Woman's screaming heard by neighbour

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 08:22 15/01/2013

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The man and woman charged with murdering the Picton mother of three could be heard whispering "I'll see you in heaven" as they lay handcuffed on the ground, a neighbour said.

Picton woman Melinee Te Keeti said she and Robyn Grace, who was found dead in her home on Sunday, had been neighbours for about 14 months.

She said she arrived home about 4pm on Sunday and put the jug on. She heard Ms Grace's car pull into the driveway as she poured milk into her tea.

A couple of minutes later she heard screaming, she said.

"What I thought was cats being squeezed or strangled, with words in there," Miss Te Keeti said. "I couldn't hear the words but I knew it was Robyn's voice."

She said she went outside and called over the fence that separated their properties.

"I called out, ‘Robyn, are you all right? Robyn!' I repeated that a lot."

Miss Te Keeti yelled out she was going to call the police and could still hear the screaming as she went inside.

"Then the screaming stopped, dead in its tracks."

Loud, bass-driven music was turned on in the lounge.

Ms Grace's cats had just had kittens, and her initial thought was the kittens were being hurt and Ms Grace was trying to protect them, she said.

The music was still going next door as a policeman came up the drive.

Miss Te Keeti's whanau had just arrived from Christchurch and together they saw a man and a woman, both handcuffed, walking out of the house.

"We saw the guy, cuffed, walk himself out, and belly flop onto the ground himself."

The woman followed and also got face down on the ground.

The policeman saw Miss Te Keeti over the fence and asked if any men were around to assist him as he was on his own. Three of her family members aged between 18 and 20 immediately jumped the fence and stood over the man and the woman as they lay on the ground. "We still weren't aware of what happened," Miss Te Keeti said. "I still thought he'd probably beaten her up."

The man was dressed in dark track pants and a dark T-shirt. He had blood on his pants, Miss Te Keeti said.

He and the woman were close to each other on the ground and were saying lots of "weird stuff", she said.

"He said, ‘I love you, I love you'," Miss Te Keeti said. "They're really close, looking into each others' eyes so deeply in love. ‘I miss you', he said, ‘I miss you too'; ‘I'll see you in heaven, we'll be all right'."

After more police officers arrived at the scene, Miss Te Keeti's family members returned to their side of the fence.

She described Ms Grace as "an awesome lady" who was friendly and let her use her lawnmower.

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Her eldest son had moved out of her house about six months ago but moved back in less than two weeks ago.

She described the family members as "inside people", who were inactive during the day but awake at night.

In the past two months, Ms Grace had been more active, and was often out in her yard and working on her new garden.

"Since she's been living on her own, she's been good," she said. "She was an awesome lady. She didn't deserve that."

- The Marlborough Express

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