Teenage murderer turned crime writer Anne Perry dies — publisher
LOS ANGELES, United States — A British crime writer who helped bludgeon her friend’s mother to death as a teenager and was the inspiration for Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” has died in Los Angeles, her publisher announced Wednesday. She was 84.
Anne Perry, a prolific author whose period thrillers have sold over 25 million copies worldwide, was 15 years old when she and her friend Pauline Parker murdered Pauline’s mother in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1954.
Honora Mary Parker died after being hit with a brick around 20 times, in a killing that shocked and captivated the country.
A trial heard that the two girls had plotted the murder in a bid to avoid being separated when Perry’s parents were planning to send her abroad.
Perry’s biographer Joanne Drayton said the trial sparked salacious interest.
“The matricide, the betrayal of a daughter by a mother, the lesbianism –- homophobia was rife and undoubtedly in the mix, it was looked at with horror and a degree of repugnance,” news website Stuff quoted her as saying.
Perry would later deny the pair were romantically involved, telling Britain’s Times newspaper they were not lesbians, but acknowledged their relationship had been obsessive.
As teenagers, they were too young for the death penalty, and were jailed instead.
Perry left New Zealand after her release from prison five years later, and worked for a while as a flight attendant. She also became a Mormon, before settling in a small Scottish village.
She began writing under the name she had adopted after release from prison (she had been born Juliet Hulme), with her first novel published in 1979.
A prolific career followed, in which she published scores of titles, including a Victorian detective series whose main character was called Thomas Pitt, and one featuring an amnesiac private investigator called William Monk.
The story of the 40-year-old murder was dramatized by New Zealand director Peter Jackson in the 1994 Academy Award nominated “Heavenly Creatures” with a young Kate Winslet playing Perry.
Perry had reportedly been living in Los Angeles in recent years to promote film adaptations of her many works.
The author’s French publisher, 10/18, told AFP that Perry had died in LA on April 10.
A statement said Perry would be remembered for her “memorable characters, historical accuracy, the quality of her detective stories, and also for her exploration of social issues.”