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1906: The Albert Park Atrocity, Dismembered Remains in Lake

Discussion in 'Historical Cold Cases - Pre 1950' started by Lily, Jul 13, 2015.

  1. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    I must say here, that I presently have no idea whether this case was actually ever solved or not. If so, I apologise in advance - but not really, because unearthing the articles in chronological order is pretty darned exciting.

    The Riverine Grazier (Hay, NSW : 1873 - 1954)

    Friday 21 September 1906

    A horrible discovery was made at Albert Park, Melbourne. A brown-paper parcel was found floating in the lake. It contained portions of a man's body. The flesh showed it had been cut from the lower portion of the trunk. No trace of bones could be found; they had evidently been carefully removed for disposal in some other manner.

    A second parcel was found containing a man's heart, liver, and other organs, also what resembled a human eye, together with portions of lungs. The remains wore greatly decomposed, and appeared to have been in the water for about three weeks. Charred pieces of shirt found over the remains seem to show that the murderer attempted to burn the body. The lake is being dragged in the hopes of discovering further portions of the body.

    Monday 24 September 1906
    Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 - 1928)



    Portions of a main's body, together with all or most of the internal organs and viscera, were on Thursday afternoon dragged out of the Albert Park lagoon by six boys, Charles Osborne, James Henry Lenowry, Leslie Batters, Norman Barters. John Bromley, and David Bishop, all of Grey-street, South Yarra, who were fishing for 'yabbies' and playing round the edge of the lagoon.

    At about 4.45 o'clock the boys, who were on the east side of the boat shed at the St. Kilda end of the lagoon, noticed a couple of packages floating on the water close to the hank. Osborne, who had gone into the water to disentangle his bait, hooked one of the parcels in, and found that the outer wrapper consisted of brown paper tied round and round with string. The parcel gave off an offensive odor. The curiosity of the boys, however, impelled them to open it.

    Inside the package was a quantity of decomposing organic matter, which for a time the boys could make nothing of, but which they thought might be portion of a man's body. The other parcel contained a heart and other organs. Then the possibility that they bad discovered a murder dawned upon them. The boys grew terrified, and, hastening home, reported to their parents what they had seen. Sergeant Williamson, of Windsor, was informed of the facts, and he, accompanied by Constable M'Mahon, went at once to the lagoon. A brief inspection of the remains convinced the officers that they were part of a man's body, together with the internal organs. The heart, liver, and other organs were easily identifiable, but the strangest thing in connection with the discovery was that there were no bones.

    All that could be determined was that the man in life had been of fair complexion, for the hair adhering was of a light sandy hue. Probably he had been of stout build, for there was much fat mixed up with the remains. The fat had begun to saponify, and this fact, together with tho general decomposition, pointed to the conclusion that the deceased had been cut up from three weeks to a month previously. The boys in trying to find out what the gruesome relics really were had mixed them by letting them fall from the rotted paper, and this rendered a detailed examination difficulty particularly to a layman lacking an expert knowledge of anatomy.

    The remains were taken to the City Morgue, where they were inspected by Detectives Coonan and Sainsbury. The officers found amongst the fragments pieces of a white shirt, portions of which had been burnt — making it plain that an abortive attempt had been made to dispose of the body by burning, probably while the .shirt was upon the man's back. Though these pieces of cotton were closely examined, nothing in the way of initials or other marks could be found upon them. They will, probably be washed, however, and more closely examined. Some sawdust was also mixed with the decaying matter.

    The fact that the shirt had been burned of itself makes it practically certain that a murder has been committed, and it would seem that after the man was killed an effort was made to burn the body. This failed most likely on account of the large quantity of fuel required and the danger of suspicion being aroused by the smell of burning flesh. The body was then cut up, or more likely still, had been cut up before laving been subjected to fire, and, having been dissected away from the skeleton, was parcelled up, carried to the lake and thrown in.

    The head, legs, and arms have yet to be found, and with a hope of discovering them the lake will be thoroughly dragged. The cutting away of the flesh cf the body from the bones probably may be accounted for by the murderer's desire to prevent the body from floating by the accumulation of gas inside it, but he was seemingly oblivious of the fact, that, freed from bones decomposing flesh always floats. It is, of course, with the meagre evidence available, almost impossible to find a clue to the perpetrator of the horrible crime. With the exception of Mr Ernest Alfred Cutler, of Richmond, whose disappearance in highly remarkable circumstances on 5th inst. has been the topic of general speculation, the police have not heard of any missing man in the city or suburbs.

    If the possibility that Mr Cutler has been murdered is admitted, the entire absence cf reasonable motive would be sufficient to rebut most arguments in favor of that theory. Also, althugh Mr Cutler was fair, he was not stout, and the remains appear to be those of a stout man, though possibly a medical man or other expert in anatomy might conclude that the amount of fat present might not be more than any normal would carry. Unil the locality is thoroughly searched little can be said concerning the crime or the possible identity of the victim.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2015
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  2. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member



    In connection with the finding of three parcels of human flesh and bone in the lagoon at Albert Park by some boys on the 20th September, the police were anxious to learn of any persons who may have discovered a fourth parcel of the dissected body of the murdered man.

    As a result of their inquiries, the boys who discovered the first parcels have admitted that they also found another parcel, the contents of which they thought was mutton, and which they therefore used as bait for fishing. Armed with this information, the police visited the spot indicated by the boys, and recovered from the water five human ribs.

    ((Fishing bait! Omg.. :thud:but wait -- this only gets WORSE))

    The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
    Saturday 6 October 1906



    On October 1 the police made a discovery of two additional parcels of remains in the Albert-park lagoon. One of the parcels was wrapped in a piece of cloth like alpaca, and neatly tied with rope. Inside of this were found two laths, such as are used for lath and plaster work. Packed within these were four pieces of sheet lead, each 10 in. long and 6 in. wide. Between the lead were packed lumps of flesh and bone. In this packet were 14 pieces of the body. Sawdust had been freely mixed with the remains. A similar process had been followed with regard to the other parcel. The remains in the first parcel consist of several of the lower vertebrae and 16 other portions, fragments of the wall of the thorax containing sawn-up ribs, a piece of one of the shoulders with the bone.

    The second parcel contained a portion of the vertebral column, flesh cut from the sides of the body below the arm, and some of the ribs. Obviously the cutting up has been done by a person possessed of no skill whatever. The find is regarded as pointing to the commission of a well planned murder. Sawdust was used to soak up the moisture caused by the cutting-up process, and this again is clear evidence of a well thought-out plan. The pieces of lead used to weight the parcels down must have taken some trouble to prepare, and the work was obviously done by a skilled man. All the pieces—eight were found yesterday—are the same size, and all neatly shaped. They are of sheet lead, such as is used for roofing, and each piece weighs 21b. There was, there fore, 161b. of lead with the portions of the body found yesterday. The presence of the laths, the lead, and the sawdust seem to connect the crime with someone who had access to a builder's workshop and yard, while the cord used to tie the packages might easily have been obtained from the same source.

    On Tuesday morning the black-trackers — Peter and Charlie — under Seniorconstable Falkiner, of Dandenong, waded about in the lake, feeling with their bare feet for objects that the drags and rakes might have missed. The only discovery of importance was a tomahawk, which they picked up quite close to the spot where the two parcels were found on Monday. The article appeared to have been in the water for some weeks. It is quite possible that it has taken some share in the cutting up of the body, though no evidence of its having been used has yet been discovered.

    The two boys, Osborne and Lenowry, have related to Detective Lonsdale that on Thursday, September 20, they went to the lagoon to fish, and picked up on the bank a piece of meat and bone, measuring about 14in. by 7in. It contained ribs, which had been sawn off at the inner extremity.

    The boys took it to be a piece of mutton or veal, though, in the light of subsequent events, it appears very likely to have been human remains. The boys used pieces of it to fish for "yabbies," and next day saw it in the possession of a man who was throwing it into the water for a black spaniel to bring out again. It has since disappeared.

    These two incidents suggest very strongly that a fourth parcel has become scattered. A suggestion has been made that all the materials employed in the wrapping of the parcels would be ready to the hand of a person doing his work in the workshop of an undertaker, viz., saw dust, black Italian cloth, then wooden laths and sheet lead.

    On Thursday morning the rakes brought to light two more gruesome relics of the tragedy. They consisted of a piece of sheet lead and a fragment of a man's body.

    The human fragment found was a portion of one of the upper vertebra, in a lump of flesh containing three complete ribs. It was fished up near the shore at a spot very close to the place ehere the two boys Osborne and Lenowry found the floating parcels of human viscera on September 20. Round it there was tied a piece of tape, and it had become free from sawdust. Probably this is the fragment which a man was throwing into the water in order that his dog might plunge in after it.


    Omg, body parts used for yabby bait .. then a man playing fetch with some, with his dog???? Was the body cut up in a woodworking shop, or stolen from an undertakers?? If so, whose body WAS it, and why had no-one come forward to admit to the theft?

    But wait, there's more!!

    (and here's links to the articles quoted so far, all conveniently free of copyright law, long expired now..)

    Last edited: Jul 13, 2015
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  3. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Here's a long report, sadly in very bad condition, that I may re-type when I get time and post. It mentions pathologist's findings, a list of missing men at the time, and other interesting details, with a few theories to boot. Leaving it here for reference.

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  4. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW : 1890 - 1954)
    Thursday 4 October 1906

    The further examination of the human remains, taken from Albert Park Lake, Victoria, disclosed the presence of hair, apparently from a woman's head. The theory is now advanced that there were two victims, one being a woman.


    The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950)

    Wednesday 10 October 1906

    A resident of Auburn, J. M'Ewan, told- the Victorian police yesterday that, while watching the dragging operations at Albert Park, a man named Osborne scratched his name on a piece of lead.

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  5. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
    Saturday 20 October 1906

    With much chagrin the public are beginning to accept the the conclusion that a foul murder, attested by the discovery of parcelled fragments of a human body in the Albert-park lagoon", is to go unavenged.

    It is too far-fetched an idea to suppose anything short of criminality had prompted the disposal of the remains. No grisly jest with a derilict corpse can have been intended, because the packages were so weighted as to prevent them, save by accident, coming to light at all. Thereforea joke on those lines would have appealed to no one but the ghoul who planned it.

    The human limbs deposited ostentatiously on a suburban footpath some years ago might possibly be explained by charnel-house humour; but not the disjecta membra laboriously recovered from the lagoon. Nor is there any more feasibility in the theory that a body would be bestowed in this way with the motive of avoiding the cost or trouble of burial. An undertaker who resorted to this backing and packing to economise time and labour — apart altogether from the risk run—would have a quaint idea of values.

    No; the Albert-park mystery reads more as though some cunning and callous murderer had taken a leaf from the book of Henry Wainwright, the miscreant hanged in London during the seventies. This man overcame the difficulty of disposing of his victim's body by dismembering it in the same butcherly fashion, and conveying it in parcels through the streets of the metropolis. Had not Wainwright been so fatuously over-confident as to give one of the packages in broad daylight to a stranger to hold for him while he fetched a vehicle, nothing would probably have ever been heard of that particular White chapel murder. The stranger was curious, and tore away a scrap of the brown paper to peep at the contents. What he saw caused him to chase Wainwright's vehicle tirelessly through the crowded traffic until he could attract the attention of the police.

    In the Albert-park case the detectives are baffled by the absence of any marks or characteristics about the lead or laths or cloth, which will furnish the faintest clue. This seldom happens, even when astute criminals are at work. Deeming left torn luggage labels, &c., in the house at Windsor, which helped to hunt him down. Similar scraps of tell-tale evidence in the packing materials led to the identification of the remains found some months ago in the Waranga water channel.

    The criminal in the present case, with rare prudence, has used only material so common as to give no clue. He seems to have laid to heart the words of a famous English judge, "I do not counsel assassination; but, if a man wishes to commit murder, undetected, I should say, meet your victim on the high road, and use a common stake plucked from the hedge-side."

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  6. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 - 1916)
    Tuesday 13 November 1906

    Melbourne, Nov. 11. -.Detective Burvett, who was deputed to investigate the mystery surrounding the dismembered portions of a human body which were discovered in the Albert Park lake, has received a remarkable, anonymous communication. The writer, with a view to preventing any clue as to his identity, has cut words from a newspaper, and then pasted them together in such a way as to put the information intelligently. The police decline at present to state the nature of the communication.

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  7. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    What was in that note, dagnabbit!

    As far as I can see the victim/s in this weird case were never identified, not the crime solved. I could be wrong, though!

    OT, but I used to live right by that lake..
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  8. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member


    Have you been to this lake since you knew about this case? I have to wonder if it would give you the heebie jeebies now.
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  9. MissyMoo

    MissyMoo Bronze Member

    OMG @Lily:thud:what a find!
    What a shocker for the boys who stumbled across the remains.
    (i love that old school writing style dont you?)
    :eek:fftopic: for non Aussies, this is the lake smack in the middle of the Melbourne Grand Prix Formula Ones Racing Event!
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  10. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    @Kimster - nope, haven't been there since I read this, but it's been the site of a few gruesome events over the years - like a lot of other places I've lived near! Melbourne sure has had its share of murders... but the more I look, the more really weird ones I find. Checking out the old cases is super fun. :) And sad, and creepy.. but also, fun!

    @MissyMoo, I know, right?! And yes, I do love that old style, it's part of the joy of researching these cases. LOL @ Grand Prix... I lived a hopskip from the murder scene, smack in the middle of the race circuit, for TWO Grand Prix before I moved again. Lovely old house, gosh it was nice, one of those tiny-fronted terraces with all the rooms running off one long hallway, and a massive kitchen at the back. Probably worth millions these days!
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