Erica Magellan Looked At the well-developed profile of her body in the bathroom mirror. Hmm, not going too badly for thirty-six, she mused to herself. Briskly drying herself off, she put on a loose-fitting dressing gown, and humming a tune, walked back down the stairs to the lounge room.
The television was tuned to the national station and the news of the day was just commencing. It was 9:00pm and Geraldine, Erica’s twelve-year-old daughter, was due home any time now after attending her dancing lessons.
Erica was a widow, her husband Ben having been killed in a traffic accident three years beforehand. It had been difficult going as Ben had not left her anything. Fortunately, the bank had been very sympathetic and she was able to keep up the repayments on the house. It had been a battle for her with Geraldine attending school and absolutely infatuated with ballet dancing.
She sighed to herself as she reflected over those tumultuous years of anguish. But things had changed for the better now and she had a good job with a large motor car-distributing outlet. She said a silent prayer of thanks to her mother for talking her into attending a school of office procedures, shorthand and typing. The wisdom of her mother paid dividends and she now had a permanent job with excellent weekly wages together with advancement opportunities.
Erica lived in a modest,
split-level, three-bedroom brick veneer home in
She relaxed on her lounge watching television to pass the time while waiting for her daughter to come home. When she heard a noise at the rear of the house she thought to herself, Ah, Geraldine’s arrived home. She heard footsteps coming in from the rear unlocked back door.
‘Hi, honey,’ she called out sleepily. She yawned and stretched her arms languorously above her head. She took a deep breath to yawn for a second time with her mouth wide open, when an evil-smelling rag was spread hard over her face. She tried to scream and to do so she took another deep breath. Erica almost choked as chloroform was dragged into her lungs. Her arms flaying helplessly in the air, she grasped behind at her assailant.
By now her attacker had pinioned her arms to the side of her body with the rag held over her mouth and nose. She was not fully unconscious and in her desperate struggle she managed to pull off the balaclava mask worn by her assailant, at the same time scratching the side of his neck.
‘You fucking bitch!’ she heard him exclaim as his closed fist struck the side of her head. The blow caused blood to seep from a small cut near the corner of her mouth and Erica again felt herself fading away. She vaguely regained her senses while being carried up the stairs into her bedroom where she was thrown onto the bed, her assailant, minus his balaclava, was grunting and breathing heavily with excitement. He ripped off her dressing gown and let his trousers fall to his ankles and it was then Erica saw he had an erection. He said nothing and fell upon her body with his left hand holding her down by the throat. Feeling with his right hand he cruelly thrust his penis into her dry unyielding vagina, pumping up and down on her a few times before withdrawing from her and grabbing her by the throat. He tightly squeezed her larynx, blocking her breathing.
Becoming weaker and weaker Erica clutched desperately at the white surgical-gloved hands around her throat, before fading into deep oblivion and her heart ceased to beat. Satisfied she was dead her assailant commenced to silently cry. He had not been able to spend his semen and his penis was very sore from her dry vagina. He quickly pulled up his trousers fastening them with his belt. Silently he walked back into the lounge room and re-gathered the balaclava Erica had pulled from his head. He looked into a mirror and saw the faint scratch on his neck; congealed blood was faintly visible on the mark, otherwise it did not seem to be of any significance to him. He turned around and walked towards the rear door when suddenly it opened. Geraldine Magellan stood in the doorway, pretty and blue eyed, looking directly at him.
‘Where’s Mummy?’ she asked.
He was aghast at the sight of her – like her mother, she had seen his face and could identify him. His mind raced uncontrollably with his heart thudding heavily in his chest. He struck Geraldine with a sweeping rabbit killer to the side of her neck and she fell to the floor. Snatching an ironing cord nearby he quickly wrapped it around her small neck and kneeling on her back choked her life away.
When he was satisfied she too was dead he looked around to ensure there was nothing to implicate him and fled down the rear stairway. His heart raced and perspiration seeped through his clothing as he carefully made his way down the side of the house to the dimly lit street, his body odour prominent in the still night air. He had one thing on his mind, to distance himself from the scene of this savage confrontation, something which had come about totally unexpectedly and for which he was totally unprepared; however, it was always possible under the circumstances.
He had never killed before and it played heavily on his mind; now he was a murderer and the ramifications of his actions became all too clear to him. The police would really flatten out to find him when the murders were discovered and he tried to justify his repugnant, horrifying actions, telling himself if his face had not been seen this would never have happened. It was simply self-preservation and nothing else which caused him to do what he did. He found his car parked a few streets away and in his panic failed to notice his balaclava mask falling into the gutter near the Magellans’ home.
Still panic stricken, he drove furiously away from Citrus Street intending to
drive south along Logan Road to the Gold Coast Motorway, when suddenly a car
appeared out of nowhere on his right. In his state of consternation he had
driven through a ‘
When he realised he had
gone through the Give Way sign at the intersection, he plunged his foot hard on
the accelerator and the rear wheels spun uncontrollably, smoking and screeching
in an effort to answer this new command. Suddenly they gripped and he was
speeding away down a back street where he found access to the Motorway heading
off to the Gold Coast. He was still shaking and perspiring profusely from his
ordeal when he arrived home and drove straight into his garage. Still trembling
he examined his car and realised he would not be driving it to
He decided to let that go for a while because he knew the police would be looking for a hit-and-run driver. He did not know how badly damaged the other car was but it had stopped and he had a fleeting glance of the driver standing beside his car and shaking a clenched fist in the air. He shuddered when he thought it could have been a pedestrian he hit in his moment of panic.
His wife had not gone to bed and was waiting for him, with the television receiver turned down low in the lounge room.
‘Hi, darling, you’re home late. Did you have some extra work at the office?’ she politely enquired.
‘Yeah,’ he answered. ‘Christ I’m tired, I’m ready for bed. I’ve got a heavy day on tomorrow.’
She sensed something was ailing her husband. ‘Is something wrong, dear? You look all worn out.’
‘No, I’m all right, just very tired, that’s all. Some bloody fool smashed into my car where I had it parked. I don’t know who it was but I’ve been forced to drive all the way home with only one headlight and that’s not good you know. Thank goodness I was mainly on the freeway.’ He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. ‘I’ll have to take your car to work tomorrow and arrange to get a bit of panel beating done to mine later on in the week. Would that inconvenience you too much?’ he asked, the tiredness etched in his voice.
‘No, not at all, I’m not going anywhere for a while, and I won’t need it. Would you like some toasted sandwiches and a cup of tea, dear?’
‘No thanks, love, I’ll take a raincheck on that. I just want to get to bed.’
After making sure the place was securely locked they both retired to bed where he fell into a troubled sleep. The next morning he rose early and showered. Looking into the mirror he saw the scratch mark on his neck was scarcely visible, except for a small portion below his collar line. Satisfied he would have no trouble concealing it, he shaved and went downstairs to where his wife had prepared breakfast.
His two teenage daughters were already seated at the breakfast table and his only son, Stan, staggered into the breakfast room with sleep puffed eyes.
‘Hi, Dad,’ he said. ‘Don’t forget we’re going fishing tonight when you get home.’
He looked at his fifteen-year-old son. ‘Sure, a promise is a promise. I’ll be home early tonight and we’ll get stuck into the bream. Make sure you have everything ready for us by the time I get home.’
The usual chatter went on at the breakfast table, which probably typified most families at that time of the day. He looked at the younger of his daughters who was getting close to thirteen years and a wave of remorse swept over him.
His daughter was about the same age as the girl the previous night – so young – so full of life and vitality. He shook himself from his dilemma and hurriedly finished his breakfast, excusing himself he readied for work.
Kissing his wife goodbye he threw his briefcase into the rear of her Ford Falcon
sedan and drove off to
Incredibly, it was a week before the news hit the headlines. The bodies had been discovered by a worried boyfriend of Erica’s who went to the household to check on her.
He now felt much safer – time was on his side and the police had it all in front
of them with the trail now so cold.
Previously, and before the murders, there had been seventeen other
incidents reported throughout
The post mortem conducted on Erica revealed a similar modus operandi; however, there was nothing to indicate her daughter’s body had been defiled. Details of the murders made the evening television news and were splashed prominently in the newspaper headlines. There was no doubt in the minds of the media who was responsible for the brutal murder of a mother and her daughter.
Rapist Strikes and Kills, screamed the headlines. A police source revealed the modus operandi was identical with other household rapes several years ago and warned women living on their own to securely lockup at night.
The investigating machinery swung into action: scientific men swarmed inside and outside the premises; photographers armed with video cameras and flashlight cameras filmed inside the house; fingerprint men were busily engaged dusting the household for any latent prints; and detectives commenced their house-to-house door-knocking enquiries seeking any information which may assist.
Detective Sergeant Errol Banks, along with his partner, Detective Elizabeth
Fennel, were the local detectives placed in charge of enquiries. At that stage
all they had to go on was that the murders appeared to be connected to a serial
rapist, active in other
The detectives could only assume that either the murderer had not desired her sexually because of her tender years, or she could have identified him. Scientific investigations revealed that neither was a chloroform mask used to render her unconsciousness prior to her death.
The police concentrated their efforts in this regard going over correspondence and computer records relating to these different offences. It was going to be a hard and difficult investigation and all they had was a description of the offender from hysterical women.
A male person, about 175cm tall, weighing somewhere near 100 kilograms. He wore a black woollen balaclava over his head, a white shirt, black trousers, and shoes. On each occasion he used a chloroform-soaked rag to render them senseless before raping them.
Police door-knocking enquiries did not come up with anything concrete to assist them.
The murders were given plenty of publicity by the media and with police fully co-operating with journalists the resultant promulgation became excellent insofar as creating a reference for their own ends. The hierarchy called a meeting to discuss the murders and what progress was being made. After lengthy dialogue it was decided to bring in the Homicide Squad to assist in the investigations.
Falls attended the
Suddenly his world came crashing down around him. At ten years of age, his father and mother were killed in a traffic accident. However, all was not completely lost, as one of the police officers, Bert Samuels, generously took him into his family as one of his own children. They were kind country people who gave Falls the love and understanding he needed to get him through his crisis.
At eighteen years of age Falls applied to become a police cadet with the Queensland Police Department, and Bert Samuels was delighted with the decision. Falls had made up his mind what he wanted to do a long time before he took the direction he embarked upon. He had listened intently to the conversations between Bert Samuels and his counterparts. The tales he heard excited him and he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He listened to the talks about change now creeping into the police force – about the new Commissioner they now served under who favoured academics up in the top echelon of the force to direct how the job should be correctly administrated.
One of the
Again he listened to the talk about how those with academic qualifications would be the ones to get on under the new regime creeping into the force, and in his immediate spare time he enrolled in the Queensland University and subsequently gained his Bachelor of Arts degree.
Falls also attended the Queensland Institute of Technology where he was successful in obtaining several management degrees and he then set his sights on obtaining a diploma in Business Administration. Study was easy for him, but he had an unfortunate tendency to scorn those who did not think like he did.
After he had been sworn into the Police Force as a constable, Falls continued with his studies in his spare time, never at any time considering that what he was doing may have been detrimental for his system. He considered all of his work was justified when he applied for, and was appointed to, the Brisbane Criminal Investigation Branch as a plain-clothes constable at the age of twenty-one years.
He was delighted with his appointment. The way I’m going, I’ll soon outrank Bert and his silly old cronies back there in Maryborough, he thought with satisfaction.
To get up the ladder of
success was a burning
When he went home on
leave to Maryborough, Bert Samuels and his mates noticed a difference in the
There were five of them altogether, lying back on the lawn, drinking in good spirits. Bert finished his can of beer and went to the Esky to get out another one.
‘What’s your idea on the study being introduced into the job?’ voiced Matt.
‘Well, there’s no way in the world I’m going to start and do it,’ said Bill Mortimer as he wiped the froth from his mouth and reached for another can of beer. ‘I’ve been in the job too long now to start with these new fancy ideas.’
‘Man, I feel sorry for you,’ said Matt. ‘Those who rubbish these new ideas will surely perish along the way if they continue to do so.’
‘Well, Matt, whatever makes you think that will happen? The Police Union will never stand for any of that shit being tipped over us with all this academic crap they’re going on with.’
‘You jokers are going to have to face up to it, Bill,’ Falls retorted. ‘The union will end up being a toothless tiger and if you’re not prepared to knuckle down and do a bit of study to help yourself then forget it, you’re gunna get left behind. The Department is now only interested in those with an education and they’re going to weed out the dills within our job.’
‘What are you saying, Matt? Are you saying we’re a pack of dills because we don’t have any educational qualifications behind us?’ demanded an indignant Rolf Hanes. ‘I joined this job twenty years ago and I passed the exams that were applicable then. I can spell and write good English so pray tell me why should I at my stage of life suddenly have to change? I can’t see where it’s going to make me a better police officer.’
The argument began to get a bit heated and Bert Samuels decided to put a stop to it. It was a very dangerous bone of contention, which seemed to be dividing good friends in their important peace-keeping business.
Probably because he had practically raised him, Samuels singled out Falls. ‘Hey, Matthew, don’t talk to your friends like this. What the hell’s come over you, boy?’
He was not ready for the ferocious reply, which spat out of Falls’s mouth. ‘Don’t call me boy, I’m not your boy and I never have been. Okay, maybe you did take me into your home and look after me and I appreciate that, but you’re not my dad and never have been and don’t you forget it. I only tried to pass a bit of advice onto you silly old fuddy duddies.
‘You’re all such know-all bastards who don’t want to go anywhere or do anything, all you want to do is go fishing and drink piss. Well, that’s a negative attitude to have in this modern age but if you want to rot away here in this old men’s home, then so be it.’
Bert was equally angry at the way Falls had spoken to his friends and cried out in the heat of the moment, ‘You ungrateful young upstart. Well, if it makes you so uncomfortable to be in our company, why don’t you piss off out of here?’
Falls threw his half-can of beer onto the lawn. It rolled across the grass spilling beer from the top. ‘That suits me, Bert,’ he hissed. He stormed away into his room, packed his small overnight bag and he headed to his car parked outside on the street.’
‘Aw, let him go, Bert,’ exclaimed Bill Mortimer. ‘He’ll be back when he cools down, the stupid young bastard.’
However, Mortimer was wrong. Falls never returned to Bert’s house. The next day he was still incensed by the attitude of his police officer friends that he had left behind in Maryborough.
there was one thing
There was another side to his cunning intent: he cultivated certain journalists and secretly leaked confidential information to them. Nobody ever suspected him and departmental heads were in a quandary as to how this information was getting out to the media. In return the media rewarded Matt: they would ensure his name was prominently featured in the newspapers whenever possible.
Within nine years Falls was a Detective Sergeant on the verge of being promoted to a Detective Inspector, and flushed with his own importance he looked upon those not in his league with supreme contempt. He had turned into a terrible snob and was despised as well as feared by his peers. However, they had to be careful as he had connections within the top hierarchy and was often seen drinking with them in the Police Club.
Such was the attitude and
Before going to the station Falls learned that the boss of the detectives there was a man named Errol Banks, who was not a person who had ever impressed him to any great extent. One of his friends in the hierarchy once told him if Banks had been any good at his job, he would not be stuck away in a place like Upper Mount Gravatt. Falls revelled in this type of gossip.
Yeah, he thought to himself, I know him from old, and he’s not my kettle of fish. I remember him when he was in the City – always very slow on the uptake and would worry too much about little things. Well, he will not worry me too much, I think I’ve got a bit more going between the ears than he has.
Some thought it to be a very strange decision for the hierarchy to make Falls available because the animosity that existed between Falls and Banks was no secret. Both experienced detectives, they had different views on how investigations should be carried out. Falls was an academic, which he was not backward in telling anybody about, and no doubt it had accelerated his rapid advancement within the service. On the other hand, Banks was a plodder and had progressed slowly through the years. Much senior to Falls who had caught up to him in rank, Banks had no academic background with which to impress his superiors. He came up in the school of ‘hard knocks’ and was without a doubt a fearless and meticulous investigator.
It was not because Falls was an academic that irritated Banks, who sincerely accepted the hypothesis that people like Falls were now looked upon with favourable esteem. It was Falls’ snobbish, superior, sarcastic attitude that he flaunted constantly that annoyed him. Being the self-confessed knockabout which he undoubtedly was, Banks cast any personal feelings he may have had from his mind. He was motivated by only one thing, to find the person who had murdered a mother and daughter in his territory.
Falls did not think likewise and went to the Upper Mount Gravatt Office with a boastful, self-serving attitude, one of supreme contempt and flushed with his own self-importance, making no secret of the fact that he considered he had been sent there to clean up their mess and would be making an early arrest.
There was a method in the madness of Detective Superintendent Calligan, the
officer-in-charge of the Criminal Investigation Branch, to send Falls to
He was right in his own strange way of thinking and the work productivity became very active. Banks and his team concentrated on the previous activities of the serial rapist and carefully noted the areas in which the attacks had occurred. They spent days going over Field Incident cards made out by members of the mobile patrol who noted vehicle registration numbers in the respective areas near where the rapist struck on a particular night. The recording of vehicle registration numbers was instigated after the sixth serial rape; clerical staff fed the recorded numbers into computer data banks for future reference.
Falls and his team meticulously went over the door-knocking enquiries which had previously been conducted in the immediate area, going back to various houses time and time again until they were able to speak with everyone who had been at the home on that particular night. Of course this was a most important avenue for detectives to establish.
The scientific reports contained little information other than how deaths occurred. At the post-mortem examination of the two bodies the tiniest fragment of skin had been scraped from beneath one of the fingernails of Erica Magellan’s right hand. The amount was sufficient for DNA analysis and it could only be assumed at that stage that it came from the offender. Even then, it would only become conclusive evidence when they found somebody to match up the DNA analysis, otherwise they had no evidence where the skin came from.
Despite the limited experience of Falls in everyday police procedures he had a very astute mind. It was his unstable behaviour, his air of ‘mouthing off’ and criticising other people’s work performances that made him unpopular with a lot of his fellow officers. Nevertheless, he did get the job done and boasted a considerable success rate.
He called his three homicide squad detectives to a conference.
‘Has anybody come up with any theories yet on who may have committed these murders?’
They looked at each other shaking their heads until one murmured, ‘No, not at this stage, Matt, it looks like it’s going to be a hard one.’
‘Okay, now there’s nothing to say that the person who committed these murders is the same person responsible for the former serial rapes. Nothing whatsoever! Successful investigations teach us to look at other alternatives,’ he smirked. ‘Only the modus operandi seems to be the same, and we could be on the wrong track by taking a course of action that this murderer is the serial rapist and besides, whoever he is there have been no murders committed before.
‘I think we should talk with some of the neighbours again and see if we can find out who’s been coming here to visit the deceased people. I’ve got a gut feeling it could be someone like that so let’s see what we can find out.’
The detectives were detailed certain streets and houses to cover. Falls and his work partner, Detective Alf Peters, went to the next-door neighbour’s home of Erica Magellan where a woman in her mid sixties welcomed them, more than willing to talk about the killings.
Mrs Beverly Hook and her pensioner husband Sam had lived next door to Erica Magellan for the past ten years. She gushed and fussed around the police officers insisting they have a cup of tea and biscuits. Her husband, a slimly built man in his early seventies, joined them.
‘Now, how can I help you gentlemen?’ she cooed, pouring tea from a large
earthenware teapot. Milk and sugar were on the coffee table and a plate of
‘Well, you may or may not be in a position to tell us who was coming and going into the home next door. We have a list of people previously given to our detectives and I’ll read them out to you.’
He read the list of names out to their hosts who acknowledged they were correct.
‘Is there anyone else you can think of? Anyone at all. It doesn’t necessarily mean they would be responsible but we have to look at all the alternatives and to be absolutely sure we haven’t missed anyone who may be able to throw some light on this matter. Do you understand what I mean?’
‘No, I can honestly say that I can’t think of anyone else other than the names I have given to the police. What about you, Sam? Can you come up with anything that might help?’
Sam Hook scratched the back of his head and peered out through the window. ‘Well, I dunno really, I don’t like to say anything about anyone if its gunna get him or her into trouble. You know what I’m like when it comes to that and some poor bastard could be completely innocent of something.’
‘Have you got something that might help us?’ Falls asked.
Sam Hook picked up a tobacco pouch and commenced to roll himself a cigarette; he appeared to be in deep thought.
‘Come on, Sam, do you know something? Spit it out, don’t keep it to yourself,’ growled Mrs Hook. She glanced around at the detectives and said, ‘You’ll have to forgive Sam, gentlemen, he’s a bit slow on the uptake.’
Falls sensed Sam Hook was in possession of some information and he gently urged the old man to tell them what he knew.
‘There was a young fella, he used to go to Erica’s place quite a lot, and I saw him coming out from the back of her place the day after the murders happened. Well, that’s only based on when you fellows said it happened and what was in the papers. I don’t know when she and her daughter would have been actually killed,’
‘What time of the day did you see him?’
Sam shuffled his feet and gazed between his legs at the floor. ‘It was about ten o’clock on the Wednesday, in the morning. I dunno but he looked pretty shook up, he must’ve found the bodies just after they’d been killed.’
‘Who is he, do you know that?’ Falls enquired.
‘Well, I believe he’s the nephew of the people who live down over the road a few houses. He comes and stays with them from time to time but gee, don’t go telling anyone I told you this. We’ve got to live here and Rose and Charlie, they’re the people who this fellow is related to, they’ve been our friends for countless years and in fact they’ve lived in this street as long we have. We’re all very good friends in this street and I don’t want the bucket tipped over me for being a police pimp and maybe causing trouble for some poor bugger.’
‘Mr Hook, we’re professional people,’ an indignant Falls replied. ‘We know how to be discreet in delicate matters like this and your name will never be mentioned to anyone. Did you tell any of the other detectives about this when you were talking to them before?’
‘Well no, I didn’t like to say anything about it ’cause I didn’t think much about it and I wouldn’t have said anything now only you seem to think it’s important,’ replied Sam Hooks.
Now that Falls seemed to have Sam’s confidence they talked for some time about this youth before leaving. Sam Hook had nothing to worry about; they visited several more residences after leaving him and any information they did have, could have come from any one of the occupants of those houses.
Their enquiries slowly took them towards the house where the youth stayed. En route they discovered from another source further information about the youth, who seemed to be a regular visitor to the murder home before the killings. At the home of Rose and Charlie Parsons, Falls rang the doorbell and stating their business they were ushered inside to the lounge.
‘We’re making ongoing enquiries about the double murder,’ Falls said. ‘During the course of our enquiries, we’ve discovered a young man was in the habit of visiting Erica Magellan before she was murdered. I’m wondering if you could assist us in that regard and of course anything you do tell us will be treated with the utmost discretion.’
The Parsons, like most of the people who lived in this neighbourhood, were quiet-living folk, and appalled the killings had happened so close to them. Both were able to tell the detectives about a young man they saw on numerous occasions visiting Erica Magellan’s home.
The next house to be visited was the home where the young man stayed, and again they were impressed by the cordiality of the middle-aged people living there. It was a typical suburban home with neatly mowed lawns and trimmed driveways. Beds of brightly coloured flowers contrasted against the background of green lawns indicating pride and care in the appearance of the establishment. Like the Parsons, Tom and Fay Robertson were gentle souls and co-operated with the detectives, anxious for the killer of their friends to be apprehended.
‘Do you mind if I ring his dad and tell him you’re coming to see him? His dad’s my brother,’ Fay said.
‘No, not at all,’ said Falls, smoothly. ‘It becomes a matter whereby we have to interview everyone who may be able to assist us and really, that’s all it is, just routine enquiries.’
Leaving the Robertsons’ home, Falls and his companion made their way back to the city Criminal Investigation Branch where he reported directly to Superintendent Calligan the result of their street enquiries and his intention to travel to Toowoomba to interview the youth.
Calligan agreed, pleased with the prospect that perhaps the young man in question may be in a position to assist. He told Falls to put the result of his enquiries onto the Upper Mount Gravatt running sheet and most importantly, let his counterpart Banks know what he was doing.
When Banks learned of these developments he had a little pang of regret he had missed out on the obvious; however, he could not think of everything to do on his own and it was now a team effort to bring the offender to justice. He applauded the result of the enquiries made by Falls and his partner and wished them luck when they travelled to Toowoomba. For nothing more than his own ulterior motive Falls kept from Banks the information about the youth having been seen coming from the murder house the next day by Sam Hook.
On their journey to Toowoomba, Falls could not help himself, so puffed up was he with his own importance and ingenuity.
‘We’ll end up cleaning this up for those clowns. Jesus, that’s bad police work,’ he sneered to his partner. ‘How could they have missed such an obvious thing? It’ll be interesting to find out why he didn’t report what he must’ve seen to the police, if he went into the house the next day. Anyhow, we’ll wait and see.’
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