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.”

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.

Henry Cutmore had been imprisoned for 12 months in May 1901 on a charge of begging and disorderly conduct. Cutmore said at his trial that he would be better off in gaol. Cutmore was born in1821 and was known as the “Fire King” because he had a habit of setting fire to the grass stacks of anyone who he had a grudge against! On the 2nd November 1901, Cutmore had been lined up outside of the infirmary waiting his turn for treatment at around 1.30pm. Warder Edwin Coy deposed that Cutmore must have slipped up the stairs unobserved to the third floor landing. He also observed that Cutmore was behaving normally. Coy witnessed Cutmore hanging by his hands from the balcony of the third floor. Cutmore suddenly let go and “fell onto the rail of the bottom balcony on his descent to the floor”. This was a distance of about 22 feet (about 6.7m). Dr Croker deposed that Cutmore when he was admitted to gaol in May was suffering from Old Age, Debility, Rheumatism, Umbilical Hernia and Enlargement and disease of the collar bone! Dr Coker saw Cutmore again about 5 minutes after his fall. He reported that he was suffering from a collapsed state, that both eyelids were contused, a contusion on his right temple which was very swollen and broken right elbow. He was removed to the Gaol hospital where Cutmore complained of abdominal pain and paralysis of the bladder. Cutmore appeared to improve slightly but then passed away at 6.20am on the 5th November 1901. The official cause of death was shock of injuries after a fall.

12336361_219965588334577_1176301603_nYANAC NORTH



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.


12336144_219926611671808_1519549590_nA shocking disclosures was made in connection with the Geelong Gaol. A few weeks ago several prisoners attempted to commit suicide. One succeeded, but others were, prevented just’ in time, and were afterwards sentenced to further imprisonment for the attempts. Among these was a young man named Giammill. who on this day in 1901 battered his head in a frightful fashion with an iron pannikin. He was stopped before he had mortally injured him self. Another prisoner, named Hassett, a lifer, who has already sowed years, and is employed in the dispensary, stole a mixture of belladonna, arsenic, and opium’, and swallowed it. As the warders entered he threatened to stab anybody with a spike he had secured if interfered with. He finally sank to the ground, and strong emetics were given to him. It was alleged that unmentionable crimes have lately taken place in tho gaol. The prisoners were afraid they would be charged with complicity, and therefore attempted suicide. A full inquiry was demanded by the residents.


Alexander Avenue

Alexander Avenue



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.

George Devitt

George Devitt

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.

Wife Murder

At Albert Park on the 18th November 1896, a young man named Alexander Quinn, aged twenty-three, an ex-warder at the Ararat Lunatic Asylum, shot his wife dead, and then attempted to commit suicide, but, failing to take his own life, be gave himself up at the police station. It would appear from Quinn’s statement that, being without work or means, he and his wife proceeded to Albert Park with the intention of committing a double suicide. Mrs. Quinn who was twenty-five years of age, took a revolver, and attempted to put a bullet through her head, but failed; whereupon her husband took the weapon and shot her dead. He then tied to shot himself, but did not succeed, He then sought to drown himself in the Albert Park lake, and, again failing to put an end to his life, he proceeded to the police station and reported the matter. In his possession were found two marriage certificates