– Murdered Maria James’ younger son has broken a 33-year silence to implicate the family priest in the stabbing slaying of his mother.
And the Cold Case Squad believes DNA tests can now finally determine whether the late Father Anthony Bongiorno was indeed the man who killed the Thornbury bookshop owner back in 1980.
Adam James was just 11 when his mother was knifed in her Thornbury bookshop.
He was never questioned by police: he suffers from an intellectual disability, and his carers told police he would find it too distressing.
But Mr James’ elder son, Mark, who was 13 when his mother died, said he had discussed Fr Bongiorno with Adam recently.
He said Adam, 44, had then revealed information he had never spoken about before.
“What he told me implicates Fr Bongiorno in the death of my mother, and is new evidence that Adam and I believe warrants digging up Bongiorno to get his DNA so we know one way or the other if he is a murderer,” Mr James said.
For legal reasons, the Herald Sun can’t reveal what the new evidence is. But the head of the Cold Case Squad, Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles, last week took a statement from Adam James about the allegations against Fr Bongiorno, and is following them up.
The James brothers are convinced their mother confronted Fr Bongiorno after Adam revealed to her the information that is the subject of the new evidence.
That confrontation, they believe, could have ended with his murdering her in her Thornbury
They now want the Catholic priest’s body exhumed in order to obtain his DNA.
Whoever killed Ms James left DNA behind. Senior Sergeant Iddles wants to compare that DNA sample with Fr Bongiorno’s DNA.
Exhuming Fr Bongiorno’s body to obtain his DNA is an option, but Senior Sergeant Iddles said he would need strong evidence to justify such a drastic step.
Police first spoke to Fr Bongiorno about the 1980 stabbing murder of Ms James decades ago. While they had received tips that he might have killed Ms James – one through former premier Jeff Kennett – none was sufficient to make him a firm suspect.
It was only last week that he became a stronger suspect, in light of the new allegations – Keith Moor


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