Former cop: Murphys Creek murders should have been solved
FORMER Toowoomba policeman Ian Hamilton believes the Murphy's Creek murders of nurses Lorraine Wilson and Wendy Evans would have been solved in the 1970s had homicide detectives acted on information provided by local uniformed police.
Mr Hamilton told The Chronicle he and fellow officer Charlie Chapman had gone to Brisbane-based homicide detectives who had taken over the case when the bodies of Lorraine Wilson, 20, and Wendy Evans, 18, were found in a paddock off Murphy's Creek Rd in 1976.
Then Constable Hamilton and Senior Constable Chapman had been called out to reports of screams on the Range on the night of Sunday, October 6, 1974. Because of windy conditions, the officers couldn't find the source of the screams.
"When they found the bodies (in 1976), we went back and checked our duty logs and linked it back to the night of the screams, that Sunday night," Mr Hamilton said.
Early in the investigation, a green and white EJ or EH Holden sedan had been nominated as a car linked to the women's disappearance.
"We knew the car," Mr Hamilton said. "It was very distinctive with chrome wheels, low at the front and higher at the back.
"We were traffic police and Charlie and I had pulled that car over many times.
"We had heard stories about the blokes associated with that car assaulting people or grabbing girls and trying to put them in the car.
"I can even recall issuing defective vehicle tickets in respect to that vehicle, including the fact there were no interior door handles or interior window winders fitted to the rear passenger doors."
The officers took their concerns to their station sergeant who set up a meeting with the homicide detectives handling the case.
"I remember speaking to a detective in his late 40s or early 50s and he wrote down everything we told them in a police issue book," he said.
"This was not a standard issue pocket size police notebook but a foolscap size book, which from memory was called a field activity book or something similar.
"I gave them all the names of the people I knew to be associated with that car.
"I even gave that detective a police notebook with the names and the movements of people associated with that vehicle around the time the girls disappeared in 1974."
Mr Hamilton said the names he provided to detectives included people that a coronial inquest into the murders earlier this year had nominated as "persons of interest".
Among seven persons of interest nominated by the coroner, Allan John "Shorty" Laurie, Wayne "Boogie" Hilton, Donald Laurie and Larry Charles have since died.
"I never heard any more about it and assumed the detectives had run out the leads and nothing came of it," Mr Hamilton said.
"It wasn't until the inquest (earlier this year) that I found out there was no record of our meeting with the detectives and no record of the police book in which the detective recorded our information or my police notebook. So I don't think the detectives acted on it.
"If it wasn't followed out they missed a golden opportunity to get the suspects.
"There is no doubt in my mind that if those leads were followed up the case would have been solved, and solved quickly, because they (suspects) would have bee sh***ing themselves and someone would have squealed.
"Whether they would have got them all I don't know but someone would have been brought to justice.
"I'd never realised that until the inquest."
Mr Hamilton suspects professional arrogance may have played a part in the inaction of detectives.
"For some police there's a sort of 'them and us' mentality between detectives and uniform police," he said.
"Some detectives, especially back then are funny and have a feeling of being the elite police and smarter than uniform police.
"There are a couple of other occasions throughout my 40 years service that I've gone to detectives with information only to be told to mind my own business.
"Then down the track they find out I was right with my information.
"However having said that, I have some good friends who are or have been detectives, with the greater majority of detectives doing the right thing and following through on leads from uniform officers and are grateful for any information or assistance provided to them.
"In the Murphy's Creek murders, I don't believe that happened, otherwise I am sure the outcome would have been different."
Mr Hamilton said his was not a case of sour grapes; he was simply disappointed at the apparent lack of action on the information provided by himself and Snr Const Chapman.
He felt for the victims' families that nothing more positive had come out of the coronial inquest.