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The Brisbane Courier Wednesday 28 December 1898
A TERRIBLE STORY OF OUTRAGE AND MURDER. THREE LIVES SACRIFICED
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One of the most horrible outrages ever reported in this colony was perpetrated on Monday night within a short distance of the quiet little country town of Gatton, a farming centre on the Southern and Western Railway, sixty-one miles from Brisbane.
At 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Constable Murphy, who is stationed at Roma-street, received a telegram from Gatton,
stating that his brother and two sisters had been brutally murdered.
At first he could not credit the dreadful news, and asked to have it repeated; but it proved only too true, and being at once relieved from duty he left for Gatton by the evening train.
Our special reporter's telegram shows that the work of hunting down the murderers has been vigorously commenced by the police; but up to a late hour last night no account of the outrage had been
received by the Criminal Investigation branch in Brisbane.
FINDING THE BODIES.
Our own correspondent at Gatton, writing last evening, sends the following report:
The most startling tragedy that ever stirred our quiet community, or probably any other community, occurred last night within two miles of Gatton, no less than triple murder and outrage!
The victims were Michael
Murphy, aged 29 years; Norah Murphy, aged 27 years; and Ellen Murphy, aged l8 years, all members of one family.
The discovery of the bodies was made this morning by a brother-in-law of the deceased.
It appears that the victims had attended the Mount Sylvia Races through the day, and at night decided to attend a dance to be given in the Divisional Hall, Gatton, and left home for that purpose.
The dance did not come off, and the three left Gatton
for home about 10 o'clock, all being driven in a two-wheeled dog-cart by Michael Murphy.
Not reaching home by 8 o'clock this morning, the mother, Mrs. Murphy, became uneasy, and as a result her son-in-law was despatched to Gatton to make inquiries.
Before reaching Gatton he detected the peculiar track of his own dog-cart, which had one wheel loose and wobbling, entering a slip-panel off the main road, and he
naturally decided to follow it.
Being a stranger in the locality, he thought the track led to some neighbour's house, where the party had decided to take a spell after the ball.
After passing through a wattle scrub in a tortuous manner for nearly a mile, to his horror he came upon the three murdered corpses, also the horse, which had been shot through the head, and was still between the shafts of the dog-cart.
The bodies of Michael Murphy and
Ellen were only about three yards from the cart, and the body of Norah was about ten yards away.
Michael and Ellen were lying back to back, but the girl's face was partly downwards, and within two feet of each other; the other girl, Norah, was also face downwards.
Both girls had their hands tied behind their back with a handkerchief.
Sergeant Arrell was quickly on the spot, accompanied by a couple of townsmen,
and at once took charge of the bodies, which were removed to Mr. Charles Gilbert's hotel.
At 4 o'clock in the afternoon Dr. Von Lossberg, Government Medical Officer at Ipswich, arrived, and made a post-mortem examination of the bodies.
The doctor found Michael Murphy had his skull broken with a stick or blunt instrument; also that Nora and Ellen had been treated in a similar manner.
In the case of Norah it was also found that her brains were
protruding, and that she had a harness-strap tied round her throat so tightly that it of itself would cause death. She also had an incised wound on the outside of the right eye about 2in. long, as if cut with a knife, and several scratches on her face.
The medical evidence further states that both the girls were most cruelly outraged prior to death.
The terrible affair has caused a tremendous sensation; so much so, that all business is paralysed, and
nothing else is talked of.
Both the parents of the murdered trio, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, are very old residents of the district, living formerly at Spring Creek, Clarendon, and of late years at Tent Hill, about eight miles from Gatton; and a more respected or quieter family does not live anywhere, and every member of the family was extremely popular wherever they went.
So far as is known at present, no clue has been
found to the perpetrators.
Michael Murphy was only home for the Christmas holidays. He was engaged on one of the Government experimental farms, under Mr. Quodling.
POLICE AND TRACKERS AT WORK. (From Our Special Reporter.)
GATTON, 12.30 a.m., December 28.
The news of an atrocious crime having been committed has spread like wildfire, and the residents of this district are in a state of intense excitement.
Police and black trackers are being
brought from all the surrounding districts to assist in hunting the perpetrators down.
By the Toowoomba goods train, which arrived shortly after midnight, Paddy Perkins, the famous black tracker, with another blackfellow named Conquian, arrived, and left again immediately for the scene of the tragedy; and Constable Murphy, who is thoroughly well acquainted with the Tent Hill country, and who is now stationed at Chinchilla, has been ordered to assist in