News

Episode 3: The Queen Street Massacre – Not an Ordinary Day

It was an ordinary Tuesday when the unimaginable happened, it was only 17 minutes.  True crime writer Ruth Wykes relives the Queen St Massacre on Crimes That Shook Australia.  Imagine this: it’s an ordinary Tuesday in December 1987 and you’re in your office on the 11th floor of a high rise building in Melbourne’s CBD. You’re looking forward to…Read more

Secret, Silent and Violent – The American Mafia

The Sicilian and Italian American Mafia are well known examples of organised crime syndicates that have operated in the USA since at least the 1920’s. Often known locally as the Cosa Nostra these organisations have had a major influence on the structure of American crime, notably during the period of Prohibition in America that extended…Read more

Evil Killers

Murders, together with the individuals who commit them are a regular feature of the daily news and to a certain extend the general public has been desensitised to them. However there are isolated cases where the violence, depravity and utter perversion of the murderers is so extreme that they become personifications of evil and their…Read more

Bad Parenting or Bad Person? The Ed Gein Story

On 16 November 1957 police were notified that a local hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, of Plainfield, Wisconsin, had disappeared, and investigations revealed that the cash register in the store had been opened and bloodstains were discovered on the floor. A local man, farmer Ed Gein, had been seen in the store the evening before, so he…Read more

The Most Notorious – Headline Killers

In the long list of murders that take place around the world each year, certain types of killings attract the most public attention – and the headlines. Those of serial killers, individuals who murder three or more people, always generate massive public interest. “Son of Sam”, whose real name was David Berkowitz shot and killed…Read more

Murder or Justifiable Homicide? – The Menendez Brothers

One of the more contentious issues in criminal law is that of justifiable homicide – a defence sometimes used to explain the killing of an individual and thereby reduce the degree of guilt for the perpetrator. The most obvious example is that of self-defence when the victim has posed a direct physical threat to the…Read more

The Incomprehensible – Children who Kill

Murder is a crime that deeply shocks the general community, but when the perpetrator is a child this sense of shock and outrage is magnified enormously. The incidents where children who kill are tremendously difficult to understand, not only for the community, but also lawmakers, psychologists and the legal system that has to grapple with…Read more

Episode 2: Bega Schoolgirl Murders – End of Innocence

  You only have to watch Nathan Barry talk for a few minutes to understand the real impact of murder on victim’s families, writes true crime writer Ruth Wykes. The landscape felt familiar to me. When the camera lingered on a campfire in a forest near Bega, journalist Matt Doran took us back to a…Read more

Crimes That Shook Australia Episode 1: Snowtown – A World of Waste

The Snowtown murders were a saga of torture, murder and toxic masculine culture. True crime writer Ruth Wykes recaps Episode 1 and investigates the killer mindset of John Bunting.  It seems odd that despite John Bunting being one of Australia’s most dangerous serial killers his name is rarely spoken in the same breath as Ivan Milat…Read more

Nightmare on Narella Street – The Marian Majka Murders

At around 7.30 am on 18th February 1957 Constable John Strickfuss was preparing to depart for work from his house in Narella Street, Cannon Hill, a suburb of Brisbane.  Suddenly he heard the sound of shots erupt from a house further down Narella Street followed by a plume of smoke emerging from the windows. He ran to…Read more

The Case of the Missing Body – Patricia Byers

In 1990 Queensland police were called in to investigate the whereabouts of a missing man, Carel Gottgens, with foul play suspected. Blood, believed to be that Gottgens, was found in his bedroom but a forensic investigation was inconclusive. Gottgen’s partner of eight years, Patricia Byers, denied all knowledge of his whereabouts and no body was ever…Read more

South Australia’s Most Infamous

Despite having only around 7% of Australia’s population South Australia has been the scene of some of Australia’s most notorious murders. Adelaide, in particular, was dubbed  “the murder capital of the world” by a UK media group in 2002. Crime statistics have revealed that this claim is totally baseless. However several South Australian crimes are…Read more

Nature or Nurture: The Milat Family

On 20 November 2010, three teenagers lured 17 year-old David Auchterlonie into the Belanglo State Forest of NSW under the pretence of hanging out, and drinking and smoking cannabis. Instead, one of the youths, Matthew Milat, took to David with an axe and killed him with the murder recorded on a mobile phone. During the recording it…Read more

Death by Hotshot – The Murder of Joe Cinque

On October 26 1997, an ambulance team were called to a Canberra dinner party where a male was believed to be gravely ill. They found him dead from what they thought to be a cardiac arrest. His name was Joe Cinque. A subsequent investigation found high levels of Rohypnol and heroin in his body, and…Read more

The Eleven Who Went to Heaven

In the 1970’s communities around Galveston Texas were horrified by the murder of eleven teenage girls in the local area. Massive investigations followed, but the police failed to identify the killer, or killers involved, and the murders quietly slipped into the status of cold cases. Then, in a sensational development in 1998, authorities received letters…Read more

Drug fuelled confession made in missing Natalee Holloway case

The Dutch journalist Peter de Vries sparked renewed interest in the case of missing American student, Natalee Holloway, when he released footage of what he claims to be a drug-fueled admission of guilt, on the part of a key suspect in the case. Joran van der Sloot, one of the last people to be seen…Read more

Sixth and final fatal assassination attempt on Gandhi

30 January 1948 was the day on which the world lost one of its greatest politicians and figureheads. ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi, the man who brought the destructive effects of South African apartheid to the world’s attention, who led India to independence from Britain, and who set an example of successful peaceful protest and progress for all to follow,…Read more

Charlie Starkweather and Caril Fugate arrested

Inspired by his idol, James Dean, fame hungry 15-year-old Charlie Starkweather took a less extravagant route to celebrity status by becoming a murder. His killings eventually inspired a slew of films, including Terrence Malick’s cinematic masterpiece Badlands, and Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay for Natural Born Killers. Both ironically dealing with the media’s obsessions over mass-murders. Killing…Read more

Mistrial declared over Menendez brothers murder of their parents

The pair had lived through uncomfortable, if somewhat restrictive childhoods, with their father José, supposedly a powerful and domineering character at the head of the household. On the 20 August 1989, they entered their family home through a rear door and fatally shot both their father and their mother, Kitty. They ran out of ammunition during…Read more

Female serial killer Aileen Wuornos convicted of murdering rapist

On the same day that Mike Tyson, former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, stood trial for raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant, the less star studded trial of serial killer Aileen Wuornos came to a conclusion. No one had raised the fact that her first victim was a convicted rapist. She may have definitely…Read more