Day 8: The Wanda Beach Murders
Updated: Apr 18
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The Wanda Beach Murders happened on January 11, 1965 in Sydney, Australia and devastated the community.
It started as a fun day for Christine Sharrock, Marianne Schmidt and all of Marianne’s siblings. Going from their little community onto the train and then to Wanda Beach. Unfortunately it was too windy out onJanuary 11, 1965 so much of the beach was shut down. However, the group found a great little place by the rocks at the south end of the beach to have a picnic.
After they finished their picnic Christine and Marianne decided to take the rest of the kids on a walk along the sandy hills at the back of Wanda Beach. They walked for a while until the younger children started to complain about the windy conditions. Trying to appease the children Marianne and Christine stated that they would head back and grab everyones belongings. Then once they returned they could all make their way home.
To the children it seemed odd when Marianne and Christine left the group. That is because instead of going back towards the beach they continued on into the sand hills. One of Marianne’s brothers even told them that they were going the wrong way but they just laughed and kept on walking. A small mistake that would prove to be fatal.
The rest of the group stayed behind the sand hills until 5p.m. at which time they ended up grabbing their belongings themselves and heading home. It is unclear if anyone looked for the girls before leaving. It is also unclear if the children were more worried since obviously the girls had not come back to their belongings. By 8:30p.m. they were home and Marianne’s grandmother reported the girls missing.
On January 12, 1965, only the next day, Peter Smith was walking with his three nephews through the sand-hills. On the north side of the surf club he discovered what he thought was a mannequin buried in the sand. When he went to move some of the sand away he discovered that it was actually a human body.
Immediately the police were called and showed up to the scene. At the beginning they believed there was only one body in the sand, but that wouldn’t last for long. Marianne was found lying on her right side, with her left leg bent. Christine was found on her stomach with her head touching the bottom of Marianne’s left foot. Both of the girls had scratched on their face and there were drag marks leading up to the bodies. This portrays that at least one of the girls ran but the murderer caught up and dragged them back.
Near the girls bodies a bloodied knife blade was found but it was not linked to the murders. Christine’s cause of death was 14 stab wounds and a blow to the back of her skull. Marianne’s cause of death was 6 stab wounds and her throat was slit. Although her brother stated she looked like she had almost been decapitated from stab wounds. It seemed as if rape had been attempted due to semen being found on both girls but both hymens were still in tact during autopsy.
It was discovered that the last sighting of the girls was at 12:45p.m. They were seen walking north of the surf club and the witness said they seemed to be hurrying. The witness also said one of them kept looking back searching for someone but no one was seen following them.
This suspect came from a very odd ‘clue’, probably not the right word, but you will see what I mean. A former detective in the case got a painting from Alan Bassett in 1975 and he believed this was a confession to the murders in some way. Alan Bassett was already in jail for killing a 19 year old woman only a year after the girls were murdered. The painting he sent to the detective was called ‘A Bloody Awful Thing.’ The detective believed that the painting shown the sand hills of Wanda beach, blood trails, a knife, and a body. In his mind this was the murderer showing his murder. It is unknown if he Alan Bassett has been cleared or remains a suspect in the case.
Christopher Wilder was convicted of a gang rape on a Sydney beach just two years before the girls were murdered. Christopher Wilder also came to the USA in the 1980s where he became a serial killer. In 1982 he was visiting Australia again and got charged with 2 sexual assaults. When he went back to the USA he ended up murdering 8 people before 1984 was over. He accidentally killed himself after a run in with the police.
Derek Percy was convicted of murdering a child in Victoria in 1969. He has not been released because he was deemed too dangerous. However, he is a prime suspect for multiple other child murders around Australia. He was linked to the place and time of the murders but no other connections could be made so he was never convicted. He died of cancer in 2013.
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