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Stephen Lawrence ANDERSON





Classification: Mass homicide
Characteristics: Former psychiatric patient - Family argument
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: February 9, 1997
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1973
Victims profile: Neville Robin Anderson, 60, Anthony Gordon McCarty, 63, John Frederick Mathews, 28, Stephen Mark Hansen, 38, Andrea Joy Brander, 52, and Hendrick Dirk Van de Wetering, 51
Method of murder: Shooting (12-gauge shotgun)
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Status: Found not guilty by reason of insanity. Detained in hospital indefinitely

A 24-year-old native of Wellington, New Zealand, Stephen went berserk during a family reunion in a small ski resort killing six people and wounding five others.

The shotgun wielding maniac was tracked down by authorities through the surrounding rugged terrain using helicopters and planes. Within an hour he surrendered to police commandos naked and unarmed close to the ski lodge where many of the victims were blasted to death.

The suspect, described by local residents as a former psychiatric patient, vented his lethal anger against mostly relatives, although several passers-by were also hit by the gunfire. 18 members of the Wellington family gathered at the ski lodge in Raurimu for a reunion.

After a family argument, Stephen picked up his shut gun and started blasting away. Unconfirmed reports include his father and three other relatives among the casualties.

After his arrest, Stephen was formally charged with the death of Hendrick Derek Young Van de Wetering, a local resident, and ordered the killer to undergoe psychiatric testing at the Tokanui Mental Hospital.

On February 12, he was charged with five additional counts of murder, eight counts of attempted murder and unlawful possession of a 12-gauge shotgun when his firearms licence had been revoked.

New Zealand, known mostly for its sheep and butter exports, is now in danger of becoming the homeland of the mass killer. Since 1990 there have been five massacres. Before that there was just one other incident. A decade ago just one murder was enough to send the nation into a state of shock. Now there is an average of more than one homicide a week. Psychologists and criminologists are baffled by the rising body count.

The fact that most mass murders occur in rural areas has led experts to believe they are the result of families living in isolated surroundings. Some say that contributing to the mayhem is the "settler" mentality which has bred a macho culture, in which men can only express their anger through extreme violence. Perhaps New Zealand's lax gun control might also be contributing to the slaughter. New Zealanders own a gun for every household.

After the massacre there was an outcry for tighter gun control. However, a coalition of firearm users lashed back saying that the government should be looking at improving the mental health system instead of changing the gun laws.


Gun blasts rain terror on village

Shooter kills 6 in New Zealand

The Arizona Republic

February 8, 1987

A man armed with a shotgun stalked a New Zealand ski village for an hour Saturday, killing six people and seriously wounding five others.

Police arrested a suspect after chasing him through rugged forest with backup from planes and helicopters. The man was unarmed and naked when he broke cover and was taken into custody, rescue helicopter pilot Guy Beange said.


Gunman kills 6 in New Zealand

Philadelphia Daily News

February 10, 1997

A man embroiled in a domestic dispute opened fire on his relatives and several passers-by at a ski resort Saturday, killing six people and wounding five, police said.

The man, described by residents of the village of Raurimu Spiral as a former psychiatric patient, was naked and unarmed when police commandos seized him. He emerged from a dense forest about 600 feet from the killing scene, two hours after his rampage began.


Man charged in reunion rampage that killed 6

The Star Tribune

February 10, 1997

Wrapped in coveralls, at right, Stephen Anderson of Wellington, New Zealand, is led into court Sunday after his arrest in a shooting rampage that left six people dead and five injured Saturday during a family reunion at a ski resort 250 miles north of Wellington.

Police investigating the shootings, above, refused to confirm reports that among the dead were his wife and father. Anderson, 22, was charged with murder; more charges are pending.


Man charged over Raurimu killings

The New Zealand Herald

February 10, 1997

A man was charged with six counts of murder and eight counts of attempted murder in the Hamilton District Court early today in relation to Saturday's shotgun massacre that shocked New Zealand.

Stephen Anderson, of Wellington, was also charged with a firearm offence and remanded in custody until 26 February, for psychiatric assessment.


New Zealand killer is found innocent, but ruled insane

The Commercial Appeal

December 11, 1997

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The man who confessed to one of New Zealand's worst massacres was found innocent today of six murders and four attempted murders by reason of insanity.

It took just over two hours for the jury to decide that Stephen Anderson, 25, was insane when he went on a deadly shooting spree in the North Island hamlet of Raurimu on Feb. 8.

Anderson was ordered confined to a high-security mental health institution and held there until doctors determine he is fit to be released.


The Raurimu Rampage

Stephen Anderson

The tiny North Island town of Raurimu, nestled in rolling hills beneath the recently active volcanic Mount Ruapehu, 34 kilometres south-east of Taumarunui, had never seen, and probably never will see a darker day than what unfolded on the morning of February 8 1997.

The Anderson family had invited family and friends from Wellington to join them at their ski lodge for what was a long public holiday weekend.

By days end on February 8, six people would be dead and four wounded through the actions of Stephen Lawrence Anderson a 25 year old unemployed man of Wellington, a young man with a history of mental illness.

The dead included Neville Robin Anderson, 60, Anthony Gordon McCarty, 63, John Frederick Mathews, 28, Stephen Mark Hansen, 38, Andrea Joy Brander, 52, all of Wellington and Hendrick Dirk Van de Wetering, 51, of Raurimu.

Witnesses said that family and friends had gathered for breakfast when Anderson appeared in the room. His mother Helen Anderson would later state in the Hamilton court trial, that her son mentioned that he had just had sex with a cat and dog. A couple of minutes later he came back holding a shotgun.

His father got up from the table and asked what he was doing and tried to take the gun from him. Mrs Anderson said the accused said :"You're the devil incarnate." He then shot his father with a single-barreled shot gun.

Pandemonium broke out as the gunman began a shooting spree, killing and wounding several people in and around the lodge before going to another property where a local resident, Hendrick Van de Wetering was gunned down trying to raise the alarm by flagging down a passing truck.

Isobel McCarty would give evidence that she and her husband Anthony, hurried out of the lodge as soon as the shooting began. She said that she did not realise that Anderson had followed them. As they got to some trees on the driveway, she felt a shot hit her back and she blacked out. When she awoke, her husband was already dead beside her. "He had blood pouring out of the side of his head and on to me. It was obvious that he was was as if someone had turned a tap on, it was pouring out."

Mrs McCarty managed to drag herself to the driveway where she passed out. A while later she was awoken by a police officer. Later in the trial Mrs McCarty was asked by crown prosecutor Quentin Almao if she and her husband would have gone to the ski lodge if they knew Stephen was to be there, she replied: "I would not have."

She said she felt uncomfortable around him. Mrs McCarty said Helen Anderson apologised for her son being at the lodge. "The first thing Helen said to us when we arrived was 'I'm sorry we had to bring Stephen. He's been such a problem to us the last few days. We couldn't leave him at home to feed the cat'."

Another witness, Michelle Churton, also of Wellington, hid in undergrowth for two hours. "There appeared to be many shots, I didn't count them. There was a lot of screaming," she said. She did not come out from hiding even when police had arrived as she was so scared and did not know the whereabouts of Anderson.

Hendrick and Helena Van de Wetering were the Andersons neighbours. Their son Rodney and his wife Kim and children were staying with them for the weekend. The family heard gun shots coming from the Anderson property but only became alarmed when Helen Anderson arrived calling for help. She told them that her son Stephen had just shot her husband.

Kim and Hendrick went up to the main road for help while Rodney and his mother bundled his two small children in a car. Rodney also grabbed a rifle.

He was by the car when he was confronted by Anderson. He told Anderson to "back off". But Anderson dropped to the ground and fired. Rodney was hit but managed to move into the bush in an attempt to try and lure Anderson away from his children. Anderson fired again at the car before moving towards the main road where Rodney's wife and father were.

Wanganui truck driver Gregory Wood said Kim and Hendrick Van de Wetering stopped him for help, but his radio would not work. As he moved on for better reception he saw Anderson jogging beside his truck reloading his shotgun.

He heard a shot as he drove off. When he looked in his rear vision mirror he saw Hendrick lying on his back on the road. He had his hands up as if to protect himself as Anderson stood over him pointing his gun.

When Mr Woods looked back again he saw Anderson disappearing into bush beside the road.

Helena Van de Wetering said her daughter-in-law came back to the house and said Hendrick had been killed.

Raymond and Evelyn Spencer, who were also staying at the Anderson's lodge, told the court how they pretended to be dead while Anderson walked around near the lodge with his shotgun.

Anderson was later arrested by police, stark naked in bush near the lodge. At his trial a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was entered.

Anderson had had a history of mental illness since being diagnosed in 1995 as schizophrenic. Although prescribed drugs for this condition, his family doubted that he had been taking these drugs as regularly as prescribed.

During the trial the defendantís mother Helen Anderson said that Stephen was familiar with guns and knew how to use them. This was supported by his uncle Noel Curley. Mrs Anderson also said that both she and her husband noticed a change in Stephen a few days before the shooting. He had become quieter and more withdrawn but not enough to worry them unduly. Two days before the shooting she saw her son holding a gun. When she asked what he was doing, he told her "they" were coming after him.

During the trial, the accused laughed loudly as the prosecution played a video showing Anderson being interviewed. It was one of the only times that Anderson showed any emotion whatsoever.

Anderson's counsel, Stuart Grieve, said that the sole defence was that Anderson was insane at all times.

Anderson was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity. He will be detained in hospital indefinitely as a special patient.

A memorial service was held in Raurimu on the 8th of February 1998. It was a year to the day since Anderson shot his father and five other people.



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