Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Bridgewater Beauty Killing Pt 1: The Death of Miss Devina Schmidt

Bridgewater Beauty Killing Pt 1:
The Death of Miss Devina Schmidt

 Bridgewater, a small Adelaide Hills town popular for its scenic beauty, and up until 1987, the end of the Adelaide Hills railway line.
 In November 1927, Bridgewater would make national headlines for all the wrong reasons.
  Horace Clarke, who was holidaying in Adelaide from the town of Geranium (near Tailem Bend) had organised a picnic party for himself and group of friends in Bridgewater, all up the party consisted of 6 young women and 6 young men.
  The group boarded the train at the Adelaide Railway Station. A man, unknown to the rest of the party, approached Devina, she was heard to say to him “You had better not, or I will put the police on to you!” before turning away hastily and joining the rest of the picnic party.
 The group arrived in Bridgewater sometime around 11am and found the town full of people celebrating the warmer weather. Music was in the air with other picnickers bringing their gramophones and singing and dancing.

The small group found their place in the park and began their lunch, afterwards they began to play a game called “Paper chase”, which saw the girls leave the boys. The boys caught up to the girls not more than five minutes later, when the man from the train station, Mr William Haines, stepped out from the bushes and made towards Devina.
 Fear gripped the young ladies and they left Devina with the young men who had been playing paper chase with them and had managed to catch up. Haines asked Devina to take a walk with him, she refused.
 Haines went in to a fit of rage and grabbed Devina by the shoulder, shouting “You Wont!” he then pulled out a revolver and told the young men “All of you put your hands up!”
 Some of the young men ran off to the group of girls to move them out of harm’s way. Haines, looking straight at Devina, fired five shots from his revolver, in to her head. He calmly walked away, then reloaded his gun. He looked back at the young men, and stated “I have another six here”.
 This gave some of the young men the time to run and find a local police officer.
Another gunshot echoed through the park, and Haines, slumped to the ground.
 The first to attend Devina was her killer, Haines, who scooped her almost lifeless body up in his arms, he shouted for help, and with assistance got Devina into a motor car to take her to hospital.
 Mounted Constable Gumley was the first Police Officer on the scene, arriving he found Devina already in a motor car, with Haines holding her. After hearing the story, he detained Haines and found a .22 calibre revolver in his possession. Haines had a bullet wound to his right temple.

Devina Schmidt, the only daughter of Mr and Mrs Walter Schmidt, a Butcher at Brooklyn Park, was dead.
 She had been an active and popular young woman, working at a city insurance office. Haines, who  for some time, had been trying to date Devina, had not met the approval of her parents, and it was his jealousy that drove him to stalk her that day, and take her life, so tragically, in front of many of her co-workers, that she had invited to the picnic gathering.
Next Week: Bridgewater Beauty Killing Pt 2: The Trial of William Ephriam Peter Haines

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Scotty's Grave

Scotty's Grave

If you are a taphophile or into geocaching, then chances are you’ve probably already come across “Scotty’s Grave” just north of the Wheatsheaf Hotel at Allendale (near Kapunda).
This unusual little grave, set back in a farmer’s field, with its own access gate cut into the boundary fence, has been a talking point in the local community since 1865 when the first headstone was installed.
 There is many a legend about “Scotty”, who he was, and how he came to be buried in the field, some of the stories, no doubt, have been exaggerated in retelling's in the local watering hole down the road over the past hundred and sixty-five plus years.

One legend tells of Scotty being in his native Scotland and falling madly in love with a girl, but being forced to immigrate to Australia. He arrived in the Kapunda region, and could be heard often in the Wheatsheaf Hotel, singing about his lost love.
 One day, the publican entered the bar after being away for some time. He entered with a new wife, who turned out to be Scotty’s long lost love from back in Scotland.
Scotty and his love hatched a plan to run away together, and met at the back of the hotel where he had hitched two horses. They rode away together in to the night, but Scotty’s horse threw him off, and he died on impact.
 His long lost love rode back to the hotel, with her new husband, none the wiser, and the following day, when Scotty was discovered, she took it upon herself to oversee his burial.

Gate added in 1970
 The truth about “Scotty’s Grave” though is this. “Scotty” is actually a man named James Burnett who was a local Shepard in the Allendale area.
 While trying to cross the River Light at Baker’s Flat, on the 2nd of August 1846, he slipped from his horse and drowned.
 The reason he was buried where he is, was stated in The Advertiser in 1903 as being “where Scotty’s hut was located when he was alive”.
His headstone was erected in 1863 via subscription from locals, advertised in the Kapunda Herald. W Flavel, thoughtfully, copied the inscription on the headstone in 1865 for prosperity’s sake.
 An ornate fence was erected in 1885, cast in Kapunda at Mellors, and over the years there have been numerous restorations and upkeep projects of the grave.
  Believe it or not, there are actually two graves at Scotty’s Grave Road, lying next to Scotty is a man by the name Carrol, who died two years earlier in 1844 – not much, if anything is really known about this particular gentleman.

References :

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The “Insanity” of a 15 Year Old Boy.

The “Insanity” of a 15 Year Old Boy.

 In June 1941, Adelaide was waking up to headlines about the trial of 15 year old boy Brian John Turner of Linden Park Gardens, sentenced to life imprisonment in Yatala Labor Prison for the murder of Boot-maker, William Thomas Halse.
 William Halse lived with his Wife and son in Kensington. He owned a boot making shop on O’Connell Street in North Adelaide, and had operated out of the premises for 28 years. Mr Halse loved routine, and would always return home on a Friday night at 9:30pm.
 On May the 2nd, Mr Halse hadn’t returned to his home. The family waited until 1am before the son went to the North Adelaide Police station and reporting his absence.
  A police officer and Mr Halse’s son went to the O’Connoll street shop, and found it locked and in total darkness. They jumped the side fences and found the back door of the shop wide open, but the lights turned off at the mains power board.
  Near the back door, they found a pool of blood. The blood trailed across the rear garden and into a small shed at the rear of the property. The two men entered the shed cautiously, and found there, lying in a pool of blood, the 77 year old man.
 Mr Halse had been viscously attacked with a blunt metal instrument. The back of his skull was broken into pieces, he had cuts across his face and jaw and one of his eyes was severely damaged.
 An investigation began into goings on almost immediately. A search for a murder weapon was undertaken, with no missing hammers of other tools in the workshop missing, which meant the murderer had brought the weapon with him.
 The inquiry turned up evidence that this was not a robbery. Mr Halse had 3 pound notes in one pocket, and 2 pounds of silver in a wallet in his jacket.
 His apron was found hanging on its hook, and he was wearing his jacket, which led the detectives to believe he was readying to leave the shop and his assailant was waiting in the yard for him. Mr Halse’s hat was found under a table, with a small hole in it that matched up exactly with a hole in the back of his skull, leading the investigators to further deduce that his attacker attacked first from behind and took Mr Halse by Surprise, then bludgeoned him at least another 30 times..
 Investigations led to Ward Street, North Adelaide, and the home of the Fergusons. On Friday night, the night of the murder, Brian Turner had showed up at the house about 7 o’clock with what looked to be a hammer wrapped in brown paper, like one would buy from a hardware store at the time.
  Turner was soon arrested on this evidence, and when questioned by the police, with no emotion, admitted to the crime.
 The court case was fairly swift by today’s standards. The defence team for Turner were pleading “insanity” and tried to prove their defence by using character witnesses such as Tuner’s Father. Turner was described as a “morose, underachiever and loner” who had brothers with incredibly successful careers, but he himself, lacked any care for his own future prospects.
 Such as young man had not been trialled in Adelaide, in regards to possibly receiving the death penalty for murder.  Politician’s became involved, and spent 6 hours reading through all the depositions for and against the 15 year old boy.
 In court, when asked why he did it, Turner at first denied any knowledge of the crime, and pleaded not guilty, going against his earlier admissions.
 It soon came to light that Turner had bought the hammer with the preconceived notion of robbing the shop, and that the murder happened because the old man said to him “Hitler was a good fellow and that we had no chance of winning the law”.

 The Judge declared that the evidence of “insanity” was not proven, even though there was medical evidence to prove of previous bouts of schizophrenic activity. It was not enough proof that the murder was not premeditated, so the defence of “insanity” was removed from the court.
 The jury sat for around 25 minutes, and delivered a “guilty” verdict, but with a clause for mercy. The judge took this on board and when it came time for sentencing, the original sentence of hanging for murder was commuted to life imprisonment in Yatala Labor Prison.
Brian John Turner, aged just 15 years and 10 months, was taken away to Yatala and placed in the first offenders wing, where he will stay until he is an adult.
 In 2016, Turner would be aged about 90 years old – I am interested to hear from anyone who may have served time with him in the Yatala Labor Prison, and to find out what became of him…please contact me via if you have any information.