Anne Perry, Crime Novelist With a Murder Record and 'Heavenly Creatures' Subject, Dead at 84

Historical fiction writer Anne Perry at the Edinburgh International Book Festival where she talked about her new book entitled Execution Dock.
Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images

Kate Winslet played Anne Perry in Peter Jackson's 1994 true crime-inspired film.

Anne Perry, the historical crime novelist with a grisly past of her own, died Monday in Los Angeles, according to numerous reports. She was 84. 

The British-born Perry was played by Kate Winslet in Peter Jackson's 1994 Heavenly Creatures, depicting the infamous murder case of 1954 in Christchurch, New Zealand. As a teenager, Perry -- who was born with the name Juliet Hulme -- was tried and convicted for her part in the brutal killing of her friend's mother. Her friend, Pauline Parker, was played by Melanie Lynskey in the film. 

A jury found the girls guilty of bludgeoning Honorah Parker, Pauline's mother, to death in a park after she apparently refused to allow her daughter to go with Hulme as she was moving to live with relatives in South Africa.

Perry served five years in prison for her role in the matricide. Because she was under the age of 18, she avoided the death penalty. 

She went on change her name, move to Scotland, and become a prolific writer who sold more than 26 million books worldwide. Perry never married and is survived by her brother, Jonathan Hulme.

In a 2006 interview with The Times of London, Perry said she made a "profoundly wrong decision" to take part in the killing and that she feared her friend would take her own life if she didn't. The duo served their time separately and never spoke again. 

In a 1994 interview promoting his film, Jackson said he felt strongly about adding humanity to the "misunderstood" and "sensational" case.

"We really wanted to take it back to the human beings and to say, 'Well, they weren't evil,'" he said. "I mean, they were two 15-year-old girls. They did this extraordinarily tragic thing, but there had to have been some forces at work within their friendship or outside of their friendship that led them to this action. And we set out to try and discover what they were." 

Perry's next book, The Traitor Among Us, is due out in September.