As much as this book The Society Murders: The True Story of the Wales-King Murders by lawyer and writer Hilary Bonney, is a thorough examining of the 2002 murders of monied couple Margaret Wales-King and Paul King, it is also gives an impression of Melbourne’s “blue-ribbon” society (and the media and public’s obsession with it) – and not a favourable one either.
“The Wales-King murder case received more media attention than any other killings in Melbourne’s history. It did so because the Wales family is rich and the killing of one’s mother is still taboo.” (Pg 237)
Margaret Wales King’s son Matthew was found guilty and sentenced in 2003 to a minimum of 24 years in prison for the murders of his mother and stepfather.
This was a case – “drama of the highest order” – that gripped the attention of Melbourne. The couple were reported missing and not found until a month later. Their “last supper” was at Matthew and his wife Maritza’s home. They were drugged and then bludgeoned to death by Matthew.
Margaret and Paul lived in Armadale, one of Melbourne’s wealthiest suburbs and Matthew was propped up financially by his mother. It was her control and distantness as a mother to her son that was cited by defence as Matthew’s motivation for murdering her. The murder of his stepfather arose because he was there too and seen as an extension of his mother.
Matthew’s wife Maritza is an integral part of this story – she did not help kill Matthew’s parents – but was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. Maritza was not from the society circles that Matthew came from. They met at his salon in a suburban shopping centre of Melbourne’s outer east. The description of Margaret Wales-King’s reaction to travelling out to the suburb Boronia, where Maritza’s parents lived at the time, was amusing and a little telling of her her circle’s complete detachment to life outside the enclave of Melbourne’s leafy blue-ribbon suburbs.
(On meeting Maritza’s family) “…Margaret complained to her son that she was worried about driving to Boronia and leaving her Mercedes parked here…” (Pg 37)
There’s also a quite shocking mention in the epilogue of a story of a Malvern couple who held a Wales-King murders dinner party a month after their bodies were found, complete with a menu with references to the killings (“Little lemon pots and coconut macaroons on sticky little pillows (they are guaranteed to take your breath away) and a quiz on the facts of the case was printed on the inside of the menu.
“The diners and hosts considered the dinner a great success and still remember it with laughter…” (Pg 235).
The Society Murders: The True Story of the Wales-King Murders is a good, facts-driven book. Will appeal to those who like detail.