Over a year (beginning in March 1989) six elderly
women (1 was 60, the rest were between 81 - 92 years old) died as a
result of bashing with a claw hammer and ritual strangulation with the
victim's pantyhose, tied in a bow, on the lower North Shore.
skirts were pulled up over their heads, legs were splayed and their
shoes were placed neatly alongside their bodies. They represented both
his mother and mother-in-law, though he also just hated "Mosman
Matrons". He specifically blamed his mother-in-law for his actions.
All his victims were strangers, except the last one. He was also charged
with attempted murder, indecent assault, robbery with wounding and
assault and robbery. He had a long history of teenage delinquency, lying,
stealing, "Peeping Tom" activity as well as assault, both in
the UK where he grew up, then in Melbourne where he worked, before
moving to Sydney. Described as the anger retaliatory-type predator and
narcissast, he struck everyone as being so "normal" (most
psychopaths do), he was a "hail fellow, well met" type, and
was married with two daughters.
He was sentenced to six terms of life
imprisonment, never to be released. His only concern was that he would
not see the ocean again.
John Wayne Glover
(26 November 1932 – 9 September 2005) was a British-born
Australian serial killer convicted for the murders of six elderly women
on Sydney's North Shore. Over a fourteen month period in 1989/90, Glover
killed six elderly women for which he became dubbed the "granny killer".
Following arrest in 1990, he admitted to the murders and was sentenced
to consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of
parole. He hanged himself in prison on 9 September 2005.
Originally from a working class family
in Wolverhampton, England, Glover was convicted of many petty crimes
dating back to 1947 for stealing clothing and handbags. He was later
thrown out of the British army when these were discovered. Later, he
emigrated to Australia in 1956. where he first lived in Melbourne. He
had a troubled relationship with older women in his life, especially his
mother Freda (who had had several husbands and many boyfriends), and
after 1968 his mother-in law, when he married and moved into his parent-in-law's
house in Mosman, Sydney.
Before John Glover began his killings in the late
1980s, he was a volunteer at the Senior Citizens Society, and was
considered among his friends a friendly, trustworthy man. He was married
with two children, and lived a contented lifestyle in Mosman. Glover
worked as a sales representative for Four 'n' Twenty Pies.
Prior offences (1960s)
Shortly after immigrating from England
to Australia, Glover was convicted on two counts of larceny in Victoria,
and a stealing charge in New South Wales. In 1962 he was convicted on
two counts of assaulting women in Melbourne, two counts of indecent
assault, one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and another four
counts of larceny. For this he received a three year good behaviour bond.
These attacks were reported to be extremely severe
and on each occasion certain articles of clothing had been removed. The
victims were forced to the ground while he violently tore their clothing.
A 25-year-old woman was on her way home from a meeting at about 10:30 pm
when she was followed and chased down a dark suburban street. The
attacker knocked her to the ground unconscious. Later she awoke in a
garden bleeding profusely and her undergarments in a state of disarray.
The attacker made a run for it when her screams alerted residents. At
the time of these offences, Glover was employed as a television rigger
for the ABC and lived in the Melbourne suburb of Camberwell.
There is no proof of Glover killing before 1989, when
he was 56. At this stage, he had been married for 20 years and had
children, and his wife had no knowledge of his previous offences. Glover
admitted to the killings when confronted with the police evidence. He
denied responsibility for other crimes in which he was a prime suspect,
including the bashing murder of Florence Broadhurst in her Paddington
home in 1977. A number of years after his conviction, Glover admitted
that he never worried about who his victims were, or why he killed them.
He said he wanted to stop killing, but couldn't. After each murder he
apparently went about his normal life.
On 11 January 1989, 84-year-old Margaret Todhunter
was walking down Hale Road, Mosman, where she was seen by Glover. After
parking his car, he walked to the victim. He punched Todhunter in the
face, and stole the contents of her purse including $209. Glover then
went to the Mosman RSL club where he spent Mrs Todhunter's money.
Investigating police concluded the crime was a mugging and held little
hope of finding the perpetrator.
On 1 March 1989, as he left the Mosman RSL in
Military Rd, Glover saw 82 year-old Gwendoline Mitchelhill walking down
the street. Glover returned to his car and put a hammer under his belt.
He followed Mitchelhill to the entry foyer of her Military Road
apartment building. As she went to open the front door, he hit her with
the hammer on the back of her head. He then continued to strike her
about the head and body; several of her ribs were broken. Glover fled
the scene taking her purse containing $100. Mitchelhill was still alive
when she was found by two schoolboys, but died shortly after the police
and ambulance arrived. The police had no eyewitnesses or leads and there
was nothing concrete to link this attack with the previous attack on
Margaret Todhunter. There was no forensic evidence either, as good-intentioned
neighbours, believing she had merely fallen, had washed the crime scene.
The police assumed that it was another mugging gone wrong.
Lady (Winfreda) Ashton
On 9 May 1989, Glover was walking
along Military Road when he saw 84 year-old Lady Ashton (the widow of
the artist Sir William Ashton) walking towards him. She was on her way
home to nearby Raglan Street. Glover put on a pair of gloves and
followed her into the foyer of her apartment, where he attacked her with
his hammer. He then threw her to the ground and dragged her into a
rubbish bin alcove where he repeatedly hit her head on the pavement.
Glover recalled that she had almost overpowered him, until he fell on
top of her and started to hit her head on the pavement. After she was
knocked unconscious, John Glover removed her pantyhose and strangled her.
He placed Lady Ashton's walking stick and shoes at her feet. He then
left with her purse containing $100. Glover headed for the Mosman RSL,
where he commented to staff that he hoped the sirens outside weren't for
The police found Lady Ashton lying face down
diagonally across the concrete floor of the small bin alcove. There was
a pool of blood around her head. The pantyhose were strung so tight
around her neck that it cut through the skin. Her bare legs were crossed
and her arms were placed by her sides. She had a thin trickle of blood
running out of her mouth. At this point, the police concluded they were
facing a serial killer. To date all three victims were wealthy elderly
women, from the same suburb, and were all assaulted or killed in the
same manner before being robbed of their handbags.
A post mortem was carried out and no sign of semen
was found. The ligature mark around her neck measured nine centimetres.
She had bruises on her nose and temple, on her neck, and both her
eyelids. At some stage during the struggle she bit her lips causing
damage to the inner lining of her mouth. There was a wound on her cheek,
which was an open cut that had a small, semi-circular abrasion which was
a few centimetres away from it. The examiner noted the victim's diamond
ring was still present suggesting that she had not been killed for money.
On 6 June 1989, Glover molested 77 year-old Marjorie
Moseley at the Wesley Gardens Retirement Home in Belrose. The victim
reported to hospital staff and police that a man had put his hand under
her night gown, but that she could not remember what the man looked like.
On 24 June 1989, Glover visited the Caroline Chisholm
Nursing Home in Lane Cove where he lifted the dress of an elderly
patient and fondled her buttocks. In a neighbouring room, he slid his
hand down the front of another patient's nightdress and stroked her
breasts. The woman cried out for help and Glover was briefly questioned
by staff at the hospital before leaving.
On 8 August 1989, Glover assaulted the elderly Effie
Carnie in a back street of Lindfield, on Sydney's upper North Shore.
On 6 October, he pretended to be a doctor and ran his
hand up the dress of Phyllis McNeil, a patient at the Wybenia Nursing
Home in the lower North Shore suburb of Neutral Bay. Glover left when
the blind McNeil called for help. At the time, Glover was apparently
never suspected of, or identified as being responsible for the
On 18 October 1989, Glover followed 86-year-old widow
Doris Cox along Spit Road, Mosman to her retirement village. In the
secluded stairwell at the front of the house he attacked her, ramming
her face into a brick wall where she fell. Amazingly she survived the
assault, but she was not able to provide a clear description or
recollection of events probably due to her dementia; according to her,
the attacker was a young man, possibly a teenager or skateboarder. She
provided police with an identikit drawing, but again the scene was
washed down by neighbours before investigators arrived.
On 2 November 1989, Glover approached
78-year-old Lane Cove resident Dorothy Benke while she was walking home
in a quiet backstreet, just off Longueville Road, Lane Cove (about 10
kilometres from Mosman). Glover then engaged her in conversation, and
offered to carry her groceries home for her. Benke invited him inside
her house for a cup of tea. Glover declined the tea, but on the return
down the laneway to the main street, he passed another old woman and
then assaulted her from behind.
The victim this time was 85-year-old widow Margaret
Pahud (also on her way home from grocery shopping), and the police were
certain this was the work of the "granny killer". She was hit on the
back of the head with a blunt instrument, and when she collapsed he
struck her again on the side of the head. Glover rearranged her clothing,
shoes, and walking stick, took her handbag and left. Again, nobody saw
the attack but within a few minutes her body was found by a young
schoolgirl who at first thought the body was a pile of clothing dumped
in the laneway. Neighbours yet again washed down the crime scene. As the
police and ambulance were on their way, Glover rummaged through the
contents of Pahud's purse on the grounds of a nearby golf club. He then
headed off to the Mosman RSL Club to again spend $300 he had stolen from
Within 24 hours of the Pahud murder, on 3 November,
81 year-old Olive Cleveland became the fourth woman killed by the now
so-called "granny killer". Glover struck up a conversation with
Cleveland while she was sitting on a bench just outside the Wesley
Gardens Retirement Village where she lived in the suburb of Belrose.
When Olive became uncomfortable she got up and proceeded to walk to the
main building, Glover seized her from behind and forced her down a ramp
into a secluded side lane. Here he hit her and repeatedly pushed her
head into the concrete before he removed her pantyhose and tied them
tightly around her neck. Once again Glover rearranged her clothing,
shoes, and walking stick, then left taking money ($60) from her handbag.
Once again, the old woman's injuries were initially attributed to a
heavy fall and the crime scene was yet again washed down. There were no
eyewitnesses.Shortly afterwards the state government doubled the reward
On 23 November 1989, Glover was sitting in the Buena
Vista Hotel in Middle Head Road, Mosman when he saw 93 year-old widow
Muriel Falconer walking opposite the hotel (returning home with her
shopping). Glover returned to his car (parked opposite the police
station), to retrieve his hammer and gloves. He followed Falconer to the
exterior of her home in Muston Street. He quietly moved up behind her
while the partially deaf and blind Falconer opened her front door. He
put his hand around her mouth to silence her, before repeatedly hitting
her around the head and neck with his hammer. When she fell to the floor
Glover began to remove Falconer's pantyhose. As he did this she began to
regain consciousness and cried for help. This prompted Glover to hit her
multiple times with the hammer until she finally passed out. He removed
her undergarments and used them to strangle her. He searched her purse
and the rest of her house for valuables before leaving with $100, again
after rearranging her shoes. The following afternoon, the body was
discovered by a neighbour who entered using a spare key. Fortunately for
investigators, the crime scene this time was intact, and forensic
evidence, such as a bloody shoeprints, was collected. Police were now
starting to home in on a suspect identified by the neighbour as both
middle-aged, portly, and grey-haired (i.e. someone who would fit in
easily in the Mosman area). The reward is increased to $250,000 by
On 11 January 1990, Glover visited the Greenwich
Hospital in River Road, Greenwich, on his pie sales round. He was in his
work uniform and carried a clipboard, and entered the hospital's
palliative care ward where there were four elderly and ill women,
including 82 year old advanced cancer patient Daisy Roberts. Glover
asked if she was losing any body heat, he then pulled up her night gown
and touched her in an indecent manner. Roberts panicked and called for
help, upon which a hospital sister found Glover in the ward. When
confronted, Glover ran from the ward and the sister was able to record
his car's registration number, and notified police.
The hospital staff were able to identify and name
Glover, as he was known from doing his pie rounds. A week later, the
police returned with a photograph of Glover which Sister Davis and Mrs
Roberts positively identified. Although this was a significant break
through, the hospital assaults were not linked to the murders, nor
reported to the murder task force for three weeks. Detectives from
Chatswood police station contacted and confirmed Glover's name via his
employers. Detectives contacted Glover and requested he attend an
interview at the station the following day. When Glover failed to appear,
the police rang his home and were informed by his wife that he had
attempted suicide by overdose and was recovering at the Royal North
Shore Hospital. Police went to the hospital to see Glover but he
declined to be interviewed - although he did permit them to take a
photograph. Staff at the hospital handed police a note that was written
by Glover, in the middle of the page on Four 'n' Twenty Pies business
paper, that contained the words "no more grannies ... grannies" and "Essie
[Glover's mother-in-law] started it".
It was two weeks before the suicide note and photo
were passed on to the task force (now numbering some 70 members),
whereupon detectives believed immediately that Glover was the killer,
although they had no evidence. The head of the detective task force said,
"If he had said to us, "I don't want to talk," we
couldn't have proved a thing. Still, the photo matched the
descriptions of the gray-haired suspect and in his job as a pie
salesman, Glover could have been at any of the murder scenes."
Glover was interviewed over the
nursing home assaults and denied all accusations. Police had limited
evidence and decided not to question him over the murders, which would
have let Glover know of the police suspicions. Glover was put under
constant police surveillance including, at one stage, with an automatic
tracking device. To make sure that he wasn't being followed, Glover
would drive around the block more than once, or drive the wrong way up
one way streets.
On 19 March 1990, John Glover killed his sixth and
final victim, 60-year-old divorcee Joan Sinclair, with whom he had a
platonic relationship, in Beauty Point, Mosman. By this stage, police
had Glover under constant surveillance and watched as Sinclair let
Glover into her home at approximately 10 a.m. By 1 p.m. there was no
sign of Glover or movement within the house. Police and the surveillance
team, became concerned at about 5 p.m. and got permission to enter the
house at 6pm. Two uniformed police knocked on the front door (ostensibly
to check on barking dogs) to no answer, and saw through rear glass door
a hammer lying in a pool of dry blood on a mat. Four detectives searched
the house and found Sinclair’s battered head wrapped in a bundle of
blood-soaked towels. She was naked from the waist down and her pantyhose
were tied around her neck. Her genitals were damaged but Glover would
later deny raping her. After finding Sinclair's body, they then searched
the house for Glover who was found unconscious in the filled bathtub.
Glover later told police he murdered Joan Sinclair
and explained they had been having a relationship for some time. He said
that he beat her about the head with his hammer, removed her pantyhose,
and strangled her with them. Glover rolled the body onto a mat; wrapped
four towels around her extensive head wounds to stem the flow of blood,
then dragged her body across the room, leaving a trail of blood. He then
ran the bath, swallowed a handful of Valium with a bottle of Vat 69,
slashed his left wrist and lay in the tub to die. The police were
relieved he had survived, as otherwise they feared ongoing speculation
as to whether Glover was the murderer.
At the trial, commencing 28 March 1990, John Wayne
Glover pleaded not guilty to his crimes on the grounds of diminished
responsibility. A psychiatrist said Glover had built up hostility and
aggression since his childhood against his mother and then against his
mother-in-law, who was said to "trigger" him. When she died, he had to
take out his aggression on someone else. The psychiatrist who studied
the case also added that this was a very unusual case because there are
very few mass murders, and most of the perpetrators are mentally ill,
and/or have an organic disease of the brain. According to this
psychiatrist Glover was sane at the time of the murders.
The Crown prosecutor maintained that Glover was well
aware of his actions. When he killed, he was also planning what to do
with the victim’s money, and also took time to clean the hammer with
acid. Glover was impotent and had no interest in sex. So tying the
pantyhose so tightly around his victim’s neck was to make sure they were
dead, at the same time trying to trick the police into thinking that
this was the work of a sexually-motivated killer.
Glover was addicted to poker machines, and the
easiest way for him to get more money was to steal. After the guilty
verdict was delivered, the presiding judge stated that he was dealing
with an extremely dangerous prisoner:
"He is able to choose when to attack and when to stay his hand. He
is cunning and able to cover his tracks. It is plain that he has
chosen his moments carefully. Although the crimes have been
opportunistic, he has not gone in where the risks were overwhelming.
The period since January 1989 has been one of
intense and serious crime involving extreme violence inflicted on
elderly women, accompanied by theft or robbery of their property. On
any view, the prisoner has shown himself to be an exceedingly
dangerous person and that view was mirrored by the opinions of the
psychiatrists who gave evidence at his trial.
I have no alternative other than to impose the
maximum available sentence, which means that the prisoner will be
required to spend the remainder of his natural life in Jail.
It is inappropriate to express any date as to
release on parole. Having regard to those life sentences, this is not
a case where the prisoner may ever be released pursuant to order of
this court. He is never to be released"
Days before Glover finally committed
suicide (on his third known attempt), he handed his last outside visitor
a sketch. The sketch was of a park with significant changes in the
sketch, pointed out by Glover was two palm trees. In the middle of the
right palm tree, the number "nine" can be seen between leaves and
branches. The number nine is said to represent the number of murders
that Glover committed, or the number of unsolved murders still out there
that he committed.
The nine additional victims (and unsolved cases) may
1 - Elsie Boyes, 63, Prahran (3 June 1967)
2 - Emmie May Anderson, 78, East Melbourne (19 October 1961)
3 - Irene Kiddle, 61, St Kilda (22 March 1963)
4 - Christina Yankos, 63, Albert Park (9 April 1968)
5 - Florence Broadhurst, 78, Paddington (16 October 1977)
6 - Josephine McDonald, 72, Ettalong (29 August 1984)
7 - Wanda Amundsen, 83, Umina (21 November 1986)
8 - unknown
9 - unknown
This is probably the case that started my intense
interest in serial killers. I remember the front page news as each
victim was found. The public in Mosman, indeed all of Sydney was in a
panic as each elderly lady was found battered and posed in lewd
The case was the first of modern serial killers,
Sydney would see, and though police would indeed catch their man, one
woman would lose her life as police stood outside her door in wait.
John Glover was a loving husband and father, his
family had no inclinations that he was the man the entire nation wanted
caught, yet some say it is because of his mother-in-law and his own
mother that he preyed on elderly women.
On March 1, 1989 at 3.40pm in the leafy upper middle-class
suburb of Mosman, Glover would kill for the first time. Camelia Gardens
is an apartment block on one of the main roads, Military Road. Most of
the residents were the elderly widows though there were also families
and children who lived in the apartments. When two young boys left the
elevator on the ground floor, they saw a sight that remains with them
still. 82 year old Gwendolin Mitchelhill was attempting to crawl to the
glass security doors at the front of the building. Blood dripped from
the savage wounds across her head. Her stockings had been torn from her
legs, her walking stick and handbag were further away, her handbag had
The boys quickly sort help, most of the bystanders
assumed she had fallen and hit her head. The neat arrangement of her
personal items were not seen as significant. The blood on the path was
The elderly woman was quickly rushed to the emergency
ward by Ambulance, one of the medics suddenly had a thought about the
woman's bag, how it had been looked through but was placed neatly with
her other items. His suspicions nagged at him, so he reported the
incident to Mosman police.
Meanwhile doctors worked quickly to prevent further
blood building up in Mrs Mitchelhill's brain. Yet on further examination
they began to come to the conclusion that she had not simply fallen, her
wounds were not consistent with a fall, as well as her head injuries she
had two black eyes and several broken ribs. One of the doctors also
decided to contact Mosman police.
Mrs Mitchelhill lost her battle for life later that
same evening. Mosman police sent the Physical Evidence crew and homicide
detectives to investigate what was possibly a murder. A check of the
woman's handbag found that it did not contain her purse which she had
with her earlier that day.
The post mortem conducted the next day revealed:
"severe bruising to the right eye consistent with
a fist, severe bruising to the right shoulder consistent with a blunt
object, two wounds to back of the skull consistent with a blunt object,
seven broken ribs consistent with a fist."
The cause of death was attributed to her head and
chest injures which were consistent with a vicious attack. There was no
evidence to suggest sexual tampering.
The Homicide Squad from Chatswood joined the team from
Mosman. Someone had attacked and murdered a defenceless old woman, and
police wanted to find out quickly who it was.
On May 9, 1989, 84 year old Lady Winfreda Ashton had a
busy day. She had an appointment at the Sydney eye hospital, and then
popped over to the Mosman RSL, before leaving at around 2.30. She popped
in to her local bank, then busied herself at the local supermarket,
stopping to talk to some friends on the way. She then started her walk
home, she stopped at her mailbox and then headed towards the front
entrance foyer of the units where she lived.
Lady Ashton was found dead later that evening when
another resident came down to the rubbish room. She was on the floor,
face down. Her shoes and walking stick, like Mrs Mitchelhill were placed
near by. Her handbag had been opened and her purse was missing.
Her injuries echoed the attack on Mrs Mitchelhill. Her
autopsy report read: Large bruise to the head, caused by a blow, bruise
to the rear of her hear consistent with her head being forced to the
ground. Five left ribs were also fractured. However this time her death
was not due to her injuries, this time the killer made sure he had
finished the job before leaving. She had been strangled with her
pantyhose. The marks had cut so deep into her skin that it left fibres
imbedded in her skin. Again no sexual assault was evident.
Police knew that the similarities in the two attacks
were alarming. Both women had suffered massive bodily injuries
consistent with punching. The two crime scenes were in close proximity (only
about 1km apart). Both women had their purse stolen. And the attacks
happened at the entrance to the victim's residence. Police decided that
the two murders were linked. Now the search was on before the killer
The worse problem was that robbery did not seem to be
the motive, both women had little money with them. The violent attack
appeared to be the reason that the killer struck. So investigators
sought help in trying to provide a profile of the killer.
Police Consultant Dr Rod Milton a psychiatrist was
asked to assist police in constructing a profile of the offender they
sought. The information was not released to the public.
On July 9, 1989 Lady Ashton's purse was found in
Ashton Park. The woman who found the purse, not realising the
significance of it, popped in the mailbox of Lady Ashton as stated on
the papers inside.
On October 18 1989 Mrs Doris Cox was found in the
front garden of the retirement village where she lived. She was sitting
down, calling for help, her face covered in blood, she had several
grazes on her face and she lost a few of her teeth. The scene was also
washed down before police were notified the next day. The ME who had
examined the other two women's body checked Mrs Cox's injuries and came
to the conclusion that they were also consistent with being attacked.
her grazes were from her face hitting the ground after being hit in the
head from behind. Though she survived the brutal attack, Mrs Cox was
unable to help police.
The next murder happened within a month. On Thursday
November 2, 1989, Mrs Margaret Pahud was found along a pathway by a
young girl. Mrs Pahud had been out shopping during the day and had been
returning home when she was attacked. The young girl alerted her mother
and another neighbour who rushed to the scene. Mrs Pahud was lying face
down with her head surrounded by a huge pool of blood. Someone went to a
nearby doctors office and asked for help, when the doctors arrives they
pronounced the 85 year old woman dead. And again after her body was
removed the scene was washed down of blood before police could arrive.
Her bag in it entirety was missing.
Again the post mortem revealed striking similarities
to the others. Mrs Pahud had suffered heavy blows to the rear of her
head causing a fractured skull consistent with being struck with a blunt
object and lacerations to face and head. No evidence of sexual assault
The bag did turn up later and was handed to police,
only money was missing.
The killer struck again within a day. On November 3,
81 year old Miss Olive Cleveland was attacked from behind as she entered
the nursing home where she lived. She was found lying face down across
the pathway . This time however the killer added to his signature. He
pulled up the woman's dress to expose her legs. Her pantyhose had been
removed and where tied tightly around the elderly victim's throat. Again,
like the other victims, her head was surrounded by a halo of blood. Her
personal items, her bag, shoes and glasses were near her feet. A nasty
calling card of the killer. Again in a hindrance to police the blood was
washed away so as not to worry the other patients of the nursing home.
The post mortem again resounded the others. Bruising
and lacerations around the head and body, death was due to the pantyhose
ebbing tied around the neck three times.
Police were beginning to piece together even more
clues about their killer. So far he always struck around 3.00 in the
afternoon, and there were never any witnesses, though Mrs Pahud was out
of the vicinity of the other murders they were all still in a relative
As each day passed the police felt a sigh of relief
that the killer did not strike, yet that feeling was short-lived and the
worst had yet to come.
Mrs Muriel Falconer was still quite spritely for her
93 years of age. At around 5.03 on the day she was murdered she was seen
walking back home after popping in to the near-by fruit shop, bank and a
few other stores after collecting her 'Meals on Wheels'.
However the next day November 24, Meals on Wheels
returned at 11.30am and again at 1.00pm to give Mrs Falconer her food.
But she never came to the door. A neighbour who became concerned when
she hadn't seen the 93 year old all day decided to go and check to make
sure she was alright.
After knocking a few times, she used the spare key to
let herself in. The sight that met her sent her running for police. Mrs
Falconer was lying face down in the hallway. She had been stripped of
her clothes from the waist down, and her dress and petticoat had been
pulled up over her head- which did nothing to conceal the large pool of
blood stemming from the wounds she had suffered.
Her shoes and shopping were at her feet and her purse
The post-mortem revealed the same afflictions as the
others in the string of murders the media dubbed the "Granny
Killings". Mrs Falconer had been beaten, her head sustained severe
injuries, including fractures in three places. Her face also contained
several broken bones. Her pantyhose and belt from her dress were wrapped
tightly around her tiny throat.
This time, the killer had murdered inside a victim's
home. Therefore the scene was perfectly preserved albeit from the
neighbour and a doctor checking for any sign of life of the woman.
The police did have a small break-through on this
case. In the hallway the killer had stepped in the victim's blood on his
exit and had left some bloody footprints. (These would later be checked
against Glover and found to be a match.)
One young man became a suspect, a known psychotic he
was seen in the vicinity of a few of the murders and was also picked out
by witnessed in photo line-ups. The suspect was never eliminated from
The task force responsible for the case, decided to
change tact. They requested from all near-by police stations records of
any elderly women being attacked. Several were forwarded to the
detectives and a common description of the unknown assailant appeared.
The suspect in all recent assaults had been a White Male, aged about 50
years with grey hair.
Two reports also stuck out from the rest. 85 year old
Mrs Margaret Todhunter was walking home when a man walked past her then
turned an struck her in the back of the head, as she fell to the ground
the "grey haired man" grabbed her bag and fled the scene. She
survived with only eight stitches required to the wound. Her description
of the man was quite thorough. She said he was Male, 50 years,
5'7", grey hair, well-kept, broad shoulders, thick chest, large
stomach, and wore a white business shirt and cream trousers.
This description fitted Glover perfectly, it was his
first attempt at an attack.
The second report that drew interest was that of 82
year old Mrs Euphemia Carnie on August 25, 1989. When returning to her
residence at North Haven Retirement Village was punched in the chest and
knocked to the ground. Her attacker took her handbag and drover away in
a blue car. She suffered severe bruising to her ribs, chest and back of
the head. Her description of her assailant matched that of Mrs Todhunter.
On January 11, 1990 another elderly patient, Mrs Daisy
Roberts, at Greenwich Hospital was assaulted. Mrs Roberts said that a
grey haired male entered her room and placed his hands under her night-dress
and held her breasts, claiming she was losing body heat. He then walked
away. When hospital authorities was contacted they informed police of
the incident. One nurse said she had earlier spoken to the Four-and-twenty
pie salesman who was in an area of the hospital he shouldn't have been.
When challenged about the assault on Mrs Roberts, he denied the
allegation and quickly left. The man was John Glover.
Police were quick to find Glover to question him about
the assault on Mrs Roberts. He was asked to attend Chatswood Detectives
office at 5pm pm January 13, 1990. After waiting an hour for him, police
decided to call his house. His wife answered and said that her husband
had attempted suicide and was now in Royal North Shire Hospital. The
suicide note Glover had written included references to "no more
grannies" and "Essie started it".
Due to his mental state the officers were not able to
interview him that evening, and when they returned they next day he
refused to make any admissions on legal advice. He did however admit to
being at the Greenwich Hospital on January 11. Glover also allowed the
detectives to take a Polaroid photo of him. He was identified by the
women as their attacker.
From then on, Glover was the main suspect in the
Granny Killings. The police decided to not question Glover anymore, in
fear it may scare him off. They kept a vigil at all times, as they
furthered their enquiries into his background and history.
The "Essie" referred to in the suicide
letter was Veronica Rolls, Glover's mother-in-law. It appears that Mrs
Rolls had lived with her daughter and son-in-law for thirteen years
until she moved into a nursing home in 1988. She died on January 21,
1989 in the home.
Glover's own mother had also died recently. She passed
away on October 11, 1988. The weight of these deaths seemed to have been
a catalyst for the Granny murders. It appears that he had hated his
mother for leaving his father and re-marrying, and he also had a deep-seeded
hatred for his mother-in-law.
Glover's employment with Four-and-twenty pies meant he
was responsible for the entire North Shore area. He covered the areas
involved in the murders.
But now police needed the hard evidence. Surveillance
was set-up and police watched as he would stop time and time again.
Police decided to use a new tracking device that was currently being
trailed, with permission from Four-and-twenty they had the Quiktrack
device fitted to Glover's vehicle.
When police returned to ask further questions about
assaults at a few of the nursing homes in connection with Glover, one
receptionist interviewed stated that she was in fact John Glover's wife
and he had denied all the allegations. She also said she would tell her
husband that police were questioning people about him. Detectives knew
then that they needed to move a little quicker now, they feared that he
may now quieten down until the heat leaves.
But this was not the case. Fours days after their talk
with Mrs Glover on March 19, 1990, police tracked Glover all over Mosman
and Balmoral. At 10.30am he stopped his car, fixed his hair, put on a
tie, gabbed a briefcase and entered a dwelling. Police first assumed
that he was meeting with his solicitor, but stayed in wait.
Later in the afternoon, two boys attempted to also
enter the property, when they found the gate locked, they went and got a
neighbour to help them to no avail. A dog inside the premises was
barking. Something was wrong.
Using the dog as a reason to investigate police went
to the door to question the occupant about the dog's noise. The door was
locked, so they went to the rear of the property and through a glass
door could see a hammer and what looked to be blood on the carpet of the
Police then forced the front entry to investigate. The
body of Joan Sinclair was found just inside the door. Near the body was
a bloodstained claw-hammer. Mrs Sinclair's head was wrapped in a towel
and her lower clothes had been removed. Again her pantyhose were tied
around her neck.
Detectives knew they needed to still be careful,
Glover must still be in the house. He was found in the bathroom. He was
semi-conscious and naked in the bath. Glover was vomiting and moaning,
his face was partially submerged in the water. Paramedics were called,
who declared Mrs Sinclair dead and then treated Glover for alcohol and
Glover was moved to Royal North Shore Hospital and
placed under police guard. Mrs Sinclair's post-mortem report stated she
had suffered multiple head wounds from a blunt object - the claw-hammer
found at the scene.
Though there were many dissimilarities between the
Sinclair murder and the granny murders, there was enough evidence to
suggest they were all linked.
In hospital on March 20, 1990, Glover was briefly
interviewed about the murders of the six women and the attempted murder
of Mrs Cox. Glover admitted to committing each murder and the attempted
murder. Later that day Glover was formally charged with the murder of
Mrs Sinclair and they made arrangements for further interviews on his
discharge from hospital.
On March 28, 1990, Glover appeared at the Glebe
Coroners Court where he was formally charged with 14 offences: 6 counts
of first degree murder, 1 count of attempted murder, 1 count of robbery
with wounding, 1 count of robbery, 4 counts of indecent assault and 1
count of assaulting a female.
On Friday November 29, 1990 Glover was found guilty on
all accounts and sentenced to prison for the term of his natural life.
Glover showed little emotion as Justice Woods passed sentence.
Case written by Korey Sifuentes
Killer' hangs himself
September 09, 2005
The death of 'Granny Killer' John Wayne Glover today
has been described as "the end of a terrible era" both for the families
of his victims and the community terrorised by his crimes.
Glover, 72, was found hanging from a shower rail in
his jail cell in Lithgow, central western New South Wales, State
Corrective Services said.
He was serving life without parole for the murder of
six elderly women on the North Shore of Sydney between 1989 and 1990.
Glover was one of only a handful of criminals whose
files were marked never to be released, reflecting the violent death of
The six women murdered by the pie salesman were
either bashed or strangled, some with their pantyhose.
The killing spree left other elderly
women in the city's northern suburbs living in fear they could be next.
During a 1991 court hearing, psychiatrist Rod Milton
suggested that Glover fitted the pattern of a serial killer, distilling
his anger and releasing it as intense rage against women.
A Corrective Services spokeswoman said Glover, who
had cancer and had recently lost a lot of weight, was put on suicide
watch in May.
But she would not comment on the extent of his
supervision at the time of his death.
Glover, who lived in the Lower North Shore suburb of
Mosman, and who murdered three of his victims in the area, was well
known to residents, and his death would be a relief for many elderly
people in the suburb, Mosman Mayor Shirley Jenkins said.
"I lived here at the time and I must admit that I am
not a person that scares easily, but by the end of it I was starting to
look over my shoulder," Cr Jenkins said.
"He was quite well known in the RSL here, and I think
the problem was people sort of knew him and therefore weren't afraid of
But his death signalled a time for residents still
reeling from Glover's killing spree to move on, Cr Jenkins said.
"It's an end of an era, the end of a terrible era
..." she said.
"Particularly for senior citizens it would be a
Ken Marslew, the head of victims support group Enough
Is Enough, said Glover's death could help the families of his victims to
move on with their lives.
"From the perspective of the victims, they may see it
as the end of something and (his impact on their lives) is now something
they'll never have to confront again," Mr Marslew said.
"For others it probably doesn't make any difference
at all. (It's just) that a person who has damaged their life is gone."
Because Glover was "one of the worst" violent
criminals in recent memory, his death was likely to have a wider impact
on the community, Mr Marslew said.
"There are many out there who will say thank goodness
he's done it, he's going to save the state a lot of money," he said.
"There'll be some mixed feelings out there as to the
situation and, whatever, everyone must now get on with their lives."
The NSW Opposition said Glover's death would provoke
little public sympathy.
Nevertheless, it raised questions about the killer's
treatment in prison, Opposition justice spokesman Andrew Humpherson said.
"The Government's systems in regards to preventing
suicides are clearly ineffective," Mr Humpherson said.
"This is one of many prison suicides but, given that
Glover was considered a suicide risk, the Government's competence has to
Fiona Baker, the executive producer of
a television program on Glover that aired across Australia last week,
said the murder crime scene photographs she had seen were chilling.
"I think he's been living with demons for a long time
in his life," Ms Baker said.
"You can't be harsh about it but I think those demons
eventually got to him."
John Wayne Glover
(1932-September 9, 2005) was a serial killer responsible for the North
Shore Granny Murders in Australia. He was nicknamed "The Granny Killer"
for his trademark murders that involved attacking older woman by beating
them on the head with a hammer until they collapsed, then by strangling
them with their underwear.
Originally from England, Glover emigrated to Australia in
Glover, who had been sexually obsessed with elderly women
ever since his own mother's death, began his criminal career by
molesting and robbing them at random. He was apparently able to keep his
violent impulses under some measure of control until he was well into
middle age, as there is no evidence of his committing murder until 1989,
when he was 57. By then, he had been married for 20 years and had
In November 1989, Glover began his North Shore killing
spree, which lasted until March 1990. His final victim was a woman he
was having an affair with; he attempted suicide afterward, and was
found, near death, by police officers lying near the body of his victim,
Joan Violet Sinclair.
He was convicted of six murders and given a life
sentence. He admitted to his crimes only when confronted with the
powerful evidence of his guilt, and denied responsibility for other
crimes in which he was a prime suspect.
He hanged himself in prison on September 9, 2005.
The 1994 movie J'ai pas sommeil (I Can't Sleep),
by French director Claire Denis (Chocolat, No Fear No Die)
was supposedly based upon Glover. In the movie, the "Granny Killer" is
terrorizing Paris instead of Sydney. However, the movie may actually be
based on a French serial killer, Thierry Paulin, who also preyed on old
The books Garden of Evil: The Granny Killer's Reign of
Terror (ISBN 187547112X) by Larry Writer and The Killer Next
Door: Death In An Australian Suburb (ISBN 0-09-182580-6) by Lindsay
Simpson & Sandra Harvey were written about Glover.
Suburban Serial Killer
Harvey and Lindsay Simpson
September 9, 2005
published in Good Weekend in April 1994
As soon as
he saw the shoes, Detective Senior Constable Paul Mayger's heart started
racing. They were velvet, low-heeled pumps, and they had been placed
carefully and neatly with the walking stick in a corner of the room
opposite the old lady's feet. The shoes of the first victim had been put
neatly by her body, too. It was some sort of macabre trademark - the
killer's calling card. Same time, same area, same type of victim. What
the hell were they dealing with
Senior Constable Murray Byrnes sensed it, too. "What do you think?" he
whispered to Mayger
same guy all right, and he's not going to stop here. I know it."Mayger
looked down at the body, as scientific police continued their searching,
measuring and recording. She was lying face down diagonally across the
concrete floor of the small bin room. A pool of blood had formed around
her head. The collar of the old lady's raincoat was pulled up about her
face, hiding the pantihose knotted so tightly around her neck it had cut
into her skin. Near her head was a blood-soaked gas bill receipt in her
name. Her handbag and brown woollen hat lay beside her body. She had on
fawn woollen gloves, and under the raincoat, she wore a blue-and-white
striped dress and a slip. Her bare legs were crossed, her arms by her
sides. A thin trickle of blood ran from her mouth.
facing the police looked to be as daunting as the first murder -Gwendoline
Mitchelhill. But the next-door neighbour, Mrs Laurie Burt, turned out to
be a godsend.
Mrs Burt was
sharp, and despite all that had happened, had her wits about her. She
helped police quickly piece together the final hours of Lady (Freda)Ashton,
the second wife and widow of Sir William Ashton, one of Australia's most
famous landscape painters.
after a hard day, Lady Ashton would have paused at the letterboxes,
picked up any junk mail and rubbish, and taken everything to the bin
room. Whoever had killed her must have followed her there. She was such
a trusting soul - she'd strike up a conversation with anyone - and she
had probably been talking to them as she tidied up. She would have put
her keys down in the middle of the metre-high bench by the victim's
rubbish bin - the only metal one. Which was precisely where the police
hand, Mayger, Byrnes and two scientific police went up to Lady Ashton's
unit in Sydney's Mosman. The block was clean and well-kept but hardly
grand. The unit was beautifully furnished, if a little cluttered. Mayger
was fairly sure now that Lady Ashton had been attacked as she arrived
home, just as Mrs Mitchelhill had. As they got downstairs, Mayger
noticed a group of neighbours being interviewed by local detectives. The
area had been sealed off, and there were police cars everywhere - Mayger
knew it wouldn't be long before the press turned up.
hours, radio reporters were filing for their morning bulletins. The
second old woman in six weeks, and this one the widow of a famous
painter. Great story.
morning, Detective Mike Hagan told a roomful of detectives that the
murders of Gwendoline Mitchelhill and Freda Ashton were unofficially
linked. There wasn't much to go on: no real clues, no fingerprints, no
foreign blood at either scene. That in itself gave some impression of
the killer. He was cunning.
thing, the murders are a kilometre apart," he said. "The old ladies had
been shopping and walked home. The killer probably lives locally -he
could be a young person on foot."
Hagan was that the killer had had five weeks to think about the second
murder. They had no idea what was driving him to kill. Hagan scanned the
faces of the men sitting around him. "It's our job to try and find out,
Ashton's post-mortem had been difficult. There were so many injuries. It
was Argentinian-born Dr Liliana Schwartz's first homicide as a forensic
pathologist in Australia. Her experience with murder was limited. She
had attended the scene at 2 am and at 10.30 began the internal
examination of the body, opening up three cavities. Earlier she had
checked the body's temperature - 29.7 degrees C - the extent of rigor
mortis, and whether there was any semen present.
knew strangulation often went hand in hand with rape. But as with
Mitchelhill, no semen was detected. She measured the ligature mark
around her neck: nine centimetres. Lady Ashton was covered in bruises.
They were on her nose and her temple, her neck and both eyelids. And she
had bitten the inside of her lips. Of most interest to the doctor was
the wound on her cheek, an open cut with a small, semi-circular abrasion
a few centimetres from it. Schwartz had learned to distance herself from
her job, but she still felt sad because this old lady deserved a more
dignified death, not the sort of violence to which she had been
subjected. There was something else which disturbed her: the old woman's
diamond ring. It looked expensive. Her attacker had obviously not killed
her for money. It seemed he had killed her for the love of killing.
after his mother's death, John Glover's bizarre fascination with old
women increased. He was no longer satisfied with merely looking at them;
he had an overwhelming urge to touch them. He was both fascinated and
repulsed by the nursing homes; room after room of bedridden old women,
slowly dying. During his weekday work visits, he had fallen into a habit
of wandering through the wards on his way to the kitchen, or the
And now he
began to look forward to the Sunday afternoon visits to his
mother-in-law, Essie Rolls, because they gave him another legitimate
excuse to be in a nursing home. He would sit with her for a while, then
he would start to roam, looking in the rooms, searching for the oldest,
most frail women he could find. If he found one alone, and if no-one was
looking, he would go inside. He just had to touch them; their breasts, a
thigh, or buttocks. That the women became distressed or upset was of
little consequence. It added to the excitement.
wanderings had not gone unnoticed by the Mosman Nursing Home staff. One
Sunday afternoon in December 1988, Glover left Essie and strayed off
down the hall. Through one doorway he saw an elderly woman lying on her
bed in a nightgown. She was obviously incapacitated and alone. He walked
in. She looked up as Glover approached the bed, surprise changing to
fear as Glover placed his hand under her nightie and touched her breast.
Confused, she tried to call out, "What ..."
his head. "Shhhhh," he whispered. As his hand slid down her body and
groped for her underpants, the woman panicked.
Sister |" she managed to call out. Glover backed off and quietly left,
but not before a sister, Yvonne Hoskins, saw him dart away.
an overwhelming urge just to touch old women, to feel their bare flesh.
He was expert at sneaking in and out of rooms at nursing homes and
retirement villages. Who would believe these old women if he were
caught? He was sure their stories would be treated as the ravings of an
Bay to Hornsby in Sydney's far-northern suburbs, Glover went in search
of both legitimate business and his own perverse pleasure, which was how
he found himself at the Wesley Gardens Retirement Village at Belrose at
12.30 pm on June 28.
looking for Mrs Pople?"
startled him. Glover was standing near a bed in Room 26 of the nursing
Glover replied. "I've come to see Rob in the kitchen, but I've lost a
very valuable gold pen with a chain on it."
Margaret Whitehead was immediately suspicious. He looked respectable
enough, but she'd never seen him before and he was nowhere near the
said, "you go back and look in the car park and I'll put an announcement
over the loudspeaker."
There was no
response to the call for the pen, so Glover went back to the car park
where one of the elderly patients walked each day after lunch. She had
been enjoying her walk as Glover approached her from behind ...
minutes later, the woman appeared in the doorway of the nursing care
section. She was crying and very distressed. Sister Whitehead led her to
a chair. "Oh Marnie," the woman cried. "You'll never believe what just
happened to me. I was up in the top car park and a man touched me on the
later Glover stopped outside the North Haven Retirement Village at
Lindfield. He walked down the driveway but could tell he was wasting his
time: self-care establishments weren't usually interested in catering
products. He was just about to leave when he saw an old lady walking
towards the driveway from the street. Glover crossed over and walked
towards her. Euphemia Carnie, 81, saw the respectable-looking man in a
blue business shirt approaching and thought he was going to ask her a
question, so she stopped. He was just one step away when she saw him
form a fist with his right hand and before she knew it, she was lying
flat on her back on the footpath.
punch to her right upper chest sent her flying backwards and she hit her
head as she landed. As she lay on the ground still clutching her walking
stick, the man grabbed her groceries and her handbag and she watched,
helpless, as he walked quickly to his car and drove off. Glover dumped
the bags in a nearby park after pocketing $70 from her purse.
November 2, 1989, Glover was heading towards Kamilaroi Retirement
Centre, Lane Cove, when he saw the elderly woman struggling along the
footpath with several heavy shopping bags. He stopped directly in front
"Can I carry
your bags, madam?" he asked. "They look too heavy for you."
Dorothy Beencke declined. The 78-year-old widow didn't have far to go.
Her unit was in Ridgeway, just down the laneway. Still, the bags were
heavy and when the man persisted, she had a good, long look at him. He
certainly seemed like a gentleman: well-dressed and healthy for someone
of his age, which she guessed was about 65. He had a pleasant face, and
looked harmless enough.
she said, having changed her mind. "It's nice to know there are still
some gentlemen around."
"And it's nice to know there are still some ladies
around," he replied with easy familiarity. "Now, where are you going?"
Mrs Beencke smiled: "I live down by Kamilaroi."
"Lead the way," Glover said, taking her groceries. He
followed her off the main road and down the private laneway.
As they approached the end of the lane, Glover noticed a
pool in her front yard.
"You have a nice pool there. I suppose you swim in it?"
"No, I don't use it," she replied.
When they reached the front door, Glover put down the
bags. Mrs Beencke thanked him again and he left.
Glover had decided he would not harm the old woman. He
simply wanted to help her. It was only after his chivalrous gesture that
his mood quickly turned bloody.
That same afternoon, Mrs Margaret Pahud had been doing
some grocery shopping, so by the time she turned into Longueville Road,
heading home, she was struggling under the weight and awkward bulk of
two heavy shopping bags.
As she walked along the footpath, Glover looked up from
where he sat in his car across the road. Blood throbbed dully behind his
eyes as they tracked the old lady tottering along the footpath. Anger
and hatred welled within him, and his pulse began pounding.
Panting slightly, the old woman turned into the laneway
he'd come out of not 15 minutes before. Glover reached under the seat
beside him, grabbed the hammer and stepped out of the car. He slipped
the hammer into his trousers. The metal was cold against his skin.
As he stood there, staring at the entrance to the
laneway, his rage gave way to a dreadful calm that shut out everything:
he heard nothing but his heartbeat, saw only where the woman had
disappeared. It was set.
He crossed the busy street and turned into the lane. The
sun was dancing on and off her back as she walked in front of him
between the shadows of the overhanging trees. He followed.
He was within arm's reach when the adrenaline began
surging through him. Grabbing the hammer, he lifted it high, and with a
grunt smashed it down on her head.
As she collapsed before him, sprawled face down at his
feet, he was filled with a sensation of extraordinary power, of absolute
control. He was invincible. He raised the hammer again, side-on - he
always hit them side-on -so their skulls wouldn't shatter. That way, the
blood would not spray everywhere. With all the force of his 102 kg bulk
he brought the hammer down again.
Her head jolted from the blow, and her face - already
grazed and cut and embedded with broken glass from her spectacles -
smashed harder against the concrete footpath.
Glover was breathing hard, his face flushed. He glanced
at the hammer before tucking it back down his trousers: no blood, no
bits of bone. He bent over the body. He didn't want to see the face, but
he had to look at the body. He pulled at her dress, exposing the left
shoulder and breast. Then he saw the blood spreading out near his feet.
He looked up and down the laneway, his eyes wild.
It was as if time had stood still and was now rushing
back to fill the void. He felt sweat beading on his top lip. Sounds
started reaching him: children's voices, lots of them; a school bell;
cars, traffic. Glover fought rising panic. He looked over the fence
beside him and realised that he was in full view of the retirement
village. No time to go through her bags. He grabbed the old lady's
handbag, tucked it under his arm and walked briskly away.
Any doubts as to whether Mrs Pahud was a third victim of
the same killer disappeared at the post-mortem that night. When he saw
the wound on Mrs Pahud's shaven head, Mayger knew it was the work of the
same man. Earlier, until word had come through from the hospital, he had
been hoping that somehow she had died from a heart attack. Now he was
upset and angry that another old woman had been murdered. The killer had
claimed another life.
As Mayger drove back to the laneway from the Glebe
morgue, his mind was filled with scrambled images of the three dead
victims. There had to be something this time, a slip the killer had made
- anything that would lead them to him.
Mayger wandered up the laneway as witnesses were being
interviewed. He came across a group of reporters waiting on the other
side of the police barrier tape on Longueville Road. One of the
reporters struck up a conversation and before long, Mayger heard himself
saying, "How many more have to die?"
About the time Mrs Pahud's body was discovered, Glover
had been driving away from the scene. As he passed the Lane Cove Country
Club a few minutes later, he pulled over to check his spoils. There was
more than $400 in one of the old woman's wallets - money Mrs Pahud had
collected to buy theatre tickets for the Legacy club the next day. There
was nothing else of value in the handbag.
He got out of the car, looked around to make sure no-one
was watching and then hurled the bag through the air as far as he could.
It disappeared down a slope and landed near a stormwater drain on the
edge of the ninth tee.
With the money in his wallet, he walked through the
automatic doors of the RSL club, changing the notes for some coins to
put through the pokies, carrying his awful secret with the ease of a
naughty schoolboy. Then home, for the part he most enjoyed. He strode
into the house, as he had so many times before, said hello to his wife
Gay, and waited for her usual response: "How was your day?"
He was tempted to say: "Fine, I just killed somebody up
the road a bit" -just to see her reaction. But he didn't. He said hello
to the girls, then went upstairs to change his clothes, putting the
trousers and shirt he was wearing in the dirty-clothes basket.
Strolling back downstairs, he felt satisfied. He had just
killed an old lady: his day was fulfilled. And as he sat eating dinner
with his family, he smiled to himself about his secret life: a Walter
Mitty, the dark side, which even his wife of 20 years knew nothing
Glover was sure no-one had seen him. As he lay in the
quiet darkness of his room some hours after the killing, he was too
excited to sleep. He seemed to have got away with it again.
John Glover's blue Falcon was parked opposite the Mosman
police station in Prince Albert Road. It was a Thursday evening,
November 23, almost three weeks after the murder of Olive Cleveland
(Glover's fourth victim).
He was sitting in the Buena Vista, having checked the
specials at the bottle shop. His work was finished for the day. He had
discarded his tie, but was still dressed in his work clothes: brown
slacks, leather brogues, and shirt. He was in his favourite eyrie at the
window, his eyes feasting on the passers-by, when he saw her. Muriel
Falconer was on the opposite side of the street to the hotel, walking
slowly. He watched her, contempt welling inside.
He left his beer on the table half-drunk and, hitching up
his slacks, walked across the road to the car. There was plenty of time.
He would take the hammer. He picked up the pair of
cream-and-green-striped gardening gloves from the glove box, pushing one
in each pocket of his slacks. His fingers closed on the solid, rounded
handle under the driver's seat. He felt the reassuring weight of the
hammer. Unbuttoning his shirt, he leant forward and placed it inside his
shirt, the handle securely held by his belt. His tools of the trade. He
felt very calm; he was in no rush.
Glover walked to the intersection where he had first seen
her. Muriel Falconer was only metres away, walking down Raglan Street,
the same street where he had killed Lady Ashton all those months before.
He placed himself behind her, ambling, a grey-haired man in a
grey-haired suburb, utterly ordinary on an utterly ordinary day. It was
late afternoon - shortly before 5 pm. He would still be home at his
regular hour - in time for the 6 pm television news. The timing was
She was tall, her gaunt frame draped in a pink cardigan
over a shapeless, brown-striped dress as she shuffled ahead of him, her
walking stick seeking out the pavement, her other hand carrying a cane
He was enjoying this thoroughly, the knowledge that she
would soon be lying sprawled before him, that she had no say. Her death
Glover watched his prey turn left into Muston Street.
Surely she would not have too far to go now. She would not be walking if
she lived much further away. His eyes were fixed upon her; cars passed
in the street, everyday faraway noises, detached from him. His hands
grew icy and his breathing became laboured.
She crossed the road diagonally and stopped at a black
iron gate. It was an old, single-standing, Federation house, screened
from the street by a 1.8 metr e-high privet hedge and a small brick
wall. She opened the gate and went inside. He slowed his pace further,
giving her time to get to the front door and to open it. He opened the
gate and went in ...
On March 19, 1990, John Glover murdered his sixth and
final victim, his lover, Joan Sinclair, in her home. After her death, he
attempted suicide, drinking whisky and taking sedatives until he passed
out. After staking out Mrs Sinclair's house for more than seven hours,
police entered the house and found Joan Sinclair's battered body in the
hallway, and Glover in the bath -near death. Glover was subsequently
charged and convicted with all six Granny Killings. He is now imprisoned
in Lithgow Jail, his file marked "Never to Be Released". Gay has not
divorced her husband, but no member of his family has visited John
Glover in almost four years.
From The Killer Next Door by Lindsay Simpson and Sandra
Harvey, to be published by Random House Australia on April 29; rrp
HOW THE AUTHORS FOUND THE REAL JOHN GLOVER
We (Lindsay Simpson and Sandra Harvey) first met while
covering the Milperra Father's Day Massacre bikie court case in
September 1984. Over dinner at a restaurant we agreed to write a book
about this Sydney massacre in which seven people died and which we were
covering for our respective news organisations. That book was Brothers
We collaborated again on the story of Megan Kalajzich's
murder in Sydney, My Husband My Killer. While researching the book, we
travelled to Yugoslavia and stayed in the village on the Adriatic whence
Andrew Kalajzich's family had come, and met some of his relatives.
Because we write in the style of Truman Capote's classic study of a
murder, In Cold Blood - from each character's point of view - our
research involves getting to know how the characters think. It was a
style we used in the search for The Killer Next Door.
Researching The Killer Next Door involved two years of
treks to three jails where John Glover was kept after being convicted of
six murders. During those visits, Glover initially refused to talk about
the murders, but as we won his confidence we were able to ask him all
sorts of intimate details.
The first time we interviewed Glover was at Long Bay
jail, where we called in without warning. We were searched and
interviewed in a small room before being allowed to see him, the
authorities being obviously suspicious about our interest. Then we had a
long walk down a narrow corridor to the outside visiting area where he
was able to watch us as we walked towards him.
The first handshake was firm, his manner charming, as he
chatted about clues for the crossword he was doing. Neither of us could
take our eyes off his hands - small, freckled, but immensely powerful.
Later, he even demonstrated how he would hit the elderly women: "With
16-stone coming crashing down on them, they didn't stand a chance."
When he speaks about the murders, his face changes,
almost as if it is the voice of that other personality he talks about.
"One side of me was all right. The other side is dark, evil," he has
John Wayne Glover: The Granny Killer
by Paul B.
The "Calling Card" Killer
Serial killers the likes of John Wayne
Glover are extremely rare. In most cases of serial murder, the
perpetrators very rarely leave a “calling card,” a repetitive clue or
injury telling investigators that it is the work of the same killer.
Some serial killers
prefer to abduct their victims, have their way with them and then
conceal their bodies. Others use different methods of murder from one
killing to the next while others blatantly go about killing those around
them, such as family members or workmates, until police finally catch up
serial killers are the ones that keep committing identical murders time
and again until they are caught – although some are never caught.
“Calling card” serial killers are also the killers that get the most
publicity as the public is aware of each killing as it takes place and
are aware that there is a maniac on the loose, unlike when the victims
are abducted and concealed and investigators can only suspect it is the
work of the one killer.
As a consequence,
these murderers are certainly the best known serial killers in history.
The Boston Strangler, Jack the Ripper, the Yorkshire Ripper, Australia’s
William “the Mutilator” McDonald and New York’s Son of Sam – who went
one step further and taunted police with letters telling them when his
next killing would be – were all calling card serial killers.
So was John Wayne
Glover. Each time Glover committed serial murder, he ruthlessly bashed
his victims to death with a hammer in public places in broad daylight
and then throttled the last breath out of them with their own
undergarments. The killings were unmistakably the work of the one
John Glover was
“The Granny Killer”, “The Monster of Mosman”, a vicious and calculating
serial killer who deep-etched a macabre niche for himself into the
history of Australia’s most despicable murderers.
Glover was the only
serial killer who specialised in bashing and murdering little old
A bully, John
Glover forced his defenceless victims into alcoves and alleyways with
his superior strength and then set upon them with his fists and his
trademark hammer, repeatedly bashing them about the head until they fell
to his feet, saturated in their own blood.
Not content with
bashing alone, he would then subject them to the ultimate humiliation
and gaze upon their most private parts while he removed their pantyhose
and then throttle his victims with them. This final indignity would
become his calling card and detectives knew that the killings were
unmistakably the work of the one killer.
Australian police – and police throughout the world, for that matter –
had never experienced such a case, investigators had little or nothing
to go on. There were no guidelines to steer those trying to find the
elusive murderer. If there had been, then Glover might have been brought
to justice earlier. In the end it was a combination of police diligence
and an almost pathological urge to get caught that brought him to
Towards the end of
his reign of terror, Glover was leaving clues all over town. Tragically,
if this vital information had reached them a lot earlier, then perhaps
one life, or possibly two, may have been saved.
Average Serial Killer
But John Wayne
Glover was the least likely person you would suspect to be a serial
killer. He was as inconspicuous as he was evil. A big friendly man in
his late 50s, he was the backbone of middle-class society and the type
of guy you could leave in charge of your kids or ask to keep an eye on
your house while you are away.
Married with two
daughters, Glover and his loved ones lived a contented lifestyle in
their comfortable family home in the fashionable harbourside Sydney
suburb of Mosman on Sydney Harbour. But it was mainly in these tranquil
surroundings that he would bash and kill his victims.
And as if to
enhance this tragic deception of normalcy, Glover was a volunteer
charity worker with the Senior Citizens Society and listed among his
friends a former mayor of Mosman with whom he would often have a drink
at his favourite watering hole, the Mosman Returned Serviceman’s Leagues
Club. But Glover's real charity was himself. He would spend the proceeds
of his muggings and murders on gambling and drink.
To add to his image
of the regular middle-aged man, Glover held down a job as a sales
representative with the Four ‘n’ Twenty pie company. His warm handshake
and jolly smile endeared new acquaintances to him immediately. He was a
walking advertisement for his product. The type of bloke that it was
nice to be around.
But beneath that
jovial exterior lurked one of the most twisted serial killers in the sad
history of Australian crime: a vicious murderer who preyed on frail old
If John Glover had
been insane then the grief-stricken relatives of his victims may have
found some consolation, however minuscule, in knowing that their loved
ones met their cruel demise at the hands of a maniac, someone who was
driven to heinous crime by an unbalanced mind. But that was not to be
the case. At his trial John Glover pleaded not guilty to his ghastly
crimes on the grounds of diminished responsibility but the jury could
not accept this. In fact the jury didn't even think he was temporarily
insane at the time of the killings.
agreed with a prominent Sydney psychiatrist who studied the case and
said: “He built up a pile of hostility and aggression from childhood
against his mother and then his mother-in-law. She was the lightning
conductor and when she died he had to take it out on other people. This
is a very unusual case because there are very few mass murderers and
most of them are mad and have an organic disease of the brain. He is not
As the Crown
prosecutor maintained, Glover was very aware of what he was doing. As he
killed, he was at the same time planning what to do with the contents of
his victim’s purses. His killings weren’t sexually motivated. John
Glover was impotent and not the least interested in sex. The pantyhose
wrapped tightly around his victims’ necks was to ensure that they were
dead. But at the same time, it would make police think that the crime
was the work of a sex killer.
Glover knew exactly
what he was doing. Only a cool, clear, sane mind would risk the
possibility of being caught by lingering for that extra minute or so to
remove the pantyhose and strangle his victim with them. But it was worth
the chance to throw the police off the scent.
No, insanity or
lust was not the cause behind these cowardly murders and muggings.
Glover’s actual motives were as old as crime itself… revenge and greed.
Combined with cowardice, they made the fatal combination that would keep
Glover killing until the law finally caught up with him.
John Glover was
chronically addicted to poker machines. He would stand for hours
virtually pouring money through the slot machines at the Mosman RSL
Club. The easiest way for Glover to get more money was to steal it. As
police would reveal later, Glover was a convicted thief and had a record
of cowardly attacks on defenceless women.
When he migrated to
Australia from England in 1956, the 24-year-old Glover already had a
criminal record dating back to 1947 for stealing clothing and handbags.
Almost immediately after his arrival, he was convicted on two counts of
larceny in Victoria and one of theft in New South Wales. And in 1962, he
was convicted on two counts of assaulting females in Melbourne, two of
indecent assault, one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and four
counts of larceny.
Incredibly, he got
off with three years probation. As in the later murders and assaults,
the Victorian attacks were extremely savage and violent and on each
occasion articles of clothing had been forcibly removed. Fortunately,
Glover had been disturbed before the assaults could develop into rape or
murder. Otherwise his killing spree may have started earlier.
On each occasion,
the Melbourne victims were violently and repeatedly bashed about the
head and body. They were forced to the ground as the attacker
frantically ripped off their clothes before their screams alerted local
residents who rang the police and came to their aid.
Those first on the
scene were amazed at the ferocity of the attacks. The second victim, a
25-year-old woman walking home from a meeting at 10.30 at night, was
found on the front lawn of a home. Dazed and in shock, she told police
that the man had followed her down the dark suburban street and chased
her when she tried to run away.
She screamed as he
knocked her to the ground unconscious. She awoke on the lawn to find
herself bleeding profusely and with her undergarments in a state of
disarray. The attacker had fled when her screams aroused the
seeing a young man running into a nearby yard and prompt police action
saw the apprehension of 29-year-old Glover, then a television rigger
with the Australian Broadcasting Commission and living in the quiet,
tree-lined Melbourne suburb of Camberwell. Glover said that he had
fought with his girlfriend and was emotionally strung out. He was
charged and after spending the night in jail was released on bail the
As he was leaving
the police station Glover was stopped by two other detectives who had
heard of his arrest. They wanted to have a chat with him about a similar
assault a couple of weeks earlier. At first Glover denied any knowledge
of the incident, but under intense questioning he confessed to the
previous assault and was taken back to the station and recharged. In
light of Glover's previous convictions and the ferocity of the attacks,
the detectives were astonished when he was let off with a good behaviour
bond and three years probation.
caught up with John Wayne Glover in 1965, but only in a small way when
he was convicted on a Peeping Tom charge of being unlawfully on the
premises. He was sentenced to three months in prison but served only six
weeks behind bars.
release from prison, Glover seemingly changed his ways and apart from a
minor shoplifting charge in 1978, he would not come to police notice
again for many years, however police now agree that it would have been
almost impossible for a criminal of Glover's nature to keep his hands to
himself for the following 25 years.
In fact some police
wonder if Glover could have helped with enquires into at least five
other unsolved murders with similar modus operandi committed between
1965 and 1989.
In Melbourne in
1968, Glover married Jacqueline Gail (Gay) Rolls. They had met while
Glover was working at a wine and spirits store in Melbourne’s
inner-city. Gay’s father, John Rolls, felt that the quiet, handsome
young man was a good match for their beloved daughter. At first his wife
Essie Rolls agreed, but it didn’t take her long to figure out that
Glover may have something to hide.
Even though she was
from a well-to-do middle-class Sydney background, Gay loved the gentle
English migrant who had arrived in Australia in the 1950s with only
thirty shillings ($3) to his name. Glover came from a very poor
working-class family and told his few friends that he had come to
Australia to start a new life and leave behind a traumatic and
disruptive family background. With her parents’ blessings, Gay and John
became engaged and married shortly after.
In 1970 the happy
couple moved to Sydney to live with Gay’s parents in the comfortable
family home at Mosman. Gay’s father was very ill and he asked the
newlyweds if they would move into the house to keep him company. John
Glover was delighted. The poor English migrant with a record of theft
and violence had done well. To move to Mosman and into a two-storey
house near the harbour was more than he could ever have dreamed
Like all of the
decisions in their married life it was a joint one between John and Gay
to move into his in-laws’ home. It was here that Glover’s hatred for his
mother-in-law, Essie, erupted. A separate wing was built on the house so
that Gay and John and their two daughters, Kellie (born in 1971) and
Marney (born in 1973) could live an almost separate existence from the
demanding Essie Rolls.
Glover would say at
his trial that he hated Essie, that the atmosphere was always tense and
that the situation became even worse when Gay’s father died in 1981.
Glover told the court that Essie was a tyrant. Police had no trouble
confirming this when they interviewed staff of the nursing home in
Mosman where she died in 1988.
To add to Glover’s
domestic woes, in 1982 his mother, Freda, migrated to Australia and
turned up on his door. Glover loathed her almost as much as he loathed
his mother-in-law. Freda Underwood, as she was now known, had been
married four times and had had numerous lovers both during and between
When she tried to
move in as a temporary companion to Essie Rolls, it was more than Glover
could handle. The last thing he wanted was someone in the house who
could bring him undone with tales of his unfortunate childhood. This was
the type of ammunition that Essie Rolls wanted.
“It was a shock to
the system,” Glover would say at his trial. “Just the thought of having
them both under the one roof was more than anyone could stand.” At
Glover’s instigation, his mother moved to Gosford, 100 kilometres north
of Sydney, where she died of breast cancer in 1988. Glover was diagnosed
as having the same cancer, although it is extremely rare amongst men.
After a mastectomy
Glover developed a prostate condition and became sexually impotent. In
evidence, psychiatrist Dr Bob Strum said that he believed this to be the
time when Glover’s life changed. “It was almost as though his mother was
reaching out from the grave and striking him again,” he told the jury.
Despite the family
dramas, Gay knew nothing of her husband’s dark past and he never did
anything to indicate that he was anything other than an adoring husband
and father to their two daughters.
The ‘start of it
all’ as Glover would refer to it later, came on 11 January 1989, when he
saw 84-year-old Mrs Margaret Todhunter walking along quiet Hale Road,
Mosman. He parked his car and, after he was satisfied that no one was
looking, he punched the unsuspecting victim in the face with a swinging
right hook and relieved her of her handbag containing $209. As he fled
down the street with her bag, Mrs Todhunter called out, “You rotten
Glover went to the
Mosman RSL, where he drank and played the poker machines with the stolen
money. Investigating police put the incident down to a mugging and
suspected that someone saw the elderly woman with the cash and waited
for the right moment. In the drug-ravaged suburbs of Sydney, muggings
are a daily occurrence and while the case was investigated thoroughly,
little hope was given of recovering the money or finding the perpetrator
of such a cowardly act.
survived the ordeal but was badly bruised and shaken. As it eventuated,
she was also extremely lucky.
victim was not so fortunate. On 1 March, 1989, he had a few drinks at
the Mosman RSL after work and mid-afternoon was heading for his car down
busy Military Road when he spotted Gwendoline Mitchelhill going home
from the shops at a slow pace with her walking stick.
returned to his car and tucked a hammer into his belt. Then he slowly
followed the old woman to the seclusion of the entry foyer of her
retirement village. As she turned the key in the lock, he brought the
hammer down with a crashing blow to the back of her skull.
He then repeatedly
bashed her so viciously about the head and body that he broke several
ribs in her tiny jockey-weight frame. He fled the scene, taking her
wallet containing $100. Incredibly, Mrs Mitchelhill was still alive when
two schoolboys found her but she became the Granny Killer's first
‘official’ murder victim just a few minutes after the police and
As Mrs Mitchelhill
drew her last breath Glover was sitting in his lounge room wondering out
loud to his wife what the sirens in the distance were all about.
Again, the police
were baffled. But there was nothing concrete to link the two attacks.
There was a theory that they could be the work of the one person, but it
was a long shot. Police finally assumed that it was yet another mugging
that had gone disastrously wrong.
Ten weeks later, in
the late afternoon of May 9, Glover was heading for the Mosman RSL Club
in Military Road when he saw Lady Winifred Ashton walking slowly towards
him in a red raincoat and with the aid of a walking stick. Lady Ashton
had been playing bingo at the RSL and was heading toward her home in
nearby Raglan Street. Glover pulled on a pair of gloves and followed her
into the foyer of her apartment building, where he attacked her with his
hammer and threw her to the ground in the rubbish-bin alcove.
from lymph cancer, the tiny and frail Lady Ashton put up an incredible
struggle and Glover later confessed: “At one stage she almost had me
until I fell on top of her and repeatedly bashed her head against the
concrete”. Lady Winifred Ashton was 84 years old.
Lady Ashton was
unconscious as John Glover removed her pantyhose and strangled her with
them. Although no sexual act took place, this gruesome ritual would
become Glover's calling card. And then, as if in respect for the dead
woman, Glover laid her walking stick and shoes at her feet before he
headed off with her purse, which contained $100.
commented to the bar staff at the Mosman RSL that he hoped that the
sirens they could hear just around the corner weren’t for another
mugging. He said this as he calmly fed the contents of Lady Ashton's
purse through the poker machines. Only now did police believe they had a
maniacal killer on the loose. There were too many similarities. To date,
all of the three victims were wealthy old ladies, all came from the same
suburb, all were assaulted or killed in a similar manner and all were
robbed of their handbags. This was no ordinary mugger.
Although it was now
a strong possibility, the thought of one individual seeking out and
murdering defenceless old women was almost beyond comprehension. At the
time, police prayed that they were wrong but secretly they knew the
truth -- they had a homicidal maniac on their hands.
But the chinks were
starting to show in the maniac’s armour. In a bizarre twist of events,
Glover started molesting old women confined to their beds in the nursing
homes he visited in the course of his rounds as a pie salesman. This was
an aspect of the case that detectives and psychiatrists would later find
that he had no sexual interest in anyone. He never sexually attacked any
of his robbery and murder victims. Yet here he was, prowling around
nursing homes and assaulting bed-ridden old women.
investigated, but the alarm bells didn’t ring. The molestations were not
connected to the murders at the time, though at a later date the
incidents would play an important part in identifying Glover.
On his nursing-home
rounds, Glover first molested 77-year-old Mrs Marjorie Moseley on June
6, 1989 at the Wesley Gardens, Retirement Home in Belrose, which is
quite a distance from Mosman. Mrs Moseley reported the incident and said
that the man put his hand under her nightie. She couldn’t recall what he
Then, on June 24,
Glover visited the Caroline Chisholm Nursing Home in nearby Lane Cove.
He leisurely strolled upstairs, where he lifted the dress of an elderly
woman and fondled her buttocks. Moving to the room next door, he slid
his hand down the front of another woman's nightdress and stroked her
breasts. The terrified woman cried out and Glover was questioned briefly
by staff but not held as he made a hurried exit.
The incidents were
investigated by local police but were not connected to the murders in
Mosman. And it was a long time before it was thought that this
information may be of any use to the Granny Killer task force. By the
time the connection was made there had been more attacks, more bashings
and more murders.
On August 8, 1989,
Glover bashed elderly Effie Carnie in a quiet street in Lindfield, not
far from Mosman, and stole her groceries. On October 6 he passed himself
off as a doctor and ran his hand up the dress of Phylis McNeil, a
patient at the Wybenia Nursing Home at Neutral Bay, the harbourside
suburb next but one to Mosman. Again he eluded capture when the blind
old woman called for help.
It seemed that
Glover could walk in and out of hospitals as he pleased. No one
suspected the pastry salesman. Not once, through that series of
molestations, was he ever identified.
Killer on the Loose
On October 18
Glover struck again, and this time with a ferocity that would convince
police that their worst nightmare was a reality -- that the attacks were
the work of one man. But in what would later prove to be a cruel irony,
this assault would start them looking for the wrong “type” of offender.
mid-afternoon of October 18, Glover struck up a conversation with
86-year-old Mrs Doris Cox as she slowly made her way home along Spit
Road, Mosman. He walked with her into the secluded stairwell of her
retirement village then he attacked her from behind using his entire
body-weight to smash her face into a brick wall. She collapsed at his
feet. After finding nothing that he wanted in her handbag, Glover left
her for dead and went home.
Mrs Cox, an
Alzheimer's victim, somehow survived the attack. But she was hazy about
the description of her attacker even though she saw him while he walked
with her. In her understandably confused state, she thought that her
attacker was a younger man and assisted the police as best as she could
in preparing an identikit drawing. At last the police believed they had
To the head of the
task force, Detective Inspector Mike Hagan, the new information made
sense. He suspected that the killer was a local because of the close
proximity of the killings and muggings. As well, police psychological
profiles suggested the killer would most likely be a teenager with a
grandmother fixation. And Mrs Cox thought that she had been bashed by a
Mike Hagan now
concentrated the task force energies in search of a young local who may
be acting strangely or had any possible relationship or connection to
the victims. Tragically, this theory was only right to the extent it
suggested the killer was a local. It would almost appear that some
unknown force was protecting Glover as his next attack would lead police
to doubt that the man they sought was even a local.
The murder of
85-year-old Mrs Margaret Pahud on November 2 was undoubtedly the work of
the Granny Killer. She was bashed on the back of the head by a blunt
instrument as she made her way home along a laneway off busy Longueville
Road, Lane Cove.
presented at the trial indicated that the attack was over in seconds and
from the force of the blows taken by her massively fractured skull, the
coroner concluded that it was doubtful that the poor old woman felt a
thing. Glover took her handbag, and tucked it inside his shirt with the
hammer and calmly left the scene.
There were no known
witnesses, although Mrs Pahud’s body was found within minutes by a
passing schoolgirl who at first thought that it was a bundle of clothing
dumped in the laneway. As the police and ambulance sirens wailed their
way to the murder scene, Glover examined the contents of Mrs Pahud’s
purse on the grounds of a nearby golf club where he pocketed $300 and
hid the bag in a drain. He then went to the Mosman RSL Club where he
drank and gambled with Margaret Pahud’s money.
By now police were
almost frantic with frustration. This murder was committed about five
kilometres from Mosman and their theory about it being a local was
Now they decided
they were looking for a teenager who came from just about anywhere.
Baffled and no closer to solving the case than they were when it had all
started ten months earlier the police intensified their investigations.
in One Day
called in and Australia’s biggest task force to ever search for one man
was formed. Thirty-five of the state’s most experienced detectives
gathered at police headquarters and were told by task force chief Hagan
that they must work day and night and investigate every lead, however
minute, until the killer was caught. A $20,000 reward was posted by the
New South Wales government. Composite pictures of the suspect were left
in shops, service stations and newsagents.
was becoming a nervous wreck and later said: “I’ve had nearly thirty
years on the job and I think the worst month of my police experience was
November 1989. You get so frustrated with yourself and those around you
when you can’t get a result and that’s very stressful. You’d go home and
you’re on tenterhooks all night. I wasn't eating or sleeping and this
cowardly killer kept murdering frail old ladies”.
Hagan spent most of
the day after Mrs Pahud’s death at the murder scene yet, as the hours
passed he had to face the grim reality that the killer had eluded them
yet again without leaving so much as a trace.
Exhausted from the
lack of sleep by the end of the day, Hagan called into the Pennant Hills
police station on his way home to answer an urgent message on his
beeper. He dialled task force headquarters. His knees sagged as he was
told that they had yet another body -- another pantyhose strangling.
He later said, “I
just can’t explain my feelings that night. To have just come from a
murder and to be told there’s another one. It was terrible. We’d had two
serial murders within twenty-four hours. We’d never heard of such a
The Granny Killer’s
fourth victim was 81-one-year-old Miss Olive Cleveland, a resident of
the Wesley Gardens Retirement Village at Belrose on the upper North
Shore. Glover had called there in the early afternoon and, unable to get
a pie order out of catering manager Rob Murrell, he left.
On his way through
the garden, he struck up a conversation with Mrs Cleveland who was
sitting on a bench, reading. When she got up and walked toward the main
building, Glover seized her from behind and forced her into a secluded
side walkway. Here he repeatedly slammed her head to the concrete before
he removed her pantyhose and knotted them tightly around her neck.
Glover then made off with $60 from her handbag.
Unbelievably no one
connected this murder with the attack on Mrs Moseley at the Wesley Home
only six months earlier. The task force still had no knowledge of the
previous offence. If they had, they may have discovered that a portly
middle-aged man with grey hair was in the vicinity on both occasions.
There were no clues
and the seemingly invisible murderer vanished into the afternoon. Again
the task force was baffled. Surely someone must have seen something?
They checked and cross-checked witnesses statements and canvassed
retirement villages, joggers, cab and bus drivers and junk mail
They even sent a
history of the case to the FBI in the vain hope of a lead. No luck.
Sydney’s lower north shore was now under siege. People stayed off the
streets and anyone with elderly neighbours or relatives was checking on
them at regular intervals. Old women were being driven to and from the
shops. No one was taking chances. And still police investigations
continued. The checking and cross-checking went on.
A Break At
A week after the
Olive Cleveland murder, the police got their first break as the
agonisingly slow cross-checking paid off and a pattern emerged. In
several of the attacks the victims recalled seeing a grey-haired,
well-dressed, middle-aged man.
Now the very first
victim, Mrs Margaret Todhunter, recalled a man of that description
passing her just before she was attacked from behind and robbed of her
purse. And Mrs Effie Carnie, who was bashed and robbed of her groceries
in August, also described her assailant as a well-built, mature man with
grey hair. Both victims described their attacker as an average type of
At last police
realised that they may have been looking for the wrong man and that
their killer could well slip in and out of places unnoticed because he
was simply not the noticeable type. Armed with this sense of what the
Granny Killer looked like, the police still had to find their “average”
On 23 November
another body turned up, the third for the month. While purchasing whisky
in Mosman, Glover spotted 92-year-old Muriel Falconer struggling down
the street with a load of shopping. He returned to his car, collected
his hammer and gloves and followed her to her front door.
As Mrs Falconer was
partially deaf and blind, she did not notice Glover slip through the
door behind her with his gloves on and his hammer raised. He silenced
her by holding his hand over her mouth as he hit her repeatedly about
the head and neck. As she fell to the floor, he started to remove Mrs
Falconer’s pantyhose, but she regained consciousness and cried out.
Glover struck her again and again with the hammer and only when he was
satisfied that she was unconscious, did he remove the undergarments and
throttle her with them.
He closed the front
door for privacy. Then he searched her purse and the rest of the house
before he left quietly with $100 and his hammer and gloves in a carry
It wasn’t until the
following afternoon, when a neighbour dropped by, that the body was
discovered. Although the murder scene was chaotic, this was the first
real chance the police had to obtain clues. This crime had been
committed indoors and nothing had been disturbed since.
They found a
perfect footprint in blood on the carpet -- their first solid clue since
the investigation had begun. However, Hagan still needed to get lucky to
apprehend this person who seemed to be able to come and go as he pleased
without appearing in any way out of place.
The break came on
January 11, 1990, when Glover slipped up badly, but it was a further
three weeks before the incident reached the ears of the task force. On
that January day, Glover called at the Greenwich Hospital for an
appointment with its administrator, Mr. Reg Cadman.
dressed in his blue-and-white salesman’s jacket and carrying a
clipboard, walked into a hospital ward where four very old and very sick
women lay in their beds. He approached Mrs. Daisy Roberts who was
suffering from advanced cancer, asking if she was losing any body heat,
then pulled up her nightie and began to prod her in an indecent manner.
Mrs. Roberts became
alarmed and rang the buzzer beside her bed. A sister at the hospital,
Pauline Davis answered the call and found Glover in the ward. “Who the
hell are you?” she called out and when Glover ran from the ward. She
chased him and took down the registration number of his car as he
hurriedly drove off.
Sister Davis called
the police and later that day two young, uniformed policewomen from the
local Chatswood police station arrived to investigate. The hospital
staff was able to identify and name Glover as he was well known and
popular from previous visits on his pastry round. When the police
returned a week later with a photo of John Glover, Sister Davis
positively identified him and Mrs Roberts said that it looked “most like
At last a
breakthrough. But for some unaccountable reason, another three weeks
were to pass before anyone reported the incident to the Granny Killer
Chatswood police station confirmed Glover’s name with his employers,
rang him at home and asked him to drop in for a chat about the assault
at 5pm the following day. When Glover hadn’t turned up by 6pm, police
called his home where his wife told them that he had attempted suicide
and was in Royal North Shore Hospital.
Police went to the
hospital but Glover was too sick to be interviewed. Staff handed police
a suicide note that included the words “no more grannies, grannies.”
And still it didn't
register to the constables that the middle-aged portly man with the grey
hair, who was recovering from attempted suicide after assaulting an
elderly patient in a nursing home, may be able to help them with their
The police returned
to interview Glover on January 18 and, with his reluctant approval
picked up a polaroid photo of him to show to Sister Davis and Mrs
Roberts. After the positive identification, one of the officers told
Davis and Roberts: “We know who it is. We know all about him.”
two weeks would pass before the suicide note and the photo wound up on
Mike Hagan's desk. As soon as he saw them, he knew he had his man.
Proving it was a different story.
Head of the
detectives in the task force, Detective Sergeant Dennis O’Toole said:
“We still had no evidence. If he had said to us, “I don't want to talk,
we couldn't have proved any of the murders”.
Still, the photo
matched the many descriptions of the mysterious greyhaired, middle-aged
man and in his job as a sales representative Glover could have been at
any of the murder scenes.
interviewed Glover. He denied anything to do with the alleged assault on
the elderly woman at the nursing home. Police gave him the impression
that they were satisfied and left him feeling confident that his luck
still held. But John Wayne Glover was under around-the-clock
surveillance with six detectives assigned to follow him and find out
every conceivable thing about him.
Even at this stage
the police didn’t have a scrap of evidence that would stand up in court,
but in their minds there was no question that Glover was their man.
Hagan had to make
an agonising choice. Go in now and let the Granny Killer know that they
were onto him and take the odds of not finding any solid evidence that
would hold up in court? Or sit tight, wait for him to stalk another old
woman and catch him in the act? Hagan opted for the latter. Sadly, it
was a decision that would cost another life.
The police didn’t
let him out of their sight, but Glover didn’t put a foot wrong. He
occasionally stopped to look at old women but his behaviour was
On March 19 Glover
called at the home of a lady friend, Joan Sinclair, at 10am. He spruced
himself up in the rear-vision mirror before he was let in at the front
door. Observing police had no reason to believe that it was anything
other than a social visit. Besides, the killer had only ever struck in
the afternoon and only with elderly women. Still, they watched every
corner of the house.
At 1pm, there was
no sign of Glover or any sign of life from the house. The police
surveillance became concerned. At 5pm, all was still quiet and at 6pm,
deciding that all was not well, they got the okay from Hagan to go in.
Face to Face with "The Granny Killer"
Miles O’Toole and Detectives Paul Mayger and Paul Jacob noticed the
pools of blood almost as soon as they crept in the door. With guns
drawn, they tiptoed from room to room, covering each other but careful
not to be caught in a crossfire should the madman leap at them with an
axe or a shotgun.
They saw a hammer
lying in a pool of drying blood on the mat. As they peered further
around the doorway, they saw a pair of woman’s panties and a man’s shirt
covered in blood. Then a woman’s body came into view. Joan Sinclair’s
battered head was wrapped in a bundle of blood-soaked towels. She was
naked from the waist down and pantyhose were tied around her neck. Her
genitals were damaged but Glover would later deny sexually interfering
It was unmistakably
the work of the Granny Killer. But where was he? Was he waiting in
ambush? Detective Mayger almost breathed a sigh of relief as he found
feet sticking out of the end of the bath. An unconscious, naked,
grey-haired chubby man was lying in the tub. One wrist was slashed and
the air was heavy with the smell of alcohol and vomit. The relieved
detectives prayed that he was still alive. Their prayers were answered.
The man in the bath
was John Wayne Glover, the Granny Killer. After he recovered in
hospital, Glover told police of the final chapter in the Granny Killer
murders. Glover had known Joan Sinclair for some time and they were
extremely fond of each other in a platonic relationship.
However, after he
entered the house on March 19, Glover got his hammer out of his
briefcase and bashed Mrs. Sinclair about the head with it. Glover then
removed her pantyhose and strangled her with them and with others he
found in her bedroom.
This sequence of
events completely baffled the police. Murdering Mrs. Sinclair was in
many ways out of character with the other murders and bashings.
Glover rolled Mrs.
Sinclair’s body over on the mat, wrapped four towels around her massive
head wound to stem the flow of blood, and then dragged her body across
the room, leaving a trail of blood. When he had done that he ran a bath,
washed down a handful of Valium with a bottle of Vat 69, slashed his
left wrist and lay in the tub to die.
But he didn't die
and the police were glad of that. They felt that if the suicide had been
successful then there would always be speculation as to whether Glover
was the right man. Glover further brushed away their concerns by
confessing to everything. Nonetheless he frustrated police and
psychiatrists alike with his inability or unwillingness to set out the
reasons for his acts.
The question Why?
was repeatedly met with the same answer: “I don’t know. I just see these
ladies and it seems to trigger something. I just have to be violent
When he was charged
with murdering six elderly women, his wife Gay and their two daughters,
both in their late teens, were stunned. There had never been the
slightest inclination that the man they loved as husband and father was
the Granny Killer.
At his trial in
November 1991, John Wayne Glover pleaded not guilty to six counts of
murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility; in other words
Glover claimed that he was temporarily insane when he carried out the
murders. The jury did not agree and it took them just two and a half
hours to find that Glover was both guilty and sane.
sentenced Glover to six life terms of imprisonment and said in part:
“The period since
January 1989 has been one of intense and serious crime involving extreme
violence inflicted on elderly women, accompanied by the theft or robbery
of their property. On any view, the prisoner has shown himself to be an
exceedingly dangerous person and that view was mirrored by the opinions
of the psychiatrists who have given evidence at his trial.
“I have no
alternative other than to impose the maximum available sentence, which
means that the prisoner will be required to spend the remainder of his
natural life in jail. “It is inappropriate to express any date as to
release on parole. Having regard to those life sentences, this is not a
case where the prisoner may ever be released pursuant to order of this
John Wayne Glover,
the Granny Killer, is never to be released.
with "The Granny Killer" by Steve Barrett*
Killer had a profound affect on me like no other, both professionally
and personally. This vicious serial killer was a horrific criminal
phenomenon that forced the sleepy but trendy north shore of Sydney into
more than a year of hysteria.
Who was this
lunatic who was hammer-bashing and strangling fragile women in their
twilight years? They were grannies for God’s sake!
Finally at the end
of John Wayne Glover’s killing spree, in which he murdered six elderly
women over a 13-month period, myself and fellow reporter, Simon Bouda
along with author Larry Writer wrote a book called Garden of Evil,
The Granny Killer’s Reign of Terror.
As part of that
work, in early 1992 after Glover had been found guilty on six counts of
murder and sentenced to never to be released, Simon and I managed to
scoop an interview with him and spent several hours inside Sydney’s Long
Bay Jail talking to this very troubled man.
In my career with
Sydney’s Channel 9 as a crime reporter and now a producer with 60
Minutes, I have covered many sensational stories but the Granny
Killer had a more disturbing effect on me than any of the variety of the
many criminals I have encountered.
Glover was a
vicious serial killer. Not of young boys, girls or adolescents. But
elderly women. For homicide investigators he was unique. His modus
operandi had never been seen before in this country. Maybe a long time
ago with the Boston Strangler in America perhaps, but not in Australia.
Glover was, and
still is today, the ultimate challenge to the forensic psychiatrists.
His crimes are now case studies for law enforcement bodies around the
I first laid eyes
on Glover when the police task force team took him on a “run around” of
his crime scenes not long after his arrest. I instinctively knew that
somehow I would meet him, this grey haired, portly shaped Father
Christmas without the beard who was nudging 60, and probably not far off
becoming a “granny” himself, although his pair of lovely daughters who
attended an exclusive north shore girl’s school during his reign of
terror, were only teenagers.
the book Garden of Evil, The Granny Killer’s Reign of Terror and
in the lead-up to actually meeting and speaking with Glover, it was
agreed by my co-authors and myself that out of courtesy an approach
would be made to his wife Gay, informing her of our project.
Although Gay Glover
declined to be interviewed for the book, she was very polite and
dignified, considering what she had just lived through… the horrific
realisation that her husband, the man she slept next to, was in fact
Sydney’s Granny Killer.
When I went to see
Gay Glover at her home in Mosman it was a weird sensation actually
sitting in John Glover’s lounge room for those 20 or so minutes
delicately discussing only minor aspects of the case with her.
All the time I kept
wondering if at any stage how close to danger she may have been. After
all, the last woman John Glover killed was an‘on the side’ acquaintance,
someone of Glover’s own age who knew and trusted him.
As a working
journalist I’d been into a number of prisons but on the day Simon Bouda
and I walked into the Classification Jail at Long Bay in Sydney’s south,
I was feeling a sense of intense anxiety. My palms were sweaty.
Glover had been in
this jail for several months now after being convicted of the six
murders. He was still awaiting his classification in the NSW Corrective
Services system. What jail would he end up in for his ‘never to be
released’ life term?
In fact that’s
exactly how we opened our discussion when were first introduced.
Sporting a green sloppy joe and green prison trousers, John Wayne Glover
came into a small office situated in the bowels of the jail complex.
Incredibly for a man who won’t be seeing any of the things we may take
for granted such as the Pacific Ocean for the rest of his life, the
incarcerated Glover was in a very jovial mood.
He greeted us with
a handshake and a big smile as though we were long lost acquaintances.
In fact, seeing as I’d chased Glover’s handy-work around Sydney as a
reporter for well over a year, the thought of us being acquaintances
without actually meeting wasn’t all that obscene. I felt that there
wasn’t too much I didn’t know about him.
But, as I was soon
to find out, there was a great deal that I didn’t know about the Granny
I had been well
versed on how Long Bay Jail’s celebrity inmate enjoyed playing mind
games with the homicide case officers, prison psychiatrists and anyone
in authority who was allowed to see him. In fact, Glover enjoyed
But there was
something different about Glover’s appearance that I didn’t pick up on
immediately. Then suddenly it hit me. Glover had grown very distinct
mutton chop-like sideburns that joined a moustache. His new fashion
style was identical to that of the Commander of the Granny Killer police
task force, Detective Inspector Mike Hagan, who had led the hunt for
It was a perverse
mind game, to mimic the look of the man who became very publicly known
during the hunt for Glover because of the countless media interviews
To start off with,
Glover joked about how long it would be before he’d be getting out of
“this place” (jail). In doing so, he gave me the impression that despite
the despicable and inhumane crimes he’d committed, he still wanted to be
liked. He wanted to be considered a fairly intelligent person who knew
what was going on around him 24 hours a day.
He obviously picked
up on my observation and briefly it caused a tense moment during our
interview and I noticed the many small “drinkers veins” in his face had
turned bright red.
I asked him why he
had chosen to plead not guilty at his trial on the grounds of diminished
responsibility; in other words that he was not mentally fit enough and
could not be held responsible for his actions.
He was somewhat
embarrassed, but basically shrugged off the question by indicating that
he really had nothing to lose by this plea. Glover quickly changed the
mood by telling me that he understood that he was being interviewed for
the book and not a appearance on television.
He then reminded me
that he often watched me file reports about him on the 6pm Channel 9
news when the police task force was trying to track down the Granny
I quickly changed
the mood of the room when I told him, “John, lets get one thing
straight. I have to tell you, we’re not here to make some sort of star
or hero out of you. There’s no doubt you’re the main character of the
book, but that’s it. I mean, look at what you’ve done”.
At that point, both
Simon and I sensed a blow to his ego but I had the upper hand so I
continued. We chatted about some of the killings and then I asked him
point blank. “But John, what was it that pushed you or compelled you to
bash little old ladies on the head with a hammer?
He replied somewhat
timidly. “Well that’s what I can’t work out. That’s the part that
everyone’s trying to work out. Maybe you can help me. Half of me is
white and half of me is black. Half of me is good and half of me is bad.
But I can’t understand this grey matter in the middle”.
Again another mind
game. Glover quickly changed the subject to how many visitors he was
getting a week but my inner feelings turned to rage when I visualised
one of the police forensic photos of an elderly lady naked on the morgue
table with her head caved in. As part of the book research, I’d seen
that heart-breaking photo only the day before.
Glover than gave us
a spiel on his daily routine, telling how he worked as a sweeper, but
also pointing out that he is protected from mainstream prisoners, some
of whom would simply kill him. They too have grandmothers.
He was a little
proud of the fact that he’d taken under his wing a young man who was
also a sweeper and who had been convicted of a number of rapes south of
Sydney in the coastal town of Bulli. He was dubbed the Bulli Rapist by
“The Granny Killer
and the Bulli Rapist. What a team,” Glover joked.
Towards the end of
our interview, I asked Glover if he’d received a visit from his wife,
Gay. He replied he’d only seen her once, not long after he was first
arrested, and indicated that he would never be seeing her again. I told
him that I had met her and that the meeting took place at his Mosman
home. He remained silent and looked melancholy.
Then came the most
tense moment of all. I asked him had his precious daughters been to see
him. The tears began to roll down his cheeks. He answered no and became
a little agitated.
Simon and I were
stunned into silence. John Glover indicated that he didn’t want to carry
on and then attempted to talk some more, mumbling that he missed his
daughters. One had just done the Higher School Certificate and the other
had a year of school to go.
This strange and
very complex man had basically suckered us into feeling sorry for
him…but not for long. He was feeling very remorseful about what he had
put his family through, but on the other hand displayed a degree of
cunning in not directly answering the question of why he attacked old
Simon asked him if
he could continue talking and at that point he gestured to turn off our
tape reorder. Within a matter of seconds, he regained his composure and
nonchalantly told us it was time for him to return to his “garden gate,”
slang for his 12 by 8’ (foot) cell. Before we left, he asked could he
get an autographed copy of the book when it came out.
We then asked him
would he mind if we could obtain his signature on a few copies of the
book. “Not a problem. You know where to find me,” he laughed.
That was the last
time I laid eyes on the Granny Killer. As Simon and I were walking out
of the jail, we both had a sudden and somewhat jolting realisation that
we had shaken hands with John Wayne Glover, the infamous Granny Killer.
It was the same
hand at which six innocent old ladies died. And as far as the police are
concerned, they believe he’s killed as many as another six more elderly
ladies in the years between 1965 and 1989.
The files are still
*At the time Steve
Barrett conducted this interview with John Glover, he was a crime
reporter with Sydney’s Channel 9. Steve is now a producer with
Australia’s 60 Minutes.
March 1, 1989, in Mosman: Gwendolin Louise Mitchelhill,
May 9, 1989 in Mosman: Lady Winifred Isabelle Ashton, 82
November 2, 1889 in Lane Cove: Margaret Frances Pahud, 85
November 3, 1989 in Belrose: Olive Cleveland, 81
November 23, 1989 in Mosman: Muriel Beryl Falconer, 92
March 19, 1990 in Mosman: Joan Violet Sinclair, 60