ON THIS DAY – February 2, 1948

William Shields, 48, of North Yallourn, was arrested on his discharge from hospital and charged with the wilful murder of his wife, Eileen Mary Shields, on the 2nd of February 1948. Mrs Shields was found dead in her North Yallourn home. Her husband was admitted to hospital the same day for treatment to cuts to his throat and wrists.



ON THIS DAY – 1 February, 1924

On this day the body of Norman Alfred List was found on the bank of a creek in Pakenham had caused the deaths of the four victims of the shooting tragedy at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens on the evening of January 23rd. His victims were: – Frederick McIlwaine, Miriam Podbury, Eugenie Strohheicker, and John Moxham. After the inquest held at the city morgue, the coroners opinion was that death was due to hemorrhage resulting from a wound in the left arm that he had inflicted with razor. There was nothing to suggest that the man was insane at the time of his death. It was also his opinion that the man had been dead for 4-5 days.



ON THIS DAY – January 31, 1906

Francis Vernon Lichfield, a carpenter, whose mind had been affected for sometime, suddenly became demented, and tried to shoot his wife and son with a revolver. Mrs. Lichfield rushed him and took the weapon away, but Lichfield produced another, and his wife and son ran away. The husband fired at them, and the police were sent for. When a constable entered the house Lichfield fired at him, then, putting the revolver to his own head, shot himself. Death was instantaneous.



ON THIS DAY – January 29, 1920

Angelo Gaston Lembo (49) shot Stella Norris (21) at a lodging-house in William street, Melbourne and then committed suicide. The lodging-house keeper, Mrs. Findlay, was in the kitchen with Miss Norris when Lembo came home and went up to his room. Shortly afterwards Miss Norris went to hers, but she presently rushed screaming downstairs, crying to Mrs. Findlay, ‘Angelo has shot me.’ Blood was pouring from wounds in the girl’s arm and back. Mrs. Findlay attended her, then ran for assistance. Police broke into Miss Norris’ room and found Lembo stretched dead upon the floor, amid a pool of blood. The shot had pierced his left ear. He and Miss Norris had been engaged and had been living in the name lodging-house, occupying separate rooms. He told an Italian friend over a week ago that he intended to kill himself because he was unhappy. Originally a wood contractor, Lembo served three years at the war. When he returned he won a big sweep, from the proceeds of which he purchased a hotel at Fitzroy. Eventually he sold the hotel and had been living on the money so obtained up to the time of the fatality.



ON THIS DAY – January 24, 1930

The bodies of Theodore Dugay a retired farmer, aged 70. and his wife Emily aged 54, were found at a farm near Rutherglen on this day in 1930. Both died from pea rifle wounds in the head. Dugay had lived in the district for 60 years, and was recently released from the Beechworth mental institution. It is thought that he shot his wife, and then committed suicide.



ON THIS DAY – January 23, 1933

John Barber, aged 24, attacked his wife, failing in an attempt to murder her, in a house at Mount Evelyn on this day, John Barber, fatally wounded himself with a sawn-off pea-rifle. Barber’s wife was working as a domestic at Mount Evelyn, and he went to see her. A quarrel occurred, and Barber produced a pea-rifle and aimed it at his wife, who was nursing a baby. She struck the barrel upwards, with her arm, and the bullet lodged in the ceiling. Barber then struck at his wife with the stock of the rifle. She fled, and on hearing another shot she returned to the house, and found her husband lying seriously wounded on the floor.



ON THIS DAY – January 20, 1932

David and Margaret McKenzie were found dead with a gunshot wound in the head lying in bed at their home in St. Kilda street, Elwood by a housemaid who took tea to their room at half past 7am on this day in 1932. Clutched in the man’s hand was a miniature shotgun of .410 calibre, which had been shortened by sawing off portion of the butt and barrels. There was a discharged cartridge shell in each barrel. Although the police are convinced that McKenzie murdered his wife – apparently while she was sleeping – and then committed suicide, they have been unable to discover any motive for the crime. McKenzie and his wife were a devoted couple, apparently with ample means and no worries. Their house is situated in a fashionable part of Elwood between North road and Cole street, and is surrounded by a beautiful garden. It is a two-storied building containing 10 or 12 rooms. The couple had many friends and were generally respected and popular. They entertained frequently. The only explanation of the tragedy which can be offered by the police at present is that McKenzie who suffered from high blood pressure was affected by the intense heat.



ON THIS DAY …….. 17th of January 1859

A man named Hughes, a shoemaker, residing at Collingwood, murdered his wife on the night of the 17th. He then cut his own throat, but lingers for a couple day before death took hold.



ON THIS DAY – January 3, 1937

The story of the shooting of Merle Maude Moss, aged 18 years, housemaid, of Bungaree, at Ballarat on the 3rd of January, and the finding of the body of a young man in Lake Wendouree next day, was told at the inquest conducted by the deputy coroner. A finding was recorded that Miss Moss had been murdered by Sydney Gordon Smart, aged 22 years, labourer, of Durham Lead, and that Smart (whose body was recovered from the lake) had committed suicide. Dulcie Jean Lumsden, housemaid, employed by Dr. Richardson, of Sturt street, said that on the 3rd of January, at 2.30 pm, she called at Dr. Salter’s place, where Merle Moss was employed, and they went for a walk. Smart followed them, and persisted in his request that Miss Moss should meet him, but she declined to do so. Near Albert street at 7pm, Smart pulled Miss Moss by the wrist, took a revolver from his pocket, pointed at at the girl, and said something which Miss Lumsden did not catch. Miss Moss said, “Don’t be a coward.” Miss Lumsden said “I’m going to tell someone.” Smart replied, “If you do there’ll be trouble,” and he let Miss Moss go. At 7.30 pm, Miss Lumsden said, they turned into the lane off Lyons street, leading to the rear of Dr. Salter’s residence. Smart pushed Miss Moss against the fence while Miss Lumsden stood a few feet from them. Miss Moss tried to get away, but Smart pulled her back, saying “Will you meet me tonight?” Miss Moss replied, “I don’t want to meet you.” She then struggled to get away, saying. “Let me go!” Miss Lumsden, continuing, said: “I heard the first report, and saw Merle fall. She screamed as she fell. I ran in the gate. I heard four more shots fired while Merle was on the ground, and he was bending over her with his back to me. I ran inside and told Mrs. Salter and the girls.”

Incident Before Christmas

Margaret Ruth Telford, cook, residing at the residence of Mr. Salter, said that earlier Miss Moss had told her that she did not want to meet Smart, because she did not care for him. They had been keeping company for about six months. Miss Moss told her the week before Christmas that she had that night been at White Flat with Smart, and when she went to go away after an argument Smart had fired two shots from a revolver into the air, and she had gone back to him. George Searle, miner, of Chewton, said that about 7.35pm., on the 3rd of January, he saw a man with blood on his face running west along Mair street toward the lake. Constable Raper gave evidence of the finding of Smart’s body in Lake Wendouree on January 4. The seven-chambered .22 calibre Young American type revolver found in the lane after the shooting had been discharged in the seven chambers. Dr. F. Fleming said that the girl, had two bullet wounds in the head, one in the chest, and one in the hand. Smart had two head wounds, one indicating where the bullet had passed harmlessly off, and the second slightly penetrating the head without injury to the brain. Death, in his case, was due to drowning. The deputy coroner recorded a finding that the girl had died from the effects of three revolver wounds maliciously inflicted by Smart, and that Smart did murder her, and that Smart’s death was due to drowning, wilfully caused by himself.


On This Day – January 2, 1933

On January 2, John Johnson disappeared from his lodgings in Perth. To-day a wanderer hunting in the sandhills on the coast near Perth reported the discovery of signs of an old fire which appeared to contain human remains. Investigation indicated that Johnson had built a huge pile of wood and set fire to it, and then, shot himself so that his body would fall into the heart of the fire. Parts of the gun, bones and papers in Johnson’s handwriting reconstruct the story of one of the most amazing suicides recorded in this State. Hanging on a tree was a small luncheon bag containing a note in Johnson’s handwriting addressed to a woman asking the finder to inform the addressee “that he had taken a single ticket on a very long journey as he was tired of fighting the depression.”

ON THIS DAY – December 7, 1915

On December 7, at Yanac North, near Nhill, Annie Sophia Thiele, 26, wife of Edward Reinhold Thiele, locked herself in a room with her two children. Subsequently the door was burst open, and it was discovered that the children—a boy aged one year and nine months and an infant aged five months — had been killed with a knife. Mrs Thiele was lying wounded, and was found to be past help.

It was surmised that she took the lives of her two children and her own while temporarily insane. Mrs Thiele had been packing up, preparatory to journeying to Forrest, on a visit to friends. She had not been in good health recently.

An inquest was opened.


ON THIS DAY – December 3, 1922

A Painter Charged

George Devitt, (27), a painter, who has discharged from the Melbourne Hospital this afternoon was immediately brought before the City Court on a charge of having murdered Emma Hill on the Yarra Bank on December 3. Devitt was remanded to December 23, the day after the inquest is to be held.

The crime alleged against Devitt happened on the night of December 3. About midnight he staggered across Alexander Avenue on the bank of the Yarra with blood streaming from his body. He stopped a motor car and asked to be driven to the Police Station saying he had murdered a girl and he then tried to commit suicide. He had been in the river.

After an all night search, the police found the body of the girl, a domestic employed at the Y.W.CA. The girl’s body was lying on a rookery on the bank of the river.