I heard the news this morning that a body that is likely to be that of missing Melbourne (Irish) lass Jill Meagher was found buried in scrub last night. Police were taken there by a man who showed them where the body was buried in a shallow grave beside a dirt road in Gisborne South. The grave was very close the road under a tall tree.
This is such a sad story, especially for Jill’s husband and family. I’m sending them deepest sympathy for what they have borne and for what is yet ahead of them. This morning ABC Local Radio host Jon Faine was himself close to tears at times when talking of the tragedy, having known Jill as a close colleague. The whole ABC was in mourning. The whole of Melbourne is in shock.
This story is very unusual, because most murder victims know their killers. Studies show that around 70-80% know their attacker and about 20% of those murders can be attributed to a family member. So this random, opportunistic murder of a young girl only 10 minutes from her home is such an unlikely thing to strike a loving family and change their lives forever. People on talk-back radio are talking about increasing home security and other methods of keeping the bad guys away. The reality is, that random mans just that, unexpected, probably opportunistic, not even provoked in most cases.
There is no need to batten down the hatches. Perhaps there’s a need to take more care about presenting potential targets, not walking alone on streets late at night, being more wary of strangers. Not offering assistance if approached. It’s a sad thing that we have to be suspicious of someone who might be in need, but it’s a reality. Sympathy is a great ice-breaker.
This is not a new thing. In little old Hobart, thirty-five years ago, when I was a young nurse, I lived alone in a bed-sitter. A young man knocked at my door around 9pm, and told me he had been involved in a car accident in the street outside and he needed to call for help. (Pre mobile phone days, of course). Being a trusting person, only anxious to assist, I let him in, whereupon he attacked me. Some time later he left me, gagged and tied to my bed hand and foot. There I remained until the following morning, when I was found by a friend who had a key to my flat. I was lucky. The attack was random, the man was never caught, but at least I wasn’t found dead.
The police have worked tirelessly on the search for Jill Meagher, their job made more difficult by the randomness of the attack and the lack of any solid suspects for days into the investigation. No doubt the story will unfold, but for the Meagher and McKeon families there is no happy ending.