March 1 1916
– A mysterious and diabolical crime was perpetrated at Heidelberg yesterday morning. William Haines, a chauffeur, employed by the Globe Motor and Taxi Company Limited, Queen’s Bridge street, South Melbourne, was found huddled up dead on the floor of an abandoned motorcar at the junction of Bulleen and Templestowe roads. The body, which was immediately beneath the scuttle dash, was covered by a plaid motor rug, and hidden entirely from view. There were two bullet wounds in deceased’s head and two in the neck, from which it was evident that Haines had been murdered in the most cold blooded manner. The motorcar was bespattered with blood in several places, but the singular feature was that there were no signs of a struggle either in the car itself or on the road at the point where it had been stopped.
The entire absence of apparent motive for the crime is what is at present baffling the detectives engaged in the case. The car in which the body was found was one of the large touring type hired from the Globe Motor and Taxi Company. Late on Monday night the garage manager, Mr E. A. Nell was called up by telephone by a man who said his name was Lestrange, residing at Cliveden Mansions, East Melbourne. He said that he wanted a car for the following day from 8 o’clock in the morning till 1 o’clock to take him to Eltham. He asked for the number of the car, and particularly requested that it should not be a certain make of car. Judging from a remark made by the attendant at the Control Telephone Exchange before the conversation began, Mr Bell surmised that the man was speaking from a public telephone and not from Cliveden. The particular exclamation was ‘There they are’ which is customarily said to users of public telephones when connection has been established.
The order was booked and on Tuesday Haines, who was a relieving driver only, but had been employed at the garage for three months was sent to Cliveden with a Unit double-seated touring car. He left at five minutes to 8 o’clock. Nothing more was heard of Haines by Mr Bell until he (Mr Bell) was summoned to the Detective Office yesterday afternoon.
In the meantime the car with Haines’s dead body in it had been discovered at Heidelberg. The car had been driven along Bulleen road, and was turning into Templestowe road. It was standing in the centre of the road with the brakes on. In this position it was seen at half past 8, or a quarter to 9 o’clock by Miss Daisy Marshall who lives on a farm about 200 yards away. Mrs Isabella Smith, a widow, and Miss Duncan, who lives with her, who reside very close to the scene, heard a shot discharged at about 8 o’clock or a little afterwards. They, however, saw no one in or near the car. Other people saw the car drawn up on the road but nothing had occurred to arouse their suspicions. It seems remarkable that a tragedy of such a character could be enacted within full view of two farmhouses without a solitary person witnessing some phase of it. Yet that is what happened. The two men whose curiosity led to the gruesome discovery were Messrs H. Mills of Coppin Street, Richmond and H. J. Greenwood of Barker’s Road, Kew. They considered that the car had been abandoned owing to some mechanical trouble, and, on making a close inspection, saw blood stains on the footboard of the car, and at the entrance leading to the front and back seats. There were also blood stains on the hood, and finger-prints on the glass wind screen, records of which have been taken by Detective-Sergeant Potter, finger-print expert, for development. The revolver which caused Haines’s death was nowhere to be found.
On the step of the motor-car lay a sand-bag about 14-inches long. This may or may not have been the property of Haines. It is said to be not uncommon among chauffeurs to carry sandbags for defensive purposes should an altercation occur with persons whose object is to repudiate the hire charges and employ violence. The fact that in this instance the motor-car had been purposely stopped—evidently by Haines—suggests the possibility that an altercation did occur which culminated in the shooting.
Detectives Bannon, Mulfahey and Clugston, who conducted exhaustive inquiries in the locality yesterday, are of the opinion that the murder was committed by one man, who occupied the back seat of the car. It would then have been a simple matter for the perpetrator to board a tram-car by walking a mile back towards Kew and return to Melbourne.
Detectives Brennan and Lee ascertained yesterday afternoon that no one by the name of Lestrange resided at Cliveden Mansions, nor had Haines called there at 8 o’clock in the morning to inquire for such a person. It now appears probable that Haines, on driving near Cliveden was hailed by the person who ordered the car the night before, and who took the precaution of learning the car’s number 11,022.
Haines, who was about 22 years of age, unmarried, lived in Bayview terrace, Ascot Vale. He was a steady young man and a first class driver. His employers know of no enmity that has been expressed towards him.
An examination of Haines’s body last night showed that there were two bullet wounds in the left side of the neck, one at the back of the head and one in the right temple.