On This Day – January 1, 1915
At Melbourne on Sunday a double tragedy occurred at Toolern Vale. Mary Wynne (18) was walking near the village with a cousin. Peter Michel approached the girls, and pointing a gun fired killing Miss Wynne. The murderer, who had been on friendly terms with Miss Wynne, committed suicide. The motive is rather obscure, Michel was for six mouths living in a tent near Miss Wynne’s family. He stated he came to Australia with the American Fleet.
Robert Wynne, uncle of the murdered girl, knew him as a hardworking man. He was a frequent visitor at Miss Wynne’s house, and had established himself on friendly terms with the girl, and paid her a lot of attention in an undemonstrative way. Before the tragedy Michel wrote a letter to the girl’s father asking for work, and giving some particulars about himself. The letter read:
“Mr. Wynne,-I am a deserter from a Society of the French, who have taken an oath to fight for their country till death, and if they get me they would shoot me on sight. I am not afraid to go. Sickness would not have stopped me. I was begged not to go. Since then I have had no peace of mind. I used money from their sick fund when I was ill. I was trying to pay it back. I wish you would get done anything you have to do. I will then leave these parts. I will be satisfied with 5s a day from you, as I have had a lot of work from you. Thanking you for your kindness to Toolern Vale, French me.-Peter Michel.”