Events relating to Arthur Allan Thomas’ involvement, arrest, legal events and supposed guilt are preposterous and totally contrived. Much salient information was suppressed and/or ignored by the Police. Informants were maltreated, sometimes substantially . . .
I believe that statements, claims and conclusions from the Police both then and in the decades following are highly suspect and should be treated with huge caution, and in some cases gross contempt. This though does NOT exonerate all people from the Thomas clan from any involvement, nor that many in the Police did their best.
Harvey Crewe was shot at point blank range on the evening of Wednesday 17 June, 1970. The killer was someone whom he either knew or trusted, and whom he was most likely actually expecting for discussions with Jeannette.
He was killed after dark and was most likely returning from gathering firewood or perhaps he was on his way outside to get it. Weather was inclement. The missing oilskin parka (or cover) was destroyed for a reason, probably by Len as an afterthought but possibly by a Police insider. Colleagues of the murderer were likely already inside the house with Jeannette when his murder occurred, thus he (or she) may have accompanied Harvey to go outside for the firewood. The firewood shed was out the side gate and to the south east.
Jeannette was the target and as the 2014 Review Team explained, “Harvey must have represented a significant risk to the safety of any assailant and as such, had to be incapacitated to enable Jeannette to then be murdered.”
Harvey fell into the garden onto or beside the tendril bush by the side gate. This is where Len Demler first saw him and why he said he only identified Harvey’s boots because of limited lighting and the way that Harvey had fallen.
The bottom rail of the fence was either broken by his fall or an existing break was worsened by his fall. Police later removed it altogether.
Harvey was wearing the oilskin parka or jacket seen in an early photo beside the wheelbarrow–the parka that the Police falsely said had accidentally caught alight with a discarded cigarette butt.
The hood of the oilskin was probably up which would have limited Harvey’s hearing and awareness with limited peripheral vision. If it wasn’t a parka but was a cover, he probably had it over his head and shoulders. His carrying of firewood or use of the wheelbarrow would also limit his movements and have prevented any natural response by way of defensive moves. A possible bullet hole in the hood is likely a reason that it, along with evidence such as blood and brain matter, in on or, around the tendril bush was burned.
Remember this is a crime scene being grid searched that would find a needle. For an item like this to go amiss is more than “negligent”. It’s removal wasn’t an accident.
IT WAS A PISTOL
The murder weapon was an antique Pepperbox .22 rim-fire pistol called a “Ladies Companion” which was found when Chennell’s old house was demolished. It was very likely imported when their ancestors immigrated from England many decades previously.
It had a white (possibly ivory or most likely a whalebone) inlaid handle with a low powered .22 ammunition. I have sighted this weapon and it was the pistol that Leslee and I retrieved in 1976 from its hiding place in Alf’s old home at Opuatia.
No rifle was used in the Crewe murders. Even the 2014 Review talks of a “likely” murder weapon that “could well have been” and that it “could have been shot” from Thomas’ rifle. It wasn’t a rifle.
The visitors present were also known to Jeannette (indeed likely related to her) and were purportedly there to ‘discuss’ the matters of contention–most likely their calling in of debts due to Maisie’s family trust with the Crewe’s intending move out of the district. Maisie knew who ‘they’ were–burglars and arsonists, but did not want this known.
Jeannette would have known immediately that the single (or double) gunshot was likely one or more of the visitors taking on her husband and that she was facing an escalation of the financial conflict to a level of life and death.
Her own injuries, loss of six front teeth, bruising and a serious skull fracture were sustained in the physical altercation that occurred most likely immediately after the first gunshot(s) occurred, and in the Crewe house. It is likely that Leslee’s loss of her two front teeth meant that she was inside with Jeannette and fought her when Harvey was killed.
One of the Gurney twins (the ‘nasty one’ who was known to hate Harvey with a passion), was Harvey’s killer. This was all prepared for long in advance in general but they only planned it in detail within 24 hours.
If all this was the case then most likely Leslee (or her sister, lookalike or impostor) was inside with the second twin who was with her inside watching over and ready for Jeannette’s reaction knowing what was going to transpire.
If pressed to say who was present at the time of the murders, I would bet on a single man (one of the Gurney twins) with the pistol outside at Harvey’s death and at Jeannette’s death inside, the twins plus Leslee.
The murders were not ‘conducted in a vacuum’ as I have attempted to show in the book thus far. We are dealing with a very large estate worth nigh on a million dollars with generational history back to English aristocracy and this was supposed to all end up in Jeannette’s control.
That it didn’t, but that her father and sister gained control, proves fraud and the likely ringleader Len had the personality and motive, and a very good reason to have Jeannette ‘removed’. We will likely never know the full extent of his involvement in the murders but he, along with many others had ample reason to have arranged them and assisted in the cover-up and disinformation exercise that followed.
I believe that two fires (one in the Crewe house and another I became aware of elsewhere) contained incriminating papers. I’m sure that these would have shown the fraudulent activities that Len Demler and others in his family had tried to conduct relating to May Constance’s attempted bequeathing of her inheritance to Jeannette alone.
So many times debts are erased with a death. While it may be stretching the possibilities for normal people to justify murder, many in the region who had loans due to Maisie and the Trust had good reason to breathe easy and perhaps even celebrate with their demise. This helps to explain the widespread and long-term conspiracy.
Jeannette’s surviving daughter Rochelle was deliberately spared for it gave the criminals another 20 years (till she was of age) to misappropriate assets, whereas her death too would have caused obvious and unwelcome suspicion.
Many farms in the surrounding districts were indebted to Maisie’s estate through commercial loans and with Jeannette and Harvey’s stated intent to cash up and move to the Wairarapa there was no shortage of reason within the Pukekawa district for the murders to both occur and be conveniently ‘forgotten about’ by all.
Len Demler’s involvement in the clean-up, body disposal and dis-information following was central to the entire saga, in particular to the Police investigation. He either ordered the events or strongly condoned them but he deliberately wasn’t actually there at the murders, nor indeed at other critical post-murder events.
This was all by design giving him plausible deniability. The third untouched meal of flounder was probably bought for, if not intended for him.
HARVEY’S BODY WAS MOVED
Harvey was dragged into the house, not out of it (see page 221). The “body fluids” in his armchair that did not reach the carpet, I can only explain by secondary transfer after he was placed there.
I don’t know for sure why they took Harvey’s body into the Crewe house and put him in the chair in the lounge along with Jeanette’s body but it makes sense to me that they wanted to get his body out of sight, perhaps till the morning.
It could be that they just did this to gather their thoughts and plan how to get rid of the human evidence.
I think that the bottles and deliveries uncollected in the letterbox was an oversight. Remember that everything was done through the back ways–Len Demler’s access didn’t come through the front gate and the appearance of normality appeared to be their intentions, which were largely quite successful, and for days access from 3C4 to the woolshed was a possibility
Leslee and her look-alike or sister or another woman fed and changed the baby in the first few days and their sighting in and around the property was no accident.
SIGHTINGS WERE DISCARDED
Many sightings of people, vehicles and sounds were received but discarded by a blinkered and increasingly biased Police. The 2014 Review notes seven of nine vehicle sightings unexplained! You can see this progression and bias clearly by reading the Police files and reports if you’re alert to it. Most of the critical documents, of course, are missing–deliberately removed from the Police files.
I’ve explained in greater detail how the people involved used the wheelbarrow to transport the bodies to the woolshed out the back and away from the road visibility. The woolshed light was seen shining on the night of the murders so something was happening there!
The woolshed held the bodies for possibly the night (if they transported them in the evening), but it was certainly the location of wrapping them and then loading them onto the International truck the following morning.
The events were not planned in detail long in advance but the general idea was. One phone call from Len Demler to say, the Gurneys sometime in the 24 hours prior to the murders along the lines of, “It’s all on. Jeannette’s not cooperating. Bring the pistol and come to my place!” and everyone would have known what to do.
Their access would have been unseen from the road if they had all come via Len’s house (the 2014 Review noted that there were no cars seen at the gate) if they used the back access and if it was dark or getting dark. The girl(s) could have already been staying at Len’s house or close by or opposite (the 2014 Review noted one person saying that a woman was staying with Demler), and the girls’ presence was likely accepted or normal or at least accepted by the Crewes.
Decades of fighting and jockeying for power (as evidenced by the annual events of arson, their brake sabotage and theft perpetrated against the Crewes) prepared Len Demler for legal and social acts long in advance of when they actually triggered the actions that meant eventual death. Maisie’s assigning her assets to Jeannette instead of Heather (Len Demler’s favourite) was the key event that actually set the stage for the murders.
She knew who “they” were but kept it under wraps while she was alive. Do you really want family fighting in the newspapers.
Jeannette’s refusal to sign (or at least to accept) her mother’s accounts via affidavit a day before her murder was the event that actually triggered the murders. She found something or knew that there were things wrong, most likely gross misappropriation of key assets (probably from her English inheritance).
Her insistence on doing things the way her mother had intended was the resistance that required Len to initiate lethal force.
IT’S COMPELLING CONDEMNATION
Len’s evasiveness when facing something condemning, compared to his arrogance and indifference when dealing with something he had an alibi for, is notable. It’s compelling condemnation.
There is little doubt in my mind that he was the instigator and probably the central planner of the crimes and cover-up. As long as he had time following the murders to affect his plans (which he did) he could, as surviving executor and sole trustee, work it all out as he had intended.
It is also certain that feminine involvement from his new wife Norma (who never even lived with him) and the influence of Alf Hodgson’s wife (Rose Amy) played a driving role as well. The role of women in these events going back generations cannot be ignored.
Corruption within the authorities was more widespread and long-term than just the two Police officers who planted evidence. My experience with the authorities and indeed all involved with these murders, their investigation and the events that followed show me that the whole subject is too hot to handle, for everyone. There is good reason for this.
TOO MANY PEOPLE
There are too many people with vested interests; too many people with their fingers burned; too many people who have gotten it wrong and sadly, too many people got paid out in hush money (or land) for truth and justice to be natural.
My experiences interviewing the Thomas family showed dishonesty. My dealings with other authors showed patronising indifference and worse. The Police in particular are highly resistant to criticism. The 2014 report contains bias and is naturally pro-police and overly defensive.
The stonewalling and way that those within bureaucracy ran for cover with anything to do with the Crewe murders or the matters I have investigated show me very clearly that there are people even now who fear exposure.
Rochelle, the surviving daughter, refused to speak with me. Ian Wishart ignored me. People and families that have moved away from the Pukekawa region report huge rifts within the community as a result of these sad events. Large tracts of land have been sold and divided among people who know the inside story and who are associated by marriage, blood or in business.
Our blind trust of those in the professional industries simply because they are lawyers and are sworn to uphold the law may be unwise. Many who have come forward with information have been ridiculed and some fared quite badly as a result of their goodwill.
Lastly, the murderers have not been held to account, certainly not publicly. I find this sad and wish that others eventually come forward and that the conspiracy of silence is broken, once and for all.