A GUILTY SE­CRET

Fred­er­ick Hay­ward van­ished on his way to the fam­ily bach in Septem­ber 2013. The fa­ther of two was pre­sumed to have died in a tragic ac­ci­dent. But four years on, de­tec­tives dropped a bomb­shell, re­veal­ing some­thing far more sin­is­ter had hap­pened. Old wounds

Herald on Sunday - - REVIEW -

Kate Hay­ward re­mem­bers the fresh or­ange peel scat­tered a few me­tres from her hus­band’s lit­tle red Toyota hatch­back. And she re­mem­bers the cold. It was so cold, she says, as searchers fanned out with their torches, blow­ing their whis­tles, call­ing her hus­band’s name, fall­ing silent and walk­ing on.

Po­lice had told her not to come to the place where Fred­er­ick “Rick” Hay­ward’s empty car was found at the sum­mit of the gravel Old Moun­tain Rd, the nar­row, wind­ing, some­time New Zealand Rally route whose other claims to fame are its World War II for­ti­fi­ca­tions and its sta­tus as the orig­i­nal link be­tween Raglan’s rolling breaks and Hamil­ton’s rov­ing masses. But, of course, she had come. She first fell for the ad­ven­tur­ous Lon­doner in bell-bot­tom trousers and Dan­ish clogs at North­ern Illi­nois Univer­sity in the 1960s. Now her 67-year-old hus­band of 43 years and fa­ther of her two adult chil­dren (who have asked not to be named) had van­ished clad in no more than a brown cot­ton top, tan pants and khaki cap.

No one had seen him since he left the cou­ple’s Hamil­ton home about 5pm on Septem­ber 2, 2013 — roughly 27 hours ear­lier.

As the hours of dark­ness passed she tried not to turn on the heater.

“I wanted to be able to feel what it might have been like for Rick. But I couldn’t. It was so cold. We had to turn the heater on,” she tells the Her­ald on Sun­day now.

Later, af­ter the search was over and the cou­ple’s son had driven the lit­tle Toyota home, other feel­ings came.

Re­morse and guilt.

The last time the cou­ple spoke was when Hay­ward called his wife at work and asked if she would go with him to the fam­ily bach, a 1940s weath­er­board cot­tage in Raglan. “He didn’t want to go by him­self but I en­cour­aged him to spend a few days in Raglan. So many times I have thought that if I had gone with him, he wouldn’t have got­ten lost,” she says.

“‘If only’ has played in my mind.” So what did hap­pen to Rick Hay­ward?

In a shock­ing twist, Hamil­ton De­tec­tive Sergeant Andrew Saun­ders an­nounced in June that po­lice be­lieve Hay­ward was the vic­tim of a hit and run, which was then cov­ered up.

“We be­lieve this was an ac­ci­dent but that the driver, peo­ple in the ve­hi­cle, have then pan­icked and dis­posed of the body,” the vet­eran de­tec­tive told the Her­ald on Sun­day af­ter po­lice went public on crime-bust­ing re­al­ity TV show Po­lice Ten 7.

Saun­ders still re­fuses to re­veal what in­for­ma­tion changed what ev­ery­one had be­lieved for four years. The pri­or­ity, he says, is to re­turn Hay­ward to his fam­ily.

“It’s not about run­ning around try­ing to ha­rass some­one and put some­one be­fore the court. Our fo­cus is to find Rick and get him back to the fam­ily.”

If po­lice are right, some­one is liv­ing with a very guilty se­cret. Saun­ders has been a cop for 27 years, 20 of those as a de­tec­tive, and he has never had a case like this. “But you do come across times when of­fend­ers have done things they didn’t in­tend to hap­pen and then pan­icked.”

A guilty con­science was the key to find­ing out what hap­pened.

“We ac­tu­ally hope they have a con­science,” he says.

“It’s a big thing to keep to your­self.”

Guilt has long fas­ci­nated writ­ers and psy­chol­o­gists, ap­pear­ing as cen­tral themes in works from Shake­speare’s Mac­beth to Edgar Al­lan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart to, this cen­tury, Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Ro­man play­wright Plau­tus, who died in 185BC, wrote “noth­ing is more wretched than the mind of a man con­scious of guilt”. More than 2000 years later famed US director Or­son Welles said any­one guilty of some­thing “should live with it, face up to it”.

A New Zealand-raised man who murdered a friend and buried his body, telling no one, can at­test to the ter­ri­ble bur­den of keep­ing a se­cret.

The hus­band and fa­ther, who spoke to the Her­ald on Sun­day on con­di­tion of anonymity, kept his for seven years.

But al­though his body was free, his mind was not.

“I was work­ing long hours, I’d do a lot of time in char­ity work and get in­volved in big crazy projects and it would kind of take my mind off it … but you would just wake up in the mid­dle of the night with that sense of ‘ouch’. “I’ve got this thing on my soul that would just kind of spring up from time to time,” he says.

“I would be just sort of tor­mented by it.

“And it never re­ally went away. If any­thing, it got stronger.”

Af­ter join­ing a church com­mu­nity, he was even­tu­ally con­fronted by its lead­ers. What was tor­ment­ing his soul, they asked?

He told them. His journey to peace had be­gun.

The man trav­elled to the coun­try where the killing oc­curred and con­fessed to po­lice. He was con­victed of mur­der and spent sev­eral years in jail.

Life be­hind bars wasn’t easy, but he al­ways knew his de­ci­sion to con­fess was the right one, the man says.

“I had a clean con­science be­cause I’d done ev­ery­thing I could to make things right. I still have re­gret for the past but at the same time I have com­plete peace be­cause I’ve found for­give­ness.”

He hoped his story would “help some­one else find peace”.

“If they have any kind of con­science left it would be tor­ment­ing them.”

His­tory is lit­tered with ex­am­ples of those whose knowl­edge of what they have done has proved their own un­do­ing.

An­other Kiwi, Grant David Mitchell, walked into a Queens­land po­lice sta­tion in 2011 — af­ter

“Se­crets are a heavy bur­den. They have a way of both seep­ing out and eat­ing in­wards.”

24 years evad­ing jus­tice for the death of his girl­friend, Auck­land woman Nella Ce­leste Poli. Mitchell was jailed for at least 10 years af­ter ad­mit­ting to the 1987 Syd­ney mur­der.

Two years ago a 91-year-old con­fessed to the 1946 mur­der of a Lon­don sex worker and just last week a WWII vet, at 96, ad­mit­ted he did not take part in the D-Day land­ings, af­ter decades of be­ing lauded as among those in­volved in the in­va­sion.

Univer­sity of Waikato School of Psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor Maryanne Garry says peo­ple have a “re­mark­able and sur­pris­ing” ca­pac­ity to re­mem­ber ex­pe­ri­ences dif­fer­ently from how they ac­tu­ally hap­pened.

One ex­am­ple is false con­fes­sions spurred by “the right set of fac­tors”, such as pain.

But as for ex­pert opin­ion on how hard it is for some­one guilty of a crime to “just wan­der around” as if noth­ing had hap­pened, she wasn’t con­vinced any­one could give an an­swer.

“No­body would know how hard it is to not tell some­one,” she says.

“It doesn’t make much sense to see an ex­tra­or­di­nary in­ci­dent through the lens of some­one who just lives like you and me, who lives an or­di­nary life, and who thinks, ‘I could not men­tally project my­self into that place, so I don’t un­der­stand how some­one could act that way’.

“But like I said, un­der the right cir­cum­stances [it’s pos­si­ble].”

Kate Hay­ward watched her son search for his fa­ther that Septem­ber night four years ago.

He’s their Kiwi baby, born af­ter the cou­ple and their daugh­ter crossed the Pa­cific to es­cape the Ron­ald Rea­gan Pres­i­dency and a failed cam­paign against a new nu­clear power plant up­wind of their Illi­nois do-up, and it oc­curred to his mother her boy be­lieved he would find his dad.

Even then, just a few hours af­ter the alarm was raised, she was un­der no such il­lu­sions. “I knew that he hadn’t sur­vived. Not in that cold.”

Dawn came and the clear skies turned grey.

The po­lice he­li­copter swooped over this work­ing farm­land close to where for­mer Prime Min­is­ter He­len Clark grew up, where mist set­tles in the gul­lies on wet days and sheep tracks cut a path up mis­shapen hillocks, just as Hay­ward had.

“Rick tended to take the road less trav­elled, both fig­u­ra­tively and lit­er­ally,” Kate Hay­ward says.

“So not sur­pris­ingly his pre­ferred route to Raglan was Old Moun­tain Rd.”

The Karamu Walk­way in­ter­sects Old Moun­tain Rd and it was com­mon for Hay­ward to stop there and go for a ram­ble.

“He liked to charge up a peak that took his fancy.”

By 9am it was rain­ing and Kate Hay­ward thought about leav­ing. It would be the first mile­stone.

Even though she be­lieved her hus­band was dead, she left a note on the Toyota’s dash­board. It ended with a love heart.

“I thought if he sees that, just that, he’ll be re­as­sured.” There would be no re­as­sur­ance. Tues­day turned to Wed­nes­day and Wed­nes­day to Thurs­day and then it was the end of the week and the search was over.

The or­ange peel scat­tered near the Toyota told Kate Hay­ward her hus­band had “been here”, but just like ev­ery­thing else he left be­hind — his cell­phone, his red plaid bush shirt, and his books on the dash­board — they re­vealed noth­ing more.

“Un­for­tu­nately they gave no Hansel and Gre­tel trail to the di­rec­tion he had taken.”

Now, there’s a pos­si­bil­ity of learn­ing the truth. There have been de­vel­op­ments since po­lice went public eight weeks ago, but no break­through.

Po­lice have asked for sight­ings of two ve­hi­cles of in­ter­est

— a dark coloured Nis­san Ter­rano and a ute, pos­si­bly with the num­ber plate TX.

An iden­tikit of a man, de­scribed as 172cm tall, of medium build, un­kempt and with blond hair and a bald­ing or re­ced­ing hair­line, was also re­leased to the public.

Saun­ders is cau­tious with what he will say. About a dozen tips have come in, in­clud­ing some re­lated to the iden­tikit.

Will the truth ever be known? Or will Hay­ward re­main among the sad ranks of the dis­ap­peared, along­side Mona Blades, Kirsa Jensen, Am­ber-Lee Cruick­shank and so many more.

Some, such as Bas­sett Rd ma­chine-gun mur­derer Ron Jor­gensen, not seen since his car was found at the bot­tom of a North Can­ter­bury cliff in 1984, have mo­tive for dis­ap­pear­ing. Oth­ers van­ished in sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances, while hitch­hik­ing or in the com­pany of those with crim­i­nal con­nec­tions. But there was no rea­son for Hay­ward to dis­ap­pear, Saun­ders says. “Rick was a well-loved fam­ily man and well-re­spected in the com­mu­nity. “Cer­tainly he didn’t in­volve him­self with peo­ple who would want to cause him harm.” So shock­ing is the turn of events that when Saun­ders sat in Kate Hay­ward’s front room in Fe­bru­ary and said po­lice be­lieved her hus­band was the vic­tim of a hit and run, she was dis­be­liev­ing.

“How­ever, as the months went by, I could see the po­lice were con­vinced that the truth lay in a hit and run sce­nario,” says Kate Hay­ward.

“It filled me with hope that the per­son or per­sons with this in­for­ma­tion might come for­ward and my fam­ily and I would fi­nally be able to lay Rick to rest.”

It also eased her feel­ings of guilt, but the lin­ger­ing an­guish of not know­ing what hap­pened feels like “be­ing caught in a whirlpool”, she says.

She and her chil­dren fo­cused on liv­ing in a way that hon­oured Hay­ward’s hopes and values — in her case learn­ing Te Reo and cham­pi­oning Pales­tinian rights.

“Me­mory lives on, as a force of its own. A per­son who has been part of your life for decades leaves im­prints in so many ways.”

But it would mean ev­ery­thing to know what hap­pened, and to bring Rick home, she says.

“Very oc­ca­sion­ally in the course of a life­time, a per­son will be given a rare op­por­tu­nity to ex­er­cise a sin­gle act of great courage or to take an ac­tion that would be supremely mer­ci­ful.

“Com­ing for­ward with in­for­ma­tion about Rick’s last mo­ments and where he is now would be such an act.

“Se­crets are a heavy bur­den. They have a way of both seep­ing out and eat­ing in­wards. A clean ex­or­cis­ing can bring re­lief and redemp­tion.

“I pray that [any­one] car­ry­ing the se­cret of Rick’s last mo­ments and where he lays now will step into the light.”

Pic­ture / Alan Gib­son

Alan Gib­son

Farm­land and bush-cov­ered hills sur­round­ing the Karamu Walk­way at Waite­tuna where Rick Hay­ward dis­ap­peared.

The Hay­ward fam­ily’s dis­tress over Rick’s dis­ap­pear­ance was re­vived when po­lice an­nounced their sus­pi­cions.

Iden­tikit of a man po­lice are hunt­ing.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion team can be con­tacted on 0800 HAY­WARD (0800 4299 273) or, anony­mously, through Crimestop­pers on 0800 555 111.

The­fam­ilyafter­ar­riving­inNewZealand.

Rick with his new baby.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.