Australia Day 2016 (January 26) marks 50 years since the disappearance of three children from a beach in Adelaide.
The mystery of the missing Beaumont Children is probably this country’s greatest and most tragic unsolved crime. The case is burned into the psyche of a generation.
On January 26, 1966, the Beaumont children Jane, 9, Arnna, 7 and Grant, 4 caught a bus to Glenelg beach from their home (only a short trip) for a bit of sun and fun. It wasn’t unusual for children that young to go off by themselves back then and eldest Jane was a responsible girl. (My mum, who was a teenager at the time, remembers that she and her siblings and cousins would often go down to the beach without adults and be there all day). The children never returned home. Vanished without a trace.
The book The Missing Beaumont Children by Michael Madigan is a very thorough overview of the mystery and details the investigation, the suspects, the leads, the dead ends…
It’s fascinating and disturbing reading. My heart broke during the book as I kept thinking about the parents of the children, Grant (known as Jim) and Nancy, and how they survived this tragedy…this evil.
I recommend this book. It’s a well-paced read that covers the twists and turns of the case and is also told with great compassion for the children and parents Nancy and Grant who are now 88 and 90 respectively. Madigan manages a fine balance of detailing the “mystery” of the case that people around Australia have been transfixed by but also the “misery” that has affected Nancy and Jim for the rest of their lives.
I’ve long been fascinated (and horrified) by the case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. The pair is often referred to as the “Ken and Barbie Killers” because they were young and attractive.
This is probably the Canadian case that I know best, (apart from Robert Picton the pig farmer serial killer) and this book by Peter Vronsky, volume three in the Crimes Canada series, is a very interesting read. It’s not too long but is packed with lots of detail that will give a thorough overview of the case of the married couple who raped and killed three young women (including Homolka’s little sister Tammy. There is distressing detail about what happened to Tammy. You just cannot believe that anyone, let alone a sister could do that. it’s utterly sickening). in the early 1990s.
I knew a bit about the case but just from news reports and some tv shows.
Homolka and Bernardo were arrested in 1993 for the murders and rapes of two teens and the death and rape of Homolka’s sister. Bernardo was also a serial rapist known as the Scarborough Rapist who had been attacking women since the the mid 1980s.
I was most interested to know about the details of the plea bargain deal Homolka did with authorities to secure a lesser jail term. The pair videoed their horror crimes against their victims and before these were known to exist, Homolka cut a deal and gave evidence against Bernardo, (it was dubbed by Canadian media as “The deal with the devil”). I won’t post any spoilers if you’re not familiar with the case but basically Homolka got off very lightly…her true involvement in the rapes and murders were revealed in those video tapes. Vronsky delivers the details on this well. I felt like I was really up-to-speed with it from this book.
Vronsky does a really good job of telling the story of these crimes. If you want a good overview then I’d recommend it as a read. it’s not for the faint of heart…but then again not many true crime readers are of that ilk anyway!
And you’ll be shocked that Homolka was released from prison in 2005 and now has her own children. Does she deserve privacy? well she’s served her jail time but she is so notorious and the people of Canada were scandalised by her seeming light punishment. There’s more detail on that in the book too.
I was gifted this e-book by publisher RJ Parker for a fair and honest review.
Being Christmas I had a thought about the controversial 1984 film Silent Night, Deadly Night.
I was eight years old in 1984 and I remember some new reports about the furore the film’s release caused in the United States, Australia (where I’m from) and other countries.
We were frequent visitors to our local video store and I remember as a kid glancing at the horror movie covers, including Silent Night, Deadly Night and wishing I could watch them. (May sound weird but I do like a decent horror film.)
This slasher film is about a young man, who after witnessing his parents murdered by a criminal donning a Santa Suit and surviving childhood in an orphanage turns into a spree killer.
The film’s advertising was what causes the worldwide outrage. The film poster depicted a hand of Santa emerging from a chimney and clutching an axe. The tagline was: “You’ve made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas”.
The R-rated film was released in the United States on November 9 1984 and immediately the public was in uproar. By the end of November, the film’s distributor Tri Star Picturs dropped plans for a wider release. The film had performed poorly in the selected markets it was shown (The Northeast and Midwest of America) due to the media attention on the protests and complaints. An article “Christmas horror film dropped from distribution” (Gadsden Times, November 24, 1984) stated the film’s earnings declined after Tri Star stopped the controversial television ads for the movie. The commercials had shown a man in a Santa suit swinging an axe and shooting a gun.
But according to Box Office Mojo on the film’s opening weekend it screened in 398 theatres in the US and made USD$1,432,800. The film’s budget was reportedly USD$750,000. The opening weekend takings actually more than the now legendary horror film Nightmare on Elm Street, which opened the same weekend and made USD$1,271,000 (it played in 165 theatres).
Local television stations were reportedly bombarded with complaints from parents who said the commercials for the film were too scary for children who could not discern the fact that the person in the film was not actually Santa.
Tri Star marketing vice president Steve Randell (who would have truly earned his money doing issues crisis management) told The Pittsburgh Press (November 16, 1984) “The picture doesn’t present Santa as a killer. It’s the story of of a man who dresses as Santa Claus who is the murderer”.
A pressure group called Citizens Against Movie Madness picketed the film’s opening and were vocal in the local media about their objections to the movie. Their campaign was picked up nationally. The founder of the group, Kathleen Eberhardt said of their efforts: “I guess all of my griping did some good”. Ms Eberhardt told a reporter from Los Angeles Times said she did not believe the group was practising censorship but would lobby any future sequels to the original film.
The film went on to get a cult status, mostly due to the controversy around the film’s marketing. But according to reviews, it was really a storm in a teacup. The movie wasn’t actually that scary or more violent than any other of its ilk.
A review in the Schenectady Gazette called it “cinematic garbage”. The Boston Phoenix said: “…it’s not a particularly gory film, or even a particularly suspenseful one…”.
The Toledo Blade’s film critic at large said “To say ‘Deadly Night is blasphemous would be an understatement. It’s an absolute travesty…”.
This book released in mid-2015 certainly boasts one of the most intriguing and explosive storyline of any book released this year.
In The London underground Serial Killer author Geoff Platt claims Irish-born vagrant Kiernan Kelly told police he murdered 18 people by pushing them in from of trains on London’s Northern line but it was ‘covered up’ due to fears it would cause chaos among the public.
Kelly was convicted of murdering a fellow vagrant in 1975 and the killed a cellmate in 1983. It was during a 1984 interview with then-detective Platt about this jailhouse murder that Kelly allegedly confessed to killing the people on the train lines.
On further investigation of Kelly’s seemingly wild claims, Platt discovered there were many seeming suicides on the Northern Line and Kelly was a witness to a lot of them.
The revelations prompted much media coverage and newspapers in London reported the British Transport Police would investigate the allegations and invited more information from the public.
The book is a decent read, although I found there was a lot of padding to the story with general background about the London Underground. I felt this detracted from the explosive story Platt presented and it was a bit laborious in parts. I was keen to know more about the alleged murders.
I personally think this story would have worked better as a long form article or mini-book of around 4000-6,000 words.
But for sheer “I need to read this” the premise of The London Underground Serial killer is hard to beat.
Caitlin Rother proves that a true crime writer must be many things: detective, researcher, legal expert and persuasive interviewer. In relating the case in Then No One Can Have Her Rother uses these skills plus gentle empathy for the victim, her friends and family.
The book is the story surrounding the murder of Carol Kennedy — a mother, artist, spiritual therapist and a wife in love with her husband despite her need to save herself by divorcing him. Just piecing together this case which covers a span of five years and has more ups and downs than the Swiss Alps proves Rother’s expertise and tenacity as a true-crime author.
On July 2, 2008, just 35 days after divorcing her charming stock-trader husband Steve DeMocker, Carol was found in her Prescott, Arizona, home bludgeoned to death. The investigation focuses on two possible suspects: her ex-husband and a male friend who occupied a guest house on Carol’s property.
Rother (above) describes the early stop-start and slightly bumbling efforts by local authorities to unravel this crime that was veiled by misrepresentation from the start. To add to the complexity of events, the investigation was hampered at every stage — even the outdoor portion of the crime scene was obliterated by rain shortly after the murder.
By distilling reams of evidence reports that ultimately implicated the killer, Rother describes years of psychological mistreatment endured by the victim. Carol’s dream marriage to her “soulmate,” as she called Steve, began to crumble under the strain of watching him jeopardize their family year after year by his self-centered spending and crass womanizing.
Rother’s investigation reveals that Steve counted on Carol’s loyalty despite his despicable behavior and used her love as the ultimate weapon against her. Steve’s passive-aggressive control over Carol broke like a parched twig in the Arizona desert when she divorced him setting in motion the grizzly events afterward.
But what about the renter in the guest house? Was he really just a friend or a man who wanted more? Peel back the truth as Rother takes you along in this crisscross investigation.
Then No One Can Have Heralso examines the challenges of prosecuting an educated, narcissistic suspect. In the hands of a less competent writer, the book could easily have become a tedious list of circumstances, but Rother keeps the story moving at a fast clip using a crisp, clear and detailed writing style she undoubtedly polished in her career as an award-winning journalist.
Rother also dissects a dark side of human behavior rarely seen — even in criminals — a parent who manipulates his children to protect himself. How the killer influences those that he should love and protect before and during his trial will both amaze and repulse readers.
One of the sections of Then No One Can Have Her not to be missed is the “author’s notes” because Rother reveals her personal reason for selecting this particular case for her book and why readers will feel that she was the perfect author to advocate for the victim.
This book, published by Pinnacle, illustrates how one man’s manic lust for control ended in murder. Then No One Can Have Her is a suspenseful read well worth your time.
For months the of the identity of a little girl’s remains found in a suitcase on a roadside in South Australia has been one of Australia’s most baffling cases. Detectives have worked tirelessly to identify the little girl whose bones were found alongside clothes and a quilt in the suitcase, dumped along Karoonda Highway near Wynarka, SA in July this year.
Today it was revealed the girl is Khandalyce Kiara Pearce, born in Alice Springs, Northern Territory in 2006.
And in a major breakthrough police have also found that remains found in Belanglo State Forest in August 2010 are those of Khandalyce’s mum Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson. She had been dubbed “Angel” by police and media because she was found with a t-shirt bearing an angelic motif.
In a medial release from SAPOL today the significant development began on October 8 when a call to Crime Stoppers suggested Khandalyce as possibly being the little girl in the suitcase. The caller had not seen Khandalyce or Ms Pearce-Stevenson for some time and believed they were missing.
Major Crime Detectives obtained Khandalyce’s records which showed she was immunised at 18 months. There was no further record of her after that.
Investigators then located a witness who had seen Khandalyce and her mother at Marion Shopping Centre, Adelaide in November 2008. She had taken photos of Khandalyce wearing a pink dress. That dress is identical to that found with the remains in the suitcase.
Police were also provided with photos of Khandalyce in a stroller with the handmade quilt that was also found in the suitcase.
According the police the last known sighting of the pair was on Saturday, 8 November 2008 when Ms Pearce-Stevenson was driving on the Stuart Highway near Coober Pedyin south Australia. Khandalyce was aged just two.
Family and friends of the victims said they were from a loving family but in 2008 Karlie moved away from the family and started to travel.
Head of Major Crime, Detective Superintendent Des Bray said: “Contact with the family became less over time and on 4 September 2009 Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s mother raised a Missing Person Report with the Northern Territory Police.
“It is understood that report was closed on 10 September 2009 after it was believed Ms Pearce-Stevenson was safe and well but did not want family contact,” Det-Supt Bray said.
According to newspaper reports Karlie’s mother had since passed away.
NSW Police Homicide Commander, Detective Superintendent Mick Willing said there were now many lines of enquiry to follow.
“While we will do our best to keep the community informed, we need to first establish fact from fiction and ensure we avoid speculation, which could damage our investigations,” Det Supt Willing said.
Det Supt Bray said: “It is with community assistance that we have reached this very important breakthrough, but it is important to note the identification is only the beginning of the investigation.”
Anyone with information should contact crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
19th Century Barnsley Murders is a look back at a town caught in beginnings of economic failure, the Industrial Revolution, and the emergence of working class movements in Britain. All three of these major influences converge in poverty and crime, including murder of the boldest sort in Barnsley, a town located between Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster.
Amid descriptions of rat-ridden slums populated by numerous pubs, author Margaret Drinkall describes the darker side of progress in this small town. She recounts 17 murders or near-misses that occurred during the tempestuous 19th century in Barnsley. Drinkall reveals cases of bodysnatching, an early case of stalking which ended in murder in the street, the loss of a child and murder by pudding.
Interspersed in the copy are black and white photos, maps and drawings of places described in each of the cases. These photos and maps help draw the readers into the narrative. One impressively stark photo is that of a jail cell door in Leeds — in an underground jail with ominously thick stone walls.
Court practices of the period are also described in the book. For instance, often in the 19th century, an inquest was started almost immediately and the body of the victim was not moved from the scene until jurors viewed the body were it was dropped.
Drinkall describes the cases she has selected each in a separate chapter, allowing every case center stage. One thing that is lacking is a character development of the victim and murderer, but this is understandable since Drinkall relies on court records and newspaper accounts to retell these stories.
If you are lucky enough to be traveling to Great Britain, based on the intrigue of the this book, you might wish to read this book first and then add Barnsley to your itinerary to soak in the local colour and the sites of murders long ago.
I spoke to the childhood best friend of one of the victims Catherine Headland. Reading about this series of murders is as shocking now as it would’ve been in 1980 when the skeletal remains of Catherine, 14, were found along with those of two other victims — Ann-Marie Sargent, 18, and Bertha Miller, 75 — at a secluded bush track off Brew Rd, Tynong North. There were also the murders of two other women from Frankston (a south-east bayside suburb of Melbourne) and another woman whose remains were found in Tynong North. The killings are believed by many to be by the same killer.
Catherine’s best friend Cheryl Goldsworthy is making another plea for anyone with information to tell the police. Time is ticking to solve this case. Victoria Police have had a prime suspect for years, there’s just not enough evidence to charge the man. This man is in his 80s now, if he is still alive.
Anyone with information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
In Australia, the name Galbally is synonymous with criminal law.
Frank Galbally was (and probably still is) Australia’s best-known lawyer. Galbally died in 2005 but in his later years published two books, autobiography Galbally! and a follow-up Galbally for the defence.
These books can usually be found nowadays if you hunt around secondhand book shops and op shops (this is where I found my copy of Galbally for the defence).
Quick Background on Frank Galbally:
Galbally made his name in criminal defence in Victoria but was known around Australia. He defended his first murder case in 1950 and by the end of his career had an extremely high acquittal rate by the later years of his career. He started at the law firm of his brother Jack and then established Galbally & O’Bryan, which is still going today.
Galbally died in 2005 after many years with Alzheimer’s disease, which seems such a cruel end for one of the sharpest legal minds in Australia.
In an obituary colleague Phil Dunn, QC, was quoted: “No murder trial in the 1970s or ’80s was complete without it being announced that Mr Frank Galbally had been retained for the defence.”
Now, to the book Galbally for the defence (published 1993) – this features some of the most notable cases Galbally worked on and, in particular, how events unfolded in the courtroom, which was his theatre.
Galbally loved the underdog. it probably stemmed from his childhood as part of a large Irish Catholic family during the Great Depression. Galbally, who trained as a priest before taking up law and himself had eight children – defended those who were hard scrabble, on the fringes and also was a great advocate for Victoria’s migrant communities.
There’s the Italian mother and son, whose English was barely existent, who were charged in 1966 with the murder of their brute of a husband/father. This is one of the longer chapters in the book called “Two sparrows fly to freedom”. And then there’s the stabbing murder of a Pentridge Prison inmate “Snowball”. This is an intriguing chapter because it delves into prison culture and Galbally’s quest to improve conditions for prisoners.
If you can get your hands on a copy of this book it’s well worth the read. (I’m hopefully going to find the memoir Galbally! one of these days.)
Deb Drummond and Janice Teunis are the granddaughters of a man named Reginald Brown. Brown, a respected Brisbane accountant, had his world turned upside down in 1947 when he was arrested for the murder of his 19-year-old typist Bronia Armstrong. Bronia’s partly-clad body was found on January 11 in a room of the Brisbane Associated Friendly Society in the Wallace Bishop Arcade building where Brown worked.
The case was a sensation in Australia’s newspapers and his family and friends could not match the loving, moral and community-minded man with who was being portrayed in newspapers and by police. In March 1947 Brown was sentenced to life imprisonment. Throughout he had maintained his innocence. He spent just nine days in prison before being found in his cell, hanging by his belt.
Brown’s last ever note read: “To Whom it May Concern,“I did not kill Bronia Armstrong. My conscience is clear. RWS Brown”.
The book delves into exhaustive detail about the case and trial and interwoven is family history, interviews with those who knew Brown and Miss Armstrong, people involved at the time and the aftermath of the tragedy on those left behind. The authors never knew their grandfather but this book is a testament to the man who they believe was innocent of the murder.
There is plenty to back up their belief that Brown was framed for the murder – Queensland was a hotbed of police and political corruption for decades during the 20th century (for readers google “The Fitzgerald Inquiry” to start read about Queensland corruption). A senior police officer in the case, a man called Frank Bischof, looms large as a central figure and as the authors detail, he was named as a key player by The Fitzgerald Inquiry in the “unscrupulous conduct” by Queensland Police. (By the time of the inquiry in 1987, Bischof was deceased.)
The passion and dogged determination of the authors make Lingering Doubts a fascinating read. The memory of Bronia Armstrong is also sensitively dealt with and it is never forgotten that this young woman’s life was cruelly taken.
This is a standout Australian true crime book. My utmost respect to the authors.
Put on your fedora, sit back and enjoy one of the best period true-crime books to be released recently.
“Deadly Hero” by Jason Lucky Morrow takes the reader back to the heartland of America — Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the mid-1930s. The book illuminates how power, money, and a killer who is right on the edge of sanity combined to produce a tragedy that rocked Oklahoma for decades after the crime.
“Deadly Hero” is the story on two “rich kids” from Tulsa and a scheme involving get-rich-quick-money and a damsel in distress. Setting up this convoluted convergence of story lines takes Morrow’s gift to cut to the chase and boil the story down. The heart of the book reveals how the killing of one of those boys occurred, a brazen claim of self-defense and how the parents of both young men reacted to the crime and the ensuing trial.
Morrow is the perfect storyteller for this crime. His prose is crisp, no-nonsense and uses just enough period lingo to shed light an era when the justice system was easily swayed not by what was right, but by the connections of the criminal. Morrow’s research and careful examination of hundred of pages of court notes, newspaper archives and first-person interviews are handled with care and accuracy.
Morrow’s earlier career as a reporter provides him a solid footing to approach this type of book. “Deadly Hero,” however, is more than this — it’s a look at the dark side of the newspaper business in the 1930’s and how it fed hysteria as reporters worked fast-and-loose to cover the murder.
It also describes the painfully slow legal process that is as true today as it was then, and how political power may or may not help when a parent is protecting his child who has done something unspeakable.
The story is filled with many characters (even some who gave police false names), the rumors of unknown illegal past behavior of the victim and his killer and a town all too eager to spread gossip as gospel. Morrow’s attention to detail is evident on every page. The book includes footnotes, maps and photographs that help readers understand a time that few lived in. The story unfolds at a great clip, and the author makes additional impact by providing insights into an era when being a cop, detective or reporter were just beginning as true professions in America.
“Deadly Hero” is a great read that reminds one of the black-and-white films that we all love to watch on dark, stormy nights. Enjoy.
WHILE researching for my books and blog I came across one article from 1984 about a West German tourist named Iris Kadau who had gone missing in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Iris, who was 29, went missing while on a cycling day trip in Alice Springs on November 6, 1983.
The dental nurse was a very fit woman and set off on her bicycle to Simpsons Gap – 17km from the Alice Springs city centre. The site is one of natural beauty and spectacular landscapes and there is a bike path that is popular with visitors. Iris had cycled back from Simpsons Gap but then carried on for another bike ride north of Alice Springs. When she didn’t return to her motel that evening, police were alerted.
I got in touch with the investigating officer at the time, Graeme Charlwood (now retired from the police force), to see if I could have a chat to him about Iris’s mysterious disappearance.
Graeme very generously chatted to me and recalled the events around Iris’s disappearance:
“We had witnesses who saw her cycling out and back. We conducted extensive investigations, searched for evidence of her and found nothing. We really reached a dead end by Christmas 1983. Iris had just vanished off the face of the earth…”
In February 1984, Iris’s body was found.
Mr Charlwood said he was travelling to either Darwin or Tennant creek in a police helicopter when the pilot intercepted a call from the musterer who said he’d spotted something – the glint of chrome from what appeared to be a pushbike.
“We looked at one another and said ‘Iris’. When we got there we saw there was the bike and the mummified remains of Iris. She was chained to her bike…”
The newspaper article I had found was from The Canberra Times (February 11, 1984) and titled “Body found chained to bike”.
The fact that the chain was around her waist seemed strange but Mr Charlwood explained that the pathologist deduced that Iris had simply done what was common practice in Europe. Cyclists would chain themselves to their bikes when they went to have a rest. (This was to deter bike thieves.)
It turns out that Iris would have been severely dehydrated – even though she was very fit, she had cycled a great distance that day and the weather was very hot. Iris died from dehydration.
“She would have felt tired and not known how dehydrated she was and stopped to have a rest. She was found near a Small sparse tree. Iris would have gone to have a rest and never woken up.”
Mr Charlwood said police had looked into the possibility Iris had met with foul play and when they were searching for her in the days and weeks after she seemed to vanish, journalists had focused on that theory.
“When you’ve got a young woman touring the highways of Alice Springs alone you can’t discount it,” Mr Charlwood told me when I asked whether police initially thought Iris had been murdered.
The Day the Catskills Cried recounts the 1977 kidnapping and tragic murder of Trudy Resnick Farber in a rural New York town near the Catskill Mountains. Trudy, a young wife, was the daughter of millionaire industrialist Harry Resnick and niece of the former U.S. Representative Joesph Y. Resnick.
She was abducted at gunpoint from her home by a masked intruder then buried alive in a pit while her abductor demanded one million dollars ransom for her return. The crime was devised by the schizophrenic mind of Ronald H. Krom and motivated be greed and revenge. Krom and Trudy knew each other as youngsters because their parents had a business relationship at one time. Krom is revealed as a man who has a grandiose self-image combined with a propensity to demand social respect that resulted in a senseless murder. The slight that starts this bizarre spiral is that Krom is not invited to Trudy’s wedding.
The book describes the arduous process of bringing Trudy’s killer to justice. It’s only after Krom has confessed and brings authorities to Trudy’s earth-bound cell that they all realize that Trudy died alone and terrified while in captivity. Then the legal circus begins and is drastically slowed down when allowances have to be made due to Krom’s previously diagnosed schizophrenia.
Throughout the book, Beyea, a former state investigator for New York, shows his respect for authorities and prosecutors involved in the case by highlighting the nature of the exacting work done by the team. He also shows his compassion toward for the victim’s family as they restrained their emotions and focused only on bringing Trudy’s killer to justice despite endless delays.
There is a distraction in the book, however, that is created by choppy writing and insertion of the author into the story via “notes” to the reader. Meaningful character development is lacking and the author characterizes those involved are clearly all good or all evil. Bringing the courtroom drama alive at the trial of Ronald Krom is where Beyea’s grit and skill as an author shines.
The book makes two strong points: evil exists in this world, and the American system of justice protects the rights of everyone — even those who are accused of unthinkable criminal acts until proven guilty, despite how long that process takes.
The case of Dr John Bodkin Adams was a worldwide sensation in 1950s. The portly general practitioner lived and worked in the south coast English seaside town Eastbourne and he had a reputation for being a particularly attentive doctor, especially to elderly wealthy widows.
One of the most exciting things about writing a book is the reader feedback.
After my first book Murder in Suburbia was released in January 2014 I got quite a few emails and letters from people who were fascinated by the older, Melbourne cases and also from people who had a personal link to some of the murders.
I wrote about the 1956 murders of an elderly mother and her daughter in Melbourne’s Fitzroy. These brutal killings (the women were bashed to death) became known as “The Treasure House” murders because the women had wads of money, jewellery and thousands of dollars (pounds back then) worth of exquisite Chinse carvings and furniture in their home.
The case remains unsolved – a male boarder did go to trial over the killings but he was acquited.
I received a fascinating email from the niece of MaryBoanas, who was one of the women clubbed to death. This woman wrote and told me she was actually there on the day her relations were murdered. She was a young girl and was visiting “Aunty Min and Rose” with her mother and three siblings. Here are her words:
“…I was then the 11-year-oldstanding outside their front door whilst the murderer was still inside the house.
They had partly raised me on their return from China, when we had a family guest house in Healesville, they later bought the house in Fitzroy, Aunty Min was my Grandmothers sister and Rose was her daughter.
As was the custom of the day they took in male borders, not because they needed the money but because it was considered safer to have a male person living on the house, they were wrong it was one of these men that murdered them for their money.
They did not trust banks and keep their money wrapped in socks and underwear in their drawers.
Our Mother took us for a pre-Christmas visit as she did every year, if they were not home they would leave their front door key for me to enter the house and wait for them. The key was hidden in the vine twisted around one of the pillars on the front verandah. However this particular day it was not there, very strange I thought.
As it was a hot day my Mother took us (4 children) to get ice creams as were sure they would return soon, they were looking forward to our visit.
We returned but there was still no answer, we did not know at that time they were dying in pools of blood not far inside the door.
On returning home my mother phoned one of her Aunts who had a spare key and Aunty Rose, said she would go and check on them. that was when she made the gruesome discovery. I believe our Holden car was pictured in the news article of the day…”
The reader even sent me a photo of one of the Chinese tables belonging to the murdered women from “the treasure house”, which her mother gave her.
Thank you to readers who take the time to contact authors.
This true crime case has a lot of elements that make it an extremely intriguing tale – a missing and murdered Michigan teen, witchcraft, a defence lawyer who also happened to be a priest, other tragedies that befell people with links to the case.
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree, The True Story of Murder in a Small Town, is an eBook version of the traditionally published, Murder in the Thumb, which came out in 2012.
The victim was Robin Adams, a 17-year-old high school girl. She vanished in 1976 and her disappearance was unsolved for eight years until a brother and sister were in the frame for her murder. (The sister, Nora Garza, cooperated with police to lead them to Robin’s body in exchange for the murder charge against her being dropped.)
At the time of the prosecution of the siblings, Robin’s body had not yet been found. The case was a legal first for Michigan because the prosecutors charged the accused with murder without a body. It was the first time this had ever been done.
Author Richard W. Carson is a journalist with decades of experience who has worked on newspapers, including The Columbus Dispatch (the major daily newspaper for Ohio’s capital city). Putting this intriguing story into a book has been a long project for Carson. As a journo and true crime author myself, the story seems mind-boggling and Carson has done a fantastic job. It’s a great read. It is detailed and painstakingly researched.
I want to give a shout out to bloggers and writers who are so dedicated to raising awareness of cold cases and re-igniting media coverage on these mysteries through social media.
Defrosting Cold Cases – This resource blog profiles cold cases to give the victims a bigger digital footprint. Excellent, relentless work by Alice de Sturler.
Iowa Cold Cases – this fantastic site provides case summaries, articles and updates for all of Iowa’s unsolved murders and persons who’ve gone missing under mysterious circumstances. This is the brainchild of crime writer and journalist Jody Ewing.
Carol Kean -Carol’s Linkedin profile sums her up: “…an avid reader and writer, book reviewer, wife, mom, guerilla gardener and champion of underdogs and overlooked authors…” Carol has a real interest in writing about missing persons and reviewing true crime books.
Anne Gavin – Anne is a tireless advocate for missing persons and their families.
Dolly Stolze – Dolly writes the intriguing and informative blog Strange Remains that focuses on forensics, cold cases and anthropology.
This book is about the sensational trial of a woman called Jodi Arias who was convicted of the brutal murder of her boyfriend Travis Alexander in 2008. He was stabbed around 30 times, had his throat slit and his body lay undiscovered for days.
This case has gripped America. In fact, Arias will be sentenced in April to either life in prison or a life term with the possibility of release after 25 years. The death penalty was taken “off the table” after the jury could not reach a decision on her punishment.
California-based court blogger and author Lisa Wilson teamed up with South African photojournalist Nick Van Der Leek to write about the Arias crime and trial. This book covers the background, investigation and trial of Arias, who displayed bizarre behaviour in the wake of her boyfriend’s murder. She did headstands in the police interview room just minutes before she was charged with Travis’s murder.
Jodie Arias has fascinated people because her behaviour plays into the public’s intrigue and fears about evil women. The motive for the murder is believed to be Arias’s fury that Travis wanted to end their relationship, which was volatile. (The couple’s phone sex conversations were sensationally played in court, among other things.)
For someone like me who knew only scant details about the Arias, Audacity was a decent read that gave me a comprehensive look at the case.
Being based in Australia where our criminal justice system is very different to that in America, I can find coverage of cases a bit overwhelming…and that’s coming from someone who is very interested in true crime.
For instance, jurors are never allowed to speak to the press. Only details in open court are allowed to be reported and the media must wait until a conviction to reveal certain details of police investigations and an offender’s background. (I still can’t get my head around how in the US it is open slather to report on every little detail of a crime, the accused and the victim. how does that not influence a jury?)
That is why books and media coverage about US cases are so tantalising for true crime readers.
Audacity was quite a gripping read. Arias is certainly a very dangerous woman. I really feel for the family of Travis Alexander.
Blood Aces: The Wild Ride Of Benny Binion, the Texas Gangster Who Created Vegas PokerREVIEWED by By Investigative Crime Journalist Clarence Walker: email@example.com
Texas outlaw Benny Binion was an amazing character.
In fact, he was many characters all wrapped up into one – A Texas cowboy, famous casino owner, a poker pioneer, gambler, a smooth-talking businessman, a ruthless gangster with organized crime connections, a killer…and the founder of the World’s Poker Series, a series held each year in Las Vegas that showcases the best players from around the globe.
The life story of Benny Binion had to be told in all its splendid glory and spellbinding details.
Blood Aces is the definitive biography of a Texas outlaw who played important roles in making Las Vegas the world’s most famous gambling empire. Blood Aces may sound like a fiction novel, but it is a true-life book, which comes compellingly alive.
People are fascinated by the Sopranos, Mafia dons, hit men, drug kingpins and flashy criminals.
But meet Benny “Cowboy” Binion, a real-life Texas gangster.
Swanson, a Dallas Morning News Investigative Project Editor, writes in Blood Aces. “The nation’s history is packed with legendary outlaws. But none of them can match Binion’s wild, bloody, and American journey.”
“As much as anyone,” says Swanson, “Binion made Vegas a mecca for high rollers”.
Binion’s poker games became a big hit when Binion and close friends played a few rounds in 1970. A shrewd money-maker, Binion figured out that poker games could make money at his Horseshoe Casino.
Benny Binion was a modern day Billy “the” Kid. As a killer, Binion’s oft-remarks were, “I ain’t killed nobody that didn’t deserve it”. Other remarks by Binion are legendary: “My friends can do no wrong
As a killer, Binion’s oft-remarks were, “I ain’t killed nobody that didn’t deserve it”. Other remarks by Binion are legendary: “My friends can do no wrong…and my enemies can do no right. Do your enemies, before they do you.”
Other remarks by Binion are legendary: “My friends can do no wrong, and my enemies can do no right. Do your enemies, before they do you.”
When FBI agents pursued Binion for his involvement in the murder of Bill Coulter, a former FBI agent, and a Russian guy named Louie Strauss, Binion, in a moment of rage, told a reporter: “Tell them FBIs’…I am still capable of doing my own killing!”.
When Herbert “the Cat” Noble refused to give Binion 40 per cent of his gambling operation, Binion tried to kill Noble 11 times!
Binion’s crew finally succeeded by killing Noble…on the eleventh try. Previous attempts to kill “Cat Noble” included bombs that didn’t go off, shots that either hit Noble (but he survived) or multiple shots that missed Noble. On one attempt, the killers blowed up Noble’s car, then went back to Binion to claim a $25,000 reward, but Binion broke the sad news, that they killed Noble’s wife, not Noble.
It took eleven attempts, but old Cowboy Benny finally killed the “Cat.”
Benny “Cowboy” Binion was a modern day Billy “the kid” or Jessie James, but Binion had much more money. Much more.
Binion was dangerous as a rattlesnake, but also he became a “super rich” gangster, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Inside Binion’s Horsehoe Casino he allowed regular customers and tourists to take pictures standing outside a glass-plated showcase filled up with a million dollars.
Binion’s wealth influence and power connections led him into the circle of some of America’s most notorious and prominent people, as well as those abroad. Blood Aces retrace Binion’s footsteps all the way from the back woods of Texas to the West Coast, where he settled in Las Vegas.
Arriving in Vegas from Texas during 1940s’, Binion, as a southern style gambling boss, forged close relationships with Mafia players like Meyer Lanksy, Bugsy Siegel, Tony “the Ant” Spilotro, Mickey Cohen, and billionaire Howard Hughes. He surrounded himself with a host of well-connected people with political power, capable of making things happen. Or make things not happen.
Gifted with razor-sharp intelligence, boldness, folksy charm, and having the heart of a cold-bloodied killer, Benny Binion opened Las Vegas Horseshoe Casino & Hotel on Freemont street in 1951. And he became the most revered figure in the history of Las Vegas gambling.
Benny Binion was a true pioneer who understood the makings of a successful casino by offering patrons a better deal for their money – good food, fine whisky, lovely-looking women, private rooms, and beautiful central air suites to sleep in. If customers so desired, Binion had limousine service to drive customers to and from the airport.
Binion’s formula for running a business was simple: cultivate the big boys, own the cops, and kill your enemies.
For decades, Benny Binion’s name and hellish reputation has echoed throughout Texas and Las Vegas history like old ghost stories and never-ending gangster lore, but author Douglas Swanson may be the first writer to cobble together all the nitty-gritty exclusive details together.
Blood Aces captures the essence of Benny Binion’s dirt-poor childhood life growing up in Texas, all the way to his gigantic rise as boss of the “numbers rackets” in and around Dallas Texas. “He came from nothing,” writes Swanson, “or the nearest thing to it”.
VERDICT: Blood Aces is a page burner. It’s hard to put it down without going back to it.