April 14, 2023 –Crime author Anne Perry, who, as a teenager helped murder her friend’s mother, has died aged 84.
The writer served five years in prison from the age of 15 for bludgeoning Honorah Mary Parker to death.
Perry died in a Los Angeles hospital, her agent confirmed. She had been declining for several months after suffering a heart attack in December.
The author was the inspiration for Peter Jackson’s 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, which starred Kate Winslet.
At the time Perry bludgeoned her best friend’s mother to death, she was known as Juliet Hulme, later adopting Anne Perry as a pen name for her writing career.
The murder took place in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1954, and was plotted by Perry and her friend Pauline Parker, the victim’s daughter.
The details were later discovered in journals found by police.
Honorah Mary Parker died after being hit with a brick about 20 times. When the case went to trial, a court heard the two girls had plotted the murder in an attempt to avoid being separated when 16-year-old Perry’s parents were planning to send her abroad.
The girls wanted Parker to join Perry as she went to live with relatives in South Africa, and thought Parker’s mother would try to stand in the way of their plan.
As both were aged under 18 at the time they killed Parker’s mother, the girls were too young for the death penalty, and were sent to prison instead.
Perry was born in Blackheath, London, in October 1938, and moved first to the Bahamas at the age of eight before settling in New Zealand.
She said on her website that she had been fostered as a child due to illness and missed a lot of school as a result.
After she was released from prison, Perry left New Zealand to return to the UK, and worked briefly as a flight attendant.
She later became a Mormon and settled in Portmahomack, a small Scottish village.
Her first novel, The Cater Street Hangman, was published in 1979. She went on to write a string of novels across multiple series, which collectively sold 25 million copies around the world.
‘Social injustice awareness’
One series of books focused on a Victorian police-inspector-turned-detective Thomas Pitt. Another featured a private investigator called William Monk.
The most recent novel in the Pitt series was published last month.
New Zealand director Peter Jackson dramatised the murder by Perry and Parker in his 1994 Academy Award-nominated Heavenly Creatures.
A statement from Ki Agency said: “Anne was a loyal and loving friend, and her writing was driven by her fierce commitment to raising awareness around social injustice.
“Many readers have been moved by her empathy for people backed into impossible situations, or overwhelmed by the difficulties of life.”