Real Life

Remembering Anita Cobby thirty years on

The Sydney nurse was abducted, raped and murdered in one of the most ghastly crimes to ever be prosecuted in Australia.

Anita Lorraine Cobby was just 26-years-old when she caught the train from Sydney’s Central station destined for her parent’s home in Sydney’s West but, she would never make it.
The Sydney nurse was abducted, raped and murdered in one of the most ghastly crimes to ever be prosecuted in Australia.
The details of the case are these: On the evening of February 2, 1986, registered nurse Anita Cobby was abducted close to Blacktown train station by five men who repeatedly beat, raped and tortured her before finally slitting her throat and killing her in a nearby Prospect paddock.
When Cobby’s body was discovered gruesomely battered and almost decapitated by a local farmer on February 4 the nation was terrified and the suburb of Blacktown was out for blood. Who had done this to the former beauty queen?
Police were on the hunt for who was responsible and 22 days after Anita was abducted five men were taken into custody. John Travers, was arrested 19 days after the crime and was the suspected ringleader of the group.
Travers proved to be a sadistic perpetrator with a violent history, including committing acts of bestiality where he was known to have sexual intercourse with animals before slitting their throats.
Michael Murdoch was a childhood friend and criminal associate of Travers and had spent part of his childhood in juvenile prisons. The arrest of the Murphy brothers was a sickening part of the case.
The three brothers, Michael, Gary and Les came from a family of nine children and had a history of criminal activity. All five men were found guilty of the crime and during the sentencing in 1987 the judge recommended their files be marked “never to be released”.
It became clear that the five men who committed the vicious crime not only took away Anita’s life, they destroyed the life’s of those who loved her.
This Tuesday marks the 30-year anniversary of her murder and for the first time since she died her husband, John Cobby, has spoken out about his late wife and the guilt he feels about it.
"I should have been there with her," Mr Cobby told The Daily Telegraph, saying he still blames himself after all these years.
Although the pair were newly separated at the time of Anita’s death Mr Cobby said he spoke to his wife shortly before she was killed.
"I rang her on the Sunday morning and I asked if she wanted to be picked up from work but she told me she had already organised going to dinner with some friends and to stay with her parents," Mr Cobby said.
"I blamed myself for her dying and still do.”
Mr Cobby’s guilt, while unwarranted is understandable – her end was so monstrous who wouldn’t be tortured with hypotheticals about how things could have been different?
Written on her headstone the words 'her light shines forever' adorn Anita Cobby's grave and this year her family want to move away from the dark past and remember the light the young, vibrant woman brought while she was alive.
On the anniversary of Anitia’s death this year her family will begin fundraising for Grace's Place, “a world-first residential trauma recovery service for children after homicide,” reports AAP.
The centre will reportedly honour Ms Cobby's memory, and the work of her family in supporting homicide victims' families.
“Dedicating this anniversary and focusing on Grace's Place is what we decided to do, rather than dwell on any negative aspect,” said Kathryn Szyszka, Anita’s sister told AAP.
“It won't be a sad occasion. I like to look at these things as more of a celebration of Anita's life.”
Ms Cobby would now be 56.

read more from