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ON THIS DAY….. 10th July 1926

When Bertha Elizabeth Ross (33) was charged, in the Criminal Court with having attempted to murder William Woods, builder and contractor, on July 10, Mr.. W, S. Sproule, for the Crown, suggested that there were two probable motives. In the first place they had been living on intimate terms for six years, and Woods had ordered her out of the house after a quarrel. Secondly; there was a will made by Woods in favour of the accused woman and her children. She may have wished to hasten Woods’s death to acquire the benefits. Mr. Sproule, outlining tie case, said after the woman was ordered out of the house she took the furniture away, but returned several times. On July 10 she entered the house at Thornbury and passed the safe, on which Woods kept a cup and some bicarbonate of soda, which he took after meals. Woods later took some of the mixture, leaving half of it in the cup, as it tasted bitter. He became very ill, but after being treated at hospital, had the contents of the cup examined. It contained grains of strychnine, which had not dissolved enough to make the solution fatal.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 17, 1980

The fact the killer used a knife from Ms James’s kitchen to stab her 68 times suggests he didn’t come armed.

Fitzroy town clerk John James was listening on the telephone when his former wife was attacked by the killer in her Thornbury bookshop about noon on June 17, 1980.

She had a good relationship with her former husband and often rang him if she needed assistance with something, or wanted to talk to him about their two sons Mark and Adam.  Ms James rang Fitzroy Town Hall about 11.50am on the day she died and tried to speak to John James.  She was told by her former husband’s secretary, Isabella Fabris, that he was not at his desk.

Ms James said: “There’s someone in the shop. Tell him to ring me.”  Her former husband rang her back about five minutes later.  “Maria answered the phone and said `hang on please’,” Mr James said in his statement to police.  “I then held on and while doing this I heard discussion in the background and then a bit of a scream and then there was more discussion and then silence.  “I then started to get edgy and started to whistle into the phone to attract someone’s attention.  “I could then still hear the conversation in the background and I couldn’t hear the exact words but Maria was talking fairly loudly.  “I then heard a second scream. I then really thought something was wrong so I decided to go to the shop to see what was up.”

Mr James took about 15 minutes to get to the shop at 736 High St, Thornbury.

The front door was locked and a customer was standing outside.

Mr James and the customer looked through the window and both saw movement of the curtain that separated the shop from the rear living quarters, as though somebody was peeking through it.  Really worried by this time, Mr James went round the back and climbed through the kitchen window and started yelling, “Is anybody home?”  He opened the back door in case he needed to run out in a hurry.

“I then crept along the passage and on the left is my son’s room and I glanced in there and couldn’t see anything,” his statement to police said.  “I then reached over and turned the light on in her room and I saw her on the floor.  “Her eyes were open and there was blood all over the place. I knew she was dead.”

Mr James ran to a neighbour and phoned police.

He then went back to the front of the shop and was stunned to find the previously locked door was open and there was a woman customer browsing the bookshelves.  It appears certain the killer was still in the shop when Mr James arrived and left through the front door as Mr James was climbing in through the back window.

The killer left Ms James, fully clothed, lying on her back with her hands tied in front of her with twine.

ON THIS DAY – October 7, 1938

 

At the City Court to-day two men appeared on murder charges. John Anderson (18), radio worker, of Thornbury, was charged with having murdered Irene Muriel Bowden (19), of Thornbury, on October 7, at Cockatoo, and he was remanded until October 24. Miss Bowden was found dead in the scrub at Emerald after a statement had been made to the police by a young man.

 

 

On This Day – September 24, 1954

 

A fight in a Bacchus Marsh cafe on September 24 last, and the subsequent running down of a 23-year-old man, had its sequel in the Criminal Court today when two brothers from Thornbury and a Northcote youth were charged with murder.

The three charged are Frederick Charles Clark, 22, labourer, Herbert Ernest Clark, 21, labourer, both of Gooch Street, Thornbury, and Thomas Allan Rowe, 20, labourer, of Northcote.

They pleaded not guilty to the murder at Bacchus Marsh of Eric John Trotter, 23, tool-maker, of Sunshine.

Opening the Crown case, Mr H. A. Winneke, KC, said that Trotter had been knocked by a motor car driven by Frederick Clark, with Herbert Clark and Rowe as passengers.

Mr Winneke said that Trotter and two friends named, Allan and Showell had set out in a small Morris car for a Sunday in the country.

Trotter died soon after he and one of his two companions were knocked down by a Ford sedan car, allegedly containing the three accused, following a cafe brawl with the three accused.

They had arrived in Bacchus Marsh at 8 p.m. and had had three drinks at the Border Inn Hotel, before going to a cafe where they met the three accused “who had been drinking freely.”

A fight had started and Trotter and his companions had left and had then gone up the street. As Allan was turning the car round Herbert Clark and Rowe came along-side and smashed in the side curtains.

Mr Winneke said that one of the accused men had been heard to call out: “Wait on . . I’ll get the car and chase them.” Near a turn out of the town Allan had stopped the Morris because he was having difficulty with the cut on the side of his face.

Allan got out on the driving side under the light and the other two came round to inspect his face.  Meanwhile Frederick Clark had turned the Ford and the other two accused got in to chase the Morris.

A witness had heard one of the accused say: “Hurry on. We’ll run the . . off the road.” Mr Winneke said that Trotter was inspecting Allan’s eye when the Ford came along at a high speed and swerved in close. It had hit both men, crashed into the right hand side of the Morris and then swerved across to the other side of the road and hit a post. The three men had got out of the car and escaped.

Trotter, who had received a brain injury, two broken legs and a broken arm, had died 15 minutes after being admitted to the Bacchus Marsh Hospital.

The next morning Frederick Clark had been captured on the Western Highway and the other two had been caught later at Melton Station.

ON THIS DAY….. 10th July 1926

When Bertha Elizabeth Ross (33) was charged, in the Criminal Court with having attempted to murder William Woods, builder and contractor, on July 10, Mr.. W, S. Sproule, for the Crown, suggested that there were two probable motives. In the first place they had been living on intimate terms for six years, and Woods had ordered her out of the house after a quarrel. Secondly; there was a will made by Woods in favour of the accused woman and her children. She may have wished to hasten Woods’s death to acquire the benefits. Mr. Sproule, outlining tie case, said after the woman was ordered out of the house she took the furniture away, but returned several times. On July 10 she entered the house at Thornbury and passed the safe, on which Woods kept a cup and some bicarbonate of soda, which he took after meals. Woods later took some of the mixture, leaving half of it in the cup, as it tasted bitter. He became very ill, but after being treated at hospital, had the contents of the cup examined. It contained grains of strychnine, which had not dissolved enough to make the solution fatal.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 17, 1980

The fact the killer used a knife from Ms James’s kitchen to stab her 68 times suggests he didn’t come armed.

Fitzroy town clerk John James was listening on the telephone when his former wife was attacked by the killer in her Thornbury bookshop about noon on June 17, 1980.

She had a good relationship with her former husband and often rang him if she needed assistance with something, or wanted to talk to him about their two sons Mark and Adam.  Ms James rang Fitzroy Town Hall about 11.50am on the day she died and tried to speak to John James.  She was told by her former husband’s secretary, Isabella Fabris, that he was not at his desk.

Ms James said: “There’s someone in the shop. Tell him to ring me.”  Her former husband rang her back about five minutes later.  “Maria answered the phone and said `hang on please’,” Mr James said in his statement to police.  “I then held on and while doing this I heard discussion in the background and then a bit of a scream and then there was more discussion and then silence.  “I then started to get edgy and started to whistle into the phone to attract someone’s attention.  “I could then still hear the conversation in the background and I couldn’t hear the exact words but Maria was talking fairly loudly.  “I then heard a second scream. I then really thought something was wrong so I decided to go to the shop to see what was up.”

Mr James took about 15 minutes to get to the shop at 736 High St, Thornbury.

The front door was locked and a customer was standing outside.

Mr James and the customer looked through the window and both saw movement of the curtain that separated the shop from the rear living quarters, as though somebody was peeking through it.  Really worried by this time, Mr James went round the back and climbed through the kitchen window and started yelling, “Is anybody home?”  He opened the back door in case he needed to run out in a hurry.

“I then crept along the passage and on the left is my son’s room and I glanced in there and couldn’t see anything,” his statement to police said.  “I then reached over and turned the light on in her room and I saw her on the floor.  “Her eyes were open and there was blood all over the place. I knew she was dead.”

Mr James ran to a neighbour and phoned police.

He then went back to the front of the shop and was stunned to find the previously locked door was open and there was a woman customer browsing the bookshelves.  It appears certain the killer was still in the shop when Mr James arrived and left through the front door as Mr James was climbing in through the back window.

The killer left Ms James, fully clothed, lying on her back with her hands tied in front of her with twine.

ON THIS DAY – October 7, 1938

 

At the City Court to-day two men appeared on murder charges. John Anderson (18), radio worker, of Thornbury, was charged with having murdered Irene Muriel Bowden (19), of Thornbury, on October 7, at Cockatoo, and he was remanded until October 24. Miss Bowden was found dead in the scrub at Emerald after a statement had been made to the police by a young man.

 

 

On This Day – September 24, 1954

 

A fight in a Bacchus Marsh cafe on September 24 last, and the subsequent running down of a 23-year-old man, had its sequel in the Criminal Court today when two brothers from Thornbury and a Northcote youth were charged with murder.

The three charged are Frederick Charles Clark, 22, labourer, Herbert Ernest Clark, 21, labourer, both of Gooch Street, Thornbury, and Thomas Allan Rowe, 20, labourer, of Northcote.

They pleaded not guilty to the murder at Bacchus Marsh of Eric John Trotter, 23, tool-maker, of Sunshine.

Opening the Crown case, Mr H. A. Winneke, KC, said that Trotter had been knocked by a motor car driven by Frederick Clark, with Herbert Clark and Rowe as passengers.

Mr Winneke said that Trotter and two friends named, Allan and Showell had set out in a small Morris car for a Sunday in the country.

Trotter died soon after he and one of his two companions were knocked down by a Ford sedan car, allegedly containing the three accused, following a cafe brawl with the three accused.

They had arrived in Bacchus Marsh at 8 p.m. and had had three drinks at the Border Inn Hotel, before going to a cafe where they met the three accused “who had been drinking freely.”

A fight had started and Trotter and his companions had left and had then gone up the street. As Allan was turning the car round Herbert Clark and Rowe came along-side and smashed in the side curtains.

Mr Winneke said that one of the accused men had been heard to call out: “Wait on . . I’ll get the car and chase them.” Near a turn out of the town Allan had stopped the Morris because he was having difficulty with the cut on the side of his face.

Allan got out on the driving side under the light and the other two came round to inspect his face.  Meanwhile Frederick Clark had turned the Ford and the other two accused got in to chase the Morris.

A witness had heard one of the accused say: “Hurry on. We’ll run the . . off the road.” Mr Winneke said that Trotter was inspecting Allan’s eye when the Ford came along at a high speed and swerved in close. It had hit both men, crashed into the right hand side of the Morris and then swerved across to the other side of the road and hit a post. The three men had got out of the car and escaped.

Trotter, who had received a brain injury, two broken legs and a broken arm, had died 15 minutes after being admitted to the Bacchus Marsh Hospital.

The next morning Frederick Clark had been captured on the Western Highway and the other two had been caught later at Melton Station.

ON THIS DAY….. 10th July 1926

When Bertha Elizabeth Ross (33) was charged, in the Criminal Court with having attempted to murder William Woods, builder and contractor, on July 10, Mr.. W, S. Sproule, for the Crown, suggested that there were two probable motives. In the first place they had been living on intimate terms for six years, and Woods had ordered her out of the house after a quarrel. Secondly; there was a will made by Woods in favour of the accused woman and her children. She may have wished to hasten Woods’s death to acquire the benefits. Mr. Sproule, outlining tie case, said after the woman was ordered out of the house she took the furniture away, but returned several times. On July 10 she entered the house at Thornbury and passed the safe, on which Woods kept a cup and some bicarbonate of soda, which he took after meals. Woods later took some of the mixture, leaving half of it in the cup, as it tasted bitter. He became very ill, but after being treated at hospital, had the contents of the cup examined. It contained grains of strychnine, which had not dissolved enough to make the solution fatal.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 17, 1980

The fact the killer used a knife from Ms James’s kitchen to stab her 68 times suggests he didn’t come armed.

Fitzroy town clerk John James was listening on the telephone when his former wife was attacked by the killer in her Thornbury bookshop about noon on June 17, 1980.

She had a good relationship with her former husband and often rang him if she needed assistance with something, or wanted to talk to him about their two sons Mark and Adam.  Ms James rang Fitzroy Town Hall about 11.50am on the day she died and tried to speak to John James.  She was told by her former husband’s secretary, Isabella Fabris, that he was not at his desk.

Ms James said: “There’s someone in the shop. Tell him to ring me.”  Her former husband rang her back about five minutes later.  “Maria answered the phone and said `hang on please’,” Mr James said in his statement to police.  “I then held on and while doing this I heard discussion in the background and then a bit of a scream and then there was more discussion and then silence.  “I then started to get edgy and started to whistle into the phone to attract someone’s attention.  “I could then still hear the conversation in the background and I couldn’t hear the exact words but Maria was talking fairly loudly.  “I then heard a second scream. I then really thought something was wrong so I decided to go to the shop to see what was up.”

Mr James took about 15 minutes to get to the shop at 736 High St, Thornbury.

The front door was locked and a customer was standing outside.

Mr James and the customer looked through the window and both saw movement of the curtain that separated the shop from the rear living quarters, as though somebody was peeking through it.  Really worried by this time, Mr James went round the back and climbed through the kitchen window and started yelling, “Is anybody home?”  He opened the back door in case he needed to run out in a hurry.

“I then crept along the passage and on the left is my son’s room and I glanced in there and couldn’t see anything,” his statement to police said.  “I then reached over and turned the light on in her room and I saw her on the floor.  “Her eyes were open and there was blood all over the place. I knew she was dead.”

Mr James ran to a neighbour and phoned police.

He then went back to the front of the shop and was stunned to find the previously locked door was open and there was a woman customer browsing the bookshelves.  It appears certain the killer was still in the shop when Mr James arrived and left through the front door as Mr James was climbing in through the back window.

The killer left Ms James, fully clothed, lying on her back with her hands tied in front of her with twine.