1969 was the year Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, the Beatles sang 'Let it Be' and the period known affectionately as the 'swinging sixties' expired. It was also the year English hitch-hiker, Jennifer Mary Beard, was murdered as she travelled a remote road near Arthur's Pass. Armstrong, the Beatles and the 60s are famously remembered. But the murderer of Jennifer Beard is largely forgotten. He was never arrested, never charged, never judged and never gaoled. This man got away with murder. The Jennifer Beard murder enquiry was described at the time as the biggest manhunt in the country's history and in more recent times as a crime that marked New Zealand's loss of innocence. This book reveals evidence a jury would have been confronted with had there been a trial and it examines the reasons why the prime suspect was not charged. This is a fascinating portrait; not only of the Jennifer Beard murder and subsequent police enquiry, but it's also an excellent, social snapshot of the time - the end of the 60s.
So much of the story is fascinating; the unreliability of eye-witnesses, the attitudes of the time, the physical and technological limitations the police worked under, the obvious systemic flaws in police procedures, the psychological study of the prime suspect. The story moves forward like a brisk but thorough constable out on the beat.
Mark Price was raised on a sheep farm at Waikoikoi in West Otago. His first job in journalism was as a 'copy holder' at the Ensign in Gore during summer holidays when 15 years old. Since then he's worked as a journalist for newspapers, radio stations and television. He's currently a TV 3 News reporter. Jennifer Beard was murdered during the summer between Mark Price's primary and high school year. The story of her murder was in all the newspapers at the time and made a huge impact upon him.