Adelaide has the unfortunate reputation of being involved in some of the country’s most infamous crimes — like the Snowtown murders, the abduction of the Beaumont Children and the Truro murders. And another one of the South Australian capital’s most notorious (and horrific) crimes is the still semi-unsolved Family Murders.
The Family Murders is the name given to the murders of five young men and boys between 1979 and 1983, with all abducted from the streets of Adelaide before being taken to another location, sexually assaulted and tortured before their bodies were dumped. Police came to believe that rather than a sole perpetrator, the murders were carried out by a group of co-conspirators who worked as a team to hunt down victims and carry out the horrific crimes.
After a law enforcement official said in a 60 Minutes interview that they were “trying to break up the happy family” of perpetrators, the term The Family Murders was born.
The known victims of the group were:
- Alan Barnes, aged 17: Abducted while hitch-hiking on June 18, 1979. His mutilated body was found 6 days later dumped near the South Para Reservoir, with the cause of death being massive blood loss caused by an anal injury.
- Neil Muir, aged 25: A sometime sex worker with no fixed address, Muir was last seen on August 28, 1979 after being ejected from an Adelaide club by a bouncer. His remains were found the next day in a garbage bag in the Port River. He’d been cut into several pieces and the cause of death was blood loss from an anal injury.
- Peter Stogneff, aged 14: Stogneff skipped school on August 27, 1981 and was never seen alive again. A farmer burning off crops in Middle Beach found the teen’s charred, dissected remains ten months later.
- Mark Langley, aged 18: Langley had an argument with friends near the Torrens River on the night of February 27, 1982 and got out of their car. They drove off and returned later to find him gone. Nine days later, hikers found his surgically mutilated body in the Adelaide foothills, his cause if death being massive blood loss due to an anal injury.
- Richard Kelvin, aged 15: Kelvin, the teenage son of local Channel Nine newsreader Rob Kelvin, disappeared while walking just 400m from his home on June 5, 1983. 5 weeks later his body was discovered in the Mount Crawford Forest, northeast of Adelaide. He had been held captive and tortured for weeks, and the cause of death was blood loss due to an anal injury.
Only one man was ever arrested for just one of the Family Murders – Adelaide accountant Bevan Spencer von Einem, who was linked to Richard Kelvin’s murder by physical evidence and is now serving a life sentence. Though police suspected him of being involved in the other four murders, and had a list of other key people of interest, they were unable to gather enough hard evidence to take the cases to trial.
If you have any information that could help police with their investigation, please call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000 or make an anonymous online report HERE.
In the latest episode of PEDESTRIAN.TV‘s unsolved mystery / true crime podcast All Aussie Mystery Hour, we look at the twisted Family Murders case to see how police nailed von Einem, and who else they think might be responsible for these heinous crimes.