Real Life

The Aussie cases we can’t forget

Australia has been gripped by some shocking crime stories that are forever etched in our minds and are now part of our folklore...

By Lorna Gray

Serial Killer, Eric Edgar Cooke ‘The Night Caller’

He came calling in an age 
when Perth was like a quiet country town and people slept with their doors unlocked.

Eric Edgar Cooke, known as 
“The Night Caller”, terrorised Perth in the ’60s with a series of random killings that baffled police.

On the evening of Australia Day 1963, Cooke randomly shot five people, killing three. Some died as he robbed their homes, another was shot at point-blank range when they opened the door to his knock.

When Cooke wasn’t shooting, he was strangling. By the time he was arrested, he’d killed eight people and attempted to murder 14 others.

The married father of seven 
was described as affable and charismatic, so when he was arrested on Father’s Day in 1963, his family were shocked.

Cooke, 33, who had a distinctive cleft palate, was the last person to be hanged in Perth, on October 26, 1964. He also confessed to two other murders that two innocent men were serving time for.

It was later discovered Cooke also made a hobby of stealing cars and running down random women. Several were left disabled.

Credit: XXX.
Credit: XXX.

The Family Murders

Five young men are taken from the streets of Adelaide, drugged, held prisoner for days, some weeks, subjected to agonising and prolonged sexual torture then brutally murdered.

The perpetrators of these horrific crimes that sent fear through the nation between 1979 and 1983 were known as The Family. They were said to be a group of close knit men who were supposedly pillars of society in high powered positions.

An eastern suburbs businessman, a prominent physician and members of the legal community were among the suspects of the crimes against these boys, most who were in their teens.

The final victim, Richard Kelvin, 15, drew more attention to the case as he was the son of popular Channel 9 News Reader, Rob Kelvin. Richard had been abducted right near his home. He was held for five weeks and subjected to the most unspeakable degradations and sexual torture.

Despite police believing a possible 12 people, several high profile Australians were involved in the crimes, four of the five murders remain unsolved.
Only one suspect has been convicted, Bevan Spencer von Einem, an Adelaide accountant, for Richard Kelvin’s murder.

The Disappearance Of Azaria Chamberlain

A young mother’s frantic call into the night, “A dingo’s got my baby!” hit a chord not only in Australia, but around the world.

The mother, Lindy Chamberlain, and her pastor husband Michael became household names in 1980 when their nine-week-old daughter Azaria went missing in the shadow of Uluru in the Northern Territory.

And although it was later found 
no crime had been committed, 
the disappearance led to one of the country’s most intense murder investigations.

Lindy and Michael were plunged into a nightmare when false rumours began to fly about their baby’s disappearance and they were quickly labelled “child killers”.

In what was the most publicised trial in Australian history, Lindy was sentenced to life in prison in 1982 for murder and Michael was convicted as an accessory 
and given a suspended sentence.

Lindy had always said Azaria was wearing a matinee jacket, and when it was found at the base of Uluru in 1986, Lindy was immediately released from prison. 
In 2012 a fourth coronial inquest found that baby Azaria had indeed been taken by a dingo.

Lindy and Michael fought for years to have their names cleared and were later exonerated. Sadly Michael died on January 9 this year without getting the NT apology he so desperately wanted.

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