Donald Maxfield was reported missing from Colac on the 13th of May, 1953. On the 1st of August 1953, the torso of a man was pulled from the Barwon River. Divers would eventually find the rest of Maxfield’s body, which had been dismembered and placed in kerosene tins and sunk in the Barwon River. ⁣

It was believed the Maxfield was attacked and bashed in a garage in Colac by two men. The men had placed the unconscious body of Maxfield in the boot of a car and had driven to Geelong. Maxfield regained consciousness and was again bashed to death on the banks of the Barwon. It was reported that this was a payback as it was believed that Maxfield had been a police informant against one of the men.⁣

The two men would later be arrested and information from them would lead to finding the rest of Maxfields body by divers recovering the torso after a 5 hour search of the river. The torso had been covered in an oat sack, wrapped in wire and weighed down with stone weights so that it was roughly 100lbs. The head and hands were later discovered in kerosene tins in the river. ⁣

Both men were charged with murder and sentenced to life imprisonment and 20 years respectively.⁣

Bendigo Advertiser
4 January 1887

Referring to the recent murderous assault by a daughter upon her mother at Horsham, the “Horsham Times” says that a man named Clarke had been living with a woman named Emma Marquadt, who passed as his wife, and her daughter, Mary, aged sixteen years.

The Attack

On Wednesday afternoon, when going into his house after leaving his work, he found his paramour lying on a bod, having been assaultod about the head and body in a horrible manner by an axe, and the girl, her daughter, bathing the wounds. The woman was senseless, or so nearly so that she could not give any account of the matter, her daughter, upon being questioned, said she knew nothing whatever of it, but that she had been up into town to make some purchases, and returned with the articles she had bought, when all was right she went out again, and on her return the second time found her mother lying on the floor weltering in her blood from the wounds, and an axe lying beside her.

Dr C. Pardy was immediately sent for, and information conveyed to the police. When the former arrived he found the woman speechless and in a very dangerous state, but did what be could to afford relief to the sufferer.

Police Interview

On the police interviewing the girl she persistently adhered to her original story for a length of time, but the officers were not satisfied, and Sub-inspector O’CalLaghan, Sergeant Lirkan, Constables M’Bride and Cameron continued their inquiries apparently to little purpose, until at length the wavering of the girl’s story caused suspicion to turn towards herself, and culminated in her making a clean breast of it to Sergeant Larkan yesterday morning, when, of course, she was immediately arrested, and conveyed to the lockup.

Her storythen was that she went into tho town between 1 and 2 o’clock and made her purchases, and returned to the house, and afterwards, when sitting on an inner step in a doorway in the room, her mother and she had some words, and then she went out into the yard, got the axe, brought it unobserved, and struck her mother several blows from behind, causing the gashes in her head and ab0ut her body, there evidently being some six or eight blows struck. The woman, it seems, struggled to get up, and exclaimed “What have I done to you that you would do this to me!” and the girl replied “I’ll tell you by-and-bye.”

The woman seems then to have staggered to the bed on which she was found, with the assistance of the girl, who then proceeded to wipe up the blood on the floor, and bathe the wounds of the injured woman, at which she was observed when the horrible discovery was made.

Accusation

When questioned as to what led her to commit such an act, the girl informed Sergeant Larkan that it was because the man Clark had taken advantage of her,the consequence being that she was encainte by him. On being asked if she would repeat this statement in the presence of Clarke she replied in the affirmative, and on his being called in she reasserted several times, but it is only fair to add that Clark absolutely denied it.

The girl was presented at tho Police court before Messers Cameron and Bolton, JPs, when she was charged with ” wounding with intent to murder.” The prisoner, who has hard set features, conducted herself in the coolest manner possible, apparently not realising the awful position in which she stood.

Police Court

At the police court, before Mr Hutchinson, the policn magistrate, the girl Mary Marquardt was charged with assaulting her mother, with intent to do her grievous bodily harm. A more serious charge of intent to murder was withdrawn. Several witnesses were examined, from whose evidence it appeared as if the girl assaulted her mother with an axe, but the main evidence in that of her own confession to the man Clark and the police. She made no statement of any kind in court. She was committed for trial at the General Sessions in February.

On the 15th September 1904, an accident occurred in Elizabeth Street where Sarah Ann
Robins, her husband James and her 27 year old daughter, Rosina Hubbard, who was
described as a dwarf, were thrown from a cart. This accident set in a motion a series of
events that would leave only James still alive 12 months later.

Nursed by her Daughter

Sarah required attention for her injuries, and was nursed at home by her daughter,
Rosina. However doctors became concerned by her unusual symptoms and engaged a
nurse to assist the family in caring for her. Sarah continued to decline and was admitted
to the Melbourne Hospital.

Nurse Flower, who had been engaged to look after Sarah before she was admitted to
hospital, deposed at the inquest that she witnessed Rosina administer some medicine to
her mother. When the nurse rinsed the glass it turned her rings black. Sarah was heard
to remark “they won’t prosecute my Rosie will they?” after doctors accused her of
poisoning her mother. Rosina maintained that her mother wanted to commit suicide
which was why she had given her the arsenic and quicksilver.

Sarah died in the Melbourne Hospital on September 30, 1904. Doctors asked Sarah
before she died whether she had taken anything, which she denied but doctors felt she
was holding something back. After her death, analysis showed arsenic in every organ that
was examined.

Rosina Arrested

Rosina on her arrest for the wilful murder of her mother, Sarah, was heard to
exclaim “me murder my mother!” And then swooned. When she recovered, Rosina stated
that she did not murder her mother, that Sarah had asked for it. During the inquest,
Rosina was described as a “cunning shrewd little woman” but it was not certain she had
her “wits” about her. However, evidence was brought that it was James Robins who
had purchased the arsenic to poison a dog who had bitten someone.  The inquest concluded
with a verdict of wilful murder due to arsenic poisoning, wilfully and maliciously
administered by Rosina Hubbard.

During the murder trial, it was revealed that James Robins had also buried his two
previous wives! One wife died in Launceston about 15 years previously and the second
wife in Melbourne about 16 years previous. It was also alleged that James had fed his
wife oysters sprinkled with white powder. This was denied by James which caused an
outburst by Rosina, screaming that he did! It was also revealed that James did not have
much money to his name when he married Sarah, who herself owned properties. James
would gain the money from these properties on his wife’s death. It was also alleged that
James was the father of Rosina’s infant and that there had been improper relations
between the two.

Confession

In March, 1905, the Government was unhappy that Rosina had been acquitted for the
matricide of her mother Sarah. They deputised Detective McManamny to make further
inquiries in to the case. On re-interviewing, Rosina admitted that she had poisoned her
mother using quicksilver and arsenic. Her reasoning was that her mother knocked her
about and had accused her of relations with her stepfather. However, she also admitted
to the detective that James Robins was the father of her child. As Rosina had been
acquitted of the murder, she could not be retried!

Rosina’s Death

Rosina was not to enjoy her freedom for very long. She died in the Melbourne Hospital on
the 24th May 1905, after being hospitalised since the 5th. Her inquest was again
sensational, as it was originally suspected that Rosina had killed herself by taking the
same poisons as she had administered to her mother! Dr Mollison, the coroner described
Rosina as a congenital dwarf whose arms and legs were considerably smaller than the
rest of her body. She was 3 feet 10 inches in height and her head measured 22 inches.
there were no marks of violence and samples of her organs, muscles and bones were
taken for further analysis. After analysis, the official cause of death was exhaustion due
to ulceration of the intestines.

You would think that would be the end of the story! But there was one more twist!

Rosina’s will was contested on the grounds of her sanity when it went to probate.
Evidence was brought to court on how James Robins held a magnetic influence over
Rosina. It was stated that Robins banned anyone from seeing her in hospital especially
the “black fellow”, who was her half sister, Isabella Webster, Indian husband. Isabella
had described her father as a “brute”. The Chief Justice was to dismiss the content
stating there were no grounds on which to contest.

A shocking tragedy occurred to-day at the Sir Walter Scott Hotel, at the corner of Elizabeth and Franklin-street, city. A⁣ young man, John Tunks, cutting the throat of Amelia Dean, a barmaid, with a razor, and then inflicting frightful injuries upon himself with the same instrument. He died within an hour, and the woman is in. a critical condition. ⁣ ⁣

The crime was committed in a bedroom on the first floor⁣ of the hotel, and the first intimation the other inmates had of the occurrence was the sight of Mrs. Dean rushing downstairs with blood flowing from a gash in her throat, followed by the man, similarly wounded. He was in a shocking condition, and had barely reached the foot of the stairs when he collapsed. It was evident from the nature of his injuries that he had used the razor with⁣ frenzied determination. Mrs. Dean, who was also very weak, staggered towards several of the inmates of the hotel, who were conversing near the door, exclaiming⁣ “Jack done, it. Jack done it.”⁣ ⁣

The pair were promptly removed to the Melbourne Hospital, and it was then seen that the man’s end was near. Mrs. Dean’s recovery is regarded as doubtful. A blood-stained razor was found lying at the foot of one of the two beds in the room from which the man and woman came. Both beds were also blood-stained, and there was a trail of blood from one bed through the door and down the stairway.

There were signs that a struggle had taken⁣ place.⁣ ⁣

Amelia Dean died 6 weeks later ⁣ ⁣

Frederick Bayley Deeming was one of 14 children born to Thomas and Ann Deeming in Leicestershire, England.

Frederick would first get into trouble with the law aged just 15 years old  for throwing rocks at a train.  At 16 he ranaway to see and began his life of crime with stealing and obtaining money by deception – something which would be a common thread for the rest of his life.

The beginning of the end for Deeming began with the discovery of Emily Lydia Mather’s decomposing body buried beneath the hearth of the second bedroom at 57 Andrew Street, Windsor on March 3, 1892.

Emily had married Deeming, who was know as Albert Williams in Rainhill, Lancashire in 1891 before the young couple set out for Australia.  They arrived in Melbourne in November 1891 and stayed for a short time in the city of Melbourne before heading to the rented property in Windsor.  Emily was not to know that this house would become her coffin!

On Christmas Eve, Deeming murdered Emily and in a well prepared plan buried her remains within the house before heading back to Melbourne.  He had paid up the rent for a couple of months so it wasnt until a new prospective tennant inspected the property that Emily’s remains were discovered.

By this time, Deeming had headed to Sydney and enticed Kate Rounsfell to marry him and move to WA with him.  Luckily for her Deeming left first and Kate only made it as far as Melbourne before news broke of her fiancee’s evil deeds.

But Emily was not the first murder Deeming had committed.  During the investigation into the death of Emily, it came to light that Deeming had been married before and had 4 children.  Marie and the children were found murdered and cemented under the kitchen floor at the property Deeming had rented in Rainhill.

Deeming was finally caught out by clever detective work and his boasting of his accomplishments.

Deeming was sentenced to death and was executed on May 29, 1892 at the Old Melbourne Gaol.

Before his death, a telegram was sent from London, requesting that Deeming be interviewed over the Whitechapel murders of 1888.  It would join numerous requests from police forces around the world asking if he could have been responsible for as many as 18 murders.

 

The Murder of Rachel Currell

23 February, 1926

Henry Tacke, 65, Importer, was charged in the Criminal Court today with the murder of Rachel Currell, 34, at St Kilda on December 15th.

Frederick George Currell, barman, admitted under cross examination that he knew his wife and Tacke went to Sydney and Adelaide together and that Tacke paid 80 guineas for an operation upon Mrs Currell.  She acted in a secretarial capacity for Tacke.  Currell denied he knew Tacke paid for the upkeep of his house.

Currell said he was awakened on the night of the shooting when in bed on the front verandah.  He told Tacke he could not see Mrs Currell.  They quarrelled at the gate and Mrs Currell said; “you had better come inside instead of making a scene in the street”.  As they were going inside, Tacke hit Currell behind the ear knocking off his hat.  When asked to return it, Currell saw Tacke turn as if to go and saw something shiny in his hand which he had whipped from his pocket.  Tacke fired a shot at Currell but missed and hit Mrs Currell instead.  When Mrs Currell retreated inside, Tacke fired a number of shots into the dark hallway in an attempt to scare Mrs Currell.  Mrs Currell was shot dead and had 10 bullet wounds – 5 entry and exit wounds.

When arrested at Sorrento, Tacke said it was all an accident and he had intended to commit suicide.

In Tacke’s statement, he said he had spent 2500 pounds on Mrs Currell for dinners and theatres and by allowing her 2-10 pounds weekly for the past 3 years.

Tacke had met Mrs Currell in City Picture Theatre in February 1923.  Their friendship developed into intimacy and he fell deeply in love with her.  At the time of their meeting, he was friendly with own wife.  He had lost his whole family of 8 in infancy.  On Mrs Currell’s recovery from an operation he sent her to Daylesford and paid all her expenses.  He was also in the habit of sending out roast fowls and bottles of wine when she was in ill-health.

The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter.

Injury at Pentridge

2 April, 1927

When wardens went to Tacke’s cell as usual, to escort him to the warders library where he worked as a librarian, Tacke suddenly climbed up the bars to a height of 18 feet, then pitched headlong to the stone floor of his cell.  Tacke was conveyed to the Melbourne Hospital in an unconscious state.

Tacke was at one time a well known clubman, member of the MCG and conducted a successful business in the city.

The Death of Henry Tacke

10 September 1927

Henry Tacke, aged 65 years, who was serving a sentence of 7 years imprisonment for the manslaughter of Mrs Rachel Currell at St Kilda in December 1925, died in the Geelong Hospital last night.

Tacke was admitted to the Geelong Gaol on April 28 after he sustained a broken ankle the result of a fall from a gallery at Pentridge.

The coroner held an inquiry today.  Dr Purnell, the gaol medical officer, said Tacke’s ankle remained in splints until the middle of May when massage commenced.  On June 16, he went for a walk in the exercise yard.  Dr Purnell then formed the opinion that Tacke had no desire to get better and malingered at every possible opportunity.  He refused to try and walk and would let himself to the ground at every opportunity.

On July 30, while in the hospital, Tacke rubbed his back on the floors, producing large bed sores and feigned insanity.  Towards the end of August, he refused to take nourishment.  Death was due to heart disease.

A verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was recorded.

In 1938, a double murder took place in the now defunct Windsor Castle Hotel in Dunolly.  One of the last sightings of the murdered men and their murderer was in the bar of the Railway Hotel in Dunolly.  Join Twisted History for dinner and a paranormal investigation here on February 23, 2019.

Noise Said To Have Led To Deaths

December 13, 1938

An alleged statement that he had killed a man because he was making a noise upstairs, and that he had killed another man because he did not want him to be a witness, was read in the Supreme Court today when Thomas William Johnson, 40, of no fixed address, was charged with the murder of the two men.

The victims of the tragedy were: —
Robert McCourt Gray, 73, returned soldier and pensioner
Charles Adam Bunney, 61, war pensioner

They were found in a padlocked upstairs room of the delicensed
Windsor Castle Hotel at Dunolly on October 6 with their heads battered.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to the charges of having murdered Bunney and Gray.

Mr Cussen said that on October 3 there were five people living in the hotel.  Gray and Bunney had lived there for years. On September 26 Johnson arrived there. He said that he was on sustenance and wanted to live there, but could not pay.

On Monday morning, October 3, Gray was seen alive and Bunney was seen alive about 5.15 p.m. by the postmaster.  After that neither of the men was seen until the Thursday. In the meantime Bunney’s room, although it was open, had not been used. Gray’s room was
padlocked.

Two men looked for Gray and Bunney on the Thursday. One of them
climbed to the verandah and saw the men lying dead side by side. When entrance was gained the two men were found with their heads battered. A bloodstained axe was found in the corner.

Johnson, on the Monday, had no money. On the Tuesday he was seen on the road to Maryborough, and got a ride, for which he paid 1/. He returned later, and this time paid 2/6.  When he walked into the Dandenong police station on the Friday he made a statement, although he was warned he need not make it.

Mr Cussen then read the statement alleged to have been made by Johnson. In it Johnson is alleged to have said that he was asleep on the ground floor of the delicensed hotel about 3 p.m. on October 3 when he heard Gray, who was on the top floor, hammering and making a loud noise. He took an axe upstairs and hit Gray on the head. Gray fell to the floor, Bunney came into the room, and he hit him on the head. He then locked the room with a padlock and
threw the key away.

His only excuse for killing Gray was because he was making a noise while he was trying to sleep. He had killed Bunney because he did not want him to be a witness.

He often became bad tempered, and he was in a bad temper when he killed Gray.  He stayed at the hotel for two nights afterward. He then walked to Maryborough, rode on a transport to Melbourne on October 6, stayed in the city that night, and walked to Dandenong
the next day.

One of the witnesses was Elizabeth Whelan, the licensee of the Railway Hotel in Dunolly who testified that Cazneau, Johnson and a man named Alexander and Bunney were in the bar on the Monday morning. Bunney bought Johnson two drinks and left.  Gray came into the hotel at 10.30 and bought a quart bottle of wine, but did
not drink it with the other men. He gave a £1 note and received his change in small silver. Gray took a quart bottle of wine a month.
Johnson had four pots of beer up to 11 a.m., when he left, and he had one again at 2 p.m.

Thomas William Johnson would be found guilty of the murders of Robert McCourt Gray and Charles Adam Bunney and was sentenced to death.

Johnson was executed at Pentridge Prison on January 23, 1939.  When asked by the Sheriff in the condemned cell whether he had anything to say, Johnson shook his head and indicated that he wanted the execution to proceed.

We came across a reference to an unusual murder case the other day. And although it isn’t Australian, there is very definitely some Twisted History to it!

Pype Hayes Park in Erdington, Birmingham, England has been the scene of two murders – one in 1817 and another in 1974. Now you might not think that is particularly interesting but the parallels between these two cases is uncanny!

On May 27, 1817, the belle of the parish, Mary Ashford attended a dance at Tyburn House Inn with her friend Hannah Cox. The two young ladies left around midnight and would return to Hannah’s house.  Mary would leave and would not be seen alive again.  Her body would be discovered a few hours, where a worker discovered a puddle of blood and two sets of footprints leading to the muddy ditch.  Mary had been sexually assaulted and left to drown.

On May 27, 1974, childcare worker Barbara Forrest spent the night out dancing with her boyfriend at various pubs before he escorted her to the Colmore Circus bus stop.  It would be the last time anyone saw Barbara alive.  Her semi-naked body was found under bracken in a shallow ditch just 500 yards from her house on the edge of the park.  Barabara had been raped and strangled.

Two men would be arrested, one for each crime – Abraham Thornton in 1817 and Michael Thornton in 1974.  At their respective trials both men would be acquitted for lack of evidence.  In 1817, Abraham admitted to having sex with Mary but 3 witnesses gave him an alibi which saw the case dismissed.  In 1975, Michael was arrested after blood stains were found on his pants and an alibi proved false.  The case was dismissed.

Both cases remain officially unsolved to this day.

But there are a few interesting facts related to the 1817 murder. Firstly, Abraham Thornton’s boot print was matched to those leading to Mary’s body.  It was one of the earlist recorded cases of footwear identification.  Secondly, after the dismissal of the first trial, Mary’s brother William launched an appeal stating the evidence was overwhelming against Thornton.  Thornton was rearrested and claimed the right to trial by battle – a medieval law that had never been repealed by Parliament.  Ashford declined and Thornton was freed from custody.  The law was repealed in 1819.

But we will leave the final words to Mary Ashford’s family.  On her grave in Sutton Coldfield Churchyard is the following inscription:

 

“As a warning to female virtue and a humble monument to female chastity, this stone marks the grave of Mary Ashford who on the twentieth year of her age having incautiously repaired to a scene of amusement without proper protection, was brutally murdered on 27th May 1817”

The Death of Nelly Horrigan

February 10, 1870

“A disgraceful scene occurred on Friday last, in a brothel near Little Bourke street up on the occassion of a wake taking place.

It appears that a woman of the town, named Nelly Horrigan, was found dead in her bed on Friday morning by the man with whom she had been cohabitating, and it was decided by her companions to “wake” her in proper style.

Accordingly, at night the coffin containing the body was placed on trestles in the middle of the room, plenty of spirits were provided and placed on a table at the head, with pipes and tobacco in abundance at the foot.  The room was lit with candles, till everything was as light as day, and an old woman was seated at the foot of the coffin kept up an unearthly yell throughout the evening.  Towards ten o’clock, about sixty thieves and prostitutes of the lowest class assembled in the room, and commenced drinking and smoking, which finally ended in a regular melee, in which the coffin was upset, and black eyes and broken noses were freely distributed; and it was not until some of the sober neighbours interfered that the orgie was put an end to.

The funeral took place on Sunday, and it was evident from the appearance of those following the hearse, that the fight had been of a very sanguinary character, for there was hardly one of the mourners that had not either a black eye or a bandaged head.”

2018 has been a big year for the team at Twisted History!

And we could not have done it without our customers who come week in and week out to our range of tours across Victoria.

In November we were extremely proud to take away the bronze award for Cultural Tourism in the Victorian RACV Tourism Awards.

We continued to be accredited for the third year, one of only 2 “ghost” tour companies in Australia.  This means we maintain a business standard that allows as to use the national tick.

2019 will see the introduction of at least one new tour with the Castlemaine Cemetery tour beginning in mid January with our miner Andrew O’Reilly and schoolteacher, Miss Myrtle!

We have already locked in a range of dates for our haunted hotel tours, with negotiations continuing with a couple more.

Our murder tours will see Chinatown take on a more “ghostly” focus and will see the introduction of a new guide.  Carlton and Melbourne tours will continue as required.

Geelong Gaol will be back with a ghost tour and an investigtion tour tomorrow night (26/12).  We have a new longer investigation planned for later in the first half of the year.  We will also be expecting some special interstate guests around Easter – now to find a cool location to investigate near Geelong!

Besides all this, with our newly vamped website up and running, we are hoping to bring back our regular blog – not daily unfortunately as we have been too busy!  But we will have some new content up in the new year!

But thats enough from me for now!

So the team at Twisted History would like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  We hope to see you somewhere on a tour in 2019!

 On This Day – August 7, 1913

When going through the many statements taken for the information of the coroner in connection with the murder, on August 7 last, of the old woodcutter, Richard Knight, outside his hut in the bush between Lilydale and Coldstream (says the Melbourne ‘Argus’). Detective-Sergeant Arthur and Detective Keily discovered certain discrepancies in the stories of several boys living in Coldstream. Information concerning their movements around the time of the murder was proffered in such a manner that many possibilities were presented, and in order to satisfy themselves that the boys were not purposely withholding certain facts, the two detectives yesterday returned from Melbourne to Coldstream. Each of the boys was seen, and though they all presisted in their previous statements, they were not able to explain whether certain of their actions were, due to a coincidence or otherwise. They could not be shaken in their first statement that they had not seen the old man after he was shot at, though one of them admitted having been at his hut just previous to the time when two residents of the neighbouring bush heard two shots fired in the direction of the hut. The boys were questioned separately, but they showed no signs of wavering, neither did their statements contradict each other. In view of this, the detectives came to the conclusion that it was useless prolonging the examination.  Unless something unforseen happens nothing more will now be done until the inquest, the date of which the coronor (Dr. Cole) will probably fix within the next few days.  Altogether, about 20 witnesses will be subpoenaed, as the police intend having everyone present who may possibly be able to assist the coroner in determining when, how, and by whom Knight was killed.

ON THIS DAY …….6th August 1938

After a retirement of four hours a jury in the Criminal Court found Edward Allan May aged 30, laborer, not guilty of having murdered Mrs. Yoland Joan Shirley Bordin aged 21, of Carlton, but guilty of manslaughter. He was remanded for sentence after having admitted to prior convictions, including a gaol sentence of five years for armed assault with intent to rob. Mrs. Bordin, who was living apart from her Italian husband, was found bleeding to death from a knife wound at Carlton early on this day in 1938. Some distance away was a long-bladed hunting knife.