emotional instability were common and the evidence presented at the trial reinforced these connections.
-010- p61: They were noticed by teachers and other students at the school because from early 1952 they became very close, sitting together and walking in the school grounds, hand in hand. At that time, showing this amount of affection publicly was seen as unusual.
-011- p61: In her diaries for 1953 and 1954, Pauline recorded in some detail the activities which she and Juliet enjoyed together—horse-riding, walking around the Ilam grounds (including midnight excursions and adventures), play acting and dressing up, plasticine modelling, reading, playing records and dancing, singing together, playing cards and board games, going to the pictures, going to plays or concerts and talking endlessly together, including telephone conversations which sometimes lasted for several hours.
They also spent a lot of time writing. Between them they produced a significant output. At the time of the murder they were reported to have written six novels, as well as plays, poetry, and an opera.
-012- pp61-2: The girls experimented with language, reading their poems and stories to each other, changing words around, and inventing their own code for their favourite pop singers, film stars and for people they knew.
-013- pp62-3: The girls continued to develop a close physical relationship. Pauline wrote about long baths which she and Juliet took together at Ilam. Sometimes they were able to sleep together as well, though by April 1954 they were worried about being discovered by adults.
-014- p67: Pauline and Juliet referred to each other by a number of different names. Deborah was Juliet’s current name, which had, according to Pauline, been suggested by Hilda Hulme as an alternative for Antoinette, a previous choice. Pauline called herself Gina. We think it is common that teenage girls experiment with names and identities in this way.
-015- p68: …both were later described by the defence psychiatrists as ‘living in a world of their own.’
-016- pp69-70: One of the former classmates felt that Pauline and Juliet had:
‘…set themselves apart…they made themselves special by being different so they didn’t converse very much in the class, they didn’t horse around, they were making themselves important by being different…I don’t remember them ever starring in anything or doing amazingly well in exams…anything sort of solid or conventional. Anything conventional would be unacceptable to them, they would have to set the standards and run the race and be absolutely original.’
-017- p75: They had wanted never to be separated, and in one sense the murder meant that Parker and Hulme became permanently linked.
-018- p80: …cites P. Blos, who suggested in 1962 that ‘living through experiences and emotions by putting them down in writing closes the door—at least pratically and temporarily—to acting out.
-019- p81: This was later used in evidence at the trial. At this stage it seems as though the diary process functioned either as a sounding board or as a way of letting others know about her ideas and feelings. We believe that the process was both these things at different times. Although Pauline uses the term ‘moider’ instead of ‘murder’ in her diary, she also uses the unequivocal word ‘death’. This suggests to us that at times she may have been play acting and distancing herself, while at other times she was aware of what she was planning to do. She may not have fully appreciated what her plans would mean in reality.
-020- p84: But, in the course of an hour-long address, Crown Prosecutor Brown contended that:
‘…this plainly was a callously planned and premeditated murder, committed by two highly intelligent and perfectly sane but precocious and dirty-minded girls.’
-021- pp86-7: The New Zealand legal system followed the British example in cases where a defence of insanity was used. Section 43 of the Crimes Act defined the law relating to an insanity defence. This was based on the ‘McNaghten rule’, established in 1843. David McNaghten, a Scottish farmer who was convinced that Robert Peel, the British Prime Minister at the time, was persecuting him, killed Peel’s secretary, believing that the victim was Peel. He was tried and found not guilty by reasons of insanity. Subsequently the McNaghten rule was established, using this case as a precedent. The rule required that, for defendants to be found not guilty on the grounds of insanity, the defence had to show that the defendants did not know what they were doing, or, if they were aware, that they did not know it was wrong. More formally stated:
‘At the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if he did know it, that he did not know that he was doing what was wrong.’
Therefore, the defence had to show that, because of mental disease, Parker and Hulme did not know ‘the nature and quality’ of their act of murdering Honora; or, if they did, that they did not know that the murder of Honora was ‘wrong’.
Thus, a clear distinction was made between a legal definition of insanity, and a medical or psychiatric definition. This also highlighted another fundamental difficulty—the philosophical incompatability of the law and psychiatry. William Winslade and Judith Ross, in their 1983 discussion of the insanity plea, note:
‘The law tells us that if we commit illegal acts, we must be punished. But the law assumes that we have freely chosen to perform these acts. Psychiatry does not make any such assumption about free will or choice.’
-022- p88: [The defence, Reginald Warren Medlicott] said that Parker and Hulme were suffering from ‘paranoia’ in a setting of folie a deux, which he claimed was a form of communicated and joint insanity where two sane people supposedly become insane in each other’s company. He considered that there were similarities between the Parker-Hulme case and the case of Leopole and Loeb, two American youths who had jointly murdered a young boy in the 1920s. The defence, then, had a way out.
-023- p88: Gresson, acting for Juliet, began the defe3nce case. In his opening address he stated:
‘…the Crown had seen fit to refer to the accused as ordinary, dirty-minded little girls, but the evidence for the defence would be that they were nothing of the kind,but were mentally sick and were more to be pitied than blamed. Their homosexuality was a symptom of their disease of the mind.’
-024- p89: [Medlicott:] ‘Folie a deux… is used to describe communicated insanity. …As far as their general background is concerned, my evidence is that both were sensitive, self contained, imaginative, selfish and showed inability to tolerate criticism.’
He considered that their respective illnesses and consequent separation from their parents as young children may have had deleterious effects on them. In relation to Pauline and her osteomyelitis, he said:
‘From what she said the illness was talked about…as to whether she would live or not and I think it is reasonable to assume that at least some children who have been through such experiences and have very frequently heard their parents referring to having nearly lost them—they develop a sense of being unusual and of having defied death.’
He stated that their relationship was homosexual one, and claimed that:
‘Before developing mature capacity to love a person of the opposite sex the adolescent frequently goes through a stage of forming passions for a member of its own sex—what everybody must term as adolescent pashes… There is evidence from the diaries that the relationship between the accused rapidly became a homosexual one. There was no proof at any time that it was a physical relationship… Homosexuality and paranoia are very frequently related.’
Later, under cross-examination by Brown, Medlicott conceded that the evidence from the diaries was ‘strongly suggestive’ of a physical aspect to their relationship.
Medlicott stated that he was firmly convinced that Juliet and Pauling were both insane:
‘Their mood was the most striking abnormality. There was persistent exaltation and during my interviews they would sometimes swing into fury. Their mood was grossly incongruous. They exalted over their crime and showed no reasonable emotional appreciation of their situation… Each girl would have sudden spells of intenseness. They would, you might say, click into gear, talk so rapidly for a time as to be almost incoherent. They showed a conceit which was quite out of the world of normality… On the second visit of the second weekend that I saw them, they really could not be bothered giving up a walk in the sun to talk to me. There was also a very gross reversal of morals or of moral sex…they admired those things which were evil and condemned those things which the community considers good. It was obvious that the normal personalities [sic] defences against evil had almost completely gone. It became obvious when I started to discuss borderline religious and philosophic topics with then that they were harbouring weird delusional ideas…they said they had their own paradise, their own god and religion and their own morality.’
Medlicott attached particular importance to the diary entry written in April 1953, which he described as the ‘Port Levy revelation’. Quoting from this entry, Medlicott commented:
‘Parker there refers to a 4th world that she and Hulme have found the key to. She also refers to the extra part of their brain which permits them to appreciate the 4th world. It appears that only ten people have this… This 4th would has not become paradise to the girls and it is something they have discussed with me. Their notion seems to be that in some peculiar way they are outstanding geniuses with their own special paradise.’
-025- p90: Quoting diary entries for early March 1954, he drew attention to Juliet and Pauline building ‘some form of Temple of Minerva’ in the garden at Ilam. In his first interview with Juliet Hulme, he related, she had said that they had their own religion, that ‘their god was not a Christian one, and that the main difference was that all people in their religion were not equal.’
-026- pp90-1: Medlicott’s contention was that the girls’ madness was in inverse proportion to the time they spent together, and that this could be seen, for example, in the increase in bloodshed and violence in the fictional writings that Pauline did at these times. He quoted extensively from the 1953 and 1954 diaries to support this contention:
From the medical viewpoint, the period May and June 1954…the whole thing rises to quite fantastic crescendos…As the diary goes on evil becomes more and more important and one gets the feeling they ultimately become helplessly under its sway.’
Medlicott said he had no doubts about their insanity, although he stated that they had tried to prove themselves insane to him during the interviews.
‘When I first saw the two girls I knew that they were trying to prove themselves insane…After however a very short time with them I myself was convinced that they were definitely insane. The two were so alike, not simply in what they told me, but in their mood and reaction.’
-027- p92: [Francis Oswald Bennett, a registered medical practitioner from Christchurch] ‘All other consideration take second place as the patient is driven on by the relentless compulsion of a delusion. If in this process the patient has to make a choice between observing the moral values of the community or abandoning the delusion they reject the moral values. They have to. They follow the delusion wherever it leads. They therefore become amoral, anti-social, and in any community dangerous. The particular delusion of these two is their delusion that they are specially gifted, that they are mentally brilliant, that they are superior to the general run of mankind… They formed a society of their own in which every act, thought, deed was approved and admitted by the other. They lived in a world of elation and ecstasy.
-028- p93: Bennett, like Medlicott, quoted extensively from the diaries. However, he considered that these extracts did not give the picture that a complete reading of the diaries would:
‘…of how they spend all the time they possibly could at Ilam endlessly discussing the saints and the plots of their books, bathing and bedding together; photographing each other in fancy borrowed dresses and in the nude; talking all night; dressing up; getting up at night, going out on the lawn and acting; ignoring other people; making a little cemetery in the ground that they later extended into what they called the temple of Raphael Pan where they buried a dead mouse and put up a cross over it, and later put up a number of other crosses to represent the burial of dead ideas which they had once had and since discarded. They had no friends of their own age; they never went to dances with one exception in the case of one; they never read the newspapers; Pauline records how she hated school; she hated Digby’s College; she said the girls at her place of work were fools. She went to the swimming sports and wrote a novel through the events.’
An even more damning indictment in Bennett’s view was that ‘During the Queen’s visit they made no attempt to see the Queen or the decorations.’ Further, he related how Juliet had commented on the bible:
‘…She also expressed the view that the bible was bunkum. That is her actual word…They claim that Pauline had broken the ten [commandments] and Juliet had broken only 9.’
To illustrate his view that they had ‘contempt for the moral code’, Bennett quoted a diary entry describing how Juliet and Pauline had cheated when playing a board game with Juliet’s brother. He then concluded:
‘To us sane I hope, it was a murder that was bestial and treacherous and filthy. It is outside all the kindly limits of sanity. It is a thousand miles away from sanity. They are still not sane and in my opinion they never will be sane… In my opinion they are both folie a deux homosexual paranoics of the elated type.’
-029- p94: [Judge asks Bennett] : ‘Then may your view on these points be summarised in these words that in your opinion they knew the act was contrary to the ordinary moral standards of the community but nevertheless it was not contrary to their own moral standards?’
Bennett replied, ‘Yes. You have completely summarised it.’ This response was damaging for Pauline and Juliet’s defence as it completely undermined the insanity argument.
-030- p97: Some newspaper reports stated that Pauline and Juliet seemed unconcerned about the verdict and that they preserved the ‘same calm and a demeanour of almost indifference which had been characteristic of them throughout the trial.’
-031- p99: From 1920 to 1966, 105 people were convicted of murder in New Zealand. Only nine of these were women.
-032- p110: Dr Reginald Medlicott, published several articles–‘Paranoia of the Exalted Type in a Setting of Folie a Deux: A Study of Two Adolescent Homicides’ published first in the British Journal of Medical Psychology and later reprinted in Deviant Behaviour: New Zealand Studies; ‘Some Reflections on the Parker-Hulme, Leopold-Loeb cases with special reference to the concept of omnipotence’
-033- p112: Agitation for censorship of ‘pulp comics’ and other similar publications had reached a peak in 1954 in both Australia and New Zealand and in this climate several observers deplored the way in which newspapers reported the trial proceedings. In New Zealand the conservative Catholic weekly Zealandia asked ‘Just how far can the detailed reporting of a particularly sordid murder trial be justified in the interests of public information.’ In Australia, Premier J. Cahill criticised Sydney newspapers for reporting the details of the case and cautioned that the press should ‘not allow itself to be laid open to charges that it is presenting matters that adversely affected the morals of the community.’ Some conservatives of the time obviously believed that complete silence and ignorance about sexuality and non-conformity to accepted gender roles was the best method of ensuring a compliant population.
-034- p118: However, they are in no doubt that Parker and Hulme had ‘vicious and depraved tendencies’ and that ‘their coming together, as if by the magnetism of some strange force in the hinterland of their minds, was a fatal conjunction of abnormality.
-035- pp119-20: Gerald Sparrow, also writing in 1973, calls them ‘Satan’s children’, who lived in ‘a sex dream world’ and who were among the ‘great women criminals’ with minds that were ‘twisted and terrible’. … Further revealing his ignorance of lesbians and of the case, he defines their friendship using a stereotyped model of lesbian relationships:
‘The girls lived together as a married couple but the usual pattern of the dominant one and the submissive one was not completely clear.’
… His account of the planning of the murder is bizarre:
‘They held regular “murder sessions” at night and this was merely the most important item on a business agenda. Blackmail and sex were other subjects frequently discussed. They had decided that the man-made world was contemptible and a fraud. They rejected all the moral standards of their family and adopted evil and its pursuit as a natural and much more enjoyable way of life. In the Middle Ages they would have been described as “possessed”.’
-036- p122: The diagnosis of Parker and Hulme is based on this definition. He says that they were suffering from ‘paranoia of the exalted type in the setting of a simultaneous folie a deux.’ Medlicott explains that he has applied the further qualification of folie a deux, or ‘communicated insanity’, to Parker and Hulme because he considers them to have been equally involved in the planning and execution of the murder. He states that ‘there is no evidence of either of these two girls imposing their ideas on the other, and there seems no doubt that they developed their psychoses simultaneously.’ He then asserts that ‘these girls unfortunately went into adolescence already strongly narcissistic and each acted on the other as a resonator increasing the pitch of their narcissism.’
-037- p123: Yet, he also claimed that ‘both the girls could consciously hallucinate almost at will, hearing music and voices and seeing fleeting scenes.’
-038- pp124-5: ‘The Ones that I Worship’ by Pauline Parker. Medlicott considered it proof of her so-called ‘extraordinarily exalted’ state:
There are living among two dutiful daughters, Of a man who possesses two beautiful daughters, The most glorious beings in creation They’d be the pride and joy of any nation. You cannot know nor yet try to guess The sweet soothingness of their caress The outstanding genius of this pair, Is understood by few, they are so rare. Compared with these two every man is a fool The world is most honoured that they should reign on high. I worship the power of these lovely two With that adoring love known to so few ‘Tis indeed a miracle, one must feel That two such lovely creatures are real, Both sets of eyes, though different far, hold many mysteries strange, Impassively they watch the race of man decay and change Hatred burning bright in the brown eyes with enemies for fuel, Icy scorn glitters in the grey eyes, contemptuous and cruel Why are men such fools they will not realize The wisdom that is hidden behind thoee strange eyes, And these wonderful people are you and I.
-039- p127: An important object of Medlicott’s diagnosis in the article is to show that Juliet and Pauling had rejected ‘moral values’, set themselves above the law and had ‘totally embraced the superman philosophy’. He makes much of their comments that Christianity was a ‘stupid religion’ and that they had formed their own religion.
-040- pp127-8: Finally, Medlicott supports his diagnosis by using six examples described as being ‘close analogies’ to the Parker-Hulme case. These cases include philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche,whom Medlicott dismisses as a ‘frail, unhappy man’. Medlicott gives a brief resume of Nietzsche’s views of ‘the superman’. He then discusses writer Max Stirner and his interpretation of Stirner’s rejection of moral ideas. Medlicott claims that Pauline and Juliet’s ideas were ‘similar to’ those of Nietzsche and ‘consistent with’ those of Stirner. He then compares the two girls with a character from a novel—Raskolnikov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and claims that the description of Raskolnikov’s behaviour ‘corresponds vividly’ with that of Pauline and Juliet after the murder. Medlicott goes on to compare the Parker murder to the 1924 case of Leopold and Loeb—sons of Chicago millionaires, who had murdered a young boy. Their case received wide publicity at the time. There were defended by the famous criminal lawyer, Clarence Darrow, who saved them from a death sentence with a defence of insanity. Medlicott considered that the two cases paralleled each other—in spite of crucial dissimilarities such as the gender, age and circumstances of Leopold and Loeb, as well as their selection of the victim (a young boy scarcely known to them) and the facts of the killing (they attempted to obtain ransom money from a boy’s family). He also includes Aleister Crowley as a ‘close analogy’ to Pauline and Juliet, as well as the Nazi S.S. Organization, which he claims was ‘of a paranoiac nature’. He asserts that:
‘the frequently senseless and sickening brutality carried out by members of the SS without any sense of pity, shame or remorse, and in a mood that was often frankly exultant, was very similar to the way these girls approached their crime and responded to it afterwards… In the case of the SS, sanction by the group became the main ego support,while in the girls’ case sanction one of the other provided this… With the SS there was a progressive destruction of the taboo against killing… Death was deprived of its real meaning and cheapened by the process…Both the girls came to treat death very cheaply as something of no particular concern.’
-041- pp128-9: In 1961, Dr Medlicott published another article, entitled ‘Some Reflections on the Parker-Hulme, Leopold-Loeb Cases with Special Reference to the Concept of Omnipotence’ in the New Zealand Law Journal. This contained some of the material from the previous article and presented a more lengthy comparison ‘because of the extraordinary similarity of the two cases.’
Medlicott considered that the two pairs were alike in the following respects—they grew up under the influence of world wars, had ‘satisfactory’ home backgrounds, and were highly imaginative, wilful, and self-centred; both pairs had few lasting relaitonships, were ‘immature’ emotionally and were homosexual; both pairs experimented with crime before the murders, ’embraced the superman philosophy’, showed ‘gross exaltation’ after the killings and felt that no one cared for them. He also considered that the planning of the two killings showed gross defects and was ‘not in keeping with genius’.
-042- p129: In fact, there were significant differences between the two cases. First, Leopold and Loeb came from similar social, economic and cultural backgrounds and had known each other since they were young children. They were both Jewish, and their victim was chosen at random from a group of Jewish children. There was no immediate or overt threat to the continuation of their relationship at the time they decided to kill someone. Juliet and Pauline were from different social and economic backgrounds and their victim was a close family member, killed for specific reasons.
-043- pp129-30: In 1970, Medlicott published his article ‘An examination of the necessity for a concept of evil: some aspects of evil as a form of perversion’ in the British Journal of Medical Psychology. In this article he complains that his colleagues have avoided:
‘…facing the existence of evil as a concept and facing the fact that individuals can actively pursue evil as a way of life.’
He defines good and evil as existing within a ‘polarity or dichotomy’ and says that:
‘…the impulse to good is life-orientated, the impulse to evil appears to be invariably death-oriented, with suicide or murder as the ultimate goal.’
He then claims that evil is ‘a form of perversion’ with ‘salient features’ such a ‘driveness’ and ‘exaltation’ and as in his earlier article gives as examples the philosopher Nietzsche, the fictional Raskolnikov and Parker and Hulme. He says that ‘pre-genital aggressiveness’ is shown and that:
‘…bisexuality and fantasies of omnipotence run through the majority of instances cited…No case achieved anything approaching mature heterosexuality… Homo sexual elements of either overt or covert nature could be found in most instances.’
Citing Aleister Crowley and his semi-religious groups, Parker and Hulme, Leopold and Loeb and Brady and Hindley as examples he claims that these ‘partnerships’ boosted ‘alien tendencies’ and featured ‘the element of conspiracy’. He follows on to give what he calls ‘Fictional, Historical and Clinical Examples of Evil as a Perversion’ treating all these cases equally. The fictional characters, including Mr Hyde, Rhoda from The Bad Seed and the Marquis de Sade’s creations are discussed as if real persons. Among the ‘historical examples’ he includes the Roman Emperors and says they:
‘…run the gamut of infantile sexual perversions…few achieved stable heterosexual alliances or responsible parenthood.’
Medlicott now turns to the ‘clinical cases’ and says that his:
‘…first major concern with the concept of evil arose out of [his] examination of two teenage girls, Parker and Hulme, and [his] reading at the same time all available material about the two Chicago boys, Leopold and Loeb, who were extraordinarily similar to Parker and Hulme.
He then refers readers to his two previous papers on the topic as discussed above. Now follow Parker and Hulme described as
‘…two intelligent adolescent girls, both imaginative, self-absorbed and self-willed, who when they came together formed a two-person society of their own with a rich fantasy world with characters who became increasingly evil. The two girls themselves became increasingly conceited and arrogant setting themselves above almost everyone els ein the world with their own superman philosophy. Moral values were reversed and they embraced evil as good. In an increasingly exalted state after experimenting in crime, they set about matricide with joyous abandon and afterwards continued to exalt in their crime.’
He concludes his discussion by saying that:
‘The two girls have ultimately redeemed themselves and are now leading reasonably constructive lives. Like Raskolnikov they illustrate that adoption of evil is not necessarily irreversible.’
-044- p131: In his article in the NZ Sexologist based on his addresses to the 1985 N.Z. Sexology Conference, Medlicott claims that he reconsidered his original diagnosis of Parker and Hulme, and admits that he ‘misdiagnosed’ them. But he now simply substitutes one label for another, and terms them ‘adolescent megalomaniacs’.
-045- pp134-5: Women in western societies are typically seen as passive, and as the victims rather than as the perpetrators of violence. In the Parker-Hulme case, this pattern was disrupted. In cases of this kind, the women or child offenders have frequently been portrayed, especially by the media, either as ‘evil’ or ‘insane’. In western societies women who kill are typically considered deviant and as intrinsically different from men who kill. American lesbian philosophy, Jeffner Allen, commented on this, concluding, ‘A woman, by definition, is not violent, and if violent, a female is not a woman.’
Such essentialist views maintain that behavioural differences between men and women are inborn, and that ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ are a natural outcome of being male or female.
-046- p135-6 Early male criminologists certainly took this view of criminal women. Caesar Lombroso and William Ferrero in their study The Female Offender, published in 1895, put forward a theory of the born criminal woman. They maintained that the true woman was incapable of criminality and asserted that the criminal woman—especially the violent female offender—was excessively masculine. They measured the craniums of criminal women, studied their pictures, looked at every aspect of their physical appearance, including the number of moles and tattoos the women might have, and asserted that women who killed showed unusual muscular strength. They concluded that:
‘In general the moral physiognomy of the born female criminal approximated strongly to that of the male…the female criminal…is excessively erotic, weak in maternal feeling…and dominated weaker beings sometimes by suggestion, and others by muscular force; while her love of violent exercise, her vices, and even her dress, increase her resemblance to the sterner sex. Added to these virile characteristics are often the worst qualities of woman: namely an excessive desire for revenge, cunning, cruelty, love of dress, and untruthfulness, forming a combination of evil tendencies which often results in a type of extraordinary wickedness.’
They included in their study, as if they were evidence for their theories, a number of quotations from classical literature which incidentally revealed centuries of prejudice against women. For example:
‘No possible punishments can deter women from heaping up crime upon crime. Their perversity of mind is more fertile in new crimes than the imagination of a judge in new punishments.’
‘Feminine criminality is more cynical, more depraved, and more terrible than the criminality of the male.’
-047- p136: He claimed that because women can disguise their lack of sexual response all women learn that they can deceive and manipulate men and that this was not confined to criminal women.
-048- pp136-7: Smart points out that Pollak went so far as to claim that women are more likely to kill than men and that this was because women might seek revenge because of the unequal social situation of men and women. He attempted to ‘prove’ this by comparing that percentages of male and female prison inmates convicted for murder. Smart points out that Pollak’s vengeance analysis was very similar to Lombroso and Ferrero’s contention that women, when ‘roused’, are more dangerous than men.
Gerald Sparrow, writing in 1970, is typical of a number of pop-criminologists on the subject of women who kill. He asserts that:
‘Women being different from men in their mentality, thought-processes, intuition, emotional reactions and in their whole approach to life and death, when they murder, do the deed in a way that a man often would not contemplate. Their crime does not bear the mark of Cain, it is stamped with that characteristic subtlety and horror that has distinguished the rare evil women of all times.’
This view assumes that although it is not acceptable when men kill (after all, they bear the mark of Cain), their crime is less shocking than killings (stamped with ‘horror’) done by special, ‘evil’ women. His view encapsulates the idea that women who kill are monsters, driven by their sexual nature. He says that ‘women murderers in particular are monsters of egocentric selfishness…’
-049- pp137-8: Jan Jordan Robinson has identified the following broad categories in her summary of responses to the female offender: masculinisation (women criminals are seen as male-like); monsterisaion (women are seen as far worse than their male counterparts); sexualisation (women’s sexual desires underlie all female delinquency); victimisation (women offenders are forced into crime through circumstances beyond their control); psychiatrisation (women offenders are mentally ill); sociological (social environment causes women to offend); and the emancipation thesis (the female crime rate escalates as feminism liberates women). We see a parallel between these ideas about female offenders and ideas about lesbians because all these categories have been used to describe and depict lesbians.
-050- p138: [Feminist scholar Ann] Jones points out that ‘dangerous people’ may not be as ‘extraordinary’ as is thought. While the woman who takes an extreme solution may well do so because she feels trapped and is unable to conceive of a less destructive solution, she is often perceived not as ‘futile’ and ‘ineffectual’ but as terrifying in her evil or insanity.
-051- pp138-9: [Chesney-Lind] concludes that ‘Once a female offender is apprehended her behaviour is scrutinised for evidence that she is beyond the control of patriarchy and if this can be found she is harshly punished.
While some criminologists have asserted that women offenders are more leniently treated than men (the ‘chivaly’ argument), this has now been challenged and disproved. If ‘chivalry was ever shown by the criminal justice system to women, it was only toward the privileged. As Ann Hiller, an Australian sociologist points out, research now shows that some female offenders are indeed more harshly treated:
‘More rigorous analysis of arrest, conviction and sentencing statistics, introducing controls for type and seriousness of current offence and for previous criminal record, reveals in some cases no significant sex differences and in others harsher rather than more lenient treatment of females.
Ann Jones quotes novelist Enid Bagnold as saying. ‘A murderess is only an ordinary woman in a temper’ and comments that ‘Despite its flippancy, the remark suggests the truth that murder is often situational: given the same set of circumstances any one of us might kill. Women who kill find extreme solutions to problems that thousands of women cope with in more peaceable ways from day to day.
-052- p139: The suggestion that some families are ‘dysfunctional’ implies the existence of a ‘functional’ family, a concept we reject.
-053- p140: The child could be depicted as monstrous and evil or perhaps as congenitally insane. Ideas of a biologically determined child criminality received some popular exposure: an example is the book The Bad Seed, and the film based on it. This novel tells the story of a small girl who kills a number of people, including adults, for personal gain. She has apparently inherited her murderous tendencies. This range of explanations holds one particular factor in common. As is the case with women, children who are the perpetrators of violent offences are typically seen as special and unusual. They may be thought of as victims of unfortunate backgrounds, they may be pitied as mentally ill, or they may be seen as monstrously evil—all of these views regard them as special.
-054- pp141-2: First, the literature suggests that children, like adults, usually kill people who are known to them. In a 1971 study of murder, B. Cormier and associates placed murders on a continuum ranging from ‘specific’ to ‘non-specific’, depending on the relationship between the killer and the victim. Their study accepted that although some people kill persons who are complete strangers to them, and others kill persona of a certain age and type, most kill ‘specific’ persons—ones who are known to them. They consider that these killings occur where ‘there are psychological ties’ between the killer and the victim and the ‘murder results from the conflict engendered in the relationship.’
A recent New Zealand survey confirms this, showing that for the period from 1950-1985 over seventy-three per cent of victims were known to their murderers, with twenty-nine per cent being family or de facto partners. An American survey also showed that in over sixty-five per cent of the cases studied a specific relationship existed between murderer and victim.
In a 1976 American study of thirty young murderers, B. Corder and associates distinguished between those who killed their parents, those who killed other relatives or close acquaintances, and those who killed total strangers. They suggest that those who killed strangers were significantly more likely than the others to have a history of aggressive behaviour and poor impulse control. They were also more likely to have been identified as needing psychiatric treatment before the crime than those who had killed family members or acquaintances. The implications here are that children who kill persons known to them are not children who have previously shown marked aggression to others. Nor have they been identified as children in need of psychiatric treatment. However, the size of the sample for this study must limit the accuracy of its conclusions.
-055- p142: A 1966 Canadian strudy of matricide by C. McKnight and others comments:
‘A number of surveys agree that the largest group of killings takes place within the family. The figures range from twenty-five per cent to sixty-six per cent of all homicides… Growdon (1950) reports that thirty-two per cent of the victims of fifty-four Ohio juveniles were family members and postulates that young murderers may kill a greater proportion of family members than older murderers.’
-056- p143: A third factor suggested in this literature is that although the conflict may be a long-standing one, a series of events which occurs shortly before the killing may act as a trigger or the final outcome. Often, observers from outside the situation mistake the trigger for the cause. A sequence of circumstances may become more and more uncomfortable, and killing, for some children, represents a resolution of events which have developed prior to the act. B. Cormier and associates suggest that feelings of ambivalence which could even be ‘aggressive and deadly in content, start early in life. They point out that all children have death wishes and fantasies concerning their parents but that these homicidal moods co-exist with opposite feelings of being comfortable with the parents. They consider that when children actually do kill their parents it generally happens within very conflicted family relationships hat ‘cannot find their normal resolution.’
-057- p144: A fourth factor suggested is that the child may feel that the only solution to the conflict with the parent is death. Cormier and associates describe a phenomenon they call ‘lockage’, where the killer feels unable to live with the relationship and at the same time, unable to live without it. Suicide or homicide may be the outcome, or even homicide followed by suicide. Cormier and associates point out that suicide and attempted suicide is ‘far from unknown’ among adult murderers. Pauline Parker indicated several times in her 1954 diary that she felt depressed and had thought about suicide. Later, Pauline began to write of her plans to ‘moider mother’. It is hard to decide simply from reading the diaries how serious she was about either suicide or murder—but we think her comments are significant given what happened. Her experience had similarities with those of other young people who have killed family members.
-058- p144: Fifth, a sense of relief and liberation may be experienced by adolescent killers following the killing. Cormier and associates say that this feeling of relief means that in comparison with adult murderers, suicide following the killing is rare. They also suggest that the ‘release of tension’ which sometimes follows the killing occurs because the type of adolescent that they studied had been deprived of ‘the ability to form a gratifying relationship with either or both parents. Therefore, the victim was not mourned by the killer in the same way as if often the case with a homicide among adults who are partners. Initially this seemed to be the case for both Juliet and Pauline.
The media commented on Juliet’s and Pauline’s apparent lack of remorse, which suggests to us that they might have felt a sense of relief and liberation following the killing. This was regarded either as callousness or madness. Later, the media headlined their apparent remorse with obvious satisfaction.
-059- pp144-5: Sixth, ‘overkilling’, or violence beyond death, is a phenomenon not uncommon in adolescent killings. This has been discussed by J. Mohr and C. McKnight in 1971, particularly in relation to matricide, and also by B. Cormier and others in 1978. The latter attribute the phenomenon of overkilling to the fear and panic experienced by the killer that ‘the omnipotent parental figure will get up and retaliate.’ In their view such overkilling is not a result of explosive rage or brutality. They quote Mohr and McKnight’s view that violence beyond death may be the result ‘rather of panic and fear of not having completed the task’.
In the Parker-Hulme case, the media reported the number of times Juliet and Pauline were said to have hit Honora and commented on the severity of their attack. Using Mohr and McKnight’s analysis, Juliet and Pauline may have panicked when, contrary to their plan, Honora did not die after one blow. As Agnes Ritchie reported, they were certainly not calm when they reached the kiosk following her murder.
-060- p145: Seventh, the risk that adolescent murderers will kill again seems low. The Cormier study suggests that the ‘process wherein murder is committed during adolescence is self-limiting and is not necessarily part of an ongoing delinquent or psychopathological process.’ However, they point out that other writers who have studied cases where the adolescent killers were in mental hospitals do not agree with this view. Their own cases were adolescent killers who were in prisons as they had been found legally sane, like Parker and Hulme. Duncan and Duncan say that ‘experience in the field of corrections suggests that the person who has yielded to intense pressure and has killed a member of his [sic] family has by the act removed the cause of this [sic] difficulty and no longer is a danger,’ though they note that some psychiatrists have said that ‘once psychological barriers against murder are crossed, they no longer function to adequately restrain behaviour’. However, they conclude that ‘it appears that in cases where the murderer is sane, where the victim is the original hated parent and not a surrogate, and where immediate apprehension and control are established, then the chances that the offender will kill again are minimal.’ Neither Juliet or Pauline have killed again.
-061- p146: Pauline and Juliet attempted to rationalise their actions by claiming that Honora ‘wanted to die’, and that she seemed pleased and happy about it. We think it extremely unlikely that Pauline and Juliet were responding to some death wish by Honora. It is more likely that they were attempting to justify their actions to themsalves and others, and also to mislead the defence psychiatrist.
-062- pp147-8: First, there is the concept of Mauri. This is the physical life force or life principle which is fed from the solar system and controlled by Nga Kaitiaki. These Kaitiaki are imbued with Mana from their Atua and are therefore in a state of tapu. Mana means to be delegated spiritual power to act in this context. Tapu means that a person or an object are set aside for use of the Atua. The Kaitiaki is given that relationship to the Atua which is tapu and which generates certain psychological forces which bring about psychic power.
Then there is Ihi which is the inner force in a person which generates wehi from a person in proximity. Psychological and spiritual forces are all driven from a relationship with the Atus, via the Kaitiaki. The way of perpetuating the life-force, or Mauri, is by re-energising. Once a person knows where Mauri is, then Karakia can get them through to another dimension, as can Waiata Tawhito. Entry is sought and gained to accomplish this. Just before and just after certain planets come into alignment twice a year, it is possible to enter this dimension. Pauline and Juliet appear to have stumbled upon this accidentally.
It is also apparent from Pauline’s diary that she was menstruating when she was at Puaui. That, couple with the fact that they were both so young, would have made them especially vulnerable, said the Tohunga. Placation of the Atua/Kaitiaki was ritualistically accomplished i.e. through blood sacrifice. This was in order to make a connection again to the spiritual powers and forces. Pauline’s reference to ‘Christ’ in her diary may be interpreted as an allusion to a spiritual garden.
In considering the Puaui extract the Tohunga noted the use of Christian symbols—Saints, Easter and Juses, for example, and pointed out that the passage contains a number of general symbols which have special meaning in Maori tradition, law and practice. He said that the saints and the use of the numbers seven and ten, could all be interpreted as gatekeepers to the Fourth World. He told us that there are ten parts to the Maori calendar year—ten worlds of which seven are male and three female. Easter is a time when the life-forces are fed—a gateway through the clouds may be interpreted as a way to ascend to other worlds. If a person knows the keys, he said, the gateway is possible—keys might be the pitch of words or incantations. The ‘saints’, or filmstars, the girls discussed could be gatekeepers—their experiments may have triggered a spiritual experience. Their frequent bathing, in such an interpretation, would have provided an opportunity for forces to go through them and to be received. Also, sexual symbolism can be an important part of the process and may have been a key aspect of what occurred.
He considered that Pauline and Juliet had been near several traditional spiritual Wahi Tapu. While there are spiritual guardians who protect those who are from Puaui, other knowledgeable people can also protect themselves by taking cooked food—at Puaui, probably cooked seafoods. Without the cooked foods, he said, a disaster could happen. The guardians, then, had to be placated with either cooked food or blood. If blood, the person killed would have to be someone of that person’s own group. In this context, Honora’s death could be interpreted as a sacrifice. However, he said, a Tohunga could have healed the girls by Karakia even though they had stumbled upon a powerful spiritual force.
The Tohunga also considered that it was highly significant that Pauline Parker had later studied Maori and said that the spiritual effect on the girls from the Puaui experience could have been the cause of many subsequent events, including the killing of Honora Parker.
-063- p154: Caprio also warned that ‘Lesbianism is capable of influencing the stability of our social structure. Much of the incompatibility between the sexes is closely allied to this problem.’
-064- p160: Trade unionist Sonja Davies for example, recalled an incident during the mid-1940s where one nurse asked another ‘What are lesbians?’ while another wondered, ‘Is is a political party?’ The situation had not changed by the 1950s.
-065- p165: ‘Identity is what you can say you are according to how they say you can be.’ Jill Johnston in Lesbian Nation, 1974.
-066- p170: They seemed very intense. A lot depends on who you meet. They almost became one. They had the same fantasy world.’
-067- p174: Pakeha lesbian, born in 1940: I was fourteen when the case happened. I remember reading about it and hearing about it. I was very excited by the case, because they were two girls in love with each other. I was sorry they were caught. I understood perfectly well why they had killed the mother because I wanted to kill my mother too. After they were caught though, I thought they were very lucky, because they wouldn’t have to live at home any more. They would be able to live in a prison together, with a whole lot of other girls. I was sorry when I heard that they would be separated.
-068- p176: I saw Parker and Hulme as adolescents like myself who had annihilated something and someone who was destructive to them.
-069- p179: It is actually very satisfying that someone else acts out your fantasies for you.
-070- p181: Yet, as one lesbian questioned ‘How many heterosexuals kill each other off?’ Heterosexuality and murder are not automatically linked as a result.