I will be moving on from Frankston and Melbourne after this post. I was writing up the unsolved murder of Sarah MacDiarmid and as I concluded it I saw this case. So here is a full account of what is readily known about the murder of Michele Brown, one of many unsolved killings from Melbourne between 1980 and the mid 1990s.
It might seem I am concentrating on this part of the world unfairly. After all the UK has big cities and they have unsolved crimes. There was something really strange going on in the Australian city back then. Here are the victims that I know of:
Joy Summers, 55.
All of these ladies were killed between May 1980 and October 1981. They have been linked to a single killer or group of killers by the Victoria Police.
Then you have the disappearance of Sarah MacDiarmid in 1990 and the murder of Michele Brown. I mean that is a lot for a city of less than 300,000. I can’t even say for sure that is the total and if you know of others please let me know.
1st March 1992
(Please note a $1 Million Australian dollar reward was announced by Victoria Police in August 2022. Details below)
Ms Brown started her last day on earth in Baxter on the outer eastern edge of the city. She got ride to a friend’s home in Frankston. It was her birthday and she stayed at this friend’s place till about 7pm. Together the pals walked to a convenience store on the Frankston-Dandenong Road. You might recall this roadway as the last place that Joy Summers and Allison Rooke were seen.
Once there Ms Brown called her home. She lived with her mother, father and brother. She arranged a lift home and the pick up point was to be Frankston Railway Station. This place was a fair walk away from the store. An estimate I have seen is about 2 miles (approx 4km). It was Australia’s summer time so all this took place in daylight.
At 8pm her mother arrived at the appointed place, but could not see her daughter so she drove around looking for her. When she could not see her she returned home. It was unusual for Ms Brown not to be where she said she would be. On balance, however, it was not strange for her to take off with friends for a few days. After all, this lady was 25 years old so no alarm was raised.
Between 8pm and 9 pm a taxi driver later told police he had seen Ms Brown at a call box at the station. At 9pm a witness on Playne Street ( this street runs very close to the station’s southern edge) heard a woman screaming.
I am speculating here but given Ms Brown’s age and past history of doing her own thing the family believed she was safe. They did not report her missing until 13th March.
On 14th of March an employee at a gun store on Playne Street went into an old shed that was on the edge of the railway just south of Frankston Station. He was following a rather foul stench that was coming from the corrugated iron structure.
There he found Ms Brown’s body. From the images I have seen this shed was near derelict and anyone could have accessed it.
All this has come from the Victoria Police website. If you follow that you get the picture of a victim very much like Sarah MacDiarmid. Ms Brown had unfortunately developed other issues that made her a potential victim.
After having a promising athletic period in school she had injured her knee. The family attribute this problem to a turning point in Ms Brown’s life. By the time 1st March 1992 came around she was using drugs and associating with a criminal crowd.
A senior detective said, in 2013, that she was out to score drugs on the evening she disappeared. Her mother is quoted as confirming all the details of that night. She did go to the railway station and look for her daughter. She also supports the police belief that it was buying drugs or owing money for drugs that got her daughter killed.
Sen-Sgt Iddles told the Herald Sun:
‘I think there has been a dispute in relation to drugs or money and she has been attacked and left to die in a shed at the back of the gun shop.’
He also indicated he was very sure as to who the culprit was. The Australians use terms that mean something to them that could have us scratching our heads. In fairness it is the same all over. For example in the USA petrol is called gas. In the UK gas is what you heat a home with not what you put in your car. Down under if you call a criminal a ‘standover man’ you mean an enforcer, a hard case who extorts money. It is a ‘standover man’ who was active in the area that this cop thinks killed Ms Brown.
In the Herald Sun article the cop all but names just such a man who in the early 1990s was likely seen arguing with a woman at 9pm. The cops think this woman was Ms Brown. This would tie in with other witnesses who heard the scream I mentioned above.
However upbeat and positive the cop was back in 2013 there was never any claim for the $50,000 reward that was offered. Despite the assertion that people in the ‘drug crowd’ would know who did what nothing has been heard from them.
So was it as simple as that? When I say simple I mean no disrespect, but bad things happen to drug users. If not the obvious, as in overdoses and disease, they fall foul of violence and exploitation. So is the death of Ms Brown another sorry tale of our modern times in that respect?
Obviously the cops have the file and the family have way more knowledge than I do. I am not linking the deaths of the 1980s victims or Ms MacDiarmid to this case. I am leaving a bit of room for doubt however.
In a period of just 13 years you have the murder of eight women. Most were last seen in a relatively small area of Melbourne. In most cases there is a link to the public transport system and all are unsolved. It would only take a few witnesses to be wrong in the case of Ms Brown to turn the story on its head. If the scream had been from an unrelated drunken argument then that piece of evidence is gone. If whoever put in the word that this ‘standover man’ was to blame was wrong that link dissolves too.
Look after yourselves