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My secret relationship with a notorious killer: How a young nurse struck up a friendship with inmate who gave her a troubling painting before his mystery disappearance

Helen Turbott never expected that one day she would be pen pals with one of New Zealand's most infamous killers.

The young 20-year-old was training to be a nurse when she treated a prisoner who recommended she visit fellow inmate Ronald Jorgensen as part of her social work.

She only knew of Mr Jorgensen for his love for art and his polite nature, until she found out he was found guilty of the 1963 Bassett Road machine gun murders in Remuera.

'I'd done a social work degree and worked with men's groups for domestic violence, so I had a reasonable social conscience and always been one for the underdog,' she told NZ Herald.

'I just went along thinking he hasn't got any friends, and I thought if he is a horrible man I won't keep visiting – but I actually quite liked him.'

Helen Turbott (pictured) was training to be a nurse when it was recommended she go visit Ronald Jorgensen

Ronald Jorgensen (pictured) was one half of the men found guilty of the 1963 Bassett Rd machine gun murders in Remuera

After finding out he was a killer, Ms Turbott knew that she had to keep her prison visits a secret from her parents because they 'would kill me'.

Ms Turbott visited and exchanged letters with Mr Jorgensen for three years and claims they never spoke about his crime.

She said he would mainly speak about his art, his life in prison, his family, and would occasionally ask about the 'outside world'.

In 1965 - Ms Turbott's final year in nursing - Jorgensen announced that he was completing a painting for her.

She thought little of it until the Mt Eden Prison fire that year, when she received a call to collect the painting.

The artwork was a gory picture of a bull being speared by a horseman with blood spilling out of the animal

The artwork was a gory picture of a bull being speared in a traditional bullfight, with blood spilling out of the animal.

She did not like the subject matter, but kept the painting as a memory and left it with her son who later hanged it in his 'man cave'.

'I just kept it all these years because he painted it for me, which is nice,' she told the publication.

The pair kept in contact until Ms Turbott got married, and she became preoccupied with other matters and their friendship and contact faded away.

Jorgensen and John Gillies were accused of firing several shots at Frederick George Walker, 38, and Kevin James Speight, 26 with a .45 calibre on December 7 at a home in Bassett Rd (pictured)

1963 Bassett Rd machine gun murders in Remuera

Jorgensen and John Gillies were accused of firing several shots at Frederick George Walker, 38, and Kevin James Speight, 26 with a .45 calibre gun on December 7.

The victims were traders in illegal alcohol which is believed to have been the motive for the murders.

A team of 32 detectives began their search which led them to Jorgensen and Gillies who had already spent time in prison in New Zealand and Australia.

In 1964, the pair denied the charges but were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

However, in 1964 Jorgensen was released from prison to live with his father in Kaikoura.

His car was found at the bottom of a cliff but Jorgensen's body was never found and police believe he faked his death.

For several years after, there were unconfirmed sightings of Jorgensen, but he was officially declared dead in 1998.

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