William Bayly

William Bayly

Although they were sheep farmers in Ruawaro, New Zealand, living some distance apart and with plenty of space around them, William Bayly and Samuel Lakey were the neighbours from hell. They hated each other. “You won’t see the next season out, Lakey!” yelled Bayly, which was just one of the dozens of dire threats they exchanged.

It all came to a climax on October 13th, 1933, when Mrs. Lakey’s drowned body, with head wounds, was fished out of the Lakey duck pond. Samuel Lakey himself was nowhere to be seen. “He must have killed his wife and then fled,” Bayly told police. They figured it was more likely that Lakey had also been murdered, and began searching Bayly’s farm.

They found blood on an old cart, and more of it inside Bayly’s tool-shed. Buried near his farmhouse were bone-fragments, two false teeth, part of a cigarette holder and a cherrywood pipe similar to the one Lakey owned. There were more burned bones in a sheep-dip vat.

Extending the search around the farm, they found fragments of human bone, all of which had been subjected to intense heat, and scattered among them were tiny pieces of shot-lead. It all added up to Bayly having shot his arch enemy, then burning his body until all that was left were crumbling bones. That was enough to convict him of the double murder, and he was executed at Mount Eden Jail on Saturday, July 20th, 1934.