It’s now time to narrow the focus to what happened on 17 June leading up to the brutal double murder and of the events during the following five days. There’s a heap of information available from a wide variety of sources so my intention, for the record, is to provide a brief account of this period along with some thoughts related to the findings that I have talked about throughout this text. . .
While much has been said on the movements of the Crewes on the day of the murders, it is true that Jeannette had been visited during the morning of Wednesday 17 June by Thirryl Pirrett (an old friend) while Harvey was discussing, around the same time, the potential purchase of a bull with stock agent John Gracie.
The pair soon left and made a trip to look over some breeding bulls for sale at Glen Murray then later, on the same day, Harvey and Jeannette attended a stock clearing sale at Bombay to look at another line of bulls.
Questions crossing my mind as a layman included asking how many bulls were the Crewes going to buy and from what breed and blood line. How many working bulls were needed and what was wrong with the existing bulls? Were these bulls for replacement or to upgrade another herd?
Hopefully the answers to these questions would have given me a clue as to whether the Crewes were serious about cashing up and starting afresh elsewhere or were they going to stay put.
The niggling thought is that four years seemed a long time for Harvey to wait to replace inferior stock or was it simply being able to afford it now because of a pending improvement in Jeannette’s bank balance (from her inheritance). I think so.
CONDITION OF THE HOUSE
The earlier lack of resources could also be applied to the condition of the house. It had been widely reported that it was without character as a home and had a run-down drab appearance within and yet, I noticed in the garage, a brand new 1970 Hillman Hunter car.
Despite the apparent lack of resources, I believe the bank actually held ample funds in Jeanette Crewe’s name as well as other securities on loan. Also, prior to 17 June 1970, the family lawyer, Colin Sturrock, made a statement saying the Crewes were going to extend their land holdings in the near future.
Yet surprisingly the condition of the farm at the time was good. Stock numbers were up and over the years some of fences and tracks had been replaced or attended to. But the house had had no upgrade or alterations, even the curtains were not replaced after one of the fires, and although Jeannette had ordered material, Harvey had cancelled this on 15 June two days before their murders.
In mentioning all these facts there can only be one conclusion to the riddle of the condition of the house, bearing in mind one does not renovate or buy curtains for a house that a family has no intention of living in.
The better option would be to cash in all or any mortgages, shares or other interests, plus her mother’s inheritance, then sell sections 13-14 and 67-68 to buy a bigger and better farm, say in the Wairarapa away from the harassment and other problems–their original intention.
This logical option would, no doubt, set the cat among the pigeons. Does Len spill the beans immediately to those who had debts to the Chennells Family Trust or were plans already in place to cover the eventuality of having to make some hard decisions?
STANDING IN THE SHOES OF OTHERS
I’ve tried to stand in the shoes of Len for his reaction and also those who had been applying the scare tactics in the years preceding.
My feeling is that all parties involved had a motive to murder. But to find who actually pulled the trigger has done my head in more times than I care to admit.
Originally, and like the bulk of others, my main culprit was Len as he had the most to lose and while he had motive, did someone else beat him to it after they “lost it”? In saying that I don’t believe Len was even present during that altercation but he definitely was involved with cleaning up the mess afterwards and making sure everyone’s butts were covered and were all on the same page.
Regardless of his likely leadership or passive role in the murders Len would have been in damage control after assessing the murder scene and after considering the options, and without losing his cool, stalled for time while he thought through the various consequences of any action that had to be taken.
LEN’S MOVEMENTS WERE DOCUMENTED
Meanwhile, without getting sidetracked too much, let’s try to retrace Len’s movements from Wednesday afternoon until Monday morning either to establish guilt or varying degrees of innocence.
I can only do this from information others have written about as I was not there, nor have I personally interviewed anyone involved and have only recently had access to the NZ Police Crewe Homicide Investigation Review of 2014. This series of reports are regretfully not complete and are hugely biased towards the Police but they have been helpful because of their ‘first hand’ information.
I have mentioned previously about the importance of the timeline that I had compiled to keep me on track. It has already unearthed many gaps in this saga and at this moment I want to show if Len had enough time available over the next five days to get rid of the bodies, to clean up the mess and to throw everyone off the scent.
It was a stroke of luck for the Police that they were able to factually determine the time frame of when the murders were committed. It is known that the Crewes were last seen alive late Wednesday afternoon. Their primary intent was to create the impression of normality but the perpetrators did not realise that they had made a serious blunder in not checking the mailbox at any stage between Thursday morning and the following Monday.
Mailman Emmett Shirley had noticed his deliveries had not been collected for several days but did not realise the significance until some time after Len had “discovered” the couple were missing.
Also the Police, perhaps unconsciously, kept this vital Wednesday evening piece of evidence from becoming public knowledge.
It is also obvious to my mind that if Len was involved, everything he says over the following days would have to be big fat juicy lies otherwise he ran the risk of incriminating himself if he gave the wrong answers when being questioned later. Once again it is not what Len says but what he doesn’t say that is striking.
Let’s test this theory with the following quotes recorded by various authors: Keith Hunter recorded in his book The Case of the Missing Bloodstain (page 17) that Len testified it was “a dirty wet day [on Wednesday] and I stopped home most of the day as it was too wet.” He went on to say that he never went near Harvey’s farm that day. Later, on page 53, Hunter says Len intended to watch a rugby match in Hamilton but it was too wet so listened to it on radio, never used the phone, never saw the Crewes, went to bed at 9:30.
David Yallop says on page 2 of Beyond Reasonable Doubt that Demler stayed close to his farm most of the day. “He for one would not be going to any ratepayer’s meeting that evening, but then he never went. Having spent the previous evening at his daughter’s Jeannette’s farm he decided to catch up on some letters that needed writing.”
Did anyone think to ask Len for proof of who he had written to so that it could be verified? Len could have easily been doing essential paperwork but who is to say he wasn’t destroying evidence or covering the trail of the murderers?
Chris Birt writes of evidence Len Demler gave that said he was alone at home on Wednesday night, “no one was with him and no one called on him” so in essence had no alibi (Final Chapter page 187). It is absolutely true that Len had no alibi so could say essentially what he liked!
Hang on a minute Len! What about the significant phone call you said you had received that evening?
Ian Wishart, author of The Inside Story wrote on page 34 & 35 that Len gave evidence that stock agent Joe Moore had phoned him around 7:00pm on Wednesday night complaining that he could not raise the Crewes on the phone.
Strangely, there is no mention in the Police Reports of this particular phone call. However, they do record a visit from stock agents, Joseph Moore and John Dagg, to the Crewe homestead on Monday morning around 9:00 am.
Len claimed he wasn’t worried about the Wednesday evening call at the time and says he forgot about it until Monday, four days later, when further phone calls arrived from at least three others who were also trying to contact Harvey.
Really? Did Len really forget about Wednesday’s call until Monday? It just doesn’t add up and we will soon know why.
THAT CRITICAL PHONE CALL
Wishart believes if Wednesday’s phone call was true, the Crewes were dead by 7:00pm or they couldn’t answer the phone because they had a gun pointing at them.
These facts would surely let Len off the hook as he couldn’t be in two places at once although the timing of the gunshots that allegedly killed the Crewes bears further scrutiny. If neighbour Julie Priest’s recollection of hearing gunshots some time between 8:00pm and 8:30 is taken as being fairly accurate then Len had plenty of time to check out why Harvey was not answering his phone.
To him this would have been an ideal excuse for Len to visit Jeannette again as he still had unfinished business to attend to.
He had more than an hour or so after the phone call to make up his mind whether to poke his head through the back door to basically check out whether everything was okay and, if so, could continue pressuring Jeannette to change her mind about certain details of her mother’s will.
If Len was telling the truth and never went near the Crewes that evening then who got rid of the bodies and did the clean up? All I want to say at this point is that Len had no alibi and could easily bend the truth to suit the circumstances.
WHERE WAS LEN ON THURSDAY?
Reports later received by the Police revealed a lot of activity near the Crewe household on Thursday morning. Reports came in of 16 year old Ross Eyre seeing an unidentified woman driving the Crewe car, a Hillman Hunter, south at 8:30am while waiting for his bus.
A little later, at 10:30am, Raymond Fox, a share milker, also saw the same car heading south which he described as a blue Hillman occupied by two women, one of whom he thought was Mrs Crewe.Strangely these sightings were not revealed to the defence team or, it seems, followed up and fully investigated by the Police. In fact nothing was recorded on the Chronology of Events compiled for the 2014 Police Investigation Review. However, to be fair, the Fox sighting was mentioned in their Conference Notes of 24 June where Sgt Seaman come to his conclusion and said, “I don’t put much weight on this sighting at all.”
From what I have learnt surrounding this mystery is more about the close associates of Leslee. This will make it easier for readers to follow as members of her family owned a light blue car, a 1970 Toyota Corona, that could easily be mistaken for a Hillman Hunter as it drove past particularly if you were looking at the women rather than the car.
Other relations of Leslee’s family did live in the neighbourhood, and to me this is a very significant piece of information that will join up some important dots but right now I want to continue working on the rather sketchy movements of Len.
IS LEN BEING DELIBERATELY VAGUE?
Keith Hunter (page 53) also tried to justify what Len was doing: “. . . did some work on the farm, got back to the house at about 5:30pm . . . I cooked tea, watched TV and went to bed around 9 to 9.30m. I didn’t ring Jeannette or Harvey that day and didn’t see or hear from either of them. I didn’t go anywhere near their property. I went to bed and never went out again that night.”
Who’s Len trying to kid? There’s a whole day of daylight that is missing of any substance. All Len could say was that he “did some work on the farm” so if he was involved then it would not surprise anyone that he gave such a vague answer.
He could hardly admit that he had been working next door, cleaning up a murder scene and getting rid of the bodies, so he had to bend the truth a little more.
I’ve often wondered what sort of questions the Police asked and were they thorough? Did they leave no stone unturned? After all, Len was their number one suspect and while they were trying hard to nail him by putting a firearm and an axle in his hands, other vital evidence was being concealed by Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton (the officer in charge of the murder inquiry).
Keith Hunter devotes Chapter 9 (pages 97-105) to Hutton’s mysterious actions and covers in full detail how four months of police investigation had disappeared. Today, all the evidence Police had against Demler no longer exists and in all probability will never be disclosed as its contents would probably reveal damaging information that would make total fools of those upholding law and order.
Police had interviewed Len at length numerous times during their investigations and while there is admission that they could not “break” or “crack” Len, all common sense says that Len would have incriminated himself, however unintentionally that he knew much more than he was letting on.
Further conclusions reached by Hunter will also later show that Len knew of other seemingly minor events only known by police at the time.
WHAT ABOUT FRIDAY?
Presuming again that Len is involved and is co-operating with others known to be on the Crewe property during this period, foundations were already being laid to fool people passing by that Jeannette Crewe was, in fact, still alive.
Bruce Roddick, a farm labourer, almost proved that Jeannette was still in the land of the living.
He is on record as sighting a woman (standing in front of the Crewe car near their house) whom he described in detail in Yallop’s book (page 11). This woman (whom I believe was Leslee) was at the scene of the murders around 9:00am while he was feeding out hay for Ron Chitty who lived opposite the Crewes.
Initially the police believed they had “one fairly reliable” sighting but amid some controversy, the police tried to change the position of where Roddick was standing to throw doubt on his vision. This woman has never been positively identified and sadly, Roddick did not know Jeannette so had presumed it was her. In doing so, he was at odds with the police who later tried to portray him being an unreliable witness as far as their agenda was concerned.
The police went as far to say in their conference notes that Roddick was “not too brilliant by any means” and a “simple soul” but admitted he had “good eyes.” According to their conference notes of 15 July the Police eventually decided this sighting was unreliable and disregarded it altogether.
For me, and from what I know of the woman who said she fed the baby, I am convinced in my mind that the woman seen by Roddick in front of Crewe’s house was one of the pair seen in a blue Hillman in the neighbourhood by Raymond Leslie Fox.
This lady wanted to be seen to provide an alibi for Len. I also think it was part of Len’s long term strategy of keeping control of his and Heather’s legacy. He had something over her, as did others in the family.
Part of this developing situation was not lost on Keith Hunter (page 51): “The unasked question was ‘why was she seen?’ and its answer must be that it was her purpose. She was being seen–with the Crewes’ car beside her. She was saying: ‘Here I am, Jeannette Crewe, alive and well. I haven’t been murdered yet.’ The trick worked on Bruce Roddick. He thought it was Jeannette Crewe.”
Later that day, around 2:30pm, Sonia Hawkins had visited the Chittys (neighbours opposite) and had noticed the blinds had been drawn across the two big front windows of the Crewe house. She had thought it “uncharacteristic” and because she was running late didn’t bother to check it out. If only she had stopped and knocked on the front door!
LEN’S TURN TO ALIBI HIMSELF
So what had Len actually been doing on Friday? Unfortunately there is nothing on record to show Len’s movements prior to 4:30pm which means again that, to my knowledge, he had no alibi.
It has already been mentioned by Chris Birt that Demler had returned to his solicitor and signed the new will that he had requested on the previous Monday. Then Demler said he had drank heavily that night till 10:15pm.
Keith Hunter’s version of Len’s movements were similar (page 53): He drove into Tuakau for an appointment with his solicitor at 4:30pm and later went to the hotel with a friend for a few drinks until 7:00pm. He had a feed at the fish shop opposite then went back to the pub until closing time and arrived home about 10:40pm.
Again for Len, there is almost a full day not accounted for!
IN THE MINDS OF THE PERPETRATORS
Further activity around the Crewe homestead on Saturday morning reinforced the notion that nothing was amiss and there was no need for anybody to be nosey.
The Crewes were apparently still alive and the double murder was supposedly not due to happen until Saturday evening or at the latest, on Sunday. The time didn’t really matter as the object of the exercise was to show enough activity to give others, particularly Len, justifiable alibis for Friday and Saturday.
As history should show, the ploy was carried out with a coolness of nerve and daring that would have made a movie director quite envious. It was perfectly scripted with eighteen month old Rochelle Crewe playing the leading role.
Rochelle was most likely told quietly to go outside and play but to go no further than the front gate and if the script was being followed she would have also been directed to return immediately to the house if somebody came up the driveway.
As it turned out Dale and Queenie McConnachie drove past the Crewe farm on their way to the centenary rugby match shortly after 1:30pm. Queenie noticed Rochelle and described the “lovely little girl” as a toddler wearing a pair of overall trousers with a bib front. Her husband Dale verified the sighting three hours later, at 4:30pm, on his way home after the rugby.
According to their conference notes of 15 July (page 12) police found Queenie McConachie’s sighting of a toddler in the front yard on Saturday afternoon “hard to accept” which explained why Chris Birt responded by revealing their reasoning.
In his book, All the Commissioner’s Men (pages 85 & 86) Chris slated the police for not releasing this “key evidence to the Thomas defence teams, the two trial juries nor the 1980 Royal Commissioners.”
In hindsight, all this play-acting was a complete waste of time as the uncollected milk bottles were already testifying that Wednesday evening was the last time the Crewes were seen alive. This fact was not known by the perpetrators so it becomes obvious that those involved, at least three people, Len and two women (probably the murderers if these people weren’t guilty), already knew that the Crewes were dead.
SATURDAY RUGBY KEPT LEN VISIBLE
David Yallop gave a good account (on page 4) of Len’s activities at the rugby on Saturday. He wrote of Len not being alarmed when his son-in-law, “a good footballer and keen follower of the game” failed to attend the Onewhero Jubilee match. “He equally did not consider it was cause for concern when the young Crewes did not appear at the dinner and dance that followed the match.”
It seems Len was deliberately being visible yet nobody thought to ask him why Harvey and Jeannette were not present. I’m sure people did ask him and depending on his answer, none of his mates thought it strange enough to check out.
Chris Birt didn’t place any importance on the Crewe’s absence either as all he said on page 99 was that Len drank until about 2:00 am and arrived home after 2:30.
Keith Hunter had a lot more to say on pages 53-55 and 62 of his book The Case of the Missing Bloodstain where he had also been documenting Len’s movements.
“(On the Saturday) . . . at about 12pm I left for the football. This was at Onewhero . . . After the game I went to the clubhouse and had a few drinks and later attended the football club’s jubilee dinner at 6pm . . . then they had a dance. I left there at about 1.40am and arrived home about 2am . . .”
Hunter continues: “Since the evidence of the last sighting of the Crewes and the roadside mailbox established that the murders were committed on the Wednesday, there was never a need for the police to question or check this narrative.
“Had they been persuaded by the mystery sightings that the Crewes were not murdered until the Saturday, then they would obviously have checked. They would then have noted that Demler the farmer might well be the sort to feed his daughter’s farm animals.
“They would have thought it irrelevant that he had been home alone on the Wednesday and Thursday nights, but it would have been of considerable relevance that he was drinking with friends in Tuakau on the Friday night when someone was burning a carpet square and a cushion in the Crewes’ grate and sparks were seen belching from their chimney, and that he was drinking with a whole football club well into the early hours of the Sunday morning after the Saturday night when his daughter and her husband were murdered. Len Demler would have been completely ‘alibi’d’.” I note though that the 2014 Police Review has discounted the ‘sparks from the chimney on Friday night’ story.
HUTTON QUESTIONS LEN ABOUT SATURDAY
In fast forwarding Hunter’s commentary to comments made from one of Bruce Hutton’s interview questions to Len Demler sets the scene: “Are you sure you didn’t contact Jeannette or Harvey about going to the Football Jubilee with especially view of the fact that you had a double ticket to the football dinner after the game?”
“No. I thought of contacting Jeannette on the Thursday or Friday but I didn’t get around to it. I suppose I should have and all of this wouldn’t have happened.”
Hunter writes that Hutton apparently saw no significance in his suspect’s last reply above. The point that escaped him was that Demler was providing a time for the Crewes’ disappearance. That time was after the Thursday and Friday of the week prior, to the Monday on which he had discovered them missing.
“Len had already proposed that the disappearance resulted from a murder-suicide. If he had taken one of the Crewes to the football dinner on the Saturday night there would have been no murder suicide. It follows that he was suggesting that the murder suicide had occurred on the Saturday night. Why? Ostensibly Demler had no cause for the supposition.”
Hunter is of the opinion that only someone who knew about the mysterious events and their indication that the Crewes were still alive until the Saturday afternoon would have ventured a time of death at all, let alone propose the Saturday night.
“The Wednesday was always a more logical choice because it was the last day the Crewes had actually been seen. The only people who knew about the mystery sightings at the Crewe house on the Friday and Saturday in that week were the police.
“In the interpretation of the mystery sightings proposed above, one other person would have known, not of the sightings but of the events themselves. That person would have been the one who organized those events.
“No-one had reported the sightings to Len Demler. Almost three weeks after he had found the Crewes missing he didn’t even know that the police had long decided, principally on the evidence of the mailbox, that they had disappeared on Wednesday 17 June. Though he could not have known about the reports of the sightings, he seems to have known about the events themselves, and that they appeared to dictate a Saturday night disappearance.”
That Demler displayed knowledge available only to the police and the killer was strong supporting evidence against Hutton’s suspect.
However recognition of the significance of Demler’s comment–during an interview specifically intended to elicit evidence from him –required the interviewer to have analysed the mystery sightings as outlined above. This never happened. Consequently the point was lost on the interviewer –Detective Inspector Hutton.
ACCOUNTING FOR LEN’S DAYLIGHT HOURS
The events of Saturday still contained gaps, the most obvious being the whereabouts of Len during the morning, in fact every morning for the past three days is basically unaccountable. On Thursday nothing prior to 5:30pm; Friday it was 4:30 and Saturday nothing recorded prior to midday.
What was Len actually doing during those daylight hours? There are no records available (remember Len’s police interview notes had disappeared) so one can only speculate and think the worst. Len would say he was doing farm work and was working so hard that he didn’t notice that Harvey wasn’t tending to his animals.
But what about Sunday? Len may have been sleeping it off after a hard night and early morning on the turps but my timeline shows very little activity for Sunday except for two events that have never been properly explained.
Chris Birt wrote that Keith Brown, a Tuakau stock and station agent, had passed by at 8:30 am and saw the back porch light on and car at front gate. The car, believed to be Crewe’s Hillman Hunter, had been seen in the same spot on Friday and in the same place on Saturday afternoon but by Monday was parked in the garage.
Someone had moved it and it wasn’t the Crewes. They were dead. Was it Len or one of the two ladies earlier seen in the car or another male who helped to move the bodies?
Journalist Pat Booth recorded in his book Trial by Ambush (page 33) the sighting of a brown International truck near Crewe’s woolshed on the Sunday, a fact that Wishart says was overlooked by David Yallop and other authors who followed with their books. He also thought the truck implied “someone with commercial ties.”
I believe what he meant was that this truck was local and commonly seen around the district. A very similar truck I remember visiting the Demler farm during haymaking, was also used during school holidays to transport children to a nearby farm.
The thought that passed through my mind was the truck being an ideal vehicle to transport a couple of bodies from the woolshed to the Waikato River.
This is the part where a few dots can be joined up but this is not where I want to mention it as my explanation will need additional information otherwise it will be out of context please just hold the thought.
WHAT DID SANDY FLETCHER SEE?
The only other information of significance not included in my timeline was a date relating to what Sandy Fletcher saw on the banks of the Waikato River in June 1970–an exact date would have been very helpful but it seems nobody had the sense to actually record it somewhere.
However, to cut a long story short Fletcher was looking for a whitebaiting spot and, according to author Chris Birt, he “saw two horses, some dogs, a man with a trilby hat and a middle-aged woman trussed up in wet weather gear.”
They said they were “just dumping some rubbish.”
The belief of Fletcher and a large number of his supporters was that the couple were Len Demler and his girlfriend at the time, Norma Eastman (nee Thomas).
Strangely none of the investigators, or authors of books, were prepared to name the 48 year old “middle-aged woman”, a woman Demler was to marry less than two years later, on 7 April 1972 at the age of 63, and a woman erroneously claimed by some to be responsible for feeding the baby.
The only clue to when Fletcher made this sighting was his description of it being a cold drizzly day late in the afternoon in June. There was no indication what day of the week it was and my attempts to discover what Len was doing during this period (analysed on previous pages) may determine if Len and his helper were involved.
Wednesday was known to be a “dirty wet day” but is easily eliminated as the murders had not yet occurred. The timing was right for Thursday as Len had only done some farmwork and according to him was home by 5:30 which would have included a two hour horse trek to journey back.
Friday and Saturday did not fit a late afternoon time frame which only left a last minute rush on Sunday to tidy up the loose ends.
The weather conditions on Sunday are not known and apart from the two events already mentioned, Sunday is a complete blank as far as written records are concerned. I could not find anything in the books published or in evidence given at court hearings. The Police Review 2014 failed to mention anything that Fletcher had seen, not even a comment rubbishing his claim.
Part of the reason would be, I feel, is connected with what the police eventually told Fletcher. They said his information was not relevant then added that he had to keep the matter to himself or he would “find himself in serious trouble.”
DID POLICE HAVE ANOTHER AGENDA?
On the whole, and in hindsight, that was an incredibly stupid comment to make by a member of the police force. What exactly was annoying him? The answer is simple when the reader realises that the police wanted to cover up anything that could jeopardize the arrest of Arthur Allen Thomas.
My timeline shows how the events unfolded and why the police reacted the way they did.
It was several days after Fletcher had heard of the disappearance of the Crewes that he phoned the police to report what he had seen. As a result nothing happened until Arthur Allan Thomas was arrested on 11 November 1970.
Fletcher then went back to the police as the young farmer they had arrested was a far cry from the elderly man he had seen in June. It was here that he was told it was not relevant and to keep the matter to himself or he would find himself in serious trouble.
Prior to this the police had been advised at a major conference on 2 October 1970 not to charge Demler due to insufficient evidence. If that was true, why was it necessary to make this seemingly unprofessional threat?
The police were obviously worried that if they were able to prove it was Demler dumping bodies then their case against Thomas would have been thrown into total disarray as they were close to reaching the point of no return with Thomas. They were not in the position to back out then go through the process of saving face.
Even stranger still was their attitude towards Fletcher. Chris Birt summed it up in his book All The Commissioner’s Men (page 92) with this comment: “The police maintain that there was no record of Fletcher in the Crewe homicide file, no interview sheets and no job sheets, and no account of what he saw at the edge of the Waikato River that day in June 1970.”
In my opinion, Fletcher saw what he said he saw. I doubt though (for other reasons) that it was Demler disposing of the bodies.
MONDAY MORNING ARRIVES
The phone commenced ringing in the empty house of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe from as early as 6:55 am and to the frustration of Joe Moore, a stock agent for National Mortgage Association, was unanswered.
As a stock agent who knew the neighbours, Moore immediately rang Len Demler and asked if the Crewes were away. Len later told the police that as far as he knew they were at home to which Moore responded by saying that he might make a visit later that day.
Moore was true to his word and according to police records arrived between 8:45 and 9:00 am with his colleague John Dagg who knocked on the back door. He noticed the light was on in the room to the right of the back door but did not hear any movement so left.
Other reports say Moore “hammered on the front door awaiting a reply that never came” (Wishart page 27). Both men then left.
It surprises me even to this day that neither men tried the doors and it is common knowledge that the back door was not locked. Farmers in those days rarely locked doors so it would have been easy to open it and yell out “Anyone home?” Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if the timing had been a bit closer, the stock agents might have meet Emmett Shirley at the gate making his rural delivery. A quick chat would have solicited the obvious signs that nobody was at home.
Police conference notes of 15 July had reported Emmett Shirley looking up from the mailbox and “always seeing” Mrs Crewe feeding Rochelle in the front bedroom. When he looked up on this morning (Friday) he noticed the blinds were down and no sign of the Crewes.
In returning to the events of Monday we find Ron Wright, transport foreman of Tuakau Transport Ltd trying to contact the Crewes between 12:35 and 1:00pm. He received no answers so phoned Len and asked if he would go and tell Harvey to get his sheep ready for collection.
Len acted immediately and went to find Harvey. He ‘discovered’ blood stains on the lounge carpet and as the saying goes “the rest is history.”
WAS LEN TELLING LIES?
The question that still needs answering is whether Len Demler knew what was going on and had time or the inclination to become involved during these four days of shame.
I concur with a comment found in Police conference notes of 24 June 1970 after a certain family had been interviewed, “. . . they all know the family very well. They did say that Demler was extremely callous at the time his wife was dying. He was absolutely steaming drunk at times and they detested Demler. They said he was purely and simply interested in keeping up appearances. They said he was inclined to be very mean, tried to defraud Income Tax. They hate Demler. They said that Demler contacted the Crewes every day, sometimes on business over farming, sometimes just passing. If Demler said that he wasn’t there for 3 or 4 days, he was telling lies.”