Monday, April 10, 2017

20 - The Family Murders (Part Two: The Family)

In the years since pulling Roger James from the Torrens River back in 1972, Bevan Spencer von Einem had lived a relatively mundane life... at least, from the outside looking in.

He was now an accountant for a supplies company, edging closer to forty years old, and he lived with his mother in a small house in northeastern Adelaide.

However, it turns out, that on the side of his everyday "good ol boy" demeanor who endeared himself to his mother's older friends and played it nice at work, he was a sexual sadist that liked to abduct, drug, sexually assault, and occasionally murder young men between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five.

When one looked at Bevan von Einem, they didn't see a monster. Very few violent offenders actually look like a monster. Most people saw a man who wasn't terrible-looking, despite having a very particular look: his chin was very large, and his hair had been prematurely graying since he was sixteen years old. He needed to frequent a hairdresser  - a friend of his named Denis St. Denis - at least once a month in order to bring it back to the darkened shade of his youth. One word I've seen used to describe Bevan Spencer von Einem is: soft. I think that's a pretty apt description of him, because he looks exactly like what you'd imagine an accountant from the 1980s to look like.

Bevan von Einem apparently suffered from insomnia and other sleep issues, which had forced him to resort to late night, alcohol-fueled drives around Adelaide to comfort himself. Later, it resulted in him having prescriptions to multiple sleep agents, such as Mandrax and Rohypnol. This is what put him on the map of police, now investigating the high-profile murder of Richard Kelvin.


Hello, welcome to the Unresolved Podcast. I am your host, Micheal Whelan, and this episode is part two of my take on the Family Murders. If you haven't listened to part one, I highly encourage you do that, because this episode is a direct continuation of that story, so you might be a bit lost.

Before I officially begin the episode, I have to make a mention of something. In the last episode, I prefaced the story with a pre-apology, warning anyone that my terminology when it came to certain things might not be up-to-snuff. Throughout the episode, I utilized words such as "transexual" and "homosexual," both of which were - I later discovered - unacceptable. I apologize to anyone that may have been offended by the usage of those words, and I promise that that is a mistake I will remedy in the future. In an episode full of dark and grisly acts, I honestly didn't concern myself with looking up the proper terminology, and that is unacceptable on my part. For that, I am sorry. I can only hope that it didn't detract from the story itself, which is one that needs to be told.

I also apologize, in that I'm still recovering from a really bad case of allergies. I recently made the move from the west coast to Georgia, and it turns out that I'm allergic to the South. Who knew? Anyhow, if my voice sounds a bit scratchy, that's why.

To recap the last episode: in 1979, the body of 16-year old Alan Barnes was found, having been drugged and sexually assaulted by his killer before being dumped along the bank of the South Para Reservoir. Within months, police discovered another body - that of 25-year old Neil Muir, a known vagrant and drug user - which was mutilated, almost beyond recognition. He, too, had been raped, just like Barnes. They thought they had found their suspect - Dr. Peter Millhouse - but that lead turned out to be a dead-end, and he was eventually acquitted of all charges.

The murders seemed to cool off for a couple of years, but in 1981, 14-year old Peter Stogneff went missing. His body wouldn't be found for over a year, and during that time, 18-year old Mark Langley would go missing after an argument with his friends next to the Torrens River. A little over a week later, Langley's body would pop up, having been drugged and having the same sexual wounds as Alan Barnes and Neil Muir.

A few months later, a farmer who was burning away the dead crops on his vast acres of land stumbled upon the charred remains of Peter Stogneff. Police weren't able to find any evidence from his remains, but they did find the same type of saw wounds that had been used to mutilate Neil Muir's body, so they linked him to the same killer, as well.

Then, in 1983, fifteen-year-old Richard Kelvin was abducted in just a block or so away from his home, in North Adelaide. Richard was the son of Channel 9 News anchor Rob Kelvin, and his disappearance gave the investigation the highest profile imaginable.

The search to find Richard Kelvin ended just shy of two months later, when geologists stumbled upon his body in the Mount Crawford Forest. He had been held for at least a month by his abductor, and had the same horrifying sexual wounds as the other victims. And just like Alan Barnes and Mark Langley, he had been drugged by a variety of chemical agents, the most noteworthy of which was Mandrax, a prescription drug.

When police began to look at who had been prescribed Mandrax in the past, a familiar name popped up: Bevan Spencer von Einem. He had been implicated in three of the four abductions thus far, and with this link, police were able to take a further look at von Einem and his associates.

Police began to dig in further to investigate von Einem, and the allegations regarding him. An anonymous caller - who would later become known to detectives - had called just two days after the murder of Alan Barnes, alleging that von Einem was responsible. When he'd been questioned about it, he'd admitted to being gay, and admitted to a prior relationship with Neil Muir, the second victim.

Then, apparently, after the discovery of the fourth victim Mark Langley's body, von Einem had been investigated again, when it cropped up that he may or may not have sexually assaulted two young men down by the Torrens River in the preceding weeks. When questioned about Langley, he denied any involvement, but admitted that he had been in the area on the night in-question, and had been both drinking and driving.

Now, police had a direct link between him and the crimes: a prescription to Mandrax, the sedative that had been used to drug at least two of the victims. Investigators were now not only linking him to the sexual assault of a teenage boy named George, but also the murders of Mark Langley and Richard Kelvin.

Police were now eager to question von Einem, doing so surprisingly. They questioned his whereabouts on the night of Richard Kelvin's disappearance, and he quickly responded with an alibi: that he'd been sick. Apparently, he'd contracted the flu in the early weeks of June, and had actually taken an entire week off of work to recover.

Of course, this wasn't much of an alibi at all, it just served as an admittance of having an excess of time to himself. He had a doctor's note, but the appointment had been a quick one, in which he was prescribed more drugs to sleep and recover.

During this same bout of questioning, he revealed to investigators that he had been prescribed Mandrax for his insomnia, which he also treated by driving around for countless hours during the night and drinking. He also spilled that he had been prescribed Rohypnol in the past - "roofies" for short.

Police inquired if he'd consent to a search of his property: not only his home, but both of his vehicles. He responded by telling the investigators that he no longer owned two cars, just the one. His other vehicle, a Ford Falcon, had been sold just a month beforehand, in June. This also happened to be roughly a week after Richard Kelvin's body had been dumped in the Mount Crawford Forest, and he had gone through the effort of repainting the trunk before selling it to a family friend. He had not repainted the entire car - just the trunk.

When police inquired about his connections to the victims, von Einem had quick answers that seemed prepared. In a prior interview, he had made a small quip about being held up by a man of either Italian or Greek heritage; and in this interview, he told a similar story about a different incident involving a man of Lebanese descent. He seemed to deflect questions by attacking minority groups, detectives thought. Then, when asked if he would ever commit an act such as murder, he responded by saying that it was "unethical," which detectives viewed as a very odd response to the free-form question.

Needless to say, investigators quickly realized that they had found their man. Now, they just needed to prove it.


After the first victim, Alan Barnes, had disappeared, Adelaide police had received a phone call. This was back in 1979, before they would learn about the depths of this unknown killer's depravity. They still believed that Barnes had been killed by someone known to him, making the crime a personal one, and not the act of a sexual sadist.

The phone call, made by an anonymous caller two days after Alan Barnes' body had been found, alleged that the young man had been murdered by Bevan Spencer von Einem. Now with von Einem in their sights, Investigator O'Brian and his colleagues wanted to get back to that original caller, to find out all that they knew.

Surprisingly, they were able to track down the caller. I'll simply refer to him as Investigator O'Brian does in his nonfiction book about the case, as "Mr. B."

When police spoke to Mr. B, they were surprised by a number of things. First of all, he was a younger bisexual man, who was barely a shade over twenty years old. He claimed to have befriended Bevan Spencer von Einem in June of 1979, at around the same time that Alan Barnes disappeared.

In order to avoid being spotted speaking to police, Mr. B went through a series of hoops to meet up with Investigator O'Brian. But he did, and told the police more than they had bargained for.

Mr. B described, in detail, how he had befriended von Einem, and how the two had become partners-in-crime. Mr. B told investigators about the cooler von Einem had in the backseat of his car at all times, full of beer which he would then try to ply on young-looking men that were walking on the side of the road.

Apparently, the two were successful in many of their endeavors. They preyed upon young men that were hitchhiking, and they would play themselves up as party-goers on their way to a fun function. Mr. B told investigators about the drugs von Einem would encourage his passengers to take, which he described to them as "No Doz," but was actually drugs such as rohypnol or Mandrax.

In the first part of this story, I told you about a young man named George, who claimed to have been picked up by a stranger and taken to the home of a transgendered woman. Mr. B, who we can only assume knew nothing of George or his statement to police, informed police about Bevan von Einem's transgendered friend, named Pru Firman, who would host him and any guests in exchange for drugs.

Mr. B also told police about how von Einem's mother would leave for a relative's house every other weekend, allowing him free reign. And he also described how von Einem's old home had had a very particular driveway, allowing him to abduct young men and teenage boys from driveway to his bedroom without being seen by any neighbors.

Mr. B also claimed to have been present during several of these abductions, but insisted that he always left before things got sketchy. He described one incident in detail, about how von Einem had drugged a pair of boys and begun sexually assaulting one in a way that was reminiscent to how the four victims had been found, before he decided to get out of dodge.

Despite this hiccup in his testimony, alleging fact but avoiding any repercussion, this was a huge get for the investigators. Not only was Mr. B filling in the gaps in the investigation where they had nothing, he was connected von Einem to the actions of a serial predator operating in the area.


Police finally had all that they needed, to at the very least build a case against Bevan Spencer von Einem. They had eyewitness testimony, they had von Einem implicating himself in multiple statements, they had statements claiming that he was a sexual predator of sorts, and now it was time to find the physical evidence.

They arranged to search his home in the Fall of 1983. The search went off without a hitch. In fact, it went a little TOO well for detectives to believe it was real.

Police searched his home and his vehicles. Sure enough, in the back seat of his car was a cooler, just as Mr. B had stated.

Inside, things looked like a regular home. There was no apparent evidence of a crime scene; no blood spatter on the walls, or a torture chamber. But von Einem openly admitted to having the drug rohypnol in the bathroom's medicine cabinet, which he had apparently obtained for sleep reasons.
Inside von Einem's bedroom, he had a large harp, which he was apparently quite good at playing. This is random, but would become a part of von Einem's defense later on.

However, when police searched his bedroom, they discovered a "hidden ledge" on the inside of his closet. There, still in the bottles that they had come in, were the drugs valium, Mandrax, and Noctec.
When he had been asked about the drugs, he had claimed to have had Mandrax in the past, but allegedly ran out in the preceding months. He had remained ignorant of both Valium and Noctec, and trace amounts of all of these drugs were found in the blood stream of Richard Kelvin.

Police had long-believed that their killer - or killers - would have been a sort of high-intellect type, with the way that the bodies had been cleansed of evidence and meticulously abducted. However, von Einem appeared to be inept, a buffoon who had trouble simply covering his tracks. He had hid the evidence linking him to a high-profile murder case like a Scooby Doo villain would have.

On the night of that first search, Investigator O'Brian remembered circling by von Einem's home that evening. He remembers staying for a good amount of time, parked down the street, just sitting and watching. In von Einem's driveway was a car, which O'Brian would later discover belonged to a local businessman, whom I'll refer to as "Mr. R." Investigators would later go on to finger Mr. R as being an associate of von Einem's, and a potential suspect, but never had enough evidence to move forward.

However, on the night where von Einem was officially searched as a suspect in the murder of Richard Kelvin, this acquaintance was there until the very early hours providing some sort of counsel or support.

A short time after this, on November 3rd, police arrested Bevan Spencer von Einem for the murder of Richard Kelvin. They wanted to try and link the other three murders - four if you included Peter Stogneff - at a later date, but wanted to move forward with Kelvin's murder case now.


Over the next few months, as von Einem awaited trial, police began to tear his house upside down, looking for any forensic evidence that could link him to Kelvin or any of the other young men.
They took a good amount of hair fibers from his clothing and furniture to the labs, where it would take some time to test against the DNA of the victims.

In the meantime, as police began to dig around von Einem's life, they discovered a few odd things.
Many of his coworkers, who had worked with him for months or years, described him as being very tame. He was a pretty quiet guy, but he also had bouts of being odd. Sometimes, when someone asked him mundane small-talk questions, such as how his weekend had been, he would respond inappropriately in the guise of a joke, suggesting that he had murdered someone. Or, in one occasion, had been seen acting inappropriately with young men in front of a coworker.

von Einem's associates also had a little bit screwy with their personal lives. His acquaintance, who I referred to as Mr. R, owned a local two-story business. When police did a search of the building, they discovered that almost all business was done on the bottom floor; the top floor was reserved for management, and one of the closed doors revealed an empty room that contained just a mattress.
This man was also spotted by police scouring the local areas where gay men met up, and was seen hitting on younger-looking men whenever he could. He would apparently close his business almost every day at lunch to walk around some of the nearby hot-spots, and police found this to be very odd for a man that seemed so professional from the outside.

Mr. R also had a roommate, who was allegedly involved with these murders in some capacity. His name was Stephen George Woodards, and he was an Adelaide-area doctor who would be surrounded in claims of sexual assault for decades, until facing charges in 2011 for crimes he allegedly committed in 1981 and 1982.

Ties linked these three men - von Einem, Woodards, and Mr. R - to other alleged group-members, including Derrance Stevenson, a high-profile lawyer murdered by his teenage lover in 1979 - a case that made international news when his body was discovered in his own freezer - and Gino "Luigi" Gambardella, one of Stevenson's associates who fled Australia in 1980 after multiple allegations tied him to sexual assaults of young men in the Adelaide area.

This searches led to no conclusive evidence, unfortunately. However, this was showing police the circles that Bevan Spencer von Einem ran in: a group of older men that preyed upon younger men. If what they were doing wasn't illegal, it was definitely unethical, and bordered somewhere between the two at the very least.

However, when the forensics returned from von Einem's home, they discovered a clear link to prosecute their guy.


Up until this point in the story, von Einem had denied any wrongdoing. He had been spotted with Alan Barnes in the days before his murder, had admitted to not only knowing Neil Muir - but carrying on a sexual relationship with him, and had admitted to driving in the exact area Mark Langley was murdered at the exact time he was abducted. But he had claimed to have had nothing to do with the disappearance of Richard Kelvin.

However, forensics proved otherwise. The clothes that Richard Kelvin went missing and was later discovered in contained fibers that linked directly to von Einem's bedroom and clothing. They found fibers from one of his cardigans on Richard's clothing, as well as fibers from his bed and floor.

Now that he had supposedly been pinned, von Einem chose to change his statement. Of course, this was totally unrelated to this burgeoning evidence, as von Einem toiled in a local jail. But nonetheless, von Einem chose to admit that on the night of Richard Kelvin's disappearance, he HAD encountered the youth. In his amended statement, he said that he had been driving in the area to pick up some food, and was driving around Richard's neighborhood, looking for parking.

And then, this is where von Einem's story crosses over into disbelief. He claims that he had encountered Richard, who wanted to come along with him that evening willingly. He stated facts that the newspaper reports had: that Richard had been going through some issues at school, that sort of thing - and said that he had talked to Richard as a friend. This took place at von Einem's home, of course, where they simply talked and hugged and played von Einem's harp for a couple of hours, before von Einem dropped him off at a bus stop and gave him twenty bucks to get back home.

However, this goes against three points: the fact that Kelvin had not gone willingly with whoever picked him up, based on the testimony of multiple witnesses that heard screams and shouts, and that von Einem had apparently been sick and bedridden all week long. Also, the fibers that examiners had found on Richard Kelvin's clothing implied that they were recent additions to his clothing; and since he had been held for over five weeks, it would have had to have been closer in time related to his discovery than his initial disappearance. This meant that the fibers would NOT have been present if he had been at von Einem's in June, but rather if his clothes had been at von Einem's closer to Richard Kelvin's discovery in July.

Needless to say, police and prosecutors didn't believe von Einem's statement whatsoever. It was just further proof to them that he was no criminal genius, just a sicko trying to stay afloat as he began to drown.

Now, by his own statement, he was the last person to see Richard Kelvin alive. Prosecutors called for his trial immediately, and by the Fall of 1984, von Einem was pleading not guilty in the murder of Richard Kelvin.


The trial of Bevan Spencer von Einem took place in 1984, and was a relatively tame affair.

After leaning on circumstantial evidence in the trial against Dr. Peter Millhouse in 1980, the police and prosecution wanted to go with a more heavy-handed approach, linking von Einem with not only the drugs found in Richard Kelvin's system, but also the fibers linking Kelvin to von Einem's home, and von Einem's own sketchy alibi and excuses.

von Einem's defense was flimsy at best. He had already claimed to have taken Richard Kelvin back to his house on the night that he disappeared, but claimed to have been sick the entire week afterwards. Then, on the night that medical examiners believed that Richard Kelvin's body had been dumped, he claimed to have been at a family friend's birthday party, along with his mother.

von Einem also claimed that, in the conversations he had had with Richard Kelvin on the night he disappeared, that the young man was struggling with his bisexuality. His family vehemently denied this, stating that he was heterosexual and had a girlfriend. Furthermore, there was no proof of this being the truth other than von Einem's say-so.

On November 5th, 1984, the jury deliberated for seven-and-a-half hours, ultimately leaning in the direction of guilt. Bevan Spencer von Einem was found guilty of Richard Kelvin's murder, and sentenced to a punishment of life in Yatala Labour Prison.

One of the first guests that would visit von Einem in prison would be none other than Mr. R, the business owner that had been tied to von Einem's nefarious activities.

As he began his sentence, police looked forward. They were already chomping at the bit to try and pin him for any of the other murders, but were still absent the necessary proof.

Justice had been found for one victim, but the police still had four related unsolved murders. Sadly, over thirty years later, the same thing can still be said.


Over the next few years, things were relatively quiet on the investigative front. Police were trying to find a link between von Einem and the other murders, to at least extract some kind of information out of him or his associates.

All that they had was the circumstantial evidence of the drugs found in von Einem's possession, which was much more of a slam-dunk case in Richard Kelvin's case than any of the others. Kelvin had been held and tortured for weeks, meaning that almost all of the drugs found in his system had been found at Bevan Spencer von Einem's home. Meanwhile, Alan Barnes and Mark Langley showed trace amounts of some drugs, but not all. And unlike Richard Kelvin, there was no forensic or physical evidence linking von Einem to their disappearances.

As the years passed, and the four unsolved murders languished in cold case hell, people began to speculate about two questions. The first was: did Bevan Spencer von Einem commit the crimes? And if he did, did he do it alone?

Mr. R, one of von Einem's closest associates, visited him multiple times in prison. Police still suspected him as being one of their main suspects. He seemingly scoured the local gay hot-spots for young-looking men, in an daily repitition that seemed as well-rehearsed as any. The upstairs office, which contained only a mattress and kept private, still stumped investigators and left them wanting to charge him with anything.

But, unfortunately, there was nothing to connect him to the crimes other than his association with von Einem and his sketchy behavior. However, most surprising was that an anonymous caller would call in and suggest that Mr. R has something to do with the unsolved murders, which gave police extra ammunition to observe him for anything out-of-the-ordinary.

Police continued to use Mr. B as an informant, trying to use the information he had about von Einem and link it to any acquaintances or accomplices that may have been present. Unfortunately, in an effort to extradite himself from any of the crimes, police had no specifics to go on.

Mr. B would claim that he had seen Alan Barnes with von Einem before his death, but that was the same type of circumstantial evidence that police wanted to avoid.

In an effort to go even further than that, Mr. B would then claim that he had personally overheard a discussion between von Einem and Mr. R. Apparently, during this conversation, Mr. B alleged that von Einem expressed interest in making a "snuff film" of Alan Barnes. This would actually fit into what another anonymous caller had stated years beforehand, about there being a snuff film made of Alan Barnes, but was unfortunately impossible to prove.

Mr. B would also sensationally state that von Einem had confessed to having involvement in the abduction of the Beaumont Children in 1966 and the Adelaide Oval abductions of Kristy Gordon and Jeanne Ratcliffe in 1973. There was no proof of these statements, sadly, but Mr. B's statements regarding them seemed convincing to police at the time.

{Part Two of "The Beaumont Children" episode can be found here, which goes into detail about von Einem and the allegations of his involvement with the Beaumont Children disappearance}

Even as the months began to melt into years, police were happy to have Mr. B to fall back on, to learn more about von Einem's secrets. Unfortunately, they kept getting road-blocked by Mr. B's unreliable instances, when he would lead police down the dark avenue of von Einem's crimes, but remove himself entirely and escape all responsibility. It was a survival mechanism, of course, but it made police wary of trusting anything he said.

That was further proven when the sister of Mr. B was contacted by police, and gave conflicting testimony. She stated that Mr. B had told her of an occasion where he had participated in the abduction and murder of a young man, which resulted in him throwing a body off of a bridge. To investigators, this meant that Mr. B might have had more involvement in the murder of Alan Barnes than originally thought, but after almost a decade since the crime was committed, was a dead end.


In 1988, police created a reward for information. $250,000, if someone was able to bring forth information that led to any resolution regarding the murders of Alan Barnes, Neil Muir, Peter Stogneff, or Mark Langley.

This renewed interest led to a revival in cries for justice, and police began working on a case against von Einem for the murders of Alan Barnes and Mark Langley. Those two, at least, had been found with drugs in their system, tentatively tying them to the murder of Richard Kelvin.

In 1989, the reward for information leading to an arrest was then doubled, and was now $500,000.
In 1990, von Einem was preparing to stand trial for these two additional crimes, police figuring that if they pinned two more murders to von Einem, it would make it easier to convict him for the separate murders of Neil Muir and Peter Stogneff. Unfortunately, before the case could even go to trial, the prosecution began to fall apart under the weight of Mr. B's testimony.

It was too sensational, too unrealistic, to stand up to scrutiny. And the fact that his own sister was testifying against him, stating that he was the type to make up stories to get himself out of a pickle, put police on edge. If they messed up this trial against von Einem, they would not be able to try him again, even if new evidence came to light in the future.

So, swallowing their pride, the prosecution pulled the case, hoping for more evidence to be unearthed in the future.


Over the years, the story of these murders would become a bit of an urban legend. Not only in Australia, but around the world.

When one police officer was interviewed regarding the case, he made the quip of "breaking up the happy family," in regards to an alleged conspiracy involving von Einem and other suspects. This would go on to be how the case was referred to: "the Family Murders," a collection of crimes committed by gay men in Adelaide that conspired to rape, torture, and murder young men.
And, you have to admit, the urban legend had some legs.

It's easy to point out a conspiracy theory and find flaws with it, but it's also harder to figure out how a buffoon like Bevan Spencer von Einem could escape justice if he was the sole perpetrator of the acts. He wasn't particularly smart - he worked as a middling accountant for a mid-end supply company - and lived at home with his mother. His idea of "hiding evidence" was to put it on the inside ledge of his closet, where police were able to easily find. And that's not even including his alibis, which shifted based on what he thought the police knew.

He wasn't some genius criminal. Police didn't think that he was smart enough to commit the crimes and get away with it - especially since the other related crimes showed signs of medical how-to.
Neil Muir's body was mutilated beyond recognition, but was done so by at least an amateur surgeon.

The same could be said of Mark Langley, whose corpse showed the signs of being operated on, with the surgical cut below his bellybutton. von Einem showed no signs of any medical expertise, and most likely would not have been able to perform such a surgery.

This leads to two possibilities: the first of which is that there was a criminal similar to von Einem operated in the area at around the same time. Which is possible. If anything, the last few years have shown us that a good amount of sickos were in the same area at the same time.

But the more likely possibility is that these deviants were somehow connected, perhaps working together or conspiring to achieve the same disgusting goals.

I personally lean towards the latter, not out of an effort to be a conspiracy nut. But rather, I just think that Bevan Spencer von Einem was too much of an idiot to commit all of the crimes on his own. I think he may have been a gopher of sorts for the group, and maybe was responsible for abducting the young men, but I don't believe he was the only person involved. At the very least, someone else performed the surgical procedure on Mark Langley.

Over the past few decades, police have agreed.

After the 1990 case against von Einem fell apart, the story started to flounder. Police had suspects, but no evidence to lob against them.


In 2008, the investigation into "the Family Murders" was finally re-opened, as police began to re-examine some of the long-forgotten evidence. This time, they were able to test it for DNA and forensics, but unfortunately, none of it came back with any matches.

The police had narrowed down the description of three suspects, who they allege may have worked with Bevan Spencer von Einem to commit the four unsolved murders.

The description of three suspects is as follows:

Suspect #1. An eastern suburbs businessman. Visited von Einem after his 1984 conviction. Interviewed in late 1983 and denied involvement in the Kelvin murder. Has also denied knowledge of the other murders, despite an informant telling police he saw him with von Einem and an unconscious Alan Barnes on the night Barnes was abducted in June 1979. Refused to answer questions when approached as part of the cold case review.

This is the suspect that I have been identifying as "Mr. R" throughout this episode. For legal reasons, I won't disclose this suspect's real name, but let me just say that you'll be able to find it easily enough with a Google search.

This is the suspect that police have had the most interest in, regarding the four unsolved murders. Apparently, police planned on charging him in the failed 1989 case against von Einem, before it fell apart in prosecution months later.

Suspect #2. A former Adelaide doctor who is well known in gay circles. Former lover of a well-known Adelaide lawyer. The pair used to pick up, drug and abuse young men. Known to have supplied drugs to von Einem and suspect #1, which were used to incapacitate hitch-hikers. Lives in Sydney and refused to answer questions as part of the cold case review.

This suspect was publicly outed in 2011, in regards to a different investigation. His name was Stephen George Woodards, and he appeared in court to defend himself against five charges of sexual assault against young men. The incidents he defended against ranged from January of 1982 to August of 1984.

Online theorists have speculated that the "well-known Adelaide lawyer" that Woodards had a love affair with was none other than Derrance Stevenson, the well-known gay lawyer who was murdered by his teenage lover, David Szach, in 1979.

I also don't find it a coincidence that Alan Barnes - the first Family victim - was abducted just thirteen days after the death of Stevenson. Rumors have long circulated that Stevenson had had an interest in Alan Barnes in the weeks before his death, and that all of these men ran in the same clique that included Bevan Spencer von Einem and Woodards himself.

I assume that the case against him failed, or the charges were dropped, as the last I could find of Woodards puts him in Bondi, a suburb of Sydney, Australia.

Suspect #3. A former male prostitute who is a close friend of von Einem and suspect #1. Police have considerable information that implicates him in picking up, drugging and sexually abusing hitch-hikers. Believed to have been with von Einem and suspect #1 when Kelvin was abducted, but has denied this. Now a bus driver in Brisbane, he fled Adelaide shortly after the cold case review was launched.

This is the suspect that I have identified as "Mr. B" throughout this episode. It's very possible that his name was leaked by a newspaper in 1989, but I don't want to get into a guessing game and risk legal action taken against myself.

This suspect is perhaps the trickiest of the lot. Police believe - now as they do then - that this individual had more information than he was letting on. He constantly implicated Bevan Spencer von Einem to places and dates, but had an excuse for himself, or would consistently state that he was involved with von Einem's abductions "up to a certain point."

However, these are just the three main suspects that police have identified throughout the years, and felt comfortable releasing the descriptions of to the public. It's possible, if not downright likely, that there were even more individuals involved who roam free today.


The case of the Family Murders has remained in the Australian zeitgeist for years now. And for good reason.

Criminologist Allan Perry has speculated that there may be dozens of victims, perhap up into the triple digits. After all, over 38,000 people go missing in Australia every single year, over 1,000 of which are never found. Who's to say that any of the open missing persons reports of young men from South Australia aren't related to these murdered men?

In 2014, the family members of Trevor Peters were going through his belongings in an area of eastern Adelaide known as Kensington. He had died a short time beforehand, and figured that it was about time.

Peters had been a gay man, and run around the same circles as Bevan Spencer von Einem and his associates in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

As his family members sorted through his belongings, they found a diary.

This diary, written by Peters decades before its discovery, went into detail about his relationship with von Einem, and the others that ran in their social circle. Trevor Peters' diary alleged that von Einem had discussed the abducton of Alan Barnes with his hairdresser, Denis St. Denis. And, according to Peters' diary, the pair had taken pictures of Barnes during the week he was missing.

Normally, this would just be a speculative lead: a man alleging that a convicted killer had a conversation, in public, with his hairdresser about an open crime.

But this diary had other, more important details. Such as the names of von Einem's associates, including the correct identities of the three main suspects, whose names police hadn't released. This diary also linked others to the same band of killers that Australia had called "The Family" for decades.

Another point of credibility in Trevor Peters' favor: he lived just a house away from the two transgendered women that Bevan Spencer von Einem allegedly used to lure young men to. The name of one has never been released, other than the fact that she was the sibling of an Olympic wrestler, but the other was publicly identified as Pru Firman, who died in 2010.

Many have theorized that one - or both - of these women were involved in the abduction and murder of the five victims. Perhaps one was the high-pitched voice that witnesses recall hearing during Richard Kelvin's abduction.

Trevor Peters' diary also alleged that von Einem, along with Denis St. Denis and perhaps another associate, rented an apartment in eastern Adelaide during the time period that the crimes occurred.

However, it has now been three years, and police seem to be no closer to solving this investigation than they were thirty years ago.


Trying to summarize this story is close to impossible for me, which is why I find this next section so hard to deal with.

Over the years, people have pointed fingers at a conspiracy of sexual offenders who perpetrated this attack. This is what we knowingly call "the Family." Others have pointed out the idea that this is ridiculous, and pointed out other such cases where these type of accusations proved fruitless.
However, I would just like to point out the following figures, who were active in the Adelaide area during the same time period that the Family Murders were taking place:

Mr. R, the #1 suspect behind Bevan Spencer von Einem, who they allege commited the Family Murders alongside the only convicted culprit.

Stephen George Woodards, the local doctor and surgeon who faced five charges of sexual assault against young men in 2011. He was revealed to be the investigation's #2 suspect, who also happened to live with Mr. R during this time period.

Mr. B, the witness that cooperated with police against von Einem, but was likely guilty of some of the same crimes. He openly admitted to being with von Einem on many occasions where he drugged young men, but police believe he was responsible for much more.

Pru Firman and her roommate, both transgender women who allegedly held "parties" in which they lured young men to their home in exchange for drugs.

Denis St. Denis, a longtime associate of von Einem's who was alleged to have been involved in the crimes.

Derrance Stevenson, a high-profile lawyer, who was murdered in 1979 by his teenage lover. He was a known associate of many of these figures, and a noted philanderer who enjoyed having sex with young men.

Gino Luigi Gambardella, a chiropractor who was close friends with both Stevenson and von Einem. He fled Australia in the early 1980s, after multiple allegations of sexual assault put him in the investigation's crosshairs.

Robert William Symonds, also known as "Mother Goose," a bookmaker accused of dozens of sexual assaults ranging from the 1970s through the 1990s. He stood trial in 2011 of multiple accounts of sexual assault, and was acquitted only because the evidence didn't stand up, almost thirty years later. He had found a way to escape charges the entire time.

Peter Liddy was Southern Australia's longest-tenured magistrate when he was convicted in 2001 of multiple sex crimes, including the sexual assaults of young men ranging as far back as 1969. Many of the assaults he committed couldn't even be tried because the statute of limitations had expired.

Richard Dutton Brown was another of South Australia's magistrates who was accused of multiple sexual assaults in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was a gay man who prowled in the same hotspots as the other Family Murder suspects, and he died in 2010, before police could formulate an actual case against him.

Ric Marshall, the host of children's TV programs in the 1970s and 1980s, was the ringleader of a child sex ring that focused on young boys. He was convicted of multiple offenses in 2012, but because of his old age, was sentenced to only 25 years of house arrest.

Last but not least, Donald John Storen, a well-known boxing promoter and close friend of former-South Australian Premiere Don Dunstan. Storen left Australia to live in Indonesia, where he was later convicted of sexually assaulting and raping four boys in the mid-2000s.


If you think it's crazy that one or more of these many suspects may have communicated with another, when a clear link between several has already been established, think again. We already know that several of these accused - and in some cases, convicted - sexual predators were acquaintances. That is a fact. Who's to say more aren't involved?

I think believing that Bevan Spencer von Einem acted alone is the easy answer, to help us sleep better at night. The hard answer, and in my opinion, the more realistic one, is that he had an accomplice: maybe just one, but perhaps several. And for over thirty years now, all of them have escaped justice.

While the case file on Richard Kelvin may have been closed, the abductions, rapes, and murders of Alan Barnes, Neil Muir, Peter Stogneff, and Mark Langley remain unresolved.


If any of you would like to do any further reading on the story, you could head to the podcast website/blog,, to find sources I used when writing these episodes. The major source I used was the book "Young Blood," written by an Investigator behind the case, Bob O'Brian. It's chock-full of details, many of which I couldn't place in these episodes, so I'd encourage you to check it out.

If you head over the podcast's blog, you can also find links to the social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter. You can send emails to, no spaces, or you can call in and text at 831-200-3550.

You can support the podcast by heading to I have a few tiers set up, and each get you access to some exclusive content; it's nothing game-breaking so far, just gets you early listens of each episode's "rough cut," any streams that Tyson or I set up, the ability to vote for future episodes, that kind of thing. I'm never going to paywall the podcast, but this is a good way to help financially support the podcast while also getting a little something in return. We're always trying to think up fun stuff to give back to the Patreon supporters, and rest assured we have even more fun stuff lined up in the near-future.

Speaking of, because of your Patreon donations, I've managed to buy a new piece of equipment that will allow me to conduct interviews. Let's just say that this may come in handy for a future episode...
So, I would like to thank all of the new Patreon supporters, who have helped make future episodes possible. These supporters are: Eliot, Mack, Jeanne, Francesca, Joy, Carlos, Joseph, Desirae, Corina, Samantha, John, Jay, Michael, Jarrett, Marty, Nathan and Anatoly. All of you: I can't thank you enough.

And, of course, before I wrap up this overly-long Academy Award outro, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank producer extraordinaire Tyson Nordgren, who pulls magic out of a hat every single episode. He produces the music you hear throughout each episode, and manages to make my rough recordings sound nearly-professional through computer magic. We all really owe him a lot for making this podcast sound as good as it does, so thank you yet again, Tyson.

That's it for this episode. Hope to be back sooner rather than later with another unresolved tale for you all. Until then, stay safe and goodbye.



Wikipedia - The Family Murders

"Young Blood: The Story of the Family Murders" by Bob O'Brien

Adelaide Now - "Lost diary gives South Australia police new lead into Alan Barnes murder by The Family"

ABC Local News - Transcript of "Former SA magistrate sentenced to 25 years for child sex crimes"

The Australian - "How Mother Goose ducked pedophile net"

Adelaide Now - "Doctor with alleged links to The Family identified as Stephen George Woodards"

Adelaide Now - "Revealed: The double life of a magistrate who sought young men"

ABC News - "Former TV entertainer sentenced for sex offences"

The Sydney Morning Herald - "Aussie pedophile deported from Indonesia"

ABC News - "Mother Goose sex trial starts in Adelaide"

ABC News - "The body in the freezer"

ABC News - "Mother Goose acquitted of sex charges"

Adelaide Now - "Focus on three key suspects"

Adelaide Now - "Sex-case doctor Stephen George Woodards free to practise"

Adelaide Now - "'Mother Goose" claims he was set up by gay ex-prostitutes"