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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. T
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,"
he 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 defendant’s 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.

Back to Murder Index

Stephen Anderson shot and killed six people and wounded four more, in Raurimu, February 8, 1997.

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