A reopened inquest into the deaths of two nurses found beaten and trussed up in Australia’s Queensland bush over 40 years ago, has revealed they were tied to a tree for days.
This second inquest into the 1974 murder of Sydney nurses Lorraine Wilson, 20, and Wendy Evans, 18, follows a previous one in 1985 which ruled death by “foul play.”
No-one was ever charged.
The nurses’ murder is considered one of Australia’s most disturbing, unsolved crimes. Their skeletal remains were found near the town of Murphy’s Creek in 1976. The women’s skulls had been crushed and their bones were found tangled up in cord from a venetian blind.
Wilson and Evans were last seen in October 1974 leaving a relative’s Brisbane suburb home. The nurses planned to hitch-hike to Goondiwindi to pick up a car and drive to Sydney.
One of the witnesses at the inquest, Betty Staid, who gave evidence via phone, said a now deceased person of interest in the case — Donald ‘Donny’ Laurie — had lived with her for five weeks in the 1970’s and told her information about the murders.
Ms. Staid recalled one occasion when the pair were watching a crime television show about the killings. Laurie admitted to her that he had wanted to give the women water when they were tied to a tree for two or three days.
“I was in shock and said: ‘How did you know that, Laurie?’,” Ms. Staid said she replied at the time. “He looked at me like he’d said too much and said: ‘I hear things.'”
Ms. Staid also said Laurie had once offered to take her to the crime scene but she refused to go.
Two other surviving persons of interest have given evidence at the inquest.
A third, Desmond Roy Hilton, is due to take the stand.
However, the two men who testified, Allan Neil ‘Ungie’ Laurie, 63, and Terrence James Jimmy’ O’Neill, have both said they did not kill the nurses.
O’Neill told the packed Toowoomba court:
“To the families of the two girls, I never had anything to do with these murders of your sisters or friends or whatever they were. If my mates were involved in that, then I hope to Christ that it brings you closure in this court system.”
“I know they’re dead now but it disgraces them, or whatever it takes, anyhow. I’m very very sorry for your loss of those people.”
The inquest was told the men were known for abducting women, taking them to the bush, then beating them and raping them. Both Laurie and O’Neill deny this claim.
That information came from Trevor Hilton, uncle of another key suspect in the case — Wayne “Boogie” Hilton. Hilton said his nephew and a group of friends would ambush young women in Toowoomba on a weekly basis.
Mr. Hilton said the group which included the now deceased Allan John ‘Shorty’ Laurie, Donald ‘Donny’ Laurie and Larry Charles were known for their violent behavior towards women.
The inquest continues and now moves into day four.