The Society Murders is the name given to the 4 April 2002 parricide of husband and wife millionaire socialites Margaret Mary Wales-King, 69, and husband, Paul Aloysius King, 75, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, by Wales-King's 34-year-old son, Matthew Robert Wales. News media throughout Australia covered the crime and subsequent trial, which later became the subject of a book and a television film.[1][2]

Melbourne Society Murders
Date4 April 2002 (2002-04-04)
LocationMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
CauseDeath by strangulation
  • Margaret Mary Wales-King
  • Paul Aloysius King
  1. Matthew Wales
  2. Maritza Wales
  1. 30 years' imprisonment with a non-parole period of 24 years
  2. Two-year suspended sentence

Double murder


On 4 April 2002, the victims, Margaret Wales-King and her second husband, Paul King, attended the Glen Iris home of Wales-King's youngest son Matthew Wales, a former hairdresser, and his Chilean-born wife Maritza Wales for dinner. That evening, Wales made, then drugged, their vegetable soup with crushed tablets stolen from his mother to make them drowsy.[3]

He then killed his mother and stepfather as they left the house by clubbing them to the back of the neck. After hiding the bodies in the front yard he then abandoned their car in Middle Park. After renting a trailer with his credit card, he wrapped them in doona covers and hid the bodies in his garage for two days.[3] While searching for a bush burial site, he purchased a map and petrol on his credit card too.[3]

The couple was initially reported missing to Malvern Police by Wales-King's daughter on 8 April, and on 10 April, their vehicle was found.[4] On 29 April, park rangers discovered the shallow grave in bushland near Marysville, Victoria.[4] The two were buried one on top of the other with King lain above Wales-King.[3] Autopsies indicated that the couple had been clubbed and also strangled.[2]

Confession and arrest


Wales's erratic behaviour drew the attention of both his family and investigators, especially given that he did not initially mention to his family that the couple had visited him the night they disappeared.[3] On 11 May, after confessing to police, Wales was charged with the murders.[5] He mentioned burying his mother lower than his stepfather in order to diminish her domineering character.[3] He also told police that King was killed because "he blamed him for his parents' separation".[6] His wife was charged with being an accessory after the fact to both the alleged murders.[4] Wales had participated at the couple's funeral just three days earlier (seated away from his four older siblings) and was photographed weeping and embracing his elder brother.[4]



At the Victorian Supreme Court, Wales pleaded guilty and was convicted of the murders.[6] He was sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment with a non-parole period of 24 years.[7] The trial judge found Wales, partly due to his low IQ, murdered the couple because he resented his mother, particularly when using her wealth to manipulate him.[7] His wife pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice and received a two-year suspended sentence.[6][8] She was found not to have played any part in the actual murders.[7]


In 2003, Melbourne barrister Hilary Bonney wrote a book about the murder, The Society Murders: The True Story of the Wales-King Murders.[1][9] The book was written without co-operation from the Wales-King family and was based largely on court evidence and police documents.[1]

The book was later adapted as a 2006 television film, The Society Murders for Network Ten, written by Greg Haddrick and Kylie Needham for the production company Screentime. The film starred Georgie Parker, Alex Dimitriades, Matthew Le Nevez, Terry Norris and Julia Blake.[1]

The story was also examined on the episode "The Enemy Within" of the series Behind Mansion Walls presented on Investigation Discovery.[citation needed]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d Miller, Kylie (22 July 2005). "TV treatment for society murders". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  2. ^ a b Munro, Ian; Gregory, Peter (12 April 2003). "Case closed - but not for an angry family". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The Society Murders: A Narelle Fraser Case - #36 - YouTube". 8 February 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Cox, Kate; Dasey, Daniel (12 May 2002). "Son charged with Wales-King murders". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  5. ^ "Wales in court on parental murder charges". The Sydney Morning Herald. 14 May 2002. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Milovanovic, Selma (18 October 2002). "Wales pleads guilty over murders". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  7. ^ a b c "Son sentenced to 30 years jail for double murder". ABC News. 11 April 2003. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  8. ^ Medew, Julia (20 February 2007). "Society murderer's wife guilty". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  9. ^ Bonney, Hilary (2003). The Society Murders: The True Story of the Wales-King Murders. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 9781741141207.