At the turn of the last century, almost everyone in the small Taranaki town of Waitara knew there was something a bit off, dangerous even, with their local GP.
Despite his amiable surname, Dr. Edward Jonathan Goode appeared to be quite the opposite.
His acquaintances, for he had no real friends, his patients, local town councillors, the mayor, even police officers described him as being morose, paranoid, angry and prone to bouts of alcoholic binges.
Some even knew that he was frequently armed with a pistol, but inexplicably they all turned a blind eye – until he shot a young woman to death.
Born in Ireland in 1848 to civil engineer William Goode and Rebecca (nee Rainsbury), Dr. Goode was indeed a man with impressive qualifications. He had graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1885 (the same year he married Jane Wall), was a member of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and had served time as a ship’s surgeon aboard the RMS John Elder.
In 1897 Dr Goode and Jane settled in Waitara. He quickly became part of the community providing medical aid to his patients, was appointed official doctor of the local Forester’s Lodge, provided evidence in coronial hearings and served as a vice president of the Taranaki Rowing Regatta Committee.
But out of the public eye, Dr Goode’s problems with alcohol were getting worse and this was increasing his paranoia.
In 1902 he was fined £1 for illegally taking a voting ballot paper out of the polling station because he believed the registrar was trying to spy on him and find out who he voted for.
He also had disputes with local shopkeepers, who he accused of spying on him, ranted and mumbled to himself about being persecuted, often ministered to his patients while drunk, pulled out his pistol and fired it into the ground during an argument and blamed everyone else for his lack of success as a doctor. But no one did anything about it.
Then on 14 December 1908, after drinking for what was believed to have been five days solid, Dr Goode walked into the home of his 36-year-old neighbour Mary Ellen Klenner and demanded she have sex with him. When Mrs Klenner refused, he shot her twice, once in the jaw and once in the neck. He then turned the gun on himself shooting himself in the jaw.
Mrs Klenner lingered for two days, long enough to provide a statement to police, before she died on 16 December. Dr Goode was arrested and his wound treated.
He was charged with Mrs Klenner’s murder and at his trial a long list of townsfolk finally broke their silence about their grave concerns over Dr Goode’s behaviour.
Dr Goode was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to an asylum in Auckland.
Records do not show if he was ever released, but he died on 13 March 1936 and is buried at Waikaraka Cemetery with his wife Jane, who died in 1919.
Mary Ellen Klenner is buried in Waitara Cemetery. Her headstone reads: Thy Will Be Done.
Picture: The Free Lance, 10 April 1909, pg.5
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