ON THIS DAY – July 28, 1936

 

Charged with having murdered his twin sister, Adelaide Bek, on July 28, Charles Bek, farmer, of Kooroocheang, was remanded at the Ballarat City Court to day until August 28. It was alleged that Bek had an altercation with his sister, struck her several blows on the head with a hammer and threw her body into a dam on his farm. He was arrested last night. The body was recovered from the dam on August 14. Bek is little more than five foot high, and is slightly built.

ON THIS DAY – July 27, 1924

At the Detective Office yesterday afternoon a telephone message was received from the Benalla police, stating that the body of Miss Bridget Enwright, who has been missing, from her home at Staghorn Flat since July 27, was found partly covered with clay, at Staghorn Flat, in circumstances indicating foul play (says a Melbourne message in the “News”). A detective has been dispatched to investigate the matter.

Miss Enwright (as briefly reported in yesterday’s “Miner”) was 69 years of age, and lived alone on her farm, which is in the Yackandandah district, and ís 198 miles from Melbourne. Her prolonged absence from home caused concern among residents, and search parties were organised to examine the surrounding country. Until yesterday morning their efforts were unsuccessful. At one time 50 mounted men were searching. Miss Enwright was seen talking to a young man about two miles from her home on July 27, and though she is believed to have returned to the house she was not again seen alive. Two weeks ago, however, a constable from Kiewa and local residents visited her home, and found signs that a robbery had been committed. The back door was unlocked, and one of the bedrooms was in disorder. Among other things discovered were an empty purse and handbag. In the house, however, there were no signs of struggle.

ON THIS DAY – July 27, 1932

Walter Henderson. (48), farmer, was charged late today with having on July 27, at Albert Park murdered his mother Mrs Sarah Henderson.

MURDER CHARGE FAILS.

The third trial of Walter William Henderson 47, farmer, on a charge of having murdered his mother at their home at Albert Park on July 27, was concluded in the Criminal Court to-night. The Jury found Henderson not guilty and he was discharged. Soon after his acquittal Henderson was arrested on a charge of bigamy.

ON THIS DAY – July 26, 1933

 

At the inquest into the death of Katherine Dorman, 24, machinist, on July 26, following an attack and injuries inflicted with an iron pipe while in her bedroom at Windsor the Coroner found John Boles murdered her and ordered a warrant for his arrest after hearing the evidence of Miss Dorman’s land-lady, Mrs. Nellie Burke, that Boles had repeatedly hit Dorman over the head with the pipe. Boles, who is a married man left a letter saying that he had lost his employment, which meant his means for getting a divorce had gone. This seemed to unhinge his overstrung nerves and then he simply wanted to die and take the dear girl with him.

No one knows when Ned Kelly was born:

True. What we do know is that Ned was the third of 12 children born to Ellen Kelly (from three different fathers). There is no clear evidence of his actual birth, but it was most likely 1854 or 1855, near Beveridge north of Melbourne, meaning he was just 25 or 26 when he died.

Ned Kelly was illiterate:
False. There are enough surviving examples of Ned’s handwriting to know that he could write. This myth most likely evolved from the belief that fellow Kelly Gang member, Joe Byrne, penned the famous Jerilderie letter. This letter has been described as Ned Kelly’s manifesto and is a direct account of the Kelly Gang and the events with which they were associated.

How did he wear such a heavy helmet?
If you have ever seen or tried on a replica of one of the Kelly gang’s helmets, you’ll be struck by how heavy they are and how much they cut into the collar bone. The fact is that the weight of the helmet was not meant to be borne on the collar bones at all. The helmets have holes punched on front, back and sides of each helmet, through which leather straps were strung, meaning most of the weight was felt on top of the wearer’s head. Ned Kelly is reported to have worn a woollen cap to pad his head.

A film about Ned Kelly was the world’s first feature film:
True. It is often reported that Charles Tait’s 1906 film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was the world’s first full-length feature film. Its first screening was at the Athenaeum Hall on December 26, 1906, and is alleged to have prompted five children in Ballarat to hold up a group of schoolchildren at gunpoint. This resulted in the Victorian Chief Secretary banning the film in towns with strong Kelly connections. And for many years the film was thought to be lost, but segments were found in various locations, including some found on a rubbish dump.

In 2007 the film was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register for being the world’s first fill-length feature film.

Ned Kelly’s last words were “Such is life”.
Many believe that the last utterance by Ned Kelly just before his hanging were three simple word, “Such is life”. Whether uttered with weary resignation or an acceptance of misfortune, the notion that the quote is attributed to Ned Kelly survives today (even inspiring one or two tattoos).

But what Ned Kelly actually said as his last words is uncertain. Some newspapers at the time certainly reported the words “Such is life”, while a reporter standing on the jail floor wrote that Ned’s last words were, “Ah well! It’s come to this at last.” But one of the closest persons to Ned on the gallows, the gaol warden, wrote in his diary that Kelly opened his mouth and mumbled something that he couldn’t hear.

Ned Kelly courtroom curse killed the judge:
It is true that judge Sir Redmond Barry died 12 days after Ned Kelly was executed. The two men, Kelly and Barry, had been antagonists for some time, so after being sentenced to death at his trial, Ned Kelly famously replied to Sir Redmond Barry, “I will see you there where I go” or a version of that quote.

Ned Kelly was executed on the November 11, 1880, and Sir Redmond Barry died on the 23rd of the same month. However Barry’s certificate did not list the cause of death as “curse”, rather it is more likely that the judge died from a combination of pneumonia and septicaemia from an untreated carbuncle.

If you have a Ned Kelly tattoo you are more likely to die violently:
Depending on how you interpret the forensic data, wearing a Ned Kelly tattoo can be very dangerous. A study from the University of Adelaide found that corpses with Ned Kelly tattoos were much more likely to have died by murder and suicide. But it was a pretty small sample size.

 

ON THIS DAY – July 26, 1943

Giving evidence in his defence on a charge of murdering Pearl Oliver at Fitzroy on July 26, Harold Nugent, truck-driver, said in the Criminal Court today that he did not shoot the girl and did not have a weapon of any sort in his possession. Nugent said he was driving two other men to St. Kilda when, in Fitzroy. He saw Joseph Fanesi, a drinking acquaintance, with a girl and an American sailor. He stopped and asked Fanesi to have a drink with him. Fanesi declined, but as Nugent was walking back to the car, he heard two shots and saw Fanesi fall. He then saw his companion, Leslie Brown, and the sailor fighting. Brown joined him in the car and they drove away. He did not know the girl was shot until he read it in the paper the next day.

ON THIS DAY – July 25, 1942

Following exhaustive inquiries, detectives arrested and charged Frederick Francis Green, 32, timber worker of Lygon Street, Carlton, with the murder of Mrs. Catherine, Whitley, 65, in a lane off Elizabeth Street, city, on July 25. Mrs. Whitley was discovered unconscious in the lane on July 25 and died two days later, from a fractured skull.

Australian Serial Killers have an interesting history, from convicts to modern day.  Australia first recorded serial killer was Alexander Pearce in 1822 in Tasmania.  All state and territory’s but the ACT have experienced serial killers.  This graph show which states of Australia have had the most serial killers.

EXECUTED THIS DAY – July 25, 1855

James McAllister, convicted at the last Criminal Sessions of the murder of Jane Jones, a woman with whom he formerly cohabitated, was executed at the Melbourne Gaol. About 500 persons were present outside the gaol to witness the execution. McAllister was transported out to Van Diemans Land in 1842 being then about fourteen or fifteen years of age.

In the 1880-90s in Melbourne, in just one morning, a busy abortionist could earn the equivalent of several years of a domestic servant’s wage.

 

ON THIS DAY – JULY 25, 1916

Antoine Picone the Italian who shot and killed Joseph Luricella, a compatriot, in Queen Victoria Market on July 25, was hanged in Melbourne Gaol. Picone had been attended until the last minute by Father J. Donovan, and when led on to the scaffold carried his hand a small photograph and a paper containing a lock of hair. He asked that they might be buried with him. The sheriff promised him the request would be granted, and then asked him if he had anything further to say. Picone said something in a low, inaudible tone. The lever was then released, Death was instantaneous. Luricella was shot through the head with an automatic revolver as the result of a quarrel with Picone. The tragedy occurred in the early morning.

Nurse Alice Mitchell from Western Australia was charged with the unlawfully killing of Ethel Booth in 1907. Mitchell become Perth’s notorious baby-farmer, and possible Australia worst Serial Killer with police believing that she killed 37 babies.

Alice Mitchell, a nurse and midwife, had been registered since 1903 with the Perth Local Board of Health to take charge of infants. Babies were boarded at her premises in Edward Street East Perth while their mothers worked to support themselves and pay for their children’s care. The case came to light after Mitchell was reported by a constable on duty in the neighbourhood when she casually mentioned during a conversation that she had a child lying ill in her house but could not afford a doctor. The police called Dr Davey to attend a 10 month old child who was in “an exceedingly emaciated condition”, and while at the house Dr Davey noticed a baby, Ethel Booth, who was in a similar condition. Both children were taken to Perth Public Hospital but little Ethel was too far gone and died the next day. At Ethel’s inquest her mother Elizabeth testified she gave birth to Ethel at the House of Mercy, a maternity home for unmarried mothers, and stayed to look after her baby for a further two months. Elizabeth then 16 resumed her occupation as a maid, for which she earned 15s a week, and relinquished her child into Mitchell’s care after agreeing to pay 10s. per week as well as any doctor’s fees. Elizabeth loved her daughter and had become increasingly concerned when Mitchell, with various excuses, had repeatedly prevented Elizabeth from visiting her baby.
As part of her conditions of registration Alice Mitchell was required to keep a register of infants placed in her care but there were no entries after 16 December 1904. Evidence given at the inquest revealed that the female Inspector for the Perth Road Board was apparently friendly with Mrs. Mitchell, and would chat at the door, but never went inside to visit the children or inspect the register. Dr Officer visited regularly, charging five shillings for each child seen, and had examined baby Ethel three days after her arrival, declaring she was in a very healthy condition. At the murder trial Edward Officer, while admitting he had signed 22 death certificates of babies dying at Alice Mitchell’s house, denied “that death was in any way assisted or was due to other than natural causes”. In further evidence the local Anglican priest, the Reverend Robert John Craig, testified going to Mitchell’s house to baptise a dying nine month old child, Harry Turvey. Craig noted that the baby was very thin and had an offensive smell. Just over a week after little Harry’s death, Craig was sent for again and complained that the children he saw were very smelly and criticised Mitchell’s ability to keep the children clean. Nevertheless he clearly did not feel the need to report the matter. Seemingly, no one in authority picked up on Mitchell’s treatment of the infants she had been paid to look after, and as the trial progressed, revelations emerged that over the six years she had been fostering babies, at least 35 had died in suspicious circumstances. As well as ‘baby-farming’ Alice Mitchell also ran a boarding house and another witness, Carl Roux, testified that he stayed there for a month late in 1906 and that Mitchell always had several fostered infants who apparently all slept in the same room as she. Roux said that he had overheard Mitchell’s adult daughter complain to her mother of the dirty state in which the house and the children were kept adding, ‘’Those people in the front room [Roux and his wife], know just as well as I do that you kill the babies.” Despite this, Roux did not feel obliged to alert anyone else. He also told the court that before the trial Mitchell told him that that if she fell, Dr Officer would have to fall too. The trial concluded on 13 April 1907 and the jury, after less than an hour, found Mitchell only guilty of manslaughter. The Judge in passing sentence of five years hard labour remarked that the jury concluded that Mitchell had no intention of killing baby Booth, but that her death was caused by criminal negligence. He told Mitchell; “… you have been, like many other women who carry on the same business, perfectly callous to the sufferings of these children who were entrusted to your care. All that can be said in your favour is that you are a woman getting on in life, and, therefore, whatever term of imprisonment I may pass upon you will affect you much more severely than it would a younger woman”. Alice Mitchell was lucky, for in a similar case in Victoria where a woman was convicted of the deaths of infants in her care, she was executed. No blame was attached to Dr Officer and no others were charged with neglect of their official responsibilities. The two inspectors were the only ones to suffer any sort of fallout from the case when the Perth Road Board decided to dispense with their services. It was difficult for people to accept that such cruelty could occur unnoticed in their small Perth community. Public outcry over the Mitchell case brought into focus the need not only to protect vulnerable children, but to ensure that all mothers and their infants were healthy and had access. to good medical, midwifery and obstetric care. Some very influential women took up the cause and the formation in 1909 of the Women’s Service Guild, led by women who had been active in other women’s organisations, crystallised the momentum for the establishment of what was to become the King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women.