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Vic FIONA BURNS & SCOTT LEE: Teens murdered in Kaniva, Vic - 1990

Discussion in 'Australia: Cold Cases' started by Lily, May 11, 2015.

  1. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    THEY were drawn to the freedom and the dangers of living like street kids — and 24 years later detectives still don’t know who killed them.

    Part-time outcasts Fiona Burns and John Lee died hideous violent deaths while hitchhiking across the South Australian-Victorian border.

    The bodies of Melbourne girl Fiona, 15, and Adelaide boy John, 14, were found in grassland alongside the Western Highway on October 18, 1990, about 1.6km on the Victorian side of the border.

    Both had multiple stab wounds — Fiona lying facedown near trees and John about 50m away.

    Fiona’s handbag was found by the roadside about 1km from the bodies.


    Fiona and John are believed to have left Adelaide to hitchhike to Melbourne in early October.

    She had written to her dad, saying she was heading home with a “surprise”.

    That surprise was presumably her friend John.

    Detectives traced the pair’s movements to Bordertown.

    Fiona, with a distinctive maroon mohawk haircut, had woken up a truck driver between 10pm and midnight on October 10, asking for a cigarette and a lift to Melbourne.

    The driver refused.

    Ten days later, an elderly couple stopped their car in bush off the Western Highway, near Kaniva, 412km northwest of Melbourne, to collect gum nuts.

    They made the grisly discovery.

    The young friends had been dead for several days.

    The fact six days elapsed before their bodies were found hampered the investigation.

    A year after the gruesome double murder, police announced a $100,000 reward for information.

    “They didn’t have two cents to rub together, so we don’t think robbery was the motive,” Sen-Det Darren Bracken said at the time.

    MissyMoo, Kimster and MarlyWings like this.
  2. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    This case deserves far more attention than it's gotten over the years. It was a very strange and brutal crime.

    Lots of details in the article posted above... strangest of them being that Fiona had reported being involved in some sort of Satanic cult group, though her family said this was just her overactive imagination.
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  3. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Investigations revealed both teens had been stabbed to death.

    Homicide squad Det Sen-Sgt Ron Iddles said there was a distinct chance someone in the community, apart from their killer, could shed light on their deaths.


    A positive sighting was made of the pair on October 10 at the truck stop, where a truckie remembered Fiona - especially her maroon mohawk haircut.

    She had asked him for cigarette and a ride to Melbourne, but the driver told police he refused.

    It is likely they were murdered shortly after that last conversation between 10pm and midnight.

    MarlyWings likes this.
  4. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    It chills me to read about it even though it's decades later. Let's get the word out, everyone! ANY TIP LARGE OR SMALL!!!
    MarlyWings and Lily like this.
  5. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    There's something that draws me very strongly to this case.

    If Fiona, like a huge number of kids who spent time in the streets, liked to hang out at the Flinders St steps in the city, then there's a good chance I might have passed her by now and then. The place had real draw to it, it was (and still is, to a lesser extent..) a magnet for kids of many subcultures.

    I understand her family having serious doubts about the dark occult stuff Fiona talked about, but imo there's a chance t wasn't all untrue. There was a massive occult scene here in Melbourne in the late 80's and early 90's - and while I think 90% of the occult crowd would most likely have scoffed at the idea of 'Satanists' (as they tend to be thought of in more mainstream circles, anyway..) there were people here and there who took it all a bit more seriously than the average seriously disgruntled teenager. So while I highly doubt this had anything to do with her death, or that of poor little "Jazz" Lee, I'm not wholly doubtful that Fiona might indeed have experienced something quite scary or met up with some of the 'out there' types that got around Melbourne back then.

    I guess I'm hoping one day maybe some of those 'kids' (ofc adults now) from back in the day who might have known her will read this and feel moved to speak up, even just to acknowledge her life. There's so little information around about this case, it's very sad.

    I was reading an article that mentioned Fiona's poor mum was in very poor health a few years back, and was just hoping for some kind of chance to find some peace...

    They may be gone, but they will not be forgotten.
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  6. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

  7. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Fiona had multiple stab wounds to the chest and lungs, John Lee had a single stab wound to the chest. Both bodies were clothed. There was no evidence of sexual assault. Info from:



    I'd like to know where Fiona's bag was found, exactly. All I know so far is "1km away" - but in what direction? On the side of the road or not? The lack of media detail is annoying.


    At the time, homicide squad detective sergeant Rod Wilson told The Age he believed the pair had been murdered elsewhere, then dumped in the scrub about 30 metres from the Western Highway. There had been no attempt to conceal the bodies.


    In 2011, detectives got a call from someone regarding a vehicle that could have been used in the murder:

    "We have no description of the vehicle. What we're asking is the caller to ring back and provide us with more information with regard to that car and any other information that they can."


    I can find no mention of that caller ever contacting them again.
    Last edited: May 11, 2015
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  8. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

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  9. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    The caller rang back years after the murders? I am surprised that law enforcement didn't get a tracking on it. Everyone has caller ID these days?
  10. MissyMoo

    MissyMoo Bronze Member

    Thank you Lily for opening up this thread. I lived in Victoria at that time, and sadly this is the first I have heard of Fiona and John.
    Lily likes this.
  11. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Hi MissyMoo and welcome to CW. Yup, it's one of those crimes that -should- get more national attention, be household knowledge, but just isn't. It was a horrible crime, and one that doesn't make much sense other than some crazy wanted to kill a couple of kids.

    No rape. John killed perfunctorily, with a single stab wound to the chest (heart, I wonder?).. and Fiona suffering a much worse, more frenzied attack. The only motive visible is the act of killing itself. They are dumped not together, but 50m apart. Police believe they were killed in another location and transported to where their bodies were found. Why would anyone do that? Maybe they were killed in a truck (or a car, but they were hitching rides with trucks, it seems).

    Somebody has to have suspicions about that vehicle, the person driving it. I have a strong feeling somebody out there has a lot weighing on their conscience. It just makes sense, unless the killer was a true loner.
    MissyMoo likes this.
  12. MissyMoo

    MissyMoo Bronze Member

    Yep that's it Lily. You can see in their photos the innocence in their little faces. I'm nearly 50 so maybe just sounding like an old grandma, but late 80s early 90s in Victoria was perhaps not as safe as what people like to believe. I don't know how you see it? Near the time frame of Fiona and Johns murder 1990, Mr Cruel was on Melbournian families high alert, maybe deliberate move of MSM at that time not to overwhelm community? The abduction of Pru Bird (presumed murdered) from Essendon (I think?) was similar in its lack of coverage. I'm not saying any of these cases are related other than MSM minimised their reporting of?
    Lily likes this.

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