HE HELPED TO CATCH MR STINKY
Norm Gillespie remembers the suspicion and hearsay that ripped through Shepparton when teenagers Garry Heywood, 18, and Abina Madill, 16, went missing on February 10, 1966.
The pair was last seen at a pop concert at the Civic Centre on Welsford St, sitting in Garry’s car about 10.30pm. That car was found empty at 5am the next morning at Victoria Park Lake, with no sign of Garry or Abina.
“I can’t remember how I felt, other than I knew they hadn’t run away together—I must’ve known something was amiss, but I have no memory of ever suspecting they’d been murdered,” Norm said.
“There were a lot of stories going around the tech school—it was big news. Some terrible things were said that broke the Madill family’s heart.”
The worst fears were confirmed when Garry’s and Abina’s badly decomposed bodies were found 16 days later at Murchison East.
Police reports said Garry had been tied up with stockings and shot in the head, while Abina had been raped and bashed to death.
Her neatly-folded clothes and shoes were placed near her body.
“Of course, everyone was under suspicion—there was a lot of finger-pointing,” Norm said.
Many suspected the fruit pickers that flooded Shepparton during the summer months for work, while fellow teen Ian Urqhart was hounded by police and media as a suspect.
Ian later moved overseas, where he was killed in an accident.
Three years later, at 18, Norm joined the police force. He believes the murders may have been a motivating reason to join, as were respected police officers Joe Ogden and Les O’Keefe, who had helped him when he was younger.
“It’s unique, it’s freakish, it’s coincidental — here it is, a 15-year-old Shepp kid who knew the victims, who went to the same concert, who joined the police force and then later joined the task force and was involved in the arrest and prosecution,” Norm said.
Years went by. Norm and fellow detectives Dennis Hanna, Ken Mansell and Dennis Lucas continued the investigation, but faced many dead ends.
Meanwhile, in the 1970s and 1980s, a notorious serial rapist was operating in the Melbourne suburbs. Dubbed the Donvale Rapist, the offender raped at least 30 women. He would often tell the victims that he wanted to be loved, and was frequently barefoot during the violent attacks.
A foul body odour described by the victims led to the nickname Mr Stinky—a name now notorious in Australian crime.
“Many of the rape victims said he had this body odour about him. Some said it was diesel, some said it was detergent, some said it was sperm. Some said it was cow s***. No-one really knew, just that it was awful,” Norm said.
Then came the break — fingerprint expert Sergeant Andrew Wall matched two fingerprints found on the top of Garry Heywood’s car in 1966 with a print left behind by Mr Stinky.
They had their murderer —now they had to identify him.
The victims helped police put together what Norm calls an ‘‘effigy’’ — a mannequin with a sculpted head that was used to try to identify Mr Stinky.
Billboards went up across Melbourne with the face of this effigy, urging the public to call in with information. Thousands of phone calls gave multitudes of leads — but all of them led nowhere.
“It was a brilliant investigation — we used all these different ways and means of trying to identify him,” Norm said.
“People would be ringing us up and saying all these names of who they thought it was, but Ray Edmunds was not once ever mentioned—he slipped through.
“Dennis Hanna is the crucial man that drove this investigation, and he said, ‘The p**** that murdered these kids in ’66 is still alive because he’s left his prints behind at a rape scene’.”
Then in 1985 came the moment that blew the case wide open. Police in Albury arrested Raymond Edmunds after he was found masturbating in a car on Dean St.
Legislation in NSW at the time meant fingerprinting was mandatory on arrest—if Edmunds had been in Victoria, which didn’t have the legislation, he could’ve slipped through the net again.
The prints were sent to Melbourne and quickly identified as the same prints from the man suspected of the 1966 murder and numerous rapes.
Norm was camping out at Katamatite with Ken Mansell, Dennis Hanna and Dennis Lucas when they received the call. They arrested Edmunds on March 22, 1985.
“Our biggest fear, and it won’t leave me—and Dennis Hanna will say the same—was the sixhour time limit for interview,” Norm said.
“We were s****ing ourselves—what happens if we interviewed him and he said nothing? But he didn’t—when he asked to see a priest at St Kilda, that’s when we knew it was turning.
“He ran out of luck, and our luck changed.”
Edmunds confessed to the murder, and later took the detectives to Murchison East for a re-enactment, pointing out the place where the bodies of Garry and Abina were found.
Driving to Murchison, Norm sat in the back of the car with Dennis and Edmunds.
“I felt cold. He had a coldness coming off him,” Norm said.
“He sat between Dennis Hanna and myself on the way to Murchison East that night, and he said, ‘I’m like a sick dog, I should be put down.’ I didn’t want to bash him or hurt him, I wanted to sit down and work him out.”
Edmunds eventually pleaded guilty to murder, and is now serving a life sentence with no minimum term. He is now 71 years old.
Edmunds is also suspected of killing Melbourne mother Elaine Jones at Tocumwal in 1980—he was working in the area at the time. Elaine was found in the Murray River with her throat slashed, and her husband died of a heart attack while trying to pull her body into the boat. Their daughter, 7, was in the boat at the time and had to swim back to shore for help.
Norm still thinks about the Mr Stinky case. He has written to Edmunds in jail, urging him to confess to any other murders he was involved in, particularly that of Elaine Jones.
But Edmunds has never written back.
“I wrote letters to him, hoping he would meet God and confess to other murders, but I’ve never heard from him. It’s frustrating,” Norm said.
“It lives with you always. He had a rat cunning. I always think back to those who were left behind — it’s a nagging pain that won’t go away for them.
“He’s never come out publicly and expressed remorse; but he did tell us he would’ve, at one stage there, willingly have gone to the gallows.”
Almost 50 years ago the murder of Shepparton teenagers Abina Madill and Garry Heywood changed Shepparton forever. Fingers were pointed, accusations were made, suspects were hounded — but it wasn’t until almost 20 years later that a fluke led to the arrest of Raymond Edmunds, better known as “Mr Stinky”.Norm Gillespie was 15 when the murders happened. He joined the police force three years later and worked as a detective on the taskforce that eventually arrested the notorious Mr Stinky 30 years ago yesterday. He spoke with journalist CHLOE WARBURTON about the tenacious police investigation and the moment where Edmunds’ luck finally ran out.Abina MadillGarry Heywood Raymond Edmunds, “Mr Stinky”Norm Gillespie