Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Winton’s Dark Secret

There’s a burial plot in the Winton cemetery that lay unmarked for nearly 115 years, until descendants laid a grave stone in 2009. You might not recognise the names, especially the woman’s name; Willamina McCulloch, although the husband’s surname might ring a bell.

This is the burial place of Minnie Dean, the only woman to have been hanged in New Zealand. There are many myths that surround the case, it is alleged that she murdered illegitimate babies she had in her care at her “baby farm” in nearby Deans Road. She was hung in Invercargill in 1895 and the 12th of August this year marks the 120th anniversary of her death.

Because she was a ‘wicked person’, Minnie Dean was buried 8ft below ground, instead of the usual 6ft. And at the rear of the cemetery in an unmarked plot. For many years the grass above her grave did not grow, which helped fuel stories of Minnie Dean’s wickedness. This was in fact later attributed to a local gardener and his herbicide.

Her husband, Charles Dean died in 1908 and was buried 6ft down in the same grave.


  1. 'Alleged' is a word that is used prior to a persons trial for a crime. Prior to a trial it would be stated that a person is 'alleged' to have committed such-and-such a crime, based on the presumption of innocence. Once a person has been pronounced guilty as the result of a trial then the word alleged is removed, and statements are made to the affect that the person 'did' commit a crime. So your post should have stated that Minnie Dean 'murdered illegitimate babies she had in her care'. There is no 'alleged' about it. She was New Zealands first female serial killer.

    1. Thanks for your comment but you'd be best to take up your thoughts with the 'Winton Area Promotions Incorporated' who produce the 'Winton Heritage Trail' brochure where I got the information from. They use the word 'alleged'.


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