Woman admits killing mother-in-law with axe

03:31, May 02 2014
Janelle Amanda Holl
MURDER PLANNED: Janelle Amanda Holl took turns hitting her mother-in-law with the back of an axe along with her husband.

A 26-year-old woman stood impassive in the dock as the details of her part in the axe murder of her mother-in-law in Picton last year were described in the High Court in Christchurch.

Janelle Amanda Holl pleaded guilty to a murder charge today, six months after her husband, David Adrian Holl, 20, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole term of 15 years.

Justice Graham Panckhurst remanded her in custody for sentencing on July 18 in the High Court in Blenheim.

Robyn Grace
ROBYN GRACE: Found to have 35 wounds and injuries inflicted by the attack from her son and daughter-in-law.

She will receive a three-strikes warning for repeat violent offenders when she is sentenced.

Holl pleaded guilty to a charge of murdering Robyn Grace in Picton on January 13 last year.

Crown prosecutor Cathy Bell said Grace was 43 at the time of her death. David Holl was her son.


David Holl
BEHIND BARS: David Adrian Holl, 20, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of his mother.

In 2010, David Holl spoke to the Picton police in an interview that was recorded on DVD. He talked about wanting to be a serial killer.

Since then he had been in regular contact with the police, Child, Youth and Family, and mental health agencies.

Janelle and David Holl had lived in a holiday park in Porirua but returned to Picton on January 5, 2013, and moved in with Grace until they found a place to live.

She let them have the main bedroom while she slept in the lounge.

The relationship between the three became strained to such an extent that Grace slept in her car on the night of January 12.

She told the couple on January 13 that they must move out, and that she had begun looking for a place for them.

When she went out, David Holl told his wife that he was going to kill his mother when she returned.

The couple planned how they would kill her, either by strangulation using a rope or with an axe. They planned to dismember the body and burn parts in the house fire.

David Holl got an axe from the carport, and the pair also had a rope, masking tape and a note entitled "Instructions, Revenge Plan".

When Grace arrived, David Holl grabbed her, putting one hand over her mouth. She began struggling and kicking.

When he tried to pick up the axe, she broke away and made a break for the front door.

The couple caught her at the door, where she was screaming for help.

They pulled her into the lounge, where she continued to struggle and scream.

Neighbours heard the commotion and called the police.

David Holl and Grace fell to the floor and he yelled to Janelle Holl to "use the axe".

She picked up the axe and hit her mother-in-law several times with the back of the axe, on her back and head.

When Grace fell, she was dragged to the bathroom, and Janelle Holl started cleaning up.

When David Holl called her into the bathroom, they saw that Grace was still alive and they took turns hitting her with the back of the axe head until they were satisfied she was dead.

They changed out of their bloody clothes and hid the axe under some items in the laundry.

When police arrived, the couple said there were no problems.

David Holl insisted on a search warrant, but an officer said he was invoking his powers under the Search and Surveillance Act.

Police found Grace's body in the bathroom and arrested the pair, Bell said.

Grace was found to have 35 wounds and injuries.

David Holl declined to be interviewed after his arrest, but Janelle Holl made a full statement that provided the basis for the summary of facts.

The Press