There’s many cold cases that haunt Australia — I’d know, because I co-host PEDESTRIAN.TV‘s All Aussie Mystery Hour podcast, which is all about those enduring local mysteries that have us scratching our heads. One of the country’s most famous unsolved cases is the Wanda Beach Murders, which we discuss in this week’s episode.
The murders of Sydney teenagers Christine Sharrock and Marianne Schmidt, both aged 15, is NSW’s oldest unsolved crime. The best friends, who lived next door to one another in the Sydney suburb of West Ryde, travelled by train to Cronulla‘s Wanda Beach on January 11, 1965 along with four of Marianne’s six siblings.
Arriving at 11am and finding the beach closed due to windy conditions, the kids were forced to hunker down in the sheltered rocky area at the south end of the beach. They had a picnic, but according to the younger Schmidt siblings, Christine disappeared for an extended amount of time before returning. It’s not known where she went, but her autopsy revealed traces of alcohol and food that was different to that consumed at the picnic.
The group went for a walk in the sand hills, but by about 1pm the children were complaining about the windy conditions, so the two older girls told them to wait in the dunes and they would go back to the rocks and collect the bags which they’d hidden there for safekeeping. But Christine and Marianne walked further into the sand hills instead of towards the rocks. When Peter Schmidt told them they were going the wrong way, they just laughed at him and kept going.
Christine and Marianne never returned, so the younger kids went and retrieved the bags themselves and at 5pm they left Wanda Beach and made their way back home to West Ryde, arriving at 8pm. At 8.30pm, Christine’s grandmother reported Christine and Marianne missing to police.
The next morning, a local man named Peter Smith was walking with his nephews through the dunes and glimpsed what he thought was a mannequin buried in the sand. But when he took a closer look, he realised it was a body. Police were called and found both Christine and Marianne under the sand. They had both suffered multiple stab wounds, with Marianne’s throat slashed and Christine’s skull fractured by blunt forced trauma. Semen was found on the girls’ clothing.
By April the following year, police had interviewed over 7,000 people in relation to the case, making it the biggest investigation in Australian history. But to this day, 53 years later, the horrific murders remain unsolved.
In the new episode of All Aussie Mystery Hour, we chat through more details of the girls’ final movements and the police’s main suspects. To hear more about the Wanda Beach Murders (and other unsolved Australian mysteries), subscribe to our true crime podcast on iTunes HERE, or on Spotify HERE. Or, you can just listen / download below.
And make sure you join the All Aussie Mystery Hour Facebook group HERE to share your own thoughts and theories about the case.