Horrible Man - Sinister Secrets and Truths Untold:
The Portland Hair Salon Murders by Leonie Wallace

It is one of Australia’s worst unsolved crimes. The seaside regional centre of Portland in Victoria’s South West unwittingly played host to a disturbing double homicide.

On a Friday afternoon as the wind-down to the weekend begins, two women are held hostage in a hairdressing salon, known as the Old London Coiffure. Inside the historic bluestone corner building, overlooking a busy T-junction, a callous killer is holding two middle-aged grandmothers captive. Hairdresser Claire Acocks (49) and her client, Margaret Penny (58) scream and fight for their lives. The walls and floor are sprayed and soaked with the victims’ blood, their bodies battered and bruised from repeated stab wounds and rough handling. Their throats cut.

Two unlikely victims and an unlikely crime scene at an unlikely time of day. No motive, no weapon found, no known offender; but, someone, somewhere, knows the truth. It is a long time to keep such a shocking secret – it has now been more than 20 years.

Former journalist Leonie Wallace overcomes her own fears to examine in depth this heinous crime, tracing the lives of those closely connected, including members of the victims’ families, witnesses and suspects, to present some important and revelatory evidence.

This is a disturbing account, however, it is not just a book about murder. It is a multilayered story of great courage and love as those at its epicentre continue their quest for justice and closure.

 

 

______Horrible Man by Leonie Wallace : Published by Fontaine Press, Australia 2012________
Horrible Man - Sinister Secrets and Truths Untold: The Portland Hair Salon Murders by Leonie Wallace

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Inside 'Horrible Man'


 

Chapter 1 - "I don’t like hairdressers. I’ll be back.”

– The ‘Horrible Man’.

 

 

Chapter 2 - Portland

“Every crime is solvable, it’s just a matter of finding the right key – that lucky break to open the door – the right suspect and everything fits in. But homicide investigations are rarely as simple as that. There are usually hundreds of keys.”
– Former Victoria Police Homicide Squad Detective Senior Sergeant, John Morrish.

 

 

Chapter 3 - Leaving Home

“She was my best friend.” – Peter Acocks
“We were good friends and we had a lovely life.”
– Robert Penny

 

 

Chapter 4 - The Crucial 90 Minutes

“I went in the front door, tried to open the hairdresser’s door again, but it was locked. I also knocked on the door again – no answer.”
– Shirley Endersby.

 

 

Chapter 5 - Discovering the Bodies

“Oh my God, we’ve gotta get out of here and call the police.”
– Hairdresser, Kay Edwards.

 

 

Chapter 6 - The Early Police Investigation

“Investigations take their time. I didn’t feel any frustration because why would they interview me? I thought they must have had somebody in mind, you know, that type of thing. But the police do their job – it’s not for me to wonder why.”
– Former Portland mayor, Robert Menzel, whose memory of a man he saw running from an area near the crime scene was not transformed into a computer-generated image until two years and nine months later.

 

 

Chapter 7 - Becoming Involved

“… a fox terrier can bring down a Great Dane if it bites him on the balls!”
– Supportive husband.

 


Chapter 8 - Suspects and Theories

“I’m 100% sure none of my work leading up to it contributed to it.”
– Tim Acocks discounting the possibility his job as a policeman led to the death of his mother.

 



Chapter 9 - Portland man, Gordon Smith

“He couldn’t be alibied, he was seen in the area and appeared to have been affected by drugs at the time.”
- Mr Morrish

 

 

Chapter 10 - Melbourne man, Russell Smith

“Russell thought that he was not the perfect son that his dad wanted.”
– Russell Smith’s friend, Sharyn Lovett.

 

 

Chapter 11 - Murder at Sunbury

“I found Renita to be someone with an infectious smile, to have a bubbly and outgoing personality...She was also a devoted mother.”
– Robert Brunton, husband of murder victim, Renita Brunton.

 

 

Chapter 12 - Murder at Bendigo

“We could have hung our hats on it.”
– John Morrish reflecting on initial suspicions the Bendigo killer may have been responsible for the Portland murders.

“It is a front row seat to the greatest show of human behaviour. You get to meet people from all walks of life, all profiles, the good, the bad and the ugly.”
– Former Victoria Police Homicide Squad Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Newman, looking back on his career of almost 38 years in the force.

 

 

Chapter 13 - Adelaide man, Stuart Pearce

“Human beings are really strange things. I have been a copper for 34 years and nothing surprises me to this day. I have seen it all, believe me.”
– Sergeant Steve Harding of South Australia Police.

 

 

Chapter 14 - Murder at St Andrews

“I’m going to have to do something for some money. I’ve killed for money before. I might have to do it again. It’s easy; you just go home, wash up and go to bed. It’s just like a job...If I came home and put $10 in your hand would you care where it came from? It’s just like a job.”
– Alleged conversation by St Andrews murder suspect Lloyd Thompson.

 

 

Chapter 15 - Inside the Criminal Mind

“This is somebody who has been able to get in there, do the deed, stay for a while and extricate themselves very effectively without being caught. It tends to suggest somebody that is more bad than mad.”
– Forensic psychologist, Tim Watson-Munro.

 

 

Chapter 16 - Claire Acocks

“I know of people who used to complain about people snoring, but snoring can be the best music in the world; ask any widow. I still get into the car and sit there waiting for someone else to get in.”
– Husband, Peter Acocks

 

 

Chapter 17 - Margaret Penny

“She was the best mum in the world. I don’t know – what do you say about your mum – she was my best friend...She was just a really special person.”
– Jacqueline Penny

“A great wife and a wonderful friend.”
– Robert Penny

 

 

Chapter 18 - A Cold Case

“...the bell tolls even on each man’s individual island, to recognize that every man must fear the witness in himself who whispers to close the window.”
– Writer, A.M. Rosenthal, commenting on the apathy of witnesses who chose not to intervene as a woman named Catherine ‘Kitty’ Genovese was murdered in New York in 1964.

 

 

Epilogue

Beep, beep. ..
“Saw your article in 2days Standard I know who killed those women I have a story that has never been told”...

 

Chapter 19 - Click here (register for updates)

 

 

 

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