Revealed: The chilling tales of Coast murder homes

 

THEY were once picturesque homes in leafy streets on the Gold Coast.

Today they are the locations of some of the most infamous murders in the city.

 

PART 2: Online Tuesday - Revealing Gold Coast's killer streets with multiple killings

PART 3: Online Wednesday - Manslaughter in the suburbs

 

OAK AVE, SURFERS PARADISE

The scene of the murder of Michelle Cohn.
The scene of the murder of Michelle Cohn.

When: December 26, 1990.

Killer: Shane Sebastian Davis.

Victim: Michelle Joanne Cohn.

 

A convicted car thief killed South African tourist Michelle Cohn by stomping on her neck.

Shane Sebastian Davis, who lived in a Burleigh caravan park, pleaded not guilty to the murder on December 26, 1990.

However, a Supreme Court jury took just over three hours to find Davis guilty of murder. Aged 20 at the time, he was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence. Landmark retesting of DNA evidence 20 years later confirmed Davis' guilt.

Michelle was a quiet, reserved girl who had spent Boxing Day alone at the family's Oak Lodge apartment at Surfers Paradise and was murdered while the family was away.

He said Davis had "deliberately stomped on her neck and chest causing very, very deep, bruising and her to stop breathing''.

Oak Lodge Apartments during the investigation.
Oak Lodge Apartments during the investigation.

The Cohn family arrived in Brisbane from South Africa on December 19.

On December 26 Michelle was last seen wearing her pyjamas but her body was found with her bikini top drapped across her stomach.

Michelle's family departed at 10.15am. They had been there a week and Michelle had developed a habit of going to the pool.

The proprietor of Oak Lodge knew the habits of Michelle Cohn and did not see her at the pool on December 26.

Shane Sebastian Davis.
Shane Sebastian Davis.

The proprietor left the apartments at 11.30am after checking security and the internal lock-up garage and did not return until 5pm. The Cohn family arrived home at 6pm and raised the alarm.

Michelle's body was found near the pool.

"She was wedged into the right-hand side . . . her head was in the back right-hand corner and there was blood on the skirting boards. Her right arm was hanging over the pipe bend at the back of the toilet,'' the Supreme Court jury was told.

Her lower body was naked though there was nothing sexual about the murder.

Murder victim Michelle Cohn.
Murder victim Michelle Cohn.

"There was blood on the toilet seat and there was a length of blue packing tape at her feet,'' the jury was told.

The proprietor had found Michelle's book, hair clip, bag with brochures and wallet in the Oak Lodge refuse room when he had first come home.

Police said finger, palm and shoe sole prints found in the toilet and refuse room matched Davis' and that the shoe sole prints were similar to a pair of basketball boots worn by the accused.

 

WHELAN STREET, RENAMED PENINSULA DRIVE, SURFERS PARADISE

The Southport scene of the murders of Peter Wade and Maureen Ambrose.
The Southport scene of the murders of Peter Wade and Maureen Ambrose.

When: 1991.

Killer: Ronald Henry Thomas. Co-accused John Victor Bobak.

Victims: Peter George Wade, 50, and Maureen Ambrose.

 

One of the men involved in the murder of SP bookie Peter George Wade, 50, and his de facto Maureen Ambrose, 53, in their Gold Coast unit in December 1991 lost his false teeth and left a bloody trail of broken dentures.

Police said one of assassins lost part of a lower bridge dental plate and some natural teeth in a fierce struggle with Mr Wade.

Ronald Henry Thomas, 43, was found guilty of the callous shooting. He was previously been convicted of the murder of a nightwatchman during an armed robbery in 1967 and had spent much of his life behind bars.

Police have been searching for Thomas's co-accused, John Victor Bobak, for almost 30 years.

During the forensic examination of the Surfers Paradise murders, palm and fingerprints belonging to Thomas were found.

The men were believed to be driving a white 1968 Ford LTD sedan.

Murder victim Maureen Ambrose.
Murder victim Maureen Ambrose.

Thomas was charged with the double murder, convicted in 1992 and given two life sentences.

Thomas and Bobak met in prison in the 1970s but during his interrogation Thomas refused to name anyone involved but confirmed he was the third person shot.

Many crazy theories surrounded Bobak's whereabouts after the killings, including that bikies were hiding him in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Police said Mr Wade tried to flee after the killers smashed through the ceiling of the unit. He was shot three times after the struggle and Ms Ambrose was then shot in the head.

"Even though Wade ceased his Sydney bookmaking operations two years ago ... it is possible the killings were the result of an on-going dispute," police said at the time.

During his four-week trial, Thomas told the Supreme Court in Brisbane that he walked into a Sydney police station in January 1992 and told detectives, as he repeated in court, that he had been a victim of two other killers.

Thomas claimed he had been drinking in a hotel with Mr Wade and Ms Ambrose and later went back to the unit to stay the night. He said he was shot in the mouth by a man.

Thomas said the man, who he refused to name because of fear, knew him and took him to a woman's home where he was patched up.

 

 

SURFERS PARADISE UNIT AND POTTSVILLE BANANA PLANTATION

When: December 6, 1991.

Victim: Christine Petersen.

Killer: Lawrence Stehlik.

 

CHRISTINE Petersen's killer just "couldn't take no for an answer".

The model's former de facto husband Lawrence Stehlik stabbed her in the heart, dumped her body in bushland and then returned to his Pottsville banana plantation where he cut his leg in an effort to make it look like self-defence.

Christine Petersen was stabbed to death and her body dumped at Gaven on the Gold Coast.
Christine Petersen was stabbed to death and her body dumped at Gaven on the Gold Coast.

Christine called family on the morning she was murdered, saying Stehlik had been harassing her.

Stehlik had come to her unit and, when a girlfriend prevented him from seeing her, put

a finger to his head and made soft gunshot sounds.

Gold Coast detectives confirmed Ms Petersen called police that morning and was told there was nothing police could do unless Stehlik became violent.

Ms Petersen's body, stabbed through the heart, was found in bushland.

Estranged defacto Lawrence Stehlik intially claimed self-defence but fled to Bega, NSW where he confessed to the murder of Christine Petersen and committed suicide.
Estranged defacto Lawrence Stehlik intially claimed self-defence but fled to Bega, NSW where he confessed to the murder of Christine Petersen and committed suicide.

The search for her had started on December 6. She had failed to return after unwillingly leaving her unit with Stehlik.

"He couldn't take no for an answer,'' said Ms Petersen's friend and boss, former Adelaide and Brisbane TV identity Pam Tamblyn, of the model's former de facto husband Lawrence Stehlik after Miss Petersen's death.

Detectives believe Stehlik bought a fishing knife at Tweed Heads, then lured her into a car he hired, pretending it was a present for her 25th birthday. He got dutch courage from a bottle of scotch, then slaughtered her and dumped her body in the bush.

Then he drove back to his farm near Pottsville, northern NSW, drank more scotch, had a sleep and stabbed himself in a leg to make Ms Petersen's death look like self-defence.

He hitch-hiked to Sydney, where he told his concocted story to a solicitor, saying the body was at Labrador.

Stehlik told his solicitor he had killed Miss Petersen before he shot himself with a rifle at Bega, 430km south of Sydney on December 12.

 

 

BREAKER STREET, MAIN BEACH

Police photograph car outside Teder Avenue, Main Beach where Jacqueline Leyden and John Ski were stabbed to death.
Police photograph car outside Teder Avenue, Main Beach where Jacqueline Leyden and John Ski were stabbed to death.

When: 1999.

Killer: Neil Morrison.

Victims: Jacqui Leyden and John Ski.

 

THERE was barely a day in the last 30 months of her life that Jacqui Leyden did not spend looking over her shoulder.

Desperate to escape the unwanted attentions of the violent and besotted ex-boyfriend who would eventually kill her in February 1999, the Gold Coast madam changed addresses three times, rarely went out alone and frequently contacted her family in tears when he cornered her.

Jacqueline Leyden.
Jacqueline Leyden.

When Neil Morrison, 43 at the time, was sentenced to life in jail for the murders of Ms Leyden, 42, and her friend John Ski, 39, her family and friends agreed Jacqui could finally rest in peace.

The campaign of terror was relentless.

Morrison slashed Leyden and Ski to death in a luxury apartment next door to the strip's focal point, Bar Felix, where more than 60 people were crowded at outdoor cafes.

They watched in horror as Morrison stumbled from the murder scene drenched in blood - he'd also stabbed himself in the neck - and was chased along the street.

In the months before her death, every time Leyden saw Morrison on the street, she ran.

Frequently, as she sat drinking in the heart of the Gold Coast's trendy cafe strip, he approached her armed with a concealed pistol.

One of victims assisted into ambulance after Jacqueline Leyden and John Ski were stabbed.
One of victims assisted into ambulance after Jacqueline Leyden and John Ski were stabbed.

Another time, he jumped in her car and grabbed her ponytail, but was left with clumps of hair and an elastic band in his hand after she leapt from the vehicle and fled.

One day, while starting her car in the secure underground carpark at her Surfers Paradise apartment block, Leyden was amazed to find Morrison hiding under another vehicle watching her every move.

At least twice - including once just weeks before her death - Leyden went to the police asking about restraining orders. But she backed out because the very nature of her business as a prostitute and madam had left her with an innate distrust of the law.

The bewildering aspect of the situation was that Leyden and Morrison had barely experienced intimacy. They had shared a Surfers Paradise high-rise for just three weeks before their relationship fell apart in "discord and animosity'' in 1997.

Police escort Neil Morrison (centre) from the GC hospital. Morrison was convicted of the murders of prostitute Jacqueline Leyden and self-confessed drug trafficker John Ski.
Police escort Neil Morrison (centre) from the GC hospital. Morrison was convicted of the murders of prostitute Jacqueline Leyden and self-confessed drug trafficker John Ski.

Morrison was a heavy-set SP bookie with a record including a 1975 conviction for wounding.

The legacy of his vicious crime was described by sentencing Judge Ros Atkinson as "clinical ... (with) deathly accuracy''.

Leyden was a 1982 Penthouse centrefold who ran the up-market Touch of Class escort service. She operated her business from the tables of Tedder Ave, arriving daily in her trademark black Ford Capri with its personalised registration plate, OOWEE.

She had an infamous past. In 1995, she was embroiled in a political scandal after being linked to Operation Wallah, a joint Criminal Justice Commission and Queensland Police probe into organised crime.

The crime scene at a Main Beach house.
The crime scene at a Main Beach house.

Ski - real name John Adadzynski - was due in court at the time of his death to face drug trafficking charges.

He intended to plead guilty and on the day of his murder had delivered several references to his solicitor's Southport office.

 

 

RIVERVIEW PARADE, SURFERS PARADISE

Police search through a rubbish at Labrador tip for the body of Japanese millionaire Hamago Kitayama. Picture: TROY PURDUE
Police search through a rubbish at Labrador tip for the body of Japanese millionaire Hamago Kitayama. Picture: TROY PURDUE

When: April 1999.

Victim: Hamago Kitayama.

Killer: Akiko Kitayama.

 

A JURY took seven hours to convict "body in a bag" killer Akiko Kitayama.

The Japanese retiree was given a life sentence in the Supreme Court in Brisbane for murdering her wealthy husband in April 1999 by cutting him up with a saw and then putting him out with the garbage.

Hamago Kitayama's body has never been found.

The Kitayamas lived in units on the Gold Coast on self-funded retiree visas. Mr Kitayama, 62, a former member of the Japanese crime group, the Yakuza, put up more than $1 million to secure residency in Australia for himself, his wife and adult daughter Kimiko.

Wife of missing Japanese businessman, Hamago Kitayama, Akiko Kitayama, charged with his murder. Picture: GEOFF MCLACHLAN
Wife of missing Japanese businessman, Hamago Kitayama, Akiko Kitayama, charged with his murder. Picture: GEOFF MCLACHLAN

Kitayama, who did not speak English, was 54 when convicted of the murder.

A three-week trial was told that Kitayama, who was an alcoholic and on prescription medication, had used an electric saw to cut her husband up in a bathroom and put his body parts in plastic bags which were left in the basement to be collected as garbage.

Police did not find a saw and a five-day search of the tip, where the building's garbage would have been dumped, failed to find signs of a body.

 

FLASHBACK: Inside the murder 20 years on

 

The prosecution argued that Mrs Kitayama's motive for the murder was that her husband had become too much of a burden to her since suffering a stroke in 1997.

Hamago Kitayama was reported missing by his wife.
Hamago Kitayama was reported missing by his wife.

It was alleged that she had wanted to claim on her husband's $300,000 life insurance policy but it was never paid out because there was no body.

Her solicitor, Chris Callaghan, told the court the Crown case had rested on a patch of blood on the carpet near the downstairs ensuite, despite the fact that other blood marks were found to belong to the accused and Kimiko.

In police interviews, Kitayama admitted to trying to strangle her husband three times.

He had not been seen in public since April 14, 1999 and it was alleged he had been killed between then and April 25.

They were originally from Yokohama, where Hamago was a Yakuza with interests in a showground and was involved in protection rackets.

At first they lived a quiet life with Akiko socialising and shopping while Mr Kitayama played golf.

 

 

SPRINGBROOK RD, SPRINGBROOK

Police at Springbrook discuss progress in the double homicide investigation of Ann-Maree Kropp and Christopher Nancarrow. Picture: RICHARD WEBB
Police at Springbrook discuss progress in the double homicide investigation of Ann-Maree Kropp and Christopher Nancarrow. Picture: RICHARD WEBB

When: January 31, 1999.

Victims: Christopher Leigh Nancarrow and Ann Maree Kropp.

Killer/s: Unknown.

 

DETECTIVES investigating the 1999 murder of a couple at Springbrook initially believed their killers may have come from the Hunter Valley in NSW.

Christopher Leigh Nancarrow, 27, and his girlfriend Ann Maree Kropp, 23, were murdered in a frenzied stabbing attack at their Springbrook cottage on January 31, 1999.

Murdered Springbrook couple Christopher Nancarrow and Ann-Maree Kropp.
Murdered Springbrook couple Christopher Nancarrow and Ann-Maree Kropp.

Blood that was not from either victim was found at the cottage and police were hopeful they would find a match and solve the crime.

In September 2011 two men were acquitted of the murders. No-one has ever been convicted for the killings despite police rewards of up to $250,000.

Nancarrow and Kropp moved north from Maitland to the Gold Coast searching for a fresh start and a better life.

The couple had been together for six years.

They stayed with friends in Surfers Paradise for a few weeks then moved into a unit at Reedy Creek for six months before finding their perfect mountain retreat at Springbrook.

On their last day alive the couple went to Pacific Fair shopping centre, met a friend at the Ampol station in Mudgeeraba and then visited friends in Oxenford before driving home to their violent end.

It appeared that the couple had gone to bed when their killers arrived and the couple had let them in. Friends did not find their bodies until 7pm on February 1.

A boot with a tread pattern similar to that of prints found at the scene of the murder of Springbrook couple Christopher Nancarrow and Ann-Maree Kropp.
A boot with a tread pattern similar to that of prints found at the scene of the murder of Springbrook couple Christopher Nancarrow and Ann-Maree Kropp.

Kropp's naked body was found lying in the hallway of the ramshackle timber cottage and the body of Nancarrow, also naked, was in a secluded garden, hidden by a front hedge.

Detectives said the scene and the knife wounds suggested that Nancarrow may have been chased into the garden before he was viciously killed.

The pair had fierce rows that frightened neighbours and were unemployed at the time they were killed.

Kropp had worked as a prostitute in brothels in Tweed Heads and Chinderah between January 1998 and July 1998.

Police said both used cannabis and sold it to a small group of friends, but they did not run a large scale distribution network.

A Supreme Court jury in Brisbane in August 2011 was told an associate of the couple gave them $8000 to buy illicit drugs - speed and cannabis - and a Holden Gemini sedan.

 

 

JOHNSTON ST, SOUTHPORT

The scene where the bodies of Bronson Ellery and his ex-girlfriend Shelsea Schilling were discovered on the Gold Coast. Picture: AAP Image/E Jackson
The scene where the bodies of Bronson Ellery and his ex-girlfriend Shelsea Schilling were discovered on the Gold Coast. Picture: AAP Image/E Jackson

When: November 2016.

Victim: Shelsea Schilling.

Killer: Bronson Ellery.

 

BRONSON Ellery left Shelsea Schilling's parents a note apologising for the death of their daughter, changed into a suit and put on his favourite song before killing himself.

Shelsea Schilling and Bronson Ellery
Shelsea Schilling and Bronson Ellery

The former bikie strangled his ex-partner when she tried to leave his Southport unit at 4pm on a Friday, in front of three witnesses.

Known as Lizard Man to police because of his full-face tattoos, Ellery bashed her head against the tiles, leaving her unconscious and with a broken nose, and then pushed her head into a pillow, suffocating her. The 24-year-old then changed into his best suit and played his favourite song before positioning himself next to Ms Schilling's lifeless body and placing her arm over his stomach.

Bronson Ellery. Picture Glenn Hampson
Bronson Ellery. Picture Glenn Hampson

Someone helped the heavily tattooed Ellery take a fatal dose of drugs to end his own life.

The note addressed to Ms Schilling's mother, father and sister was found in Shelsea's handbag.

It told the family, "I'm sorry for taking your daughter's life, she loves you very much".

 

 

BARRINE CRESCENT, COOMBABAH

When: January 2007

Victims: Rosie and Ray Warrington

Killer: Ray Warrington.

 

A RETIREE shot his sleeping wife in the back of the head, then put the gun barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger at their Coombabah home.

The bodies of 64-year-old Rosie and Ray Warrington, 62, was found about 11am in the main bedroom of their rented brick home in Barrine Crescent.

Ray Warrington taken on New Years Eve 2007 at the Runaway Bay Yacht Club.
Ray Warrington taken on New Years Eve 2007 at the Runaway Bay Yacht Club.

Neighbours said the dead couple had sold a house in the area two years earlier and moved into the rented house to be closer to family.

Police told the Gold Coast Bulletin that Mrs Warrington was in bed asleep and lying on her side when Mr Warrington came into the bedroom with a .22 rifle.

"He shot his wife through the back of the head, then sat or lay on the bed beside her, put the barrel in his mouth and shot himself,"' said an officer at the time of the deaths.

Rosie and Ray Warrington with their grandson at their Hollywell home.
Rosie and Ray Warrington with their grandson at their Hollywell home.

Police did not find any type of note in the house, which was immaculately clean inside and out.

A neighbour said: "This is such a quiet street and they seemed such a nice couple, it's hard to believe this has happened.''

Another neighbour said Mr Warrington went to the local pub every afternoon and had a few beers with the locals.

"He never seemed to overdo it and they seemed a close couple,"' he said.

"It has to be the neatest rental I've ever seen and they were as proud of it as if it were their own."'

The house was fitted with an alarm system.

 

MORE COAST CRIME

Shane Ross' wife Alex Ross says her ex-bikie husband was lured to his death on Gold Coast

'You're going to love this': Dentist's 'sinister' sexual assault

Zhenjie Zhang sentenced for extortion and kidnapping of 12-year-old boy

 

 

Originally published as Revealed: The chilling tales of Coast murder homes


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