On this day …….. 31st of January 1953

Keith Murray Hoyes, 27, a married man living with his wife on his father’s dairy form of Cooma, near Kyabram, was killed by lightning on this day in 1953. When a severe thunderstorm struck the district at about 4.30 p.m., Hayes, who had been doing irrigating work, ran to a tree for shelter. When he had not returned to help with the milking at 6 p.m., his father searched for him and found his body underneath the tree, which had been split by lightning. The body was conveyed to the Mooroopna Hospital by ambulance.



ON THIS DAY – January 31, 1931

Relatives or any person knowing the identity of the man who died on January 31 in a lodging-house in Palmer street, Fitzroy, were asked to communicate with Senior Detective Bell or Detective McKenna at police headquarters. It is alleged that the man died after having been struck by another lodger who was subsequently charged with murder. To all persons in the house the dead man was known as William Rowan, but the detectives now believe that his correct name was Jack Lambert and that he was living away from his wife, son and daughter. The detectives understand that Mrs. Lambert lived in Punt road, Windsor, near Raleigh street, about 15 years ago.



On this day …….. 31st of January 1932

A story of a remarkable combat between a goanna and a wombat is related by eye-witnesses who were on a holidaying at Kangaroo Valley. The fight commenced on a hill side, and the goanna gradually worked the wombat to a hole in a creek at the bottom of the hill, where the fight was continued. The wombat gradually weakened, and, finally, the goanna held it in a tight grip under the water until it was drowned. The victor then retired to the bank, where it engaged in a satisfying meal from its quarry. The wombat was nearly full grown.



On this day …… 31st January 1935

I don’t know whether this tale they tell of Michael Conlon is true, but I rather hope it is. Lured from the Otway by reports of gold finds in Western Australia in the early 1890’s, Conlon and two friends prospected arid country with indifferent success. After a couple of years Conlon fell ill, and, knowing he was dying, begged his friends to convey his remains back and bury them in the Otway. A couple of years passed before they were in a position to carry out their promise to their dead mate. Then they went down to Perth and took passage in the old Anglian. With them went Michael Conlon or his bones in a carpet bag. Arrived at Melbourne, they went to the Otway and buried the bones at the foot of the tree at the M.C. turn-off. As I say, I do not know whether the story is true, but that is how it was told on this day in 1935.

ON THIS DAY…… 31st January 1934

On this day in 1934, Prisoner Archibald Oliver, aged 71 years, died in the hospital ward. The death was reported to the deputy coroner.



ON THIS DAY – January 31, 1906

Francis Vernon Lichfield, a carpenter, whose mind had been affected for sometime, suddenly became demented, and tried to shoot his wife and son with a revolver. Mrs. Lichfield rushed him and took the weapon away, but Lichfield produced another, and his wife and son ran away. The husband fired at them, and the police were sent for. When a constable entered the house Lichfield fired at him, then, putting the revolver to his own head, shot himself. Death was instantaneous.



On This Day – January 31, 1971

Christopher Lowery and Charles King, were charged with the brutal murder of a 15 year old school girl, Rosalyn Nolte, in Hamilton, Western Victoria. On this day in 1971, Lowery and King were driving down Gray Street, Hamilton’s main street, in Lowery’s Holden panel van, when they stopped and asked Nolte if she would like a lift. On a bush track, they forced her out of the vehicle, stripped her naked, apart from her socks, then beat, stomped and kicked her repeatedly with such fury that her elbow was broken. The sadists tied electrical flex around her neck and dragged her into the bush where they completed the job of trussing her. The flex was looped around her throat, her legs were drawn up behind her, the wire was looped again around her ankles and the end of it secured her wrists behind her back. The weight of her body slowly strangled her. Lowery and King watched then left her there. It was six days before Miss Nolte’s body was found. The two murderers were sentenced to death – the last people in Victoria to be receive the sentence. But on the 23rd of June 1973, the Governor-in-Council exercised mercy and commuted the death sentences to 60 years’ imprisonment, with a minimum of 50 years. The two killers without a cause wouldn’t see daylight until 2023. However they were back on the streets within 21 years. In late August 1992, they were freed after becoming eligible for a minimum sentence under Victoria’s new Sentencing Act introduced in 1991. Both men have since changed their names, however King was not been in trouble since. Lowery has been in and out of gaol before killing himself in 2007.



On This Day – January 31, 1937

Rupert Osborne Davies aged 28, store man, and William John Cody aged 24, labourer, were sentenced to death for the murder of James Edward Scriven, a Titles Office messenger. Scriven who was shot on the 31st of January, 1930, when escorting a clerk who was taking money to the bank. He died next day. At the first trial of Davies and Cody on the charge of murder the jury failed to agree, but when they were retried they were convicted.



On this day …….. 31st of January 1798

Governor John Hunter was Governor of New South Wales from 1795 to 1800. Present on the First Fleet, and instrumental in the development of the colonies in both Sydney and Norfolk Island, Hunter succeeded Australia’s first Governor, Arthur Phillip on the 11th of September 1795. Hunter experienced great opposition to his authority, especially when Lieutenant Governor Francis Grose allowed the military to have too much control over the convicts. Regardless, Hunter sought to implement order in the colony, initiating new construction and works in Sydney and Parramatta. In 1797, Hunter commissioned the building of Australia’s first public clock tower, after the HMS ‘Reliance’ brought the clock to Sydney on the 26th of June 1797. The 150-foot tall tower was erected on Church Hill, one of the most elevated locations in Sydney, and completed in January 1798. On this day in 1798, the clock was positioned on the tower in front of a small gathering. The building served not only as a clock tower, but as an observation tower for members of the military who had an interest in scientific pursuits.



ON THIS DAY – January 30, 1952

William O’Meally, 28, labourer, was charged at the City Court with having murdered Constable George Howell, 26, at Caulfield on the 30th of January. On the night in question, Constable George Howell rode his police bicycle to the Crystal Palace Theatre, Dandenong Road, Caulfield. He had been assigned to investigate and prevent numerous thefts from cars which had recently occurred in the vicinity. At about 10.35 pm, Constable Howell intercepted a man interfering with a Morris Minor. According to witnesses, after a struggle the Constable ran after the offender to the far side of a viaduct. The Constable was then shot in the stomach at point blank range with a sawn-off .22 calibre rifle. Although unarmed and mortally wounded, Constable Howell continued to chase the offender. He collapsed in the centre of Normanby Road, and the offender escaped. Although in shock and terrible pain as well as lapsing in and out of consciousness, he was able to give a description of his assailant to citizens who assisted him and to other police who arrived shortly after. Crucially to the later trial, he identified a hat and other items as belonging to the offender. Rushed to the Alfred Hospital for emergency surgery, Constable George Howell died in the early hours of 1st February, 1952. Even at the hospital he attempted to look at a line-up of men and identify his attacker. A skilful investigation primarily based on articles found at the crime scene and information from Constable Howell, led to the arrest and subsequent conviction of a well known and active criminal. Constable George Howell was appointed in May, 1948. He served at Russell Street, Malvern and (since 1949) East Malvern.



On This Day – January 30, 1993

A shocking exorcist took place this day in 1993, at a Antwerp pig farm in Western Victoria. Leanne Reichenbach and David Klingner, were convicted of the manslaughter of Mrs Vollmer. Her husband Ralph was also convicted of recklessly causing her injury and false imprisonment and the self-proclaimed exorcist, Matthew Nuske, was found guilty of falsely imprisoning Mrs Vollmer. In what became one of the state’s most bizarre sagas and criminal trials, the German-born Mr Vollmer invited the media to her funeral to witness and film his wife’s resurrection. Mrs Vollmer, 49, didn’t rise from the dead and it appears Mr Vollmer, 55 at the time, grew tired of waiting for her to come back to life as locals in Antwerp said he remarried soon after the fatal exorcism and moved to Queensland with his new bride, his third, years ago. Attempts to rid Mrs Vollmer of her demons began a week before her January 30 death and involved lots of praying and forcibly keeping her inside the house. On one occasion she was tied to a chair. When Mrs Vollmer violently resisted being restrained, her husband went a step further and used her stockings to also tie her feet to boards to further restrict her movement. And her eyes were forcibly held back by pulling the skin up to the bone “so she could see the presence of the Lord”. By 4pm that day, Ms Reichenbach and Mr Klingner reached what ended up being the fatal decision to forcibly remove the demons from Mrs Vollmer by literally squeezing and pushing them up from Mrs Vollmer’s womb and out through her mouth. It was during this treatment that Mrs Vollmer had a heart attack and died. An autopsy later found pressure on Mrs Vollmer’s neck helped cause the heart attack as Mrs Vollmer’s thyroid cartilage had been fractured. Not that anybody in the room at the time thought Mrs Vollmer had died. They all presumed they had successfully exorcised the demons from Mrs Vollmer and that she would spring back to life as her old demon-free self. They weren’t concerned that this didn’t happen immediately, figuring resurrections take time, so they got out their Bibles and prayed around the body for a couple of days. It wasn’t until almost 48 hours later, by which time Mrs Vollmer’s body had decomposed considerably in the searing heat that is common in Antwerp in January, that police finally became aware of her death.



On this day …….. 30th of January 1946

Melbourne Zoo has lost three lion cubs and two platypuses. Three of the five lion cubs born a fortnight earlier died and Hero and Leander the two platypuses, died within an hour of each other on this day during the heat wave.