A new headstone lies on the spot where convicted child
murderer Minnie Dean is buried. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
The previously unmarked grave of child murderer Minnie
Dean has been marked with a gravestone apparently installed by
an unrelated person - puzzling both locals and experts alike.
While legend had it that grass never grows on the Block VIII
Plot 2 at Winton Cemetery where Dean is buried, the site has
a full crop of grass and its own unauthorised gravestone.
The recently installed gravestone was discovered yesterday by
Otago Daily Times photographer Gerard O'Brien, who was
in the town on assignment.
In December, it was reported the great-great nephew of Minnie
Dean wished to erect a gravestone on her unmarked grave - 113
years after she was sentenced to death.
Martin McCrae, a gardener from Stirling in Scotland, wrote to
the Winton Community Board in late November informing them he
was preparing a headstone for his great-great aunt.
The gravestone was expected to be inscribed with Dean's
maiden name, McCulloch, (in line with Scottish tradition) and
to read: "To the memory of Charles Dean 1836-1908 and his
wife Williamina McCulloch 1844-1895. Rest in Peace".
But the new gravestone has confounded the Dunedin-based
author of Minnie Dean: Her Life and Crimes (1994),
"I am gobsmacked," she said.
Dr Hood kept in regular contact with Mr McCrae and said the
most recent development "is another example that Minnie Dean
just won't lie down".
"It would have been nice to have a very simple and respectful
ceremony with the unveiling of the real headstone to show
that she was a real person and to allow her some dignity."
Previous attempts to mark Dean's grave had been turned down
by the local community board and "the town would be rather
known as a prosperous farming town than the home of Minnie
The motive for the new headstone was unclear, she said.
"It is clear it is someone who knows a headstone had been
commissioned [to carve it]."
Several Winton locals said when contacted they were puzzled
to hear a different gravestone had been installed.