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ON THIS DAY – DECEMBER 14, 1956

FITZROY

The finding of the battered bodies of two women in their home in North Fitzroy yesterday has provided Melbourne police with the greatest murder mystery since the killing of teenager Shirley Collins, three years ago. The dead women were Mrs, Mary Boanas, 82, and her daughter, Mrs. Rose Fisher, 52, of Brunswick st, North Fitzroy. Robbery is believed to be the motive for the killings. Det. Inspector G. Petty, in charge of homicide at Russell Street, said tonight that they had no definite lead in the case. “The crime could have been committed by anyone but it is more likely that someone who knew that the women had a lot of money in the house was responsible,” he said.Mrs. Boanas, an invalid, lived with her daughter in a neat, well-kept two bedroom house in North Fitzroy. Police said the killer missed £1,037 which had been hidden in drawers, but there may have been several thousand pounds taken by him.Detectives were told that women led a life of almost complete detachment from the neighbours and were rarely seen outside the house, The time of the killings been set between 8am, and 8 p.m. on Friday The bodies were not found until 4.30 yesterday noon. Mrs. Boanas’ sister, Mrs. R. Moss, became suspicious when she found a parcel of eggs which had been left on the doorstep by another sister on Friday. After letting herself in, Mrs. Moss found Mrs. Boanas dead in a bed in her ground floor bedroom. There was a severe wound behind Mrs, Boanas’ left ear. There were no signs of a struggle. The body of Mrs. Fisher was found face down on the floor of the kitchen, with severe head wounds. Police believe the killer had crept up on her, as there were no signs of a struggle. The murder weapon has not been found, but it is believed to be a blunt instrument, such as a wrench. The two women had lived for many years in Peking (China) but came to Australia after the Japanese attack in 1936. Mrs. Fisher’s husband, a proprietor of a newspaper, stayed there and was killed. Police do not think the killings had any association with their life in China. It is thought that the women distrusted banks, and that this was the reason for the large sum of money being hidden in the house.

 

ON THIS DAY – September 12, 1953

Homicide detectives who investigated the murder of 14-year-old Shirley May Collins, whose battered body was found in September 1953 at Mt Martha, described the murder as one of the most vicious and sadistic in the history of Victoria. The investigation was said to be one of the biggest and most intensive manhunts in the history of Australian crime.

Shirley Collins was described as a young, shy, smiling and innocent girl. Her father had died and her mother remarried and moved to Queensland. She was one of four foster children living with her foster parents, Mr and Mrs A E Collins. Shirley left her Reservoir home at 7.15pm on Saturday 12 September to go to a teenagers party in Richmond and had promised her foster mother she would return home early. The party was at the home of a young workmate; guests were mostly teenage members of Coles staff where Shirley worked. Ron Holmes, 21, of Chelsea, had arranged to meet her at Richmond station at 8pm. Holmes waited for nearly an hour and then went to the party alone. Mrs Collins sensed something was wrong when her daughter did not return home by midnight. Early Sunday morning, Mrs Collins took her worries to a policeman who lived nearby. The constable dismissed the mothers fears, saying Shirley must have missed the last train and was probably sleeping at a girlfriend’s place and would be home in the morning. But eight hours later he referred Mrs Collins to the CIB.

Police received information that a girl answering Shirley’s description, and who they were almost certain was Shirley, was seen getting into a car near Regent station only a few minutes before she was to have boarded a bus to take her to the city. Police believed the girl accepted a lift, expecting to be taken to her destination at Richmond, but instead was driven to Mt Martha. A large squad of CIB detectives and police worked 24 hour days in an endeavour to locate the murder scene. They searched the Mt Martha and Dromana areas, questioning people who may have been able to provide clues.

At least five people saw Shirley’s body without realising she was dead; they presumed it was a girl sunbaking. People told police they had seen Shirley and a well-spoken young man in Mornington on Saturday and Sunday nights. She was seen with the man at a hotel on Saturday night. Mr Allan Downs, the licensee of Mornington’s Grand Hotel, recognised Shirley’s photo as soon as it was shown to him by the police. Downs told police, Shirley walked into the hotel lounge with a man about 26 to 30 soon after 8.30pm. I noticed them particularly because the lounge was empty, which is unusual on a Saturday night. I asked them if they were bona fide travellers and they said Yes and sat down at a table a few feet from us. They had one glass of beer each; then they got up and left at about 8.50pm. This drew my attention because it is unusual for anyone to have just one glass of beer on a Saturday night. Although I did not notice the pair laughing or joking, they seemed quite friendly. As the girl left the lounge, she turned her head and smiled and said Goodnight. Thank you very much. The girl could have passed for an adult for her hair was done differently to the photo, but I feel sure it was her. Shirley Collins was then seen at a cafe in Mornington on the Sunday night. An employee of the cafe, Mrs Larkins, recognised a photograph of Shirley. She said, the girl was with a youth aged about 18, with a long, pointed nose, brushed back hair, and of medium build.

In the early morning of Monday 14 September, the body of Shirley Collins was discovered at Mt Martha by Lionel Liardit. The 73-year-old man told police that his fox terrier, Bombo, had drawn his attention to the body. I was walking along Marine Drive to pick up my mail, he said. Bombo was chasing rabbits and wallabies then ran into the grounds of the house and came back barking and tugging the cuff of my trousers. I wasn’t in any hurry and Bombo’s a pretty intelligent dog so I went to see what was worrying him. I saw the body. Liardit was shaken by the horror of his discovery. Later medical examination showed Shirley had been dead for 10 to 12 hours. Police believed the three broken beer bottles found near her battered body were the cause of her death. She had been the victim of a brutal attack. A bottle, heavy with beer, had been smashed on her head and knocked her unconscious. Two other bottles, tops still firmly clamped, had been shattered against the back of her head. The pretty face of Shirley Collins had been completely destroyed by blocks of cement. Her nose, jaw, cheekbones and forehead were broken. Her clothes had been ripped from her body and thrown in trees and scrub. A stocking, still fastened to a suspender belt, was found on a tree stump. Evidence at the murder scene indicated the man who killed her was shrewd and dangerous, and had given police few clues to his identity. Detectives ruled out the theory that Shirley had been abducted and taken to Mornington Peninsula by force. They believed the car used was stolen and later abandoned.

ON THIS DAY – DECEMBER 14, 1956

FITZROY

The finding of the battered bodies of two women in their home in North Fitzroy yesterday has provided Melbourne police with the greatest murder mystery since the killing of teenager Shirley Collins, three years ago. The dead women were Mrs, Mary Boanas, 82, and her daughter, Mrs. Rose Fisher, 52, of Brunswick st, North Fitzroy. Robbery is believed to be the motive for the killings. Det. Inspector G. Petty, in charge of homicide at Russell Street, said tonight that they had no definite lead in the case. “The crime could have been committed by anyone but it is more likely that someone who knew that the women had a lot of money in the house was responsible,” he said.Mrs. Boanas, an invalid, lived with her daughter in a neat, well-kept two bedroom house in North Fitzroy. Police said the killer missed £1,037 which had been hidden in drawers, but there may have been several thousand pounds taken by him.Detectives were told that women led a life of almost complete detachment from the neighbours and were rarely seen outside the house, The time of the killings been set between 8am, and 8 p.m. on Friday The bodies were not found until 4.30 yesterday noon. Mrs. Boanas’ sister, Mrs. R. Moss, became suspicious when she found a parcel of eggs which had been left on the doorstep by another sister on Friday. After letting herself in, Mrs. Moss found Mrs. Boanas dead in a bed in her ground floor bedroom. There was a severe wound behind Mrs, Boanas’ left ear. There were no signs of a struggle. The body of Mrs. Fisher was found face down on the floor of the kitchen, with severe head wounds. Police believe the killer had crept up on her, as there were no signs of a struggle. The murder weapon has not been found, but it is believed to be a blunt instrument, such as a wrench. The two women had lived for many years in Peking (China) but came to Australia after the Japanese attack in 1936. Mrs. Fisher’s husband, a proprietor of a newspaper, stayed there and was killed. Police do not think the killings had any association with their life in China. It is thought that the women distrusted banks, and that this was the reason for the large sum of money being hidden in the house.

 

ON THIS DAY – September 12, 1953

Homicide detectives who investigated the murder of 14-year-old Shirley May Collins, whose battered body was found in September 1953 at Mt Martha, described the murder as one of the most vicious and sadistic in the history of Victoria. The investigation was said to be one of the biggest and most intensive manhunts in the history of Australian crime.

Shirley Collins was described as a young, shy, smiling and innocent girl. Her father had died and her mother remarried and moved to Queensland. She was one of four foster children living with her foster parents, Mr and Mrs A E Collins. Shirley left her Reservoir home at 7.15pm on Saturday 12 September to go to a teenagers party in Richmond and had promised her foster mother she would return home early. The party was at the home of a young workmate; guests were mostly teenage members of Coles staff where Shirley worked. Ron Holmes, 21, of Chelsea, had arranged to meet her at Richmond station at 8pm. Holmes waited for nearly an hour and then went to the party alone. Mrs Collins sensed something was wrong when her daughter did not return home by midnight. Early Sunday morning, Mrs Collins took her worries to a policeman who lived nearby. The constable dismissed the mothers fears, saying Shirley must have missed the last train and was probably sleeping at a girlfriend’s place and would be home in the morning. But eight hours later he referred Mrs Collins to the CIB.

Police received information that a girl answering Shirley’s description, and who they were almost certain was Shirley, was seen getting into a car near Regent station only a few minutes before she was to have boarded a bus to take her to the city. Police believed the girl accepted a lift, expecting to be taken to her destination at Richmond, but instead was driven to Mt Martha. A large squad of CIB detectives and police worked 24 hour days in an endeavour to locate the murder scene. They searched the Mt Martha and Dromana areas, questioning people who may have been able to provide clues.

At least five people saw Shirley’s body without realising she was dead; they presumed it was a girl sunbaking. People told police they had seen Shirley and a well-spoken young man in Mornington on Saturday and Sunday nights. She was seen with the man at a hotel on Saturday night. Mr Allan Downs, the licensee of Mornington’s Grand Hotel, recognised Shirley’s photo as soon as it was shown to him by the police. Downs told police, Shirley walked into the hotel lounge with a man about 26 to 30 soon after 8.30pm. I noticed them particularly because the lounge was empty, which is unusual on a Saturday night. I asked them if they were bona fide travellers and they said Yes and sat down at a table a few feet from us. They had one glass of beer each; then they got up and left at about 8.50pm. This drew my attention because it is unusual for anyone to have just one glass of beer on a Saturday night. Although I did not notice the pair laughing or joking, they seemed quite friendly. As the girl left the lounge, she turned her head and smiled and said Goodnight. Thank you very much. The girl could have passed for an adult for her hair was done differently to the photo, but I feel sure it was her. Shirley Collins was then seen at a cafe in Mornington on the Sunday night. An employee of the cafe, Mrs Larkins, recognised a photograph of Shirley. She said, the girl was with a youth aged about 18, with a long, pointed nose, brushed back hair, and of medium build.

In the early morning of Monday 14 September, the body of Shirley Collins was discovered at Mt Martha by Lionel Liardit. The 73-year-old man told police that his fox terrier, Bombo, had drawn his attention to the body. I was walking along Marine Drive to pick up my mail, he said. Bombo was chasing rabbits and wallabies then ran into the grounds of the house and came back barking and tugging the cuff of my trousers. I wasn’t in any hurry and Bombo’s a pretty intelligent dog so I went to see what was worrying him. I saw the body. Liardit was shaken by the horror of his discovery. Later medical examination showed Shirley had been dead for 10 to 12 hours. Police believed the three broken beer bottles found near her battered body were the cause of her death. She had been the victim of a brutal attack. A bottle, heavy with beer, had been smashed on her head and knocked her unconscious. Two other bottles, tops still firmly clamped, had been shattered against the back of her head. The pretty face of Shirley Collins had been completely destroyed by blocks of cement. Her nose, jaw, cheekbones and forehead were broken. Her clothes had been ripped from her body and thrown in trees and scrub. A stocking, still fastened to a suspender belt, was found on a tree stump. Evidence at the murder scene indicated the man who killed her was shrewd and dangerous, and had given police few clues to his identity. Detectives ruled out the theory that Shirley had been abducted and taken to Mornington Peninsula by force. They believed the car used was stolen and later abandoned.

Join Hybrid Publishing and Twisted History in a night of Murder when we present Janice Simpson, author of “Murder in Mount Martha”. Step back in time for an unforgettable evening, as you are incarcerated in the historic Bourke Street West Police Cells at the Royal Melbourne Hotel. Evening includes dinner, talks by Twisted History on Victoria’s Crime and Police History before Janice talking of her new book based on the unsolved murder of Shirley Collins in 1953 – “Murder in Mount Martha”

Hybrid Publishing and Twisted History will be presenting Janice Simpson and her new book “Murder in Mount Martha” at an event at the Royal Melbourne Hotel on June 30 at 6pm.  Details can be found here – www.trybooking.com/LOUD

The book is based upon the real life unsolved murder of 14 year old Shirley Collins in September 1953.  Below is a newspaper article from the time of the murder.

DID YOU SEE SHIRLEY COLLINS
THIS special color picture shows murdered Shirley Collins as she was
on Saturday night, September 12, when she was last seen alive.
Her clothes, exactly reproduced here, are being worn by a model of Shirley’s measurements; Shirley’s last picture has been superimposed on the color print by “Argus” artists.  The picture is reproduced at the special request of Superintendent F. W. Lyon, C.I.B. chief, in the hope that it will lead to discovery of Shirley’s killer.

It Is the first time on record that newspaper color presses have helped in crime detection.  Superintendent Lyon said this lifelike resemblance to Shirley could provide detectives with a new chance of finding the murderer.

Shirley, aged 14, was battered to death at Mt. Martha.  Anyone who saw a girl like this after 7.15 p.m. on Saturday, September 12, is
asked to contact the police Immediately, at F0244.

THE most ‘ likely place! where Shirley could have been seen were near the corner of Spring and Verdun sts., Regent, or on the train in West Richmond station or near the West Richmond station.  Was she alone or in company with a man? Did she get into a car at Regent railway station, or did she travel by train to West Richmond?

These are the main questions for which homicide detectives are seeking an answer.  TO assist them in their search, police have askei
“The Argus” to supply them with 50 poster-size copies of this color picture.  Late yesterday the copies were delivered to the Police Department and immediately distributed to police stations and to the Preston and Richmond districts.  Here is a full descrlption of Shirley and the clothes she was wearing at the time of her disappearance:
Height: 5ft. 3ln.
Weight: 8st. 41b. or 51b.
Hair: Light brown.
Eyes: Blue.
Coat: Dark grey.
Skirt: Grey and black
diagonal check.
Blouse: Pale lemon.
Cardigan: Black.
Shoes: Black.
Stockings: Natural shade

Detectives yesterday concentrated their inquiries along the bus route on which Shirley travelled at 7.15 on that night.

http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/23319986?searchTerm=Shirley%20Collins%20murder&searchLimits=l-decade=195|||l-year=1953#

ON THIS DAY – DECEMBER 14, 1956

12366683_222348071429662_1570391827_nFITZROY

The finding of the battered bodies of two women in their home in North Fitzroy yesterday has provided Melbourne police with the greatest murder mystery since the killing of teenager Shirley Collins, three years ago. The dead women were Mrs, Mary Boanas, 82, and her daughter, Mrs. Rose Fisher, 52, of Brunswick st, North Fitzroy. Robbery is believed to be the motive for the killings. Det. Inspector G. Petty, in charge of homicide at Russell Street, said tonight that they had no definite lead in the case. “The crime could have been committed by anyone but it is more likely that someone who knew that the women had a lot of money in the house was responsible,” he said.Mrs. Boanas, an invalid, lived with her daughter in a neat, well-kept two bedroom house in North Fitzroy. Police said the killer missed £1,037 which had been hidden in drawers, but there may have been several thousand pounds taken by him.Detectives were told that women led a life of almost complete detachment from the neighbours and were rarely seen outside the house, The time of the killings been set between 8am, and 8 p.m. on Friday The bodies were not found until 4.30 yesterday noon. Mrs. Boanas’ sister, Mrs. R. Moss, became suspicious when she found a parcel of eggs which had been left on the doorstep by another sister on Friday. After letting herself in, Mrs. Moss found Mrs. Boanas dead in a bed in her ground floor bedroom. There was a severe wound behind Mrs, Boanas’ left ear. There were no signs of a struggle. The body of Mrs. Fisher was found face down on the floor of the kitchen, with severe head wounds. Police believe the killer had crept up on her, as there were no signs of a struggle. The murder weapon has not been found, but it is believed to be a blunt instrument, such as a wrench. The two women had lived for many years in Peking (China) but came to Australia after the Japanese attack in 1936. Mrs. Fisher’s husband, a proprietor of a newspaper, stayed there and was killed. Police do not think the killings had any association with their life in China. It is thought that the women distrusted banks, and that this was the reason for the large sum of money being hidden in the house.