I grew up in an Australian city called Adelaide. I was a teen In the early seventies and Adelaide was the city of churches officially, also known as the City of Parks. Churches and Parks how sweet. How nice? How safe?
In the 1960’s there was a family called the Beaumont’s, where all the siblings were kidnapped as children never to be seen again. The rumours began that a group, (mysterious) all rich, all university graduates, and all paedophiles existed. They said some were judges, lawyers, high ranking cops, Rumours said they held parties, paid someone to procure children and then had them disposed of after they were finished with their perverse use of them, but then the rumours went quiet.
It was 1974, Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirsty Gordon both pre-teen, were at an Aussie rules football match with one of their grandmas and the others parents. The elder girl took the younger girl to the public toilet and after a while families worried when they didn’t return. They were never seen again, but there was a picture a tall man with a hat. The man with a hat, at a stadium, in a town that was really just a big country town where people wore hats.
The people at the stadium that day came in from sheep and cattle farms, to the Footy in hats so they were never found. In the next couple of years teen girls went missing, some good girls, a couple maybe were prostitutes, but they were teens and it was the age of Aquarius so the cops thought they were in a VW mini bus somewhere changing their names to Flower or Moonchild, stoned so no one looked.
A friend of mine, a boy was going through similar molestation to me and was about 15-17 as this was happening and questioning his sexuality. My friend from school answered a personal ad placed by a gay man who promised to help young gay teen come out. They met at a corner shop in the west corner behind Adelaide’s Central Markets and they drove to a house in a working class suburb called Kilkenny. The man my friend met was Italian, but it was ok he thought because we all lived In Campbelltown, a very heavily Sicillian and Napolitan immigrant commuity and spoke dialect so he could understand the man’s broken English. This same man drove a distinctive English import car in a town with proudly Holden’s, the Aussie equivalent of a Chevrolet. My friend and this man went to a house, It didn’t seem right to the boy, he walked passed rooms with sex toys and beds and cameras. There was also alcohol, dope and pills. There were beds in every room and the man instead of chatting and counselling the boy He tried to force drugs on the boy and had left the trunk of the car open just outside the door. The boy had grown over the summer, he was tall and well built, so when he panicked he punched the Italian and ran. The boy grabbed the car keys, used his best cricket arm and threw them over the neighbouring rail line into bushes beside Port Rd.
The papers said teen boys were disappearing, and then the toughest boy at school a street fighter, a golden gloves boxer disappeared. My friend cried, this was his next door neighbour He became careful, he never answered ads again. However instead he started waiting till his family slept and climbed out the bedroom window he went to a lesbian friend’s house where he kept clothes. She had a car and she took him to safe gay clubs and then drove him home to climb through the window before first light. They found his neighbour dead in this hills above Adelaide. He had been raped and all his internal organs removed.
Then the son of a very famous news anchor walked a friend of his 300 yards to the bus stop, The boy had been visiting from the richest private school in the country that they both attended. The news anchors son was never seen again. The father of the boy that went missing was famous and a war veteran so the police started looking. Again there was a picture, a tall man with a hat? Another man with a hat! My friend stopped climbing out the window and played it straight.
Over the next few years they found more boys and 100 kilometres from Adelaide in a country town in a sheep field they found skeletons, lots of skeletons. All female: it was the girls. They hadn’t become flower children they had become dead. There were so many. They called them the Truro murders and there again were rumours about a group — that group. They were now starting to be taken seriously. The girls that were murdered it turned out were separate to the boys killings. It turned out to be 2 men who killed the girls and they only stopped killing because the young one died in a motorcycle crash.
My friend was playing straight. He became tough, a martial artist. He begged his lesbian friend to keep his secret. They arrested the man in the hat and they said he was the clean-up guy for that group and he procured for them. They were sure he was the man in the hat but had no proof. However they could prove he did one murder, the rich news anchors son, The monsters name was Bevan Spencer Von Einem. He received the longest sentence ever handed out in the state, but he refused to talk. He said he could do the time but if he talked he would die so he shut up. In less than twenty years The City of Churches & Parks had become the city of serial killers with almost 2 dozen murders and most were suspected by one group.
The boy, now In his 20’s was watching Australian 60 minutes one day after having read the Adelaide Advertiser that lunch time. The two had worked together, they had traced a man to Italy who they claimed kidnapped all the boys for a group, “that group” and was willing to talk, but only in Italy where he was safe.
As the boy watched the story unfold that night they showed all the boys, his school friend, the rich kid, and even the Beaumont’s and the girls from the Footy. Afterward they showed a picture of the car and the boys heart stopped, he fell to the floor, his family thought he was having a seizure. Like me, he too, was epileptic, but it wasn’t a seizure, it was because as they showed the car they showed the man. It was the Italian from Kilkenny! When asked if any had been allowed to live, he said no but one boy had hit him and escaped. He said that boy was the one who got away! The boy tried to tell the police many times over the following years, he told them where the house was, but the boy had one arrest for being caught under age in a gay club and this was still the city of churches so to this day he was written off as an unreliable little faggot! The boy finally, after a failed marriage came out, he knows love but he is haunted every day as the only person in his town who survived the family murders. The police didn’t want to believe, no make that don’t want to believe that one person could prove by getting the number from the papers archives for the permanently placed ad for the fake teen counsellor, or by checking the Kilkenny house and how the Italian knew the corner shop owners very well. But that’s their problem — the boy left Adelaide never to return he can’t, it is his hell.