The Port Arthur massacre was Australia's worst mass murder, with 35 people killed. I had been covering it all week and, I thought, coping well. But as I stood at that tree I suddenly found myself weeping.
Just about everyone remembers where they were when they recall some cataclysmic event in their life. When Hobart man Martin Bryant began indiscriminately shooting people at one of Tasmania’s iconic tourism destinations I was entertaining 35 women at home. I was hosting a “girls” lunch for my journalist colleagues and some friends who held responsible positions in government.
Shirley Shackleton—whose husband, Australian journalist Greg Shackleton, was murdered in East Timor in 1975—has been asking the same question for 30 years: “I want to know what happened to my husband and his colleagues,” she says. “Why were these people murdered in cold blood?”
In February 1972, I was 18 years old, a couple of months out of high school and beginning a cadetship at the now-dead Sun News Pictorial in Melbourne. It was my first week at the paper and I had been sent for the day to watch police rounds at work.
On Sept. 23, 2002, 18-year-old Rachel Rose Burkheimer was murdered by a group of men and buried in a field in the foothills of the Cascade mountains, east of Everett, Wash. In the months since, the grisly details of the murder have been covered extensively in area newspapers.