Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The Court Case: The Murder of Hilda Jones.

The Court Case: The Murder of Hilda Jones.

Bruce Stapleton Neal, 19, was brought to trial for the gruesome murder of his girlfriend, Hilda Beryl Jones 16, on the 17th of March 1924 at her place of employment.

The Coroner included in his report that Ms Jones, affectionately known as “Bob” or “Bobby”, had a small gunshot entry hole at the base of skull. Her forehead was mostly missing, and her blood, bone and brain matter was scattered across the walls, ceiling and floor of the office.

The defense issued a statement that Mr Neal was an epileptic, and that when the gun fired, he was in the middle of an epileptic state and unable to control himself.

When asked by the court to enter a plea, “Not Guilty” came the statement from the defendant.
Defense attorney Mr Smith stated “If you remember the dangerous position of the Injury to his head. If you remember his fits and the circumstances surrounding them. If you remember the circumstances attending the murder of Bobby and his condition afterwards, it Is very-easy to take a backward view over his past life, and to say that these fits are epileptic fits.”

 Mr Smith exhorted, “Our only defense is a plea of insanity!”

 The jury retired, and after an hour returned with their verdict. “Not guilty on the grounds of insanity”.

 Justice Parsons, residing over the case, stated that, “In order with the Criminal Consolidation Act, he would order Neal to be kept in strict custody in the criminal ward of the Parkside Mental Hospital during the Governors pleasure.”

 Mrs Neal, who had been in the court room, and who had earlier given evidence in the case, fainted at the reading of her son’s sentence.

Hilda Beryl Jones is buried in the Glen Osmond, “Saint Saviour” Anglican Churchyard.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller.

© 2018 Allen Tiller


1924 'ADELAIDE MURDER.', Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 - 1954), 24 March, p. 2. , viewed 13 Sep 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article102232120

1924 'CURRIE STREET TRAGEDY.', The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), 29 May, p. 9. , viewed 01 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57389675

1924 'MISS HILDA BERYL JONES.', Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), 22 March, p. 37. , viewed 13 Sep 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article170493300

1924 'MURDER CHARGE.', Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 - 1954), 29 May, p. 2. , viewed 13 Sep 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article96099690

1924 'MURDER TRIALS.', The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), 27 May, p. 6. , viewed 13 Sep 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57389043

1929 'Obituary.', Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), 11 July, p. 44. , viewed 01 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90051284

1924 'Hugged, Kissed, and Shot', Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 - 1954), 15 June, p. 5. , viewed 01 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198669988

Photo: 1924 'MISS HILDA BERYL JONES.', Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), 22 March, p. 37. , viewed 01 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article170493300

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Confession of Herbert Stapleton Neal: The Murder of Hilda Jones.

The Confession of Herbert Stapleton Neal: The Murder of Hilda Jones.

“About 1.15 P-m. I left work, taking the rifle with me. Before I left Bickford’s I placed five cartridges in the magazine.
I went outside and stood on the front doorstep for a while. I looked up at West’s window, and Bob beckoned me to come over.
 I went over, and was standing near the stairs. Bob came up to me, and I said “Hello! How are you?” She replied, “I am all right”.
I said, “that’s good.”
The I put my arm around her and kissed her.
We stood talking for some time. I cannot remember what the topic of conversations was. After I had been there for a while, the other girls went to dinner, and left Bob and me in the passage together.
 I like Bob very much, and she returned the affections.
 I don’t quite remember what happened.
 I think I must have been frightened at the thought of our being parted, because we were so attached to one another, and I must have been so alarmed at the thought that I might lose her that I must have at the moment lost my head and thought that it would be better if it were impossible to part us.
I have a recollection of firing the gun. I don’t know how many shots I fired, but I believe I fired only one.
 After that I don’t remember anything much, except that there was a lot of blood standing about. And I think someone asked me my name, but I could not speak.
When I fired the gun, I saw her fall, and blood came from her.”

The statement concluded:

“I am not sorry for what occurred. But I don’t know what possessed me to do such a thing, because we were very friendly. And had been for ab out 28 months. I was very much in love with Bob, and I didn’t want else to have her.”
 (Bob was Hilda’s nickname).

Continued next week

© 2018 Allen Tiller

Bibliography on last post in series.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Hugged, Kissed and Shot: The Murder of Hilda Jones.

Hugged, Kissed and Shot: The Murder of Hilda Jones.

“Even as he kissed her ruby lips his teetering brain gave finally away,
And, a wreck at random driven, without one glimpse of reason or of heaven 
He raised his deadly rifle, raised it so that none should have her,
She never spoke, poor child.

 The smile faded from her eyes with the crumbling of her skull, 
shattered by that awful bullet, as she fell a maimed and bleeding thing upon the floor,
while he, ghastly, staring, stood over the body, 
waving intruders aside, until at last, the policeman came, and he swooned off in their arms.”
 - Truth (QLD newspaper) 15 June 1924.

On the 17th of March 1924, Hilda Jones went to work at her job at the offices of Mr W.A.A. West, Estate Agent and Horse Racing enthusiast, where she worked as a typist. The office was situated on Currie Street in Adelaide.

That same morning, Bert Neal arrived at his job at Bickford and Sons, Limited Wholesale Chemists on Currie Street. He arrived at 8am, and it was noticed straight away by his work mates, that he had with him a Lee Enfield Rifle.

Neal was known for his negative attitude, often coming across morose or depressed, and this day his co-workers noted his disposition as “unusually quiet”.
During a break, Neal made his way to Bank Street, where he stopped into a gun dealers shop and purchased 30 cartridges for his rifle.

 Lunch on Currie Street occurred for Ms Jones at 1:15pm, and on this fateful day, she found her boyfriend, someone who visited her home frequently, and who loved her very much, in the Currie street offices where she worked.
 The two were seen together talking at 1:20pm, but for the next half hour, only Hilda and Bert know what happened.

At 2pm, Mr West accountant, Mr Young, who was in his office, heard a loud crack as if from a rifle. He ran into the hallway and saw Neal, standing at the door of the office, with a rifle in his hands.
 Young asked Neal what was going on. Neal did not respond, instead, he waved frantically not to come near him, so Mr Young, ran out of the building to find a police officer to help.

 Only minutes later, Constables Easton and Stewart arrived on the scene. They headed towards Mr West’s office, and saw Neal standing in the doorway, rifle in hand. Neal dropped the rifle, and collapsed. He was taken to the Adelaide Hospital by the Constables for examination, with his only comment being “I am tired”.

Continued next week.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller.

© 2018 Allen Tiller

Bibliography on last post in series.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

“Gone Postal” - Murder & Suicide at the Adelaide General Post Office

“Gone Postal” 

Murder & Suicide at the Adelaide General Post Office

Adelaide’s General Post Office design came from the minds of Edmund Wright and Edward Woods who won a competition to design the new building that was replacing the old, much smaller post office further up King William Street.

 Built in the design style of Monumental Italianate, the Post Office is a grand cornerstone of Victoria Square and changed the face of that part of Adelaide when it was finally finished and opened in 1872.

 Even before construction began, the building attracted a crowd, with the laying of the foundation stone by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred on the 5th of November 1867 attracting an estimated 3500 spectators.

 The GPO also housed Adelaide’s first telephone exchange, and is where our first message was received from the Overland Telegraph Line in in 1872.

Extensions were made in 1891 until 1893 to house an improved telephone exchange.

 In 1926 the General Post Office, one of Victoria Squares iconic buildings, became the scene of a horrific attempted murder shooting and suicide.  The day prior, employee James Hannagan was fired from his job for assaulting two of his fellow employees.

 Hannagan entered the General Post Office at about one o’clock in the afternoon, and opened fire with a revolver. First, he shot Ernest Doble, a clerk, wounding him, before opening fire on the Post Officer Director, James Mason, shooting him in the chest. Hannagan them fired shots towards the women’s clerical division, narrowly missing the working women with a volley of shots, before fleeing the building.

As Hannagan made his way down the steps, out into Victoria Square, a witness to the events, Mr J Beare, tackled Hannagan to the ground. The Two men struggled in the street until Hannagan freed his revolver and shot himself dead in the gutter.

On Friday October 28th, 1927, another horrific fatality occurred in the building when an unidentified man jumped from the interior balcony of the GPO and killed himself. His last words, spoken to an employ who had stopped to ask him what he was doing, were; "I'm going to commit suicide. Goodbye.”
 He jumped the railing and fell 30 feet onto the floor below.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller.

© 2018 Allen Tiller

Selected Bibliography

1926 '"YOU'RE KILLED FORTHWITH!"', News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), 27 December, p. 1. (HOME EDITION), viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129334986

1926 'POST OFFICE SENSATION.', Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 - 1954), 18 December, p. 1. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article95968304

1926 'POST OFFICE TRAGEDY.', Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 - 1954), 28 December, p. 4. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article95968855

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Curse of the Crown and Anchor Hotel

The Curse of the Crown and Anchor Hotel

Never before had there been a hotel in the South Australian colony so well known as a place of sin and debauchery as the Crown and Anchor Hotel in Adelaide’s east end.

Right from its humble beginnings in 1853, through to its present incarnation, it has attracted Adelaide’s down trodden, the unusual and the misfits, but most would not have it any other way!

The hotel has always been a popular venue, but has had a tumultuous past, with the majority of its publicans between 1853 and 1953 being charged by police for illegal after-hours sales of alcohol, or illegal gambling.

The hotel also has a long history of death, with many fatal accidents happening in the street outside the hotel, or to its residents, as they were out visiting other locations in Adelaide. This earned the hotel reputation of being cursed during the 1890’s.

The Crown and Anchor was built in 1853, and later rebuilt in 1880. The hotel has a long and sordid history of being an illegal gambling den, but in recent times it is best known as a live music venue, with the colloquial moniker “The Cranka”.

The following is just a few of the notable deaths associated with the hotel;

 In 1871, the hotels landlady was arrested for stealing another woman’s silk dress. In 1887, an inquest was heard inside the hotel concerning the death of James Dooley, who had been run over by a horse cart on the street outside. Dooley suffered a broken leg, broken hip, smashed jaw and smashed skull, it was assumed the cart, laden with 4 ton of wood, and rolled over his body and crushed him. There was indication Dooley may have been murdered, but without sufficient evidence, his death was declared an accident.

Mr McLaren died in the hotel on the 4th of October 1885 after a long illness.

In 1894, Barney Miller, a Victorian staying in Adelaide for two months, drank himself to death in the Crown and Anchor. He was found in his dead in his bed, and later a Doctor declared he had died from heart failure by excessive drinking!

Death visited the hotel again in in 1900 when Charles Siggers passed away in a private hospital nearby, and his wake was held the hotel, with his funeral cortege leaving the pub for West Terrace Cemetery on 8th of October 1900.

 In 1903, live in resident at the Hotel, Marion Mackay was struck by a fire truck in King William street dying the next day from her extensive injuries.

In 1908, a painter named Robert Peters was found dead in a shed on the premises by owner Mrs Calnan. Later that same year, Mrs Calnan’s husband, John, passed away upstairs in the hotel at the age of 38, they had only been married for two years.

In 1927, another publican passed away in the hotel. George Owens died at the age of 53 from a heart attack, leaving behind his wife and three children to run the business.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller.

© 2018 Allen Tiller

Selected Bibliography:

1894 'SUDDEN DEATH IN AN HOTEL.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), 10 July, p. 7. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25730227

1934 'TOOK BARREL FROM HOTEL YARD', News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), 17 October, p. 3. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128411035

1941 'FINES IMPOSED ON EIGHT MEN', News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), 21 April, p. 3. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article131965630

1946 'FINES FOR HOTEL OFFENCES', News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), 1 July, p. 3. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article130850532

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The Murder of Mary Legge

The Murder of Mary Legge

150 Hindley Street

“Lord save me” were the dying words of Mary Legge, laying on the floor of Gasons Lodging House, Hindley Street. Above her, as she breathed her last breath, stood her husband, enraged, with knife in hand. He threw his knife at her as he calmly walked out the door, the only witness, a man named Roskilley who had fought against Legge, but had backed away when threatened with the knife.

 Legge hastily left the premises and headed down Hindley street. Roskilley also left, and found P.C. Irwin on the corner of Hindley and King William street, and told him of the murder. Legge, upon realising he had been identified, sprinted away from the Constable, the two men running full pace west along Hindley Street.

 Another Constable, P.C. Allen, saw what was going on, and tackled Legge to the ground. Legge then stated to the two officers that he had stabbed his wife three times. The two Constables then escorted Legge back to the Police Station, and left him with the officer in charge, before heading back to Gason’s to evaluate the scene.

Mary Legge was lying in a pool of her blood, she had three stab wounds in her left shoulder blade, made by an ordinary bread and butter knife. One stab had punctured her left lung and another had pierced her heart, causing her to bleed out and die very quickly.

William Legge, was well known to Adelaide police as a habitual drunkard, but he hadn’t always been a heavy drinker. Only months prior he had run a successful painting business from Clarendon, and every mail from England (monthly) He received a hefty 16 pounds’ remittance from his wealthy parents.

 Legge and his wife, Mary, a “pleasant looking young woman”, who had only been in South Australia for nine months, had been renting a room in Gason’s Lodging House. In the few months, they had been living in Adelaide, they had both become drunkards and were prone to physical altercations with each other. Mary was often heard swearing at William, and only a week previously had hit him in the head with a bottle, leaving a deep cut.

When the trial proceeded, the defence applied the “Temporary insanity” clause, and pointed out the constant beratement of William by Mary. It was pointed out that both were very drunk, and that William had quite calmly asked Mary to go to bed, and she had flatly refused then started abusing him. William had then stated, “If you don’t go to bed I will put an end to you”, Mary, again refused, and this was when William became so enraged (and according to the defence, temporarily insane) that he stabbed his wife to death.

William Legge’s charges were downgraded from murder, to manslaughter, due to the temporary insanity defence, and instead of facing being hung for the wilful murder of his wife, he was sentenced to just ten years’ imprisonment.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller.

© 2018 Allen Tiller


1870 'LAW COURTS.', The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 - 1922), 18 May, p. 2. (SECOND EDITION.), viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article207720976

1870 'SHOCKING MURDER IN ADELAIDE.', Northern Argus (Clare, SA : 1869 - 1954), 25 March, p. 3. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92777632

1920 'FIFTY YEARS AGO.', The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), 22 March, p. 6. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article62618178

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The Phantoms of Morialta Falls

 The Phantoms of Morialta Falls

In the last few months of 2017, I was contact by multiple people about strange goings on in the carpark of the Morialta Conservation Park. 

Morialta is just 10kms from the city of Adelaide, and has been a popular destination with locals for over 100 years. It contains three waterfalls along Fourth Creek, and has a network of extensive walking trails. It also contains a rock climbing zone.

Witnesses are reporting seeing phantoms in the park, human ghosts and those of phantom vehicles, with one being very strange indeed.
Witness one recounted a story of being at the falls late one evening with two friends. They had gone for a drive “for something to do”, and found themselves at Morialta. They began to explore the walking trail, and could see quite clearly under the light of a full moon.
 While walking along one of the trails heading towards a waterfall, they noticed ahead of them a peculiar white colour shape, that almost seemed to sparkle in the moonlight.
 As they got closer they realised it was a young woman, (they determined this by the shape of the mist, and the fact it seemed to have long wavy hair past the shoulders).
 The three of them stopped, all their hair standing on end, and watched as the female like white mist sparkled some more, then turned towards them, floating very quickly in their direction, before it vanished entirely.
 They very quickly high tailed it out of there, back to their car, and have never returned to the park for more adventures!

 The second story recounted to me involves several people driving to the car park. As they entered they noticed a car parked by itself off to one side. There didn’t seem to be anyone in the car, so they figured the owners were off walking through the park and paid it no more attention.
 The small convey had all parked near each other, and got out of their cars, laughing and joking when all of the sudden an eerie quiet fell over the group, and a feeling of foreboding overtook the mood of frivolity that had previously overcome the group.
 As they stood there looking at each other, the temperature dropped very suddenly, and a mist formed around the group.
As they stood there, shivering, with mouths agape, wondering what the hell was going on, a large shaped moved through the mist and revealed itself right in front of their eyes. A very large, very black old horse drawn hearse, with no horses, silently glided into view between them, and headed towards the solitary parked car.
 One of the girls screamed in terror, which seemed to break everyone’s stupor, and they all high-tailed it back to their cars and “booted” it out of there…
 A further retelling of this story can be found online at: http://www.paranormal.com.au/public/index.php?topic=11298.0. This retelling of the same story also goes on to state that the next day one of the witnesses saw the car that had been parked in the carpark on the news. It was surrounded by police tape, as the night before the owner had committed suicide in the park (A detail omitted from the version told too me).

 I can not confirm at this point that the story of the Hearse, in particular the suicide and subsequent news report are true, however, there have been plenty of deaths at the park.
In 1917, 17-year-old Lyle Heddle died in the Adelaide Hospital from injuries suffered after falling from the cliffs at Morialta.

In 1926, the body of 27-year-old Alfred Jury was found lying in a pool of water at the base of the falls. His face had been badly disfigured, so much so in fact, that it could not be declared at the time if he had committed suicide with his rifle, or simply fell from the cliff tops and landed on his face.

 His bike, with shot rabbits was later found at the top of the cliffs, but his gun never recovered.
1939, the body of 40-year-old Butcher, Robert Cantlon of Prospect, was found dead in the pool underneath waterfall one. Cantlon, it is thought, slipped at the top of fall one, trying to get a look over the edge.

 In 1940, Royston Daniels, 13 of Prospect was killed when he fell 115ft from fall number one, trying to save his friend, Raymond Jenkins, who had slipped from rocks, half way down the cliff face.
 Daniels died on impact.

In 1951, William Collins, 23 of Hyde Park, died at the falls after being struck in the head by a rock. The coroner of the day declared the death an accident, as at that time, throwing rocks, or rolling them down the hills at Morialta was a common practice, and it could not be determined from which direction the rock had come, nor if it had been thrown with ill intent.

Have you encountered any spirit activity at Morialta Falls?

 Tell us about it over on the Facebook page!

Researched and written by Allen Tiller
© 2018 – Allen Tiller – The Haunts of Adelaide

The following assets were used in the research and writing of this article:

1917 'FATALITIES AND ACCIDENTS.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), 2 August, p. 4. , viewed 18 Dec 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5540612

1926 'ACCUSED PERSON FOUND DEAD.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), 7 December, p. 15. , viewed 18 Dec 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article40747312

1939 'WANDERED FOR HOURS', Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 - 1954), 12 July, p. 4. , viewed 18 Dec 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article96360854

1940 'Fatal Fall At Morialta', News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), 10 January, p. 5. , viewed 18 Dec 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article131551924

1951 'Open Verdict On Falls Death', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), 21 July, p. 3. , viewed 18 Dec 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45719767

National Parks South Australia, 2017, Morialta Conservation Park, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, viewed 18 Dec 2017, https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Adelaide_Hills/morialta-conservation-park