Guy Hartley, as the forest manager, was often absent from the Ngao residence as it was necessary for him to travel to the various forestry stations. Ordinarily, he would not take his wife with him on these trips. One of the stations he had to regularly visit was the company's rafting station at Sawankhalok. Curiously, on the trip to Sawankhalok in June 1956, Guy Hartley, in a break from his customary practice, took his wife. This may have been because they were scheduled to soon return to England, and he therefore may have wanted his wife to experience forest life before their departure.
They stayed at the company’s station residence on the bank of the Yom river. The house was a two-storey building. The lower floor was the office and the upper floor was fully-furnished accommodation consisting of a living room and a bedroom. Within the station compound were another two or three buildings as well as a godown to store the various materials and equipment used for construction of the timber rafts. Not too far away from the house and these adjacent buildings was the river bank. This rafting station compound was some distance from the nearest village.
After dinner on the evening of 19 June, Guy Hartley and his wife, Merry, were sitting conversing in the living room on the second floor of the house as usual. The night atmosphere at the station was quiet, broken only by the whispering sound of the water in the Yom river, which was still ten meters below the bank as it was only the beginning of the rainy season. Late at night, the stillness was periodically disturbed by hoo-hoo-hook sounds of owls hooting and alternating with the echo of the village dogs exchanging howls in the distance. Husband and wife conversed until late into the night before going to bed in preparation to face unfinished tasks in the morning.
In the middle of that night, Guy Hartley and his wife were awakened by a strange noise coming from the office on the lower floor. Hartley got up to ascertain the source of the noise, opened the bedroom door, walked through the living room and descended the stairs to the lower floor. Halfway down he could see into the room below and he would have been alarmed when he saw the shadows of three or four people ransacking the office. With concern for his wife, he shouted to her in English to bolt the bedroom door. This panicked the burglars panicking, who would not have understood English, and the loud noise of gun fire followed as several volleys were discharged. Hartley collapsed instantly on the stairs.
Hearing her husband cry with pain, and hearing unfamiliar footsteps running up the stairs, Merry, as well as being extremely worried about her husband, must have been in great fear for her own life. Confused about what to do in such dangerous situation, she ran to hide in the corner of the bedroom, but she was knocked down by the intruders as they pushed their way through the bedroom door.
The gang hurriedly pilfered everything, from the chattels on the table to the contents of the drawers and wardrobe. They took everything they considered to be of value, even her gold-color lipstick, ran downstairs and escaped into the darkness. Although the staff and laborers heard the noise, none had the courage to come out to stop the bandits or follow them. They did not even dare to go out to report the incident to the police that night for fear of the harm that could come their way as the bandits may have been hiding in the tall grass surrounding the station compound.[i]
After the bandits left, Merry shouted to the workers to help carry her husband to the upper floor and administer first aid. However, it was already too late, so she could only wipe the blood stains from his body and gave him a change of clothing before lying him on the bed. That night several questions must have gone through her mind about what had just happened, and what her future, and that of her very young children, would be.