The McCulkin murders were the murders of Barbara McCulkin (34) and her two daughters, Vicki (13) and Leanne (11), in Queensland in 1974.

Crime edit

On 16 January 1974, the victims disappeared from their home in Highgate Hill, a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.[1] The daughters had been across the street attending a neighbour’s 10th birthday party, returning around 10:30 pm. Their mother had remained at home relaxing and drinking in the company of two men who had arrived in a distinctive coupe.

The McCulkins were reported missing by their estranged husband/father two days later. Investigations revealed an orange 2-door Valiant Charger had been seen in the driveway. Further, the family cats were locked inside, the beds had not been slept in, and the lights and other electrical items remained on.[2] The overall police response was slow and ineffective and the case quickly turned cold.[3]

Trial edit

On 2 April 1980, Vincent O'Dempsey, the owner of the Charger and a criminal acquaintance of the husband, and Garry Dubois, were charged with their abduction and murder.[4] The case, however, fell apart due to insufficient evidence.[5][6]

After a tipoff to Crime Stoppers, in October 2014, the pair were finally charged again based on information that the victims had been tied up, driven to bushland, raped, strangled, and buried.[5] On 28 November 2016, Dubois (then aged 69) was found guilty of the murders.[7] On 26 May 2017, O'Dempsey (then aged 78) was also found guilty of murder.[8] Both were sentenced to life imprisonment on 1 June 2017.[9]

The next day, Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath announced that the state government would re-open the coronial inquest into the March 1973 Whiskey Au Go Go fire.[10] Another related case was the 23 February 1973 firebombing of Torino’s Nightclub, an insurance scam organised by Dubois on O’Dempsey’s orders.[2] Justice Peter Applegarth said "it was clear Barbara McCulkin knew enough about each of the pair's roles in the nightclub bombings at the time for them to want to silence her."[11][12]

Media edit

60 Minutes covered the case and the trial in 2017 in a report called Breaking the code.[2] Both arson cases, the murders, and Dempsey’s extensive criminal history were extensively reviewed in 2020 in an 8-part Australian crime podcast titled Ghost Gate Road by journalist Matthew Condon.[3][13]

References edit

  1. ^ Petrinec, Melanie (29 November 2016). "McCulkin murders: Dubois guilty of murdering McCulkin girls". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b c 60 Minutes Australia: Breaking the code, part one (2017), retrieved 29 December 2021
  3. ^ a b "Ghost Gate Road Podcast | Whooshkaa Studios". Ghost Gate Road Podcast. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  4. ^ Stephens, Kim (19 October 2014). "McCulkin cold case: 40-year mystery leads to murder charges". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b 60 Minutes Australia: Breaking the code, part two (2017), retrieved 29 December 2021
  6. ^ "The McCulkin family murders: How police cracked the case four decades later". Retrieved 31 December 2021.
  7. ^ Kos, Andrew (28 November 2016). "Garry Dubois found guilty over 1974 deaths of Barbara McCulkin and two daughters". ABC News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  8. ^ "McCulkin murders: Vincent O'Dempsey guilty of killing Brisbane woman and daughters". ABC News. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  9. ^ Kos, Andrew; Prosser, Candice (1 June 2017). "McCulkin murders: Cold-blooded killers Vincent O'Dempsey, Garry Dubois sentenced to life in jail". ABC News. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  10. ^ Statement from Attorney General Yvette D'Ath on Whiskey Au Go Go Inquest
  11. ^ "Whiskey Au Go Go fire: AG orders inquest into 1973 night club firebombing". ABC News. 2 June 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  12. ^ "'Cold-blooded' killers jailed for life over McCulkin murders". ABC News. 1 June 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2021.
  13. ^ "Whooshkaa launches true crime podcast, Ghost Gate Road". Radio Today. 23 November 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2021.