E160: The Gatton Tragedy Pt. 2 - Australias Murphy Family Murders
I'm vanessa richardson introducing a new podcast original today in true crime today he is tuesday august twentieth two thousand nineteen on this day in nineteen sixty six the bodies of two brazilian electricians missions manuel bed ada crews and miguel josiah viana were found atop vin tame hill in the rio de janeiro suburb of of nita roy. What made this discovery so notorious was. The strange lead masks covering the dead. Men's is giving giving this incident. The colloquial name of the lead masks case today and true crime is podcast cast new daily show that relives the biggest true crime events from each day in history. Don't miss today's full episode follow today in true true crime for free on spotify and anywhere you listen to podcasts now due to the graphic nature of this case listener discretion is advised this episode includes dramatization and discussions of murder and assault that some people may find offensive. We advise extreme caution for children under thirteen jesus. It's just too boy fifteen years old. He's been dead awhile. A single bullet was fired through his right ear and the pony shot in the forehead while taking a drink sound familiar too familiar. What about the feet pointing to west just like the murphy's. How could we have overlooked this. He's been missing for over a month. Do we have anything a couple of witnesses. Witnesses saw drifter coming through here about a month ago. One claims they saw him with a shiny revolver any idea where he went. We know someone who does. We just have to make him talk this. This is unsolved murders true crime stories on the podcast network. I'm your host carter. Roy and i'm your host wendy mckenzie you can find episodes of unsolved unsolved murders and all other podcast originals for free on spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to stream unsolved murders for free on spotify just to open the app tap browse type unsolved murders in the search bar. This is our final episode on the gatt murders. Three mysterious slayings committed ed near the town of gotten australia in eighteen ninety eight last week. We covered the background of the murders and the discovery of the first crime scene this week week. We'll discuss the disastrous police investigation that followed and the increasing tension and the gap in community new episode comes out every tuesday you can also find us on facebook and instagram at par cast and on twitter at park cast network if you enjoy the podcast the best way to help us to leave a five if star review wherever you're listening it really does help on the morning of december twenty seventh eighteen ninety eight three siblings mick nora and ellen murphy were found dead outside the town of gatt australia all three had their hands bound and were beaten viciously prior to their deaths. There were signs that they had been sexually assaulted. Two bodies were discovered every by their brother in law william mcneill. He went out searching for the siblings when they did not arrive home from a dance the previous night after leading police sergeant in arizona the crime scene william went to break the news to his inlaws. It was a particularly unpleasant task as he had a rocky relationship with the elder murphy's they were strictly irish catholic and disapproved of his protestant faith when their eldest daughter polly had married william two years was prior. They disowned her and had only recently accepted her back into the family. Along with william nevertheless william rushed from the scene of the murder backed act the murphy family farm about a forty five minute ride. He arrive close to eleven in the morning. Oh there you are mcneil. Do you want any eggs there a little cold but they're good. No thank you mrs murphy. Did you find the children. I swear when they get here. They're in for the whooping of a lifetime. We'll yes. Yes i found them. What's the matter you look awful mic nora ellen. They're they're all dead. It looks like there was an accident or something. I found them in mourns pasture. I got all three of them. Mom what's going on. Oh fail. It's horrible my mcneil. The dead pill such a mess. You never saw all your life upon hearing the news. One of the elder murphy sons bill road wrote out to a distant patch of farmland to find his father. After mr murphy was told his children were dead. It took the old man almost a half an hour to recover over when he was finally able to mount his horse. Yes bill if his children had been shot. The only other thing he said on the long ride back home was that he was glad they had all gone to mass on christmas. Day is bill in his father returned home. William took mrs murphy in the family buggy to the marin pasture. The bodies were found to speak to the police. However sergeant arrow was no longer at the crime scene. He started investigating the crime scene at ten a._m. But left after only thirty minutes apparently in his rush to leave the station he had forgotten his notebook. He needed to head back to get in to retrieve shreve the notebook and also to report the murders to his superiors. Before he left he asked to of the townsfolk who had accompanied him to the pasture a blacksmith smith named wilson and a man named of it to make sure nobody got near the bodies then he galloped off towards town back in gadston sergeant errol picked picked up his notebook and went to the telegraph office there he meant to send a report to the police commissioner and request the help of an indigenous australian tracker. You're one of a group of professionals who were often employed by european colonists to navigate the bush and fine missing persons however for all his haste i sergeant errol's messages were held up at the telegraph office. At the time low priority telegraphs could be delayed by the station master's if if they felt other messages were more important or if other messages were first in line in order to cut through the wait times a person could have their telegraphs smart urgent ensuring that messages about important matters could be relaid from station to station as quickly as possible however urgent telegrams. M.'s cost double the standard rate errol requested that his report be sent an urgent rate however the stationmaster and gavin insisted that errol pay the extra costs on naturally. The stationmaster was incorrect. Police were authorized by law to mark telegrams as urgent for free. An arrow insisted that was the case the two argued back and forth for some time and inexplicably errol allowed himself to be cowed by the stationmaster russian master of course rather than pay the fee out of pocket herald decided to send the telegram at an ordinary rate sergent era waited at the office for half an hour but received no reply he hurried back to the crime scene unsurprisingly by the time he got there at approximately a quarter your past noon this scene had all been obliterated news of the murders had spread like wildfire through the town and the massive crowd had gathered around the bodies wilson endeavour had done their best to hold the people back but the onlookers paid them no mind. They trampled the area surrounding the bodies. He's making sure that any tracks that may have been left behind by the killer. Were thoroughly erased. Even when aero returned the crowd refused to listen to the reason they stepped back at his orders but would rian coach on the scene. The second he turned away upon his second inspection era found clues he had missed before four there were traces of semen nora and ellen's undergarments and a large branch covered in blood was found near the surrounding trees. The branch was so heavy aerial found difficult to lift above his head while era finished his second examination william and mrs murphy arrived at the pasture. I mrs murphy brought sheets to cover her children's bodies. She begged sergeant aerial to remove the partially undressed bodies from public view by now so at least forty people had congregated around the scene and none were willing to stay back a respectful distance errol wanted to wait for a doctor to arrive before he moved the bodies but eventually mrs murphy's tearful requests combined with the crowds insubordination became too much for him in a moment of supreme cream frustration aero finally agreed to move the bodies nora and ellen were placed in the murphy buggy and mic was laid in another cart. The sergeant remained at the scene and turned his attention to tom. The murphys dead horse. He could tell it had been shot in the forehead. The hair of its main was singed by the gunshot in order to figure out what kind of bullet had been used to shoot the horse. Tom was caught into smaller pieces with arrows supervision. Asian laborers carry the segments to the slaughterhouse outside of town. The horse parts were then boiled down at the end of the boiling process. A single thirty eight caliber bullet was found likely fired from a revolver meanwhile the elder murphy's were comforted by their friends at the brian baru hotel while the local undertaker helped transport the bodies but though so members of the community tried to help others started to spread gossip for for instance the son of the undertaker. William miller was carrying coffins past the hotel when he claimed over here daniel murphy talking to the hotel owner in another man about his children. Have you any idea who did the deed. I do jesus. Are you not afraid to say that. I will not say it to anyone else. I don't want anymore. Lives lost over the affair. Are you sure what was that charlie. Miller ran off immediately to tell his father about the conversation according to him. It sounded like daniel murphy had been drinking a little riddle stories like this led to later speculation about possible hidden motives of the killer or killers. There are reasons to believe. Mr and mrs murphy knew something about the deaths of their children even though it was never proven for example. It's odd that mrs murphy didn't ask any questions when when william told her that the children were dead the only thing mr murphy asked was whether or not they had been shot. They were certainly aggrieved by the deaths but they seemed seemed curiously uninterested in catching the killer. The reactions of the murphy siblings also support this idea the last one to learn the murders was danny murphy a constable who lived in brisbane. Danny received a telegram informing him of the deaths. At twelve thirty pm on december twenty seventh it i i thought it was a cruel joke and went to the telegraph office to verify that the message was real. Once it was confirmed. Danny was overcome by grief. He was overheard to say that the murderer must be a member of his own family. According to danny no one else could have done it with his mind still reeling from the news. Danny requested leave to visit his family. His request quest was passed up the ladder but it stalled at the topmost rung inspector urquhart. The head of the criminal investigation branch of the australian police believed the telegram from gaitan was a hoax later erker would blame a sergeant masterson who spoke to him right after the telegram was received sergeant masterson persson apparently believed the telegram was fake for an unspecified reason erker took his word for it in left for a two hour lunch when he returned to the station he was told there had been no updates on the case why he wasn't told about danny. Murphy's request for leave at this point is unclear. Burkart went back home after spending another hour at the station just as he got home around four fifteen pm a constable caught up to them at at this point was finally told danny murphy had confirmed the telegrams validity and was requesting leave. No other superior officer was available to grant him permission. Clearly the department was not what you'd call. A will oiled machine. Inspector urquhart gave his permission but then despite being asked to immediately immediately returned to his office. He stayed home for another couple of hours and had dinner with his family. It wasn't until seven pm that he returned to his office and it was nine pm by the time. He informed the police commissioner of the crime. The original telegram had been sent from getting at eleven o'clock that morning on by now all tracks around the crime scene had been raced experienced. Police officers were heading to the scene of full day late and detailed questioning had yet to be carried out but the bungling of the case had only just begun. We'll delve deeper into the disastrous astra's murder investigation after this. I like to use the best ingredients when it comes to cooking but but when it came to my daughter and i wasn't a strict so i told myself i'd look for clean ingredients for my body. I tried dozens of natural deodorants but nothing seemed to work worked for me. The either never addressed the odor issue or they would only work for a couple of hours then i found native my skin is very sensitive. My other yoder torrance used to clogged pores and i'd get bumps in my underarm. Since i switched to natives coconut and vanilla scented deodorant. I haven't had that problem and this problem dated dated back for years. I know that i'll never go back to regular deodorant anymore. If you're wondering whether you should try native. I highly recommend it. I'm confident that you'll be so impressed that you'll never go back if you somehow don't like it native offers free returns and exchanges in the u._s. For twenty percent off your first purchase visit native deodorant dot com and use promo code unsolved during checkout that's native deodorant dot com and promo macoute unsolved during checkout for twenty percent off your first purchase birthdays anniversaries holidays. These are the important dates. Most people tend to remember but the podcast network remembers important dates in true crime history every day. The podcast original today and true crime takes you back to the big events in true crime that happened each day in history ustry whether the crime is infamous or just plain interesting. There's a crime story for every day of the year august thirty first eighteen eighty eight jack black. The ripper commits his first murder october third nineteen ninety-five o._j. Simpson is acquitted nineteenth. Two thousand seventeen cult leader charles manson dies today in true crime is park. Has i daily true crime podcast. You no longer have to wait for weeks to get your true crime fix with new episodes each day. You'll never run out of true. Crime content again. Crime never takes a day off and now they're just park asked follow follow today and true crime for free on spotify and anywhere else you listen to podcasts now back to the story mic nora and ellen murphy were brutally murdered on the night of december twenty sixth eighteen ninety eight from the very beginning of the investigation when police were communicating poorly and making many mistakes these mistakes continued when police sergeant errol called a doctor to the town of gettin australia korea to perform the autopsies in the early afternoon. Dr von las berg arrived in the small town by train on because gotten was too small mall to have its own doctor von loss berg came from the nearby city of ipswich took him some time to find the bodies of the victims they had been move move to a room in the brian baru hotel where the autopsies were finally performed around three pm. Dr von las burg's first examinations were performed hurriedly and superficially. He failed to detect anything that was not obvious from sergeant arizona observations. If found that ellinora had been been struck on the sides of their heads there were scratches on their lower bodies and they had been bound tightly by the wrists before the murders he also determined that they had both been sexually assaulted. The doctor did not examine any of the internal organs of the victims. Though the existence of many deep scratches on norris norris thighs suggested she had been violated by multiple attackers von loss berg did not include that in his official report mix was the third body to be investigated. He had sustained head wounds similar to those of his sisters in addition. His genitals were swollen and there was semen found found on the inside of his trousers. It was not clear what may have caused the presence of bodily fluids and thus the doctor ruled the emission had occurred post mortem mortem. However mixed pants were unbuttoned when he was found and his shirt was tucked into them yet. There was no fluid on the lower part of his shirt. It's it's thus likely mic was also sexually assaulted in his shirt tucked in afterward. This possibility was ignored by the doctor and the bodies were given the okay to be varied william mcneill the murphys brother-in-law organized and paid for the funerals likely as a gesture of compassion to the family. Mr murphy was apparently still too distraught to make any arrangements himself. The next day december twenty eighth the service was held. The entire town was shuttered. Ah flags were flown at half-mast people flocked in from the surrounding areas to attend the funeral all in all they were around a thousand people there twice vice the population of gayton. A small community had ground to a halt the murderers were all anyone could talk about after the funeral. The investigation negation proceeded slowly inspector record arrived during the service too late to examine the bodies for himself. After a week of limited police progress a reward award was publicly offered for information leading to the capture of the killers. The amount was staggering one thousand pounds worth around one hundred sixty sixty thousand dollars today a pardon was also offered to anyone who assisted in the crime or had knowledge of it beforehand as long as they were not the murderer themselves. Unfortunately early on investigators did not receive any useful tips. They were left to wonder amongst themselves about certain aspects of the case like the cause of mcmurphy steph doctor von loss bergh originally declared that he had been killed by blunt force trauma likely from the bloody branch aero found at the scene later. He claimed to have suspicions that mic was shot. It was established that there was definitely a gun at the scene as it was was used to shoot the horse because the confusion could not be cleared up. Inspector urquhart made the extraordinary decision to exhume the bodies and perform a second a second autopsy. The murphys were originally fervently opposed on religious grounds one. Thanks to the intervention of the local priest they eventually assented wanted to avoid public outcry. The operation was carried out in secret at three o'clock in the morning on january fourth just a week after the burial so this is unholy. If you had been thorough during the first examination we wouldn't be in this situation relation. How dare you you try examining a woman without mrs murphy wailing in your ear. It wasn't possible. That's enough complaining. We haven't even gotten the hard part yet. Was mrs murphy really wailing well no but she was certainly sobbing and interrupting me as often as possible. It's as if she paid no heed to the investigation at all as a matter of fact the murphy family has been entirely uncooperative as of late they flat out refused to lend any officers. Is there horses. We had to hire them from the other townsfolk. Every family grieves in its own way. Perhaps the second autopsy performed by a dr ray with dr von loss berg assisting came to very different conclusions than the first dr ray believed unlike von las berg that the victims had been laying down rather than sitting up when they were struck. He also believed a left handed man had dealt the blows on the most most significant finding was a bullet in the skull of mic murphy. Apparently he was struck in the head. After the bullet was fired obscuring during the entry point of the bullet which vaughan loss burke had missed while investigators took in the new information. The murders continued continued to be the number one topic of conversation around town. No actual witnesses to the crime came forward but several people reported hearing gunshots when shots that night one woman who lived on the property adjoining morons pasture swore she heard a woman's voice screaming something that sounded like the word father you're vicious. Rumors were concocted based on the story. One of the most defamatory was that the murphy daughters had incestuous relationships with men in in the family but there was no evidence for the claim besides them mysterious yelling one or the other popular theories was that william mcneill was responsible support for the killings. He had a clear history of disagreement with all three of the siblings giving him a motive. Even some in the murphy family suspected him mm one investigator police sergeant to me claimed patrick and danny murphy both told him they considered william a possible culprit but neither of them were at the house on boxing night. Patrick was riding back to the agricultural college and danny was in brisbane where he was a constable. The murphy's who lived at home were the ones who furnished william with an alibi a most of the murphy saw william at nine p._m. The night of the murders as he headed to bed but but mrs murphy's stayed up late tending to granddaughter she went into poly in williams room and turned off a lamp around eleven pm. According to her william was in bed with polly's sleeping soundly at the time of all the murphys. It seems least likely that she would be the one to lie to the police she she didn't get along with william mcneill just like the rest of the family with mrs murphy's testimony. Williams seemed to have an ironclad alibi but still for patent. Danny need to have suspected william then. They must have felt it was possible. Their mother was lying to protect him if she was lying than it would have been possible for william to sneak sneak out of his window. While everyone else is asleep that night then he could have conceivably written to the more in pasture and caught the siblings on their way back from gadsden but if william mcneill was not the killer it was hard to find someone else with motive mic. Nora and ellen had all been respected within the community. Nora and ellen were kept heavily sheltered by their mother so it's unlikely that they even had the opportunity -tunities to make enemies then there was mic more popular opinion around town regarded him as the pinnacle of integrity he did not drink can had no known girlfriends or adversaries. Bettas police dove deeper into his private life. A different image of mcmurphy began to emerge orig- an anonymous letter sent to the police alleged that he was lustful with local girls and had seduced a few of them. The letter further related that mick nick had gotten nineteen year old kate ryan pregnant a year before in eighteen ninety seven supposedly naked offer demeri kate but she refused the affair ended in tragedy. Both kate ryan and the baby died during childbirth. According to the letter the ryan instead vowed to make mick pay for what he had done. Inspector erker dismissed the letter as another an amount of lies and speculation he wrote the ryen sister had given birth and married another man and afterward lived a happy life but once again irked had failed to verify his facts he had to ryan families mixed up this was not surprising is there were eight ryan households in the district but there was in fact to kate ryan who lived near the murphys ace. She died in eighteen ninety seven just one year before the murders at nineteen years old. A second letter soon arrived at the police station burying much of the same information on the sender of the letter a friend of kate ryan named rosy brown was discovered but police did not ought follow up on the information on the mystery of mix romantic life remained uninvestigated one reason the investigation did not take take a closer look at the local aspect of the murders including mix alleged secret romances was the discovery of another victim on january seventh eighteen ninety nine the body of fifteen year old alfred hill was found near the town of oxley a couple of hours from gadsden alfred had been missing since december tenth that afternoon he left his parents house outside of oxley to spend the weekend with his aunt and uncle near brisbane he was expected to arrive at his relatives house after a few hours of travel and stay there over the weekend he never made it when he did not return to his parents by tuesday the following week they went to visit their relatives alfred's aunt and uncle told them he had never arrived on friday. They had assumed he had called the trip off for some reason listen. Mr and mrs would frantically headed to the nearest police station and spoke to police sergeant small. Excuse me sir. My son has been missing since friday. He was supposed to visit his aunt and uncle but they say he never arrived. How old is your son and he's fifteen years old. I do not think there is any need to be frightened. Go to brisbane and make inquiries. Boys always run away or or boy is different. Please help us to search. We might not have much time. I'm sorry sir. I know you must be worried but he'll turn up soon. There's no need for research. Alfred did not run away. He left his watch and pocket money under his pillow before he left for god's sake sergeant were begging you. I'm frightened. He's either lost in the bush or murdered look if he does not return in a couple of weeks all file l. a. report right now. There's nothing i can do. Hills refuse to take no for an answer they went above the heads of the local sororities and traveled to the criminal investigation branch headquarters there they spoke to a sergeant shanahan while inspector urquhart was out of town investigating getting the gatt and murders sergeant shanahan was no more help than sergeant small. He was even ruder to mr hill and ignored his desperate pleas for help. When urquhart briefly returned to the headquarters a few days later a clerk double checked with him to see if they should put out a missing persons notice for alfred irkurtsk crate said no not wanting to interfere with the local officers who had declined to pursue the case. The hills were forced to take matters into their own hands. They organize. I search parties with the local community and look tirelessly for their son for a week. They found nothing then on december seventeenth eighteen ninety ninety eight sergeants small noticed arrest warrant that was filed three days earlier. It was for a schoolteacher who was accused of molesting young boys edward wilson listen small looked into it and found that wilson and his son claude were spotted along the road where young albert hill had gone missing. He immediately sent a telegram to the criminal investigation. Branch headquarters suggesting that the schoolteacher could have something to do with albert's disappearance. The headquarters ignored the telegram completely later inspector kurt would deny ever receiving any telegram sergeant small swore war. He sent it on without any reply from police headquarters. The hill family continued organiz search parties for weeks after alfred went missing. None of them found anything until january seventh eighteen ninety nine three weeks after sergeants small telegram was sent alfred hills corpse was was discovered hidden in the woods. The crime scene shared a lot in common with the gatt murders alfred's feet were pointing due west just like those of all three murphy siblings he was shot on the right side of his head. In approximately the same spot mcmurphy had been his pony was shot through the forehead it just like tom the horse which had been pulling the murphys cart that night on the most frustrating similarity between the two cases the lack of motive now that the body was found a couple of people remembered seeing a shady drifter that day walking along the road the description description of the drifter roughly matched that of a mysterious stranger that was reported near the morin pasture before the gotten murders another witness remembered remembered seeing a man and his son who matched the descriptions of edward and claude wilson police felt they finally had a lead but unfortunately wilson had thus far eluded eluded them. He was desperately heading for the coast to catch a boat from australia to london then after several days on the run on january ninth eighteen ninety nine edward wilson was spotted by police officer edward tried to escape but was written down by the policeman in captured along with his eleven year gerald son claude while officers expected edward and claude to be unwilling to talk. They were surprised to find. That claude was incredibly cooperative. During the questioning he confirmed that he and his father had passed both the mysterious drift in a boy on a pony according to claude his father had pulled over after passing the boy he left claude with the horses and followed the boy into the woods clawed heard two gunshots after that then edward returned and told his son he had shot a hawk however edward was not carrying a hawk with them and was also no longer carrying his distinctive think revolver and was a shining nickel plated pistol and claude noticed immediately. It was missing after that claude and edward took a confusing confusing route to a hotel three miles away edward drove so erratically and took such a circuitous path that it took them three hours to travel only those three miles else for the rest of the evening and the next morning edward was on edge he slept in his sons bed down to strong drinks at breakfast and and left town as quickly as possible and he insisted that claude keep the hawk story a secret of course someone who is on the run. The law would likely be tense anyway but that's exactly why taking three hours to travel. Three miles with police on his trail was such an odd decision. Edward was acting like there was someone else after him. He was acting afraid. Unfortunately edward refuse to answer questions when he was is captured except to say that he had lost his gun near oxley so we don't know for sure what happened in the woods between him and young alfred hill on the police believed leave the time that edwards revolver was taken by the drifter considering there was no evidence of sexual assault when alfred's body was found there. There would've been no reason for edward to kill the boy instead. It seems likely the drifters shot alfred's pony with a revolver to prevent him from escaping then he must have shot alfred as claude only heard two shots but the recent he stopped short of shooting. Edward is a mystery it's possible edward convinced kim that he was a fellow fugitive could be trusted to keep quiet or the revolver might not have been fully loaded and only had two shots in it. Edward could also also have promised the drifters something in exchange for his life though it's unknown with that might have been. We'll never know how edward wilson got away. The mysteries only multiplied has investigators dive deeper will explore the next next development in the gatt in case after this carter and i have some exciting news for you starting now you can listen to unsolved murders episodes that her older than six months completely ad free exclusively on stitcher premium. We're always looking for ways to improve the listener experience. We found an amazing raising partner in stitcher to bring you episodes ad free six months after they are released again. This will only affect episodes older than six months. Nothing nothing else will change. We'll still be releasing new unsolved murders episodes. Wherever you listen to podcasts for a free month trial go to stitcher premium dot dot com slash podcast and use promo code podcast that stitcher premium dot com slash podcast and use promo code podcast now back to the story in january of eighteen ninety nine police in getting australia trey lia had connected the murders of the three murphy siblings on december twenty six eighteen ninety eight with the death of a young boy found outside the town of oxley oxley about forty miles away inspector erker of the criminal investigation branch believes strongly that a mysterious drifter seen around oxley was is the same man witnesses had seen near the murder scene and gotten to this end every itinerant traveller who had been seen around getting at the time of the murders was tracked act down and brought in for questioning after an exhaustive interview process burkard felt they had found their man in richard burgess richard was a thirty nine year old ex convict originally from ireland who had spent his life drifting in and out of jail ten days before the murder of alfred alfred hill richard was released from an island prison near brisbane after serving a sentence for assaulting an elderly woman he was seen heading west which mint he could have been heading towards oxley on but more important than his direction was his appearance. A man who matched richard's description was at at the oxley hotel on the day of alfred hills murder. The drifter who has seen traveling on the road where alfred was killed was also reported to look like richard richard was arrested on this basis alone. There was no evidence connecting him to either murder other than the vague witness descriptions to keep him in police custody while more evidence was acquired. He was brought up on a bogus charge of stealing a saddle in the town of toowoomba. There was no reason to i believe that he had been in toowoomba at the time on the richard was a lifelong criminal. The citizens have gotten came to have great sympathy for him. Many of them suspected expected the murderers had been people who had known the murphys personally. Despite the polices adamant belief the crime was committed by an out of towner and local newspapers mont the polices inefficiency and proclaimed that richard was not being given a fair trial for the most part they were right after after the charge for stealing the saddle failed to stick police asked richard to testify to his whereabouts every day. After he left the prison in brisbane he provided detailed descriptions and dates of his travels many of which were confirmed by investigators afterward still irked would not believe it he had richard stand in the lineup for the people who had seen the stranger outside morons pasture the night of the gatt murders were asked to identify the men they had seen two of them. Florence lowe and thomas drew said that richard looked like the drifter that they had seen that night on the strength of these identification -cations inspector erker kept richard in prison throughout january and february of eighteen ninety nine unfortunately his incarceration the lead the murphy family to distance themselves even further from the police investigation jon murphy. You were called here today day to give your account of the events of december twenty sixth. Do you remember what time you got to bed that night. I don't know i see do you recall seann gene william mcneill that night i can't remember. Do you know what time any of your other siblings went to bed. No i didn't hear them getting into bed. These people are giving too much trouble. You will be asked to speak in a moment inspector john. Can you remember anything at all about the night of the twenty sixth. No have you always a blank memory like this. I don't know it was on for a grieving family to be so unhelpful helpful and their apathy frustrated police but in part thanks to their obstinacy richard was released in march of eighteen ninety nine on the condition that that he proved his alibi he was required to travel with a police officer back down the path. He claimed followed from the prison in brisbane back in december. Uh richard agreed to do so but he did not intend to make the trip easy for his unlucky companion sub inspector white breath and what are we doing here burgess. This is where i was on boxing night. You see that cottage. Yes therefore girls living living in their. I tried to force my way in that night but i was chased off so you're admitting to breaking into the premises. I didn't do nothing. I told you i was chased off fine. And what did you do after that. I went up the street here knocking on doors asking for some boiling water from i._t. Are you saying you were too lazy to even boil your own water no sense in doing something if someone else will do it for you huw though the journey was unpleasant it confirmed richard's alibi he was able to show he knew the route well an an found witnesses who confirmed his location at critical times. It seemed the police it's been two months trying to convict an innocent man by this time the patients nations and the memories of the locals were wearing thin erker for his part remained convinced that the unidentified drifter senior oxley was also responsible for the murders but since the drifter was apparently not richard burgess investigators had no idea who else it could be one of the many problems stalling the investigation was the inspectors habit of accepting alibis without independent confirmation for example. Some local suspicion was aimed at the o'brien brothers. Joe and con joe is known to have an infatuation russian with alan murphy and also been arrested for petty crimes in the past kahn often cooperated with his brother and his unsavory schemes. When conn o'brien was interviewed he first told authorities that on the evening of the twenty sixth he had been searching for a loss horse he claimed he searched urged for the horse without results until around ten pm and then he went to bed to corroborate this story he pointed investigators to his roommate fred minton tune but fred had left town soon after the murders and could not be located for questioning later after further interrogation khan told another officer officer a different story in this version. He said he successfully caught his missing horse by ten p._m. Contradicting his earlier claim that he had returned home empty-handed police noted that he had failed to account for his movements during the night of the murders but did not bother to do anything about it. His brother brother joe told a story that was similarly full of holes. Joe admitted he was drunk. During boxing day at the horse races but he claimed he had completely completely sobered up by the evening and had a relatively quiet night joe told police he went back to the callahan family farm where he lived and worked around nine nine thirty pm then he went to bed at ten thirty. This story was vouched for by two of his friends. The donahue sisters they stated they were with joe <hes> until he went to bed at ten thirty. There corroboration came as a surprise to police as joe originally made no mention that they were with him on this version. Version of events was disputed by a man named robinson who is also staying at the callanan's house. He claimed that on the night of the murders he returned turn to the house just passed nine p._m. And did not see joe according to him joe had already left at least fifteen minutes earlier earlier. If robinson was telling the truth then joe o'brien could have conceivably made it back to town and seeing the murphys coming into get in for the dance <music> around nine ten pm in this case he would have seen them abruptly turn around upon finding out. The dance was cancelled alone on his horse. He could've taken aback road and easily beaten the old murphy cart back to morons pasture. He might have even had the assistance of his brother who had lied on at least east one occasion about looking for his horse that night on this possibility was never explored by police who clear joe early on in the investigation on despite the fact that inspector irked had only just arrived in town in january eighteen ninety nine. He declared joe o'brien story checked out without out looking into it. Further joe is never reexamined even after he was suddenly fired from the callanan's farm a day after speaking to the police it was largely or kurtz unshakeable confidence in his first impressions of people that stalled the investigation even after evidence emerged that contradicted him. He held fast to his gut feelings for example. There was a traveling laborer named thomas day. Thomas had been in oxley oxley on december tenth eighteen ninety eight exactly when albert hill was believed to have been killed from oxley. He made his way to get where he found the temporary work as a butcher. Thomas claimed on the night of the murders that he had gone to bed early. He was seen having supper at seven pm afterward afterward. He stated he went to the room where he slapped and read for awhile before bedtime. This story could not be verified because all other members of the household were at a fireworks fireworks show held by the butcher between eight and nine pm. Thomas alone did not attend the show. The sergeant who interviewed thomas said that he was always reading from a book called rian z. obscure work about a medieval italian politician strange and dense book for traveling worker to be reading reading but instead of making irc suspicious thomas's vague stories about his background and habit of reading esoterica impressed the inspector. Thomas thomas came off as thoughtful at odds with what irks considered to be the personality of a rapist and murderer. Nevertheless thomas has room was searched news brought to the station for interrogation. Nothing of consequence could be found but a day before he was brought in the butcher who employed loyd in noticed small bloodstains on one of thomas's shirts. Thomas claimed it was from carrying meat for the butcher on a wet day but the butcher said that the spots were not consistent with what he would expect to rub off of beef in addition. Carrying meat was not one of thomas duties so it's unclear when this might have occurred appeared before thomas was interviewed. The butcher advised him not to wash his shirt as the police would wanna look at the stains. Thomas washed his clothes closed the next day anyway. Obliterating any potential evidence thomas was considered the number one suspect by at least two investigators sergeant sergeant king and constable christie christie went so far as to write a report implicating thomas in the murder but never filed it. He was later asked asked why he never turned in the report. Hey kristy stop there. Yes sir christie. I don't speak any more nonsense about thomas day. It's not not nonsense if he's in on it. He's a quiet boy. You could not have committed the crime. He looks like a man to me. Don't lie christy and don't go criticizing the work of better men than yourself itself. Thanks to irkurtsk intimidation christie never sent in his report in the matter was dropped. Thomas left town on january tenth. After getting an argument with his boss erker asked him to travel to the police station in toowoomba where richard burgess was being held to the of thomas could identify him without any real incentive to do so thomas did as he was asked he went to the station and said he could not recognize nuys richard burgess and then left town to join the army. He quickly changed his mind and deserted. Police tried to find him after that but he had disappeared appeared. Thomas was just one of several leads ignored by investigators by april of eighteen ninety nine. They had failed to come up with a a single viable suspect and the investigation was ended without results the same year in response to public outcry a royal royal commission was launched. It sought to determine why the police had failed during the course of the inquiry the numerous oversights of inspector urquhart revealed revealed the commission found that many of his decisions were incomprehensible. He had failed to perform his duties as an inspector. The ultimate conclusions of the royal commission suspected that thomas day whose real name was now known to be theo farmer was responsible for the murders i but the finding was by no means conclusive thomas aka theo was not found until the next year in nineteen hundred he was in a sydney hospital under yet another assumed name thomas furner. He was dead by suicide. Thomas day definitely seems to be a likely suspect. He may have been the key to solving the case. If only investigators followed through on their duties to this day thomas is considered the most likely culprit by many but there were several other loose threads. It still seems unlikely that the murders could have been committed by a single individual and most engand believed that the perpetrators were local but thomas was from out of town. It's possible thomas allied with the oh bryan brothers or some other locals who had private disagreements with the murphy's. The murphy family seemed value. It's respectability above all else so if these private disagreements involved unsavory circumstances it would explain why they did not actively assist the police investigation uh ultimately the only thing that is clear is that whoever murdered the murphy siblings and possibly albert hill was allowed to get away with it by incompetent police force on the police failed to do their duty in following up with thomas day. Hey k. theo farmer with all. The evidence considered sittard. I think he is the most likely killer he used an alias and clearly had something to hide and the bloodstains on his clothing are too much to ignore. I don't think i agree if he was guilty. Why would he go through the trouble of travelling to mba and saying he could not identify richard richard burgess. He also didn't have a clear motive. I think it was the work of locals probably the o'briens they were known criminals in joe had expressed an attraction to ellen. They also definitely lied to the police about their whereabouts on boxing night. Whatever the truth may be the gotten murders. Remain one of the most fascinating unsolved murders in australian history. The case revealed the slimy underbelly that lay beneath in unassuming in rural town and just how ruinous a headstrong leader can be to a police investigation to young women and one young man murdered in cold blood and sexually assaulted in the end. Neither the local police nor the state criminal investigation branch were able to bring the perpetrators to justice the gap murders are an awful example of the dangers that lie in leading ones assumptions overrule. Will there logic <music>. Thanks again for tuning in to unsolved murders. We'll be back next tuesday with new episode. 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If if we live till next time unsolved murders true crime stories was created by max cutler developed by ron cutler is a production action of cutler media and is part of the park has network it is produced by maxon ron cutler with sound design by karie murphy production assistance by ron shapiro paul molitor maggie admire freddie beckley. This episode of unsolved murders was written by tarot wells and stars carter roy and wendy mackenzie. The amazing cast asked a voice actors includes rebecca errands diamond susannah corinthian heston mosier manila raymond brett schneider and jack shell rough be sure you listen to today in true crime every day. It covers a different true crime event from history search and subscribe to today in true crime on spotify in anywhere you listen to podcasts.