Very little has been written about Dianne Heather Demler. What we do know is her birth date of 21 January 1942; she goes by her middle name of Heather; she went to school at Pukekawa then St Cuthbert’s; left school and became an air hostess in New Zealand, then her life changed . . .
Much to her mother’s dismay Heather became involved with a divorced American named Bob Souter who had three children from a previous marriage.
According to other sources, Souter was also an undischarged bankrupt, a situation that must have gone down like a lead balloon with Maisie and we imagine, after much heated discussion and bitterness, she subsequently changed her will and disinherited her daughter, Dianne Heather.
David Yallop later made other serious claims that added to the stress but he initially wrote that Maisie was a very high-principled woman who, unlike many, apparently lived by her principles and expected her children to do the same:
“In July 1969 she changed her will, cutting her daughter Heather off from every single cent. Not even an item of her jewellery was to go to her younger daughter. The Reason? Heather had ‘married’ a divorced man named Robert Souter. As a father of three and an undischarged bankrupt, Maisie did not consider him the ideal husband for one of her children.”
Can you imagine how Heather felt? With one foul swoop of the pen Heather lost the bulk of her inheritance through her mother’s ruthless action of basically teaching her wayward daughter a bitter lesson.
Yallop went on to say that the favouring of children “burst into bitter acrimony” with Len subsequently changing his will by cutting Jeannette out and then leaving half of his property to Heather.
He continues: “So once again the two sisters were destined for half-share each in a superb farm, Len and Maisie Demler’s.” But these feelings went much deeper than that, so deep that anyone with a sense of getting her own back would surely want to get even.
That stark piece of reality could well lead to further bitterness of debate over the division of Maisie’s will.
KNOWN TO ALL FAMILY MEMBERS
Just think about it. Right from the start, the Chennell Estate business matters, in my opinion, would be known to all family members–Chennell, Demler, Hodgson, Sturrock and others–the others being people whose names are yet to be mentioned.
In the past I have tried to stay clear of Diane Heather Demler because of what appeared to be her non-involvement on related family matters. This is against all odds and could not be true.
Heather, born in January 1942, would have been 19 years of age in 1961 and would have been aware of her father’s IRD hassle over tax matters. Also in 1961 on the death of Alfred Hodgson (the special trustee to her and Jeannette’s estate), the legal processes would probably have given the girls full details of most, if not all, of the business dealings of the Chennells family.
At the age of 19, long distance communication would have occurred and would have been possible by Telex, Airmail and International toll calls. This basically means that all family members would have been aware of all business transactions, especially valuable as Len would have been looking for an alibi.
NEVER PUT IN THE HOT SEAT
In the past, the media and authors of a number of books printed before and after the year 2000, have pussyfooted around the issue of putting Heather Demler in the hot seat to ask awkward and perhaps embarrassing questions.
One has to be careful of what one says about underhand dealings, but one can be sure where there is money around (and lots of it) to think that Heather was totally ‘out of it’ is naive.
So why did Dianne Heather Demler fade into the background?
To be brutally honest, it suited her perfectly. She wasn’t really prepared to take any risks or put herself in a position of having to tell the truth. It is obvious to me that Heather wanted to keep a low profile.
Fortunately for her she was never officially asked to come forward on any matter so avoided having to give any information and if pressed I’m sure she would have given a “don’t know” answer–a reaction that was on par with her father’s later replies in court of “that is right” or “something like that”. This is what she told Police at the time she returned to New Zealand after the murders. Like her father, all she had to do was to keep her head down and to keep a still tongue.
FURTHER SCRUTINY NEEDED
As pointed out in previous chapters, there were a number of irregularities that need further scrutiny.
First the final transactions with Sections 67 & 68, the seemingly “forgotten” sections off Frost Road that Jeannette had inherited on 7 July 1965 as a mortgage. The same procedure was followed nearly 18 months later, on 23 February 1967, to transfer the remaining half share to Heather Demler as her entitlement upon reaching the age of 25 years.
It should be remembered that these sections were transferred from the joint interest of Colin Sturrock and Len Demler who were also trustees of the Chennells Estate.
The next action involving Dianne Heather Demler came on 18 August 1971 when her interest was transferred to Sturrock & Monteith Securities Ltd just 14 months after the murder of her sister Jeannette. More about that later.
Observant readers will have noticed that Heather was still using her maiden name on legal documents of 1967 and 1971. While this may be common nowadays, back then it probably meant that, at these points, she was yet to marry Robert Burns Souter. Have other investigators and writers jumped to conclusions by assuming that they were actually married, when they weren’t?