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Vic NANETTE MAE ELLIS: Murdered in Boronia, VIC - 1984

Discussion in 'Australia: Cold Cases' started by Lily, May 22, 2015.

  1. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member


    On 10 February 1984, Ms Ellis went to work as normal and made plans to go out to dinner that evening with a number of work colleagues.

    At around 5.15pm, Ms Ellis was seen by a passer by pulling into the driveway of her Manuka Drive house in her yellow 1982 Toyota Corolla sedan.

    Sometime after entering the house, Ms Ellis was attacked by an unknown offender(s) and stabbed a number of times.

    Her body was found at the rear of the family home shortly after 6pm by her 16-year-old son Greg who had been at a neighbour’s house watching TV.

    In the days leading up to her death, Ms Ellis’s vehicle was the subject of a number of rock throwing attacks on her way to and from work. A number of other vehicles in the area were also damaged in the same way around the same time.

    Following the rock throwing incidents, her car was also subject to a series of vandalism attacks in her driveway where paint was tipped over the car, the tyres were slashed and the radio aerial and number plates were removed.

    The incidents were investigated by local police, however no suspects were identified and no clear link was able to be established between the rock throwing incidents and the vandalism, or her death when later investigated by the Homicide Squad.

    A reward of up to $500,000 will be paid at the discretion of the Chief Commissioner, for information leading to the apprehension and subsequent conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Nanette Ellis.


    According to police, 41 yo Nanette, a single working mother who was employed as an advertising manager for the local paper, had no known criminal associations and was well-liked in her community.
  2. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Feb 2014:

    In the days leading to her death, Ms Ellis' car was the subject of a number of rock throwing attacks on her way to and from work.

    It was also vandalised in her driveway, with paint tipped over it, tyres slashed and the radio aerial and number plates removed.

    Local police investigated the incidents but no suspects were identified.

    Ms Ellis was so scared of the attacks that she had arranged for people to stay with her and for police to escort her to work.

    The night she was killed was the first time she was alone, prompting police to believe she was being stalked and watched by her killer for days.
    Homicide Squad Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey said police reviewed the cold case file three years ago but still haven't found a suspect or a motive.

    "If people don't come forward, we won't solve this case," he said.

  3. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    According to the author of the True Crime Reader blog, who spoke to police in charge of Nanette's case, serial killer Peter Dupas has definitely been ruled out as her killer.


    The facebook account dedicated to Nanette is no longer available, except on webcache:

    This is probably the most detailed article I could find on Nanette's case, it's really worth reading - there's very detailed crime scene info and statements from all her kids.

    $500,000 reward and new evidence could crack the 30-year-old mystery of who murdered mother Nanette Mae Ellis

    Ms Ellis was scared enough at the time of her murder to have stashed weapons by the front door for several days before she was attacked.

    Sadly, she never got the chance to use the gun and rounders bat to defend herself.

    Forensic evidence suggests her killer surprised her from behind, stabbing her in the neck outside her bedroom door.

    Ms Ellis bravely fought back and tried to escape by running through the house towards the back door.

    The fact the knife cut through her vocal cords meant she was unable to scream for help or alert neighbours as her killer chased her.

    Another of several knife wounds inflicted during the ferocious and frenzied attack severed Ms Ellis’s jugular vein.

    She bled to death sprawled on her back on the rear patio of the home she shared with her two teenage sons.

    The reason Ms Ellis was so scared in the days leading up to her murder was she and her car had been subjected to a serious of incidents between January 31 and February 6, 1984.

    Rocks were thrown at her car on successive days as she drove from home to her Belgrave office.

    The car’s windscreen was smashed on two occasions and another rock burst her radiator on a third day.

    Her yellow Toyota Corolla sedan was also subjected to a series of vandalism attacks in the driveway where paint was tipped over it, the tyres were slashed and the radio aerial and numberplates removed.

    The attacks were reported to police, who ended up offering to follow Ms Ellis on her drive to work each day in the hope of catching the offender red-handed. They also had patrol cars drive past her home at different times of the day and night.

    Police had escorted her to work on the Friday she was murdered and were due to escort her again the following Monday.

    Friends had also been staying with her at night following the vandalism incidents.

    The last attack on her car was in the driveway of her home on Monday, February 6, four days before she was murdered.

    By the Friday of that week Ms Ellis was beginning to think whoever was doing it had stopped and a few girlfriends were taking her out for a meal that night to take her mind off what appeared to be a vendetta against her.

    Her car was seen pulling into her driveway about 5.15pm and her son Greg discovered her body shortly after 6pm.

    Mr Ellis was attacked while wearing the clothes she had on at work that day, which suggests she was killed within minutes of arriving home as she had intended getting changed to go out with her friends and didn’t have much time to do so.

    When her body was found her belt was undone, as was the top button of her jeans and the zip was pulled down, which suggests she was attacked as she was preparing to get changed.

    Other than that, her clothing wasn’t disturbed and there was no evidence she was sexually assaulted.

    Her son Greg, then aged 16, left the house about 30 minutes before his mother got home. His brother Craig left shortly afterwards, also before his mother got home.

    Ms Ellis had various items in her car to carry into the house when she arrived home from work about 5.15pm, requiring at least two and probably three trips.

    Police presume she went backwards and forwards between her car and the house without shutting the door, so somebody could easily have followed her in. There was no forced entry.

    Kimster likes this.
  4. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    this sounds more like a nightmare than a true story. Can you imagine? :(
    MissyMoo likes this.
  5. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Sadly, I really can, Kimster. Too many woman have murdered in their homes in this city for me not to be able to.. :(

    I also used to live quite close to that house, albeit many years later. And you know, I hadn't heard of this case until quite recently, so I'm very happy to include it here in our cold case files. There's very little media avaialble in archives, that I can presently find. And aside from the last article I posted, none with any detail, they all seem to repeat the same sparse info.

    I know there was a story on Nanette in Woman's Day (I thnk? I'm pretty sure) some time ago now. I'll try to hunt it up, if I can.
    MissyMoo and Kimster like this.
  6. MissyMoo

    MissyMoo Bronze Member

    thank you Lily for the links. Someone was determined to get to her weren't they? I hope The 16 year old son who found her was looked after properly in the aftermath of his mothers murder. There is no mention of dad in MSM? Hopefully grandparents or loving family took good care of him. He would have needed it.
    Lily likes this.
  7. MissyMoo

    MissyMoo Bronze Member

    Only four days before Valentine's Day. Coincidental?
    Kimster and Lily like this.
  8. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Hey, I didn't notice that.... good call!

    It sure seems like her killer was keeping a very close eye on Nanette and the activity around her home. It certainly progressed in violence as time went on. The vandalism seems .. idk, childish? Someone not very mature, emotionally, physically or both.

    I'll spend time time tomorrow scouring about for reports from 1984.
    MissyMoo likes this.
  9. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member


    Nanette was a very attractive lady, and had a lovely personality.

    Her killer's behaviour escalated extremely quickly - the attacks on her property started on Jan 31st, seemed to end on Feb 6, and she was murdered on the 10th.

    I don't have much doubt that whoever was slashing her tyres, etc, is responsible. Clearly her car was a stand-in for Nanette herself.

    I wonder if they've ever suspected a woman?
    Kimster and MissyMoo like this.
  10. MissyMoo

    MissyMoo Bronze Member

    Agree Lily she was a beautiful lady in all of her photographs. The vandalism of the car does seem prank like! The sort of stupid stuff teenagers do. Nanettes son was 16 years old at the time, could this have been a teenage "crush" on Nanette from someone the son knew? You know hormones raging etc etc at that age and got out of control with the worst possible outcome. I'm sure VicPol would have followed up anything like that though at the time, they are known for how thorough and determined they are.
    Lily likes this.
  11. Inspector Rex

    Inspector Rex Member

    Has to have been someone who lived close by.
    Kimster and spike like this.
  12. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    I agree, @Inspector Rex. What in particular makes you believe so?

    Welcome to Crimewatchers, by the way.
    Kimster and spike like this.
  13. Inspector Rex

    Inspector Rex Member

    Mostly just the vandalism of her car and being targeted and terrorised prior to the murder.
    A neighbour could do this without being seen.
    A neighbour could also have slipped in and out the back of her house and gone home to clean up, before the murder was discovered.

    Thanks for the welcome :)
    Kimster, spike and Lily like this.
  14. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    Glad to have you aboard, @Inspector Rex!


    This case seems more like a Hollywood Terror movie than real! Do you think maybe the person was obsessed with her? It looks that way to me but I don't want to sound like I'm writing a script either.
    spike and Lily like this.
  15. Inspector Rex

    Inspector Rex Member

    Well, I only know what I'm reading in the (scant) newspaper reports, so I know relying on these can give a wrong impression. However, it is frequently repeated, so it's my only clue. First she is described as being "popular and attractive" as well as "friendly". These sound like euphemisms for a someone who might be seen as a threat by other women. She had been targeted with threats and vandalism for a while beforehand and this seems to me as if it was probably a warning off. The reports say she was so frightened that she had a police escort to work and kept weapons by the front door. This makes me think that she would have definitely kept the house locked and I haven't yet seen any reports where the murderer had broken into the house. So this person either knew where the spare key was kept or was able to get into the house when someone (probably the boys) was home and lie in wait for Nanette. She was murdered almost as soon as she arrived home, so if the person was not in the house, then they were close by (thus my neighbour theory). Her face was the main target of disfigurement, and this is suggestive of someone who saw her looks as a threat. She was not sexually abused, so my feeling is her murderer was probably female. So someone who felt threatened by her, because she had attracted her husband/father/brother/boyfriend; a young but mature woman; someone who lived close by; someone who had an accomplice (in the terror campaign at least), so her brother/boyfriend.
    Kimster, spike and Lily like this.
  16. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    This is a very thoughtful assessment of the available info.. thanks for it! I mentioned a few posts back, that I wondered whether police ever considered a female offender. Though men can also be spiteful and commit these type of obviously spiteful acts, I too think there's a very good chance a woman was involved, and for deeply personal reasons.

    The literal "de-facing" of a victim does happen in male-on-female crime, also, though, and is a way for the killer to gain a sense of having destroyed the victim, utterly. Sometimes it's simply to avoid ID of the victim, but obviously not in this case. Here, it was sheer unadulterated rage. Rape wasn't a motive at all. This person sought to terrorise Nanette, and then to not just kill her, but completely remove her from the world. Like it was all a punishment.. so yes, I agree, a woman very well may have done this. It's a very feasible theory. I also think a woman could be more than capable of doing it alone.

    It could have been a young male like Peter Dupas, too (Dupas himself has apparently been ruled out by police, for reasons not given) - he committed a similar attack on a neighbour, no attempt at direct sexual violence, just a knife attack out of the blue.

    I suspect, anyway, that it was somebody who wasn't confident that they could physically overpower her, due to the blitz attack on her throat after lying in wait, and the fact she still managed to get out of doors. So I think, not a strong adult male.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
    Kimster and spike like this.
  17. Inspector Rex

    Inspector Rex Member

    Yes, it was a frenzied attack, but sloppy and would have probably left the murderer with A LOT of blood on them. Her body was discovered about 6pm on Feb 10, so it would have still been bright daylight at that time in summer. Had a person been seen, covered in blood, in the vicinity of the house then someone would have noticed and commented. Unless the person had a raincoat on during the murder or something else that covered them and could be balled up and disposed of later? Regardless, the person must have been very calm (and that's hard to believe) after the event, very lucky not to have been seen running away, or belonged in the area and their presence was not out of place. I think most likely the latter and they were able to go straight to their home and change and wash off the blood and dispose of their stained clothing without raising suspicion.
    Lily and Kimster like this.
  18. Enigma

    Enigma Member

    I agree with Rex and Lily on this one, that it could have been an act of jealousy. Perhaps a woman jealous of her car or her property in general? Maybe even her love life as it was just a few days prior to Valentines. Although women who are jealous of the victims love life generally attack the face, it's still plausible.
    Lily and Kimster like this.
  19. Inspector Rex

    Inspector Rex Member

    Hi Enigma, you said "Although women who are jealous of the victims love life generally attack the face, it's still plausible. " Most of the reports I have seen refer to her having been stabbed in the neck and head. Not sure if her face was disfigured, but certainly this was the general area of the attack. It's possible that the attacker was targeting her face, but in the frenzy of the attack and the fact that she wasn't disabled immediately but made it out onto the back patio, the disfigurement was not completed as one might have expected in a Jealously motivated attack.

    I just re-read this report from 2014 when the reward was offered and it supplies quite a bit of information. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/la...anette-mae-ellis/story-fni0ffnk-1226820965440
    Lily likes this.
  20. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    I haven't seen many cases involving stabbing attacks of this type, in which the injuries are all centered on the victim's head.

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