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.


ON THIS DAY – July 24, 1884

The adjourned inquest on the body of Peter M’Ansh who was found shot dead near the Boundary-road Hotel, Lancefield on July 24 was resumed yesterday. William O’Brien, who is charged with the murder, was present in custody today. Jeremiah O’Brien, his son, in custody as an accessory, was discharged and put in the witness box. The evidence showed that O’Brlen had ill-feeling against M’Ansh, who occupied land formerly owned by O’Brien. Circumstantial proof strongly pointed that O’Brien fired the fatal shot. The inquest was adjourned until today.

Six mass murders, with a total of 43 victims, occurred between 1990 and 1997.

David Gray

Thirteen people were killed in Aramoana in 1990 by 33-year-old David Gray, including police constable Stewart Guthrie. During a siege the next day, Gray was shot dead by police.

Brian Schlaepfer

In 1992 in Paerātā, south of Auckland, 64-year-old Brian Schlaepfer murdered his wife, his three sons, the wife of one of his sons and a grandson. He then killed himself. Schlaepfer’s granddaughter Linda survived the killings by barricading herself in a bedroom.

Raymond Ratima

Seven members of his family were killed in Masterton by 25-year-old Raymond Ratima in 1992, including three of his own children. Ratima and his wife were having problems in their relationship, and were living with her parents. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Bain family killings

Five members of the Bain family were killed in Dunedin in 1994. In 1995 22-year-old David Bain, the only survivor, was convicted of murdering his mother, his father, his two sisters and his younger brother. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 16-year non-parole period.

From the start there was controversy over whether David was responsible or whether his father had killed the others and then shot himself. After an appeal to the Privy Council succeeded in 2007, there was a retrial in the Christchurch High Court and Bain was acquitted in 2009.

Alan Lory

Six residents of the New Empire Hotel in Hamilton died when Alan Lory (41) set fire to the building in 1995. Lory was acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter and arson, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Lory was released in 2009.

Stephen Anderson

22-year-old Stephen Anderson killed six people and wounded another eight at a ski lodge in Raurimu, south-east of Taumarunui, on 8 February 1997. Some of the dead were family and friends who had been invited to join the Anderson family for the weekend. Found to be legally insane, Anderson was committed to secure psychiatric care. He was freed from care in 2009 but recalled in 2011. He was again released and worked as a tutor at a Wellington art school, but lost his job after his position was the subject of a 2014 newspaper article.


Why the 1990s generated so many mass murders is a difficult question to answer. During this decade and the previous one, a spate of ‘amok’ murders occurred in America, Europe and Australia. Similar events in New Zealand were part of this global trend. Researchers have suggested that high levels of unemployment, economic instability and growing social inequality during these decades may have contributed to the clustering of mass murders in New Zealand in the 1990s.
Stephen Anderson, Alan Lory, Bain family killings, Raymond Ratima, David Gray, Brian Schlaepfer, New Zealand, Six Mass Murders

On This Day – July 23, 1950

Allegations that Raymond Murray Baillie, 43, military pensioner, killed his wife and wounded his two sons with a rifle on July 23 last were made in the Criminal Court yesterday.

Baillie, of Nicholson-street, North Fitzroy, pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife, Laurel, Frances Baillie. Outlining the case for the Crown before the Chief Justice (Sir Edmund Herring) and a jury, Mr. F. Nelson said Baillie had determined to resolve his domestic difficulties by ending the lives of his wife and sons, and then, ending his own life.  This determination was not fulfilled, because he was disarmed by his sons.  Mr. Nelson said there had apparently been domestic difficulties between Baillie and his wife and sons, aged 17 and 20 years, for some time before July 23. On the night in question the mother and sons decided to leave him and were packing suitcases, when Baillie got a rifle and shot his wife in their bedroom. He levelled the rifle at his two sons, one of whom was shot in the shoulder, and the other in the chest.

“We’re Leaving”

In a statement alleged to have been made to the police, Mr. Nelson said Baillie said his sons and wife started to abuse him, and his wife said to the boys; “Come on. Pack up, boys; we’re leaving.” In the alleged statement Baillie said he picked up a loaded rifle. He did not take aim, but pulled the trigger and the gun went off. He said his wife fell on the floor, and he went out to shoot himself. He realised the boys were going to attack him, so he fired three or four shots. The boys took the rifle from him and prevented him from carrying out his intention to shoot himself. Vance Baillie, who was wounded in the shoulder, said he was wakened by an argument between his mother and father, and went to his father’s bedroom after the argument quietened. He said his mother pushed his father through a window. After some discussion with his mother and brother they decided to pack and leave the home. Shortly afterwards he heard a shot and a groan. He and his brother rushed along the passage. There was a shot, and his brother fell.

Hit in Shoulder

Vance Baillie said he jumped for the kitchen door, and a shot hit him in the shoulder. Cross-examined by Mr. R. V. Monahan, K.C., for the father, Vance Baillie said, as far as he could remember, he had only “belted” his father once. About 18 months ago, he said, he got a Judo hold on his father and tossed him over his head on to a brick wall. The incident had followed a fight between his father and grandfather. He agreed with Mr. Monahan that at one time he had said he would kill his father. The hearing will be continued today.Mr. Mr. F. Nelson appeared for the Crown. . Mr. R. V. Monahan. K.C.. with Mr. J. P. Moloney (Instructed Dy Mr. R. Dunn), appeared for Baillie.

List of Australian mass killings in order of victims

1850 – Gippsland massacres – VIC (1000)
1916 – Mowla Bluff massacre – WA (400)
1834 – Convincing Ground massacre – Vic (200)
1928 – Coniston massacre – NT (170)
1868 – Flying Foam massacre – WA (150)
1878 – Palmer massacre – QLD (150)
1628 – Shipwreck of the Batavia – WA (110)
1838 – Slaughterhouse Creek massacre – NSW (70)
1834 – Pinjarra Massacre – WA (40)
1839 – Murdering Gully massacre – Vic (40)
1839 – Campaspe Plains massacre – Vic (40)
1996 – Port Arthur massacre – Tas (35)
1828 – Cape Grim massacre – Tas (30)
1838 – Myall Creek massacre – NSW (30)
1840 – Maria massacred – SA (25)
1861 – Cullin-La-Ringo massacre – QLD (19)
2000 – Childers Palace Backpackers fire – QLD (15)
1973 – Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub fire – QLD (15)
1926 – Forrest River massacre – WA (11)
2011 – Quakers Hill Nursing Home Fire – NSW (11)
1971 – Hope Forest massacre – SA (10)
2009 – Churchill Fire – Vic (10)
1987 – Queen Street massacre – Vic (8)
2014 – Cairns child killings – QLD (8)
1984 – Milperra massacre – NSW (7)
1987 – Hoddle Street massacre – Vic (7)
1991 – Strathfield massacre – NSW (7)
1911 – Ching family murders – QLD (6)
1988 – Oenpelli shootings – NT (6)
1992 – Central Coast massacre – NSW (6)
1996 – Hillcrest Murders – QLD (6)
1981 – Campsie murders – NSW (5 )
1984 – Wahroonga murders – NSW (5)
1987 – Top End Shooting – NT (5)
1987 – Canley Vale Huynh family murders – NSW (5)
1990 – Surry Hills shootings – NSW (5)
1993 – Cangai siege – NSW (5)
2009 – Lin family murders – NSW (5)
2014 – Hunt family murders – NSW (5)
1915 – Broken Hill massacre – NSW (4)
2011 – Hectorville siege – SA (3)
2014 – Logan shooting – Vic (3)
2014 – Sydney Siege – NSW (3)
2002 – Monash University Shooting – Vic (2)

List of Australia Serial Killers and the number of victims.

Dennis Bruce Allen – Vic (13)
Andy Albury – NT (13)
John Bunting, Robert Joe Wagner – SA (12)
Clifford Cecil Bartholomew – SA (10)
Eric Edgar Cooke – WA (8)
Alexander Pearce – Tas (7)
Ivan Milat – NSW (7)
Leonard Fraser – Qld (7)
Christopher Worrell and James Miller – SA (7)
Paul Steven Haigh – Vic (7)
Frederick Bailey Deeming – Vic (6)
John Glover – NSW (6)
Thomas Jeffries – Tas (5)
William MacDonald – NSW (5)
Josef Thomas Schwab – NT (5)
Martha Needle – Vic (5)
Lindsay Robert Rose – NSW (5)
Elmer Kyle Crawford -Vic (5)
Arnold Sodeman – Vic (4)
Joel Teicher – Vic (4)
David John Birnie, Catherine Margaret Birnie – WA (4)
Bandali Michael Debs – Vic (4)
Reginald Kenneth Arthurell – NSW (4)
Peter Dupas – Vic (3)
Gregory John ‘Bluey’ Brazel – Vic (3)
Martha Rendell – WA (3)
Edward Joseph Leonski – Vic (3)
Caroline Mickelson – NSW (3)
Matthew James Harris – NSW (3)
Paul Charles Denyer – Vic (3)
Richard Edward Dorrough – WA (3)
Leslie Camilleri’s – Vic (3)
Ashley Coulston – Vic (3)
John Coombes – Vic (3)
Bevan Spencer von Einem – SA (3)
Ashley Coulston -Vic (3)

ON THIS DAY – July 23, 1902

A lad named Arnold Egglestone was committed for trial at Creswick on a charge of murdering Ah Sin, a Chinese, on July 23. The story of the prosecution is that accused, who is alleged to have attempted to criminally assault a girl, aged twelve years and nine months, a week before, shot the Chinese to obtain money to get away. Bail was refused.

International research has found a number of common characteristics among serial killers and their murders:

• serial murder is predominantly committed by white/Caucasian males of moderate to high intelligence.
• serial killers are usually aged in their mid-twenties with a mean age of 30, and the typical age range between 25 and 40 years.
• serial killings are usually intra-racial.
• serial killers are more likely to act alone.
• serial killers most commonly use strangulation or beating as a means of killing.
• male serial killers are more likely to use strangulation, stabbing, ligature weapons, hands or feet (beating), cause injury to victim’s head and genitalia (anus), bind victims and sexually assault victims.
• female serial killers are relatively uncommon – an overseas study of 200 serial killers found 12 to 17 percent were women.
• female serial killers were motivated by a need for financial security, revenge, enjoyment, and sexual stimulation.
• female serial killers who act alone are more likely to use poison as a method of killing.
• serial killers usually premeditate their crimes, frequently fantasising and planning with detail, including the specific victim.
• serial killers are likely to use similar event locations (but different physical locations) for their crimes, move the body from one location to another and dispose of the body in remote locations.

ON THIS DAY – July 22, 1914


Brunswick Court was crowded on July 22 when Frank White, 22, a wood machinist, appeared on remand on a charge of having inflicted grievous bodily harm upon Richard Wood, baker, of Audley street. East Brunswick, on Saturday night, July 11. The charge was altered to one of murder, and White was further remanded. The Bench was occupied by Mr Read Murphv. P.M. (chairman), and Messrs Allard, Dowsley and Fleming-. J’s.P. Sergeant P. McLoughlin stated that Wood had died in the Melbourne Hospital as the result of depressed fracture of the skull, alleged to have been caused by a blow with a bottle from White.  Mr R. G. Greene applied to Mr Justice Hodges, in the Supreme Court, for bail, which had been refused by the Brunswick magistrates. Bail was granted in two sureties of £5 00 each, and White’s own bond of £1000.

ON THIS DAY – July 22, 1922


The second trial was concluded of Reuben Fox, aged 26 years, who was charged with the murder of Mrs Josephine McLaughlin on July 22. Mrs McLaughlin was murdered returning from a ball In the Yea Shire Hall. The body was then placed in the river. After a retirement of over seven hours, the foreman of the jury announced that an agreement could not be reached, and they were discharged. A third trial was then ordered.

ON THIS DAY – July 22, 1988


CONVICTED murderer Alex Tsakmakis’s brutal killing earned very little sympathy among his fellow inmates.  Before we was clobbered to death behind bars, he too had carried out a prison killing. Before coming to police attention, Alex Tsakmakis appeared to be a company director and Ivanhoe family man. But his actions made him nothing but pure evil. Tskamakis, 40, was defenceless when he was attacked from behind on July 22, 1988. Taking lunch to a group of prisoners in the maximum security industry yard at about 11.30am, he was beaten on the back of the head by Russell St bomber Craig Minogue, 26. Tsakmakis remained standing at the first blow, but fell on the second. He was hit up to seven times with a pillow case full of 5kg gym weights and suffered a fractured skull and brain damage. Despite being given immediate medical attention and being rushed to hospital, he died six days later. Minogue received a second murder conviction but because he is serving it concurrently with his Russell St bombing sentence he has been given just three more months for Tskamakis’s death. The sentencing judge, Justice George Hampel believed Tskamakis’s life was not worth any more than that. At the time Minogue said he had killed Tskamakis in self defence because feared he would have been Tsakmakis’s next victim. Minogue will be eligible for parole in 2016.