About the Book
Over a century ago, the news of three, cold blooded and inconceivably evil murders gripped Queensland, and the nation. These tragedies, mysteries in their own right, still reverberate through time.
It was the 10th December 1898, when fifteen-year-old Alfred Hill went missing whilst riding his horse to visit relatives at Redbank Plains. His father’s search party found his decomposing body a month later, in a paddock, not far from the Oxley Hotel. Both he and his horse had been shot in the head, and the boy had been decapitated. Charges were never laid for the senseless and grotesque crime.
Fifty miles to the west, on the evening of the 26th December 1898, three members of the Murphy family were abducted on their way home from Gatton. They were found the following morning by their brother-in-law, brutally murdered in a paddock outside the township. Michael and the horse were shot in the head, and his two sisters carnally violated to the extreme before all three were clubbed to death, with lust and robbery the apparent motive. The perpetrators were never discovered and the case has reached an almost mythical status.
The Queensland police mishandled the investigations from the outset by ignoring vital witnesses, with pieces of evidence overlooked, or lost. Combined with their reluctance to apply a sense of duty to the general public and their insensitive treatment of the victims’ families, it became apparent there was an urgent need for a Royal Commission Inquiry. There were some good men, but there was politics, dishonesty and laziness too. A disintegrating constabulary of corruption under the ‘continuous’ Government culminated in their failure to detect the authors of the Gatton and Oxley crimes, while the 1899 Inquiry exposed the extent of inefficiency and misconduct, throughout a distorted and caustic police force.
In 1902, the butchered and charred remains of Constable George Doyle and a Station Manager, Albert Dahlke, were found in Lethbridge’s Pocket, in the Carnarvon Gorge. Almost immediately, in the eyes of the law, the Kenniff brothers were responsible, and quickly labelled by the ‘petty press’ as, “Australia’s last Bushrangers”. Under a cloud of controversy the general public sensed it was a conspiracy, by the banks and the wealthy, against the Irish poor, and despite protests in the streets, Patrick and James Kenniff were convicted of the policeman’s murder. Although they strongly opposed their guilt, Patrick Kenniff was hanged on the 12th January 1903, for the alleged crime, and James, sentenced to life imprisonment. Based solely on circumstantial evidence, the Kenniff case was crudely unjust and the trial so seriously prejudiced that to this day, it’s openly debated, with many believing and innocent man was executed.
This prequel is an easy to read account of these horrifying crimes, designed to arouse the curious minds of true crime enthusiasts, before the introduction to the comprehensive volume of Murder & Misconduct – The Complete Files. The Complete Files is a definitive text presented in colour with factual accounts, witness statements, crime scenes, suspects, clues and the archaic crime analysis methods, used in three of Queensland’s most infamous murder mysteries. In particular, the Gatton murder, a well-orchestrated plan, unparalleled to fiction, lies at the bottom of Queensland’s cold case files. Never before has such a detailed journal come to light, capturing the emotions and strengths of the families who were failed by a somewhat trusted, yet flawed system.