One of the things I have discovered from my years of reading true crime – and now writing it – is that some people do get away with murder. Really bad things happen and the person or people responsible may never face court or punishment. This is despite the tireless efforts of police and lawyers.
I have spent the past three years doing lots of research for my books Murder in Suburbia and the latest one Angels of Death and what is endlessly intriguing to me is how someone could do the worst to people and just get on with their lives. Of course, some perpetrators of murder and violent crime may be in jail for other crimes or may have died but it’s true that there are people going about their lives that have done the most horrible things and the families and loved ones of their victims are still waiting for answers.
In Murder in Suburbia, I featured several cases where families are desperate for answers – the unsolved 1984 murder of Melbourne mother Nanette Ellis who was stabbed to death in her home and discovered by her then 16-year-old son. The Victoria Police’s cold case unit are reinvestigating this case and are very hopeful it will be solved. Then there’s Lyle Allan whose lawyer brother Keith was murdered in 2000 by his law clerk and two other men. The men are now in jail but Lyle, from Melbourne, just wants to know where the body of his brother has been buried.
When cases are not solved it can be for many reasons – lack of evidence, lack of resources (DNA and scientific advances mean there are things that can be done now that just weren’t possible decades ago), inadequate police work, people giving false alibis… There are also cases where people are sent to trial and are found “not guilty”.
In Angels of Death I wrote about the case of Texas nurse Genene Jones who was convicted of the murder of a 15-month-old girl and the attempted murder of an 18-month-old boy. Jones was jailed in 1985 but under a Texan law that was introduced to reduce prison overcrowding, her 99-year sentence was reduced to a third. Jones is suspected of killing many babies between 1971 and 1984 when she worked as a paediatric nurse at several Texas hospitals and a clinic. Some believe she may have killed more than 40 children. Now, she is eligible for mandatory release in early 2018 unless prosecutors can bring new charges against Jones, who will be 68 when her sentence is finished. There is an active Facebook page called “Victims of Genene Ann Jones” whose membership is made up of many people who believe their siblings, sons, daughters died at her hand. I spoke to one woman for the chapter who believes her baby sister was killed by Jones in 1981.
In many of the cases in Angels of Death, these serial killers were preying on victims for years before they were caught. When I was researching the cases for this book it became clear that a hospital provides a ready-made hunting ground for killers who were in an industry that is all about looking after people and in many cases, preserving life.
Emily Webb is a Melbourne-based journalist for Leader Community Newspapers whose first true crime book Murder In Suburbia was released in January 2014.
Emily is Aussie-born and spent several years living in London where she tripped about, did lots of different jobs (including transcribing undercover police tapes at The city of London Police), married a Welshman and had a career diversion where she retrained as a high school English teacher.
She lives in suburbia with her husband and two children.
by Emily Webb
It’s hard to imagine that anyone in the healthcare industry could have murder on his or her mind.
But some do.
The nineteen cases in this book range across Europe, US and Australia, documenting horrifying and sinister betrayals of trust.
From Harold Shipman, Britain’s worst serial killer who murdered over 200 patients, to Roger Dean the Sydney nurse who in 2011 set fire to the nursing home where he worked killing 11 patients, these stories will make you wary and leave you shaking your head in horror.