The mystery of who installed an unauthorised gravestone
to mark the burial site of convicted child murderer Minnie Dean
remains just that - a mystery.
Late last year, Martin McCrae, the Scottish
great-great-nephew of Dean, wrote to the Winton Community
Board saying he would commission a headstone for her unmarked
But someone beat him to it.
On assignment in the Central Southland town to take
photographs of the site, Otago Daily Times
photographer Gerard O'Brien discovered a mysterious headstone
was erected on the plot where locals say the grass never
The headstone read - "Minnie Dean is part of Winton's history
where she now lies is now no mystery".
Informed of the mysterious headstone, the Dunedin-based
author of Minnie Dean: Her Life and Crimes, Dr Lynley
Hood, said she was "gobsmacked" by the news.
"[This] is another example that Minnie Dean just won't lie
Mr McCrae said he was disappointed to hear of the site being
marked without the consent of family.
"As far as we are concerned, our aim is to put a memorial in
place that can provide some closure and healing for the
"We have sought this all along."
Closure came for the family in February in the form of a
memorial service and the unveiling of a new headstone to
replace the unauthorised stone.
While the service provided closure for the family, mystery
remains over who installed the headstone and the wooden sign
pointing to its whereabouts.
Winton Community Board chairman and local publican John
McHugh said he was in possession of the granite slab but
no-one had claimed ownership.
Mr McHugh said he had no idea who placed the headstone on the
site, or what their reasons were.
"It is a complete mystery."
He had been informed that no monumental masons in Otago and
Southland made the headstone, but it had been made by a
More than a century since she was found guilty of infanticide
and hanged, an increasing number of people were flocking to
see her grave, Mr McHugh said.