‘Peephole murder’ files opened to public after 75 years

Posted January 01, 2018 12:00:00

Official documents relating to the brutal 1942 murder of Melbourne pensioner Catherine “Wild Rose” Whitley are now public for the first time.

The 75-year-old files were among hundreds released today by state archives Public Record Office Victoria.

The press at the time labelled the case the “Peephole murder” due to the testimony of 18-year-old motor mechanic Alan Alfred Shaw.

Shaw said he was at work one Saturday in July 1942 when he heard a woman in the back laneway saying, “Don’t do that to me”.

He peeped through a crack in the rear door of the garage and watched a man drag a woman by her ankles to the centre of the laneway and attempt to rape her, punching her three times in the jaw when she resisted.

Shaw ran to get his workmate Edward White, who then peered through the crack, and together they decided to fetch their boss Tasman Knight, who also looked through the opening into the laneway.

Knight took White to call the police, leaving Shaw alone to watch the crime unfold.

The man in the laneway tried several more times to rape the woman, before he stood and walked out of sight as the woman lay on the ground, moving very slightly.

The attacker returned to view carrying a bluestone paving block which he dropped on the woman’s head. She stopped moving.

‘Too drunk’

A two-month police investigation resulted in detectives arresting 32-year-old Frederick Francis Green, who confessed to the murder in a statement.

Green said he left work in South Melbourne at 11:45am on the day in question and had drunk “seven or eight pots of beer” at a city hotel before arriving home in Carlton at 12:45pm.

What are Section 9 files?

  • Some Victorian Government files are kept hidden under Section 9 of the state’s Public Records Act 1973.
  • The section demands “personal or private” government records be withheld from public view for a period of time.
  • Examples include police and prison files, medical records and documents concerning children in state care.
  • Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds all state government records in climate-controlled conditions.
  • Section 9 files relating to adults are generally made public after 75 years and those relating to children after 99 years.
  • PROV releases a new batch of Section 9 files each year on January 1.

He washed, ate and changed his clothes before meeting his father at another hotel about 2:00pm where he continued drinking.

“I cannot say how many drinks I had during the day, but it was a lot.”

When Green left the hotel two hours later he encountered an old woman who offered to “go up the lane” with him for five shillings.

He went with her but the two got into an argument and Green recalled hitting her as she lay on the ground.

“I must have been on top of her I suppose but I don’t think that I had any connections with her. I think I was too drunk.”

Confession retracted

Green later added to his confession, admitting to dropping the stone block on the elderly woman’s head, but by the time his trial came around he had changed his story and denied ever meeting the old woman.

Nevertheless, he was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to death by hanging.

Tabloid newspaper Truth focused its coverage of the sentencing on Green’s attractive 26-year-old wife Doris, with whom he had a 10-month-old son.

Leading the story with a large photo of mother and child, Truth tells how Doris and her husband ran to each other outside court after the verdict but were separated by police.

“[They] dropped their hands helplessly and gazed numbly one at the other, both prisoners: he of the police, she of her grief.”

Sentence commuted, victim besmirched

Shortly before Christmas in 1942 the Victorian cabinet commuted Green’s death sentence to 20 years’ imprisonment.

In documents provided to cabinet, released for the first time today, the assistant government medical officer said it was possible Green was so intoxicated that he was unaware of his actions.

Meanwhile, the inspector general of the penal and gaols department described the victim as an “unsavoury character”.

According to police, Whitley was known locally in North Melbourne as Rose Baker or “Wild Rose”, and she had for years been in and out of jail for crimes including indecent behaviour, larceny, drunk and disorderly conduct, obscene language and insufficient means.

Truth again interviewed Doris Green — “a frail but courageous blue-eyed woman” — who maintained her husband’s innocence.

“They say he did it, but nothing they say will ever convince me that he did,” she said.

Topics: 20th-century, murder-and-manslaughter, library-museum-and-gallery, history, historians, human-interest, carlton-3053, melbourne-3000

Man charged with murder of Byron’s beloved DJ DAD BOD

Updated December 28, 2017 16:17:05

A man has been charged with the murder of popular Byron Bay DJ Chris Bradley, known as DAD BOD, who was beaten to death on Christmas Day.

The 28-year-old “spinning legend” was unable to be revived after being assaulted at a party at a house in Carlyle Street, Byron Bay.

Police arrested a 24-year-old Byron Bay man at Ballina airport this morning after he arrived on a flight from Sydney.

It is alleged he struck Mr Bradley on the head several times. Police said all parties had been drinking and alcohol was a factor in the incident.

The two men knew each other.

Mr Bradley, who moved to Byron Bay from Sydney, was much-loved in the local dance music community and just three days before Christmas had played at a new venue RYCE.

He was a regular on local radio station Bay FM and also part-owned Byron-based artist management company, Atypical Entertainment.

Music Producer and CEO of Turban Records Taranpreet Ahluwalia described Bradley as “the spinning legend of Byron”.

His “heartbroken” sister Maddie Bradley took to Facebook to confirm his death and honour her brother.

“Chris was in an a horrible incident last night and wasn’t able to be revived,” she said.

“To say the words I’ve lost my big brother … it’s gut wrenching.

“Who could do such a horrible thing to such an amazing man.

“You lit up the room with your unique quirk personality and laugh, I’ll miss hearing it.”

Fellow DJ and Producer Thorne Nyker also took to Facebook to praise Mr Bradley’s compassion and drive.

“I love you mate,” he said.

“I promise to play your tracks in my sets till I can’t press cue and spin that jog wheel no more.”

Today BAY FM dedicated their afternoon show to Bradley by playing his favourite tracks.

The Byron Bay man charged with Bradley’s murder has been refused bail and will appear at Lismore Local Court on Friday.

Topics: law-crime-and-justice, crime, police, murder-and-manslaughter, music, byron-bay-2481

First posted December 28, 2017 16:12:39

Celebrities rally to free imprisoned former child sex slave

Updated November 24, 2017 19:52:21

The story of a 16-year-old girl who in 2004 killed a man who picked her up for sex is spreading around the world, after a number of high-profile celebrities joined a campaign to free her.

Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison over the killing of 43-year-old Nashville real estate agent Johnny Allen.

Allen picked her up off the street after she was forced into sex work by her boyfriend, a pimp who went by the name “Kutthroat” and serially abused her, the BBC reported.

Brown said after he picked her up, Allen took her to his house and showed her his gun collection, telling her he used to be an army sharpshooter.

She said when the pair got into bed, “he grabbed me in between my legs — he just grabbed it real hard … I’m thinking he’s going to hit me or do something like it”.

Allen then turned over in the bed, and Brown said she panicked, thinking he was reaching for a gun.

Thinking she was about to die, she shot him in the head with a .40-calibre gun that Kutthroat had given her.

Brown was arrested for murder and tried as an adult. She pleaded self-defence. The jury found her guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree felony murder, and aggravated robbery.

She will not be eligible for parole until she is 67.

#FreeCyntoiaBrown

Brown’s case has gone viral on social media after singer Rihanna posted about it on Instagram.

“Imagine at the age of 16 being sex-trafficked,” she wrote to her 58.2 million followers.

“Did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? Cause … Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life!”

Supermodel Cara Delevingne shared the post to her 40 millions Instagram followers.

Kim Kardashian West also tweeted to her 57.2 million following about the case, saying “the system has failed”.

“It’s heartbreaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life!

“I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this.”

Brown has since earned her Associate’s Degree from Lipscomb University while in prison and is currently working towards her Bachelor’s Degree.

She is also reportedly working side-by-side with the courts and the Juvenile Justice system as an unpaid consultant.

Assistant District Attorney Jeff Burks, the man who jailed Brown, said being young and likeable should not exonerate her.

“She wasn’t just somebody who made one mistake,” he said, according to the BBC.

“She was a very dangerous person. The choices she made were hers. She’s pretty and smart and articulate so people have decided to take up her cause. Let’s not forget her crime.”

Topics: crime, law-crime-and-justice, arts-and-entertainment, sexual-offences, murder-and-manslaughter, united-states

First posted November 24, 2017 19:37:32

Freddy Krueger a ‘father figure’ says woman accused of teen’s murder

Updated October 26, 2017 17:46:06

One of two women accused of murdering Perth teenager Aaron Pajich saw the character Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street horror movies as “a father figure”, WA’s Supreme Court has heard.

The revelation came during 26-year-old Jemma Lilley’s third day in the witness box at the Supreme Court trial she is facing with her former housemate, 43-year-old Trudi Lenon.

The two women are charged with murdering Mr Pajich in June last year.

During cross examination by Ms Lenon’s lawyer, Helen Prince, Ms Lilley was shown a letter she had sent to Robert Englund, the actor who played the character, when she was 24.

A part of it read to the court said “As strange as it may seem, I’ve always seen Freddy as a father figure — Papa Freddy.”

“Everything is perfect in the world if I get to hug Freddy.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

When questioned about it, Ms Lilley said that as a six-year-old child, after she had seen the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, she saw Freddy Krueger as her “protector” and her “guardian angel.”

She said “in her mind at that time”, she would “rather have someone” who she knew could defend her.

Ms Lilley also said she had a tattoo on her leg that was the signature of Englund.

Serial killer ‘fantasy’

Earlier she rejected the suggestion that handwritten notes found on her phone were part of a plan to make her fantasy of being a serial killer a reality.

The notes talked about “being different”, “faking emotions”, “darkness”, fighting the urges to “slaughter, to tear, to stab, to strangle” and “watching the life drain from the eyes.”

Ms Prince put it to Ms Lilley that she had put the notes into practice on June 13 last year, by attacking Mr Pajich with a garotte and a knife as he sat at her kitchen table.

“Your fantasy world that you’d been creating since you were 16 was becoming real to you?” Ms Prince asked

“No it wasn’t.” Ms Lilley replied.

She maintained the notes were fiction, and part of the work she was doing on a trilogy of books she was writing about a serial killer called “SOS”.

“This is the thoughts of SOS. This is fictional work. I didn’t kill anyone.”

Ms Lilley has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and has testified she was asleep in a bedroom when Ms Lenon “must have killed” Mr Pajich.

But Ms Lenon has also denied murdering him, claiming Ms Lilley was the killer and she just helped clean up.

Topics: courts-and-trials, murder-and-manslaughter, horror-films, perth-6000, wa

First posted October 26, 2017 17:37:03

Neill-Fraser’s murder case subject of new Tasmanian play

Updated October 17, 2017 15:53:45

A play focused on one of Tasmania’s most divisive criminal cases is set to open just one week before a long-awaited “last chance” appeal begins in court.

The Tasmanian Theatre Company’s production An Inconvenient Woman makes its debut on October 24, with a sold-out opening show.

The production centres on the case of Sue Neill-Fraser, who is serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted of the murder of her de facto partner Bob Chappell, 65, who went missing from the couple’s yacht Four Winds on Australia Day in 2009.

Mr Chappell’s body was never found.

The case sharply divided Hobart public opinion over Neill-Fraser’s guilt or otherwise.

“An Inconvenient Woman does not make any judgment about Susan Neill-Fraser’s guilt or innocence, but asks probing questions about a judicial system under the spotlight,” the play’s promotional material reads.

“With no body, no forensic evidence connecting the accused and no clear motive presented, the case has divided the public and raised much conjecture in and outside the courtrooms of Tasmania and beyond.”

The play, written by Brian Peddie, has been bankrolled by Canberra lawyer Mark Blumer.

“The legal process is a fragile thing, we think of it as a pillar of society but it’s not made of stone — it’s made of people,” Mr Blumer said.

“It has so much power to affect people’s lives.”

Anne Cordiner said playing Neill-Fraser is a big responsibility and she has had a mixed reaction from friends and family about the production.

“I suppose like any cross-section of the community, some friends say ‘how could you do it?’, others say ‘wow’,” she said.

While Ms Cordiner now calls Hobart home she is not from Tasmania originally, and said she was surprised by the amount of community engagement with Neill-Fraser’s case.

“People really have very strong views,” she said.

Play director Aiden Fennessy said it was broadly about the psychological ramifications of the judicial system.

“It is just a timely reminder that there are people at the centre of these narratives, that don’t affect everyone’s lives but kind of form the day-to-day scuttlebutt of gossip news and tabloid stories,” he said.

“They’re very easy stories to sell.”

Neill-Fraser’s appeal begins on October 30.

More on the Sue Neill-Fraser case

Topics: murder-and-manslaughter, crime, law-crime-and-justice, arts-and-entertainment, sandy-bay-7005

First posted October 17, 2017 15:38:23

‘Serial killer whisperer’ plays dangerous game of cat and mouse

Posted June 29, 2017 07:00:00

For true crime author Amanda Howard, getting inside the mind of a serial killer is a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

Howard takes a seat in the recreational room of Adelaide’s Z Ward, once a home for the state’s criminally insane.

She empties her bag and out tumbles mail she picked up before leaving home this morning.

“I have about half a dozen letters sitting there from various serial killers around the world including Ivan Milat, Paul Denyer, John Robinson and Hadden Clark from America, Mark Valera,” she said calmly.

“I’ve been talking to Ivan Milat since 1995.

“This is my standard daily drop of letters. I can get up to about 40 or 50 a week.”

Howard writes to the world’s most notorious serial killers as part of the research process for her true crime novels.

“When I was a young girl I had an English teacher tell me to go to the source,” she said.

“I don’t think she thought going to the source meant talking to serial killers but it’s worked for me.”

Threatened with an ice pick

Howard doesn’t just write to serial killers; she also interviews them face to face.

“Sometimes I’m the cat and sometimes I’m the mouse,” she said.

“It’s usually not the killers who are the problem because they are in jail for life.

“It’s the rapist in the cell next door who is coming out in a month and knows who I am who will come after me.

“I had Roy Norris [a serial killer and rapist] in America say that he was going to send someone to put an ice pick in my ear, which is what he and his partner had done to his victims.”

‘I am the serial killer whisperer’

Some of the criminals Howard communicates with are just looking for forgiveness; others want attention.

One of the most notorious is American paranoid schizophrenic and cannibal killer Hadden Clark.

Clark is serving two 30-year sentences for the murders of a six-year-old girl in 1986 and a 23-year-old woman in 1992.

Howard will meet with him face to face later this year.

“He is terrifying because he is unpredictable,” she said.

Howard will interview Clark as part of a television project she is developing.

She said she hoped Clark might unveil clues to other crimes he was suspected of committing.

“I seem to have that way of being a serial killer whisperer who can get those little details out of them by asking the right questions.

“Hadden will be a very interesting interview, though scary.”

Clark, like all of Howard’s pen pals, was accused of the most heinous of crimes.

“We all have a line in the sand that we don’t cross. A lot of these killers, like Ivan [Milat], don’t have that line,” she said.

“We want them to be monsters, but they are not because they look like us and are us and that is the scary part.

“In every other aspect of their lives they are just the same as us.”

Reaching breaking point

While researching her 2009 book Predators: Killers Without A Conscience, Howard said she reached her breaking point.

“I threw my laptop across the room and said, ‘I’m not doing this’.”

At the time she had been going through case files of Australia’s worst paedophiles.

She turned her mind for a time to writing crime fiction, “because people don’t have to die for me to write that”.

But eventually she returned to true crime.

I am here to help

Howard is studying a masters degree in criminology and criminal justice, as well as a masters in writing.

She said she ultimately wanted to use her experience to obtain new clues from the killers she communicates with and in turn help solve crimes.

“Some of them want to help — we should use their expertise,” she said.

“[I want] to bring a family closure, to say, ‘we got the guy, we got the woman, we got the killer’.

“My ultimate goal is to come to that point where we can point the finger and have someone go to jail because of what I have learnt from all of these other people.”

Topics: murder-and-manslaughter, crime, books-literature, human-interest, adelaide-5000