The best true crime stories in Melbourne

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The best true crime stories in Melbourne

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Julian Knight's house at the time of the Hoddle Street Massacre. Photo by Djackmanson via Wikimedia Commons
Words by Kate Streader

We count down the most gripping true crime stories from Melbourne, with true crime books and podcasts that will have you hooked.

There’s something inexplicably captivating about true crime stories, no matter the medium through which they’re told, but our curiosity is heightened even more when such unimaginable crimes occur in our own neighbourhoods. We’ve put together a list of our favourite true crime podcasts and books exploring some of the most horrific and intriguing crimes to happen in the streets of Melbourne over the years.

Murder on Easey Street – Helen Thomas

In 1977, the bodies of Suzanne Armstrong and Susan Bartlett were found in their home at 147 Easey Street, Collingwood. They had been stabbed 27 and 55 times, respectively. Armstrong’s 16-month old son was found unharmed at the scene two days after the murders. Almost 40 years on, the case remains one of Melbourne’s most notorious unsolved crimes. Written by Helen Thomas, a fresh-faced reporter for The Age when the murders first shook Melbourne, Murder on Easey Street revisits the case to seek answers to the many lingering questions and looks at why the killer was never found despite a $1 million reward for information resulting in a conviction, DNA found at the scene and over 100 suspects.

Trace: Murder in the Bookshop – ABC

ABC’s podcast Trace, by journalist Rachael Brown, picks at the loose ends of the almost 40-year-old cold case of Maria James, a Thornbury bookshop owner who was stabbed to death in the back of her bookshop. Her killer was never found, but through the course of the podcast, Brown uncovers new leads which point to the involvement of two Catholic priests. The success of Trace saw Brown dig further with her book Trace: Who Killed Maria James in which she further unpacks findings from her 16-month long investigation into the case and how new information could not only expose members of the Catholic church but a cover-up by the Victoria Police.

Phoebe’s Fall – The Age

In 2010, the body of Phoebe Handsjuk was found in the garbage room of the luxury Melbourne apartment tower where she lived, having plunged 12 storeys, feet first down the garbage chute before bleeding to death. The Coroner ruled the death an accident after coming to the conclusion that she had climbed into the garbage chute herself, but The Age‘s investigative podcast Phoebe’s Fall pokes holes in the theory that Handsjuk’s death was a case of ‘misadventure’ and seeks to find out what really happened that night.

The Frankston Murders: 25 Years On – Vikki Petraitis

In June 1993, 21-year-old Paul (now Paula) Denyer went on a seven-week killing spree in Frankston, taking the lives of three women and shaking the community to its core. 25 years on from the horrific Frankton Murders, prolific local true crime author Vikki Petraitis revisits Denyer’s crimes and, as her parole eligibility date approaches, looks at the lingering effects of the serial killer’s reign of terror on the Frankston community. The case also appeared on true crime podcast Casefile. 

New edition of The Frankston Murders – out this week.

Posted by Vikki Petraitis – Author Page on Sunday, June 3, 2018


Case 90: Hoddle Street – Casefile

The 1987 Hoddle Street Massacre in which Julian Knight fatally shot seven people and injured 19 others during a mass shooting in Clifton Hill is one of the most infamous mass murders in Australian history. After being discharged from the Royal Military College in Duntroon, where he was allegedly bullied, the 19-year-old failed Australian army officer returned to Melbourne where his relationship with his then-girlfriend crumbled and he decided to go on a killing spree. The horrific crime has sparked two documentaries Hoddle Street and The Hoddle Street Massacre a book titled Hoddle Street: The Ambush and the Tragedy by former police officer Peter Haddow and was recently the subject of an episode of popular true crime podcast, Casefile. 

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