The Maria James Murder: the role of psychopathy

  • For the reader who has been following this series of articles on the Maria James murder, and whom I would not expect to know much about psychopathy, I will briefly outline some major points of this condition.

    My intention is that this “Bonus episode” will help in understanding the brutal murder itself and in understanding the systemically corrupt institutional environment (subject of the next instalment) in which it happened and facilitated the covered up.

  • Dealing with professionals who have no clue
  • For the last year or so, I have been dealing with professionals whom, in turn, deal with corruption in varying ways and in varying occupations. I have been staggered at their lack of knowledge of psychopathy and their disinterest in the subject. A knowledge of psychopathy is essential to understand the corruption, the criminals and their networks. It is also essential to know about to guard against being continually ‘blind-sided’.

    “Know your enemy” is the first rule in any contest.

    Understanding psychopathic prevalence is also necessary to understanding our society and its institutions and to have a chance at successfully navigating your way through them. The estimates of the prevalence of psychopaths vary depending on the researcher and their criteria, but there is a consensus around 5% of the adult population. 1 in 20 will be a psychopath of one sort or another.

    The odds shorten considerably from there when dealing with a power organisation and shorten further still when dealing with a person high up in that same organisation. So you are going to meet and deal with them whether you know it or not and whether you like it or not.

    It is this 5% that creates 95% of societies’ problems. They are our only true enemy. Therefore, it is essential to know and understand them.

  • How to understand psychopaths?
  • It is often pointed out that psychopaths (and I include sociopaths, narcissists and Machiavellians) have no conscience, no empathy, no shame and no guilt, but how do you understand that? The key, I believe, is to realise they do not have the same level of self-awareness or the same level of free will that ordinary humans have. Once armed with this knowledge, psychopaths begin to become predictable. You then have a chance to defeat them.

  • Limited self awareness
  • Few people are consciously aware of it (because it is all around us all the time) but our connection to others not only gives us feedback on our behaviour but also adds another level to our self-awareness. It sounds paradoxical but being aware of others and how life is for them extends our own self-awareness to a wider world – to another level. We become aware that we are important in our own world but also that we are just one person in a sea of other people whom we are dependent upon to varying degrees and who, in turn, have their own worlds. Our world becomes larger and richer and we can see how the consequences of our actions will ripple out into this more expansive world.

    Psychopaths do not have this ability and so their self-awareness is compromised, hence their narcissism. They live in a very much smaller world so they cannot see the ongoing consequences of their actions outside of their own small narcissistic world. This is not to excuse them but to explain their sometimes very stupid and self defeating behaviour. In their world, no-one has legitimate interests except them.

    Maria would have had no interests in the eyes of Bongiorno or O’Keeffe. If she will not serve their interests, then she has no value and is to be disposed of.

    Physically, we need a mirror to see parts of ourselves that we cannot see by ourselves ordinarily. Psychologically, the people around us provide this same ‘mirror’ for us so that we can better see and know ourselves. But, if you have no connection to that ‘mirror’, you cannot take on-board any information it is providing you. This is why it is a waste of time trying to reason with a psychopath. They are anti-social.

    Our sense of shame and our conscience comes from this added level of self-awareness that society provides us with (and that we participate in) and this is why psychopaths have none of these attributes. So psychopaths do not know themselves as we know ourselves. It has been said that psychopaths do not know who they are; they only know what they want.

  • Natural Law and free will
  • Natural Law is the recognition of the laws that govern our world. They are universal, constant and immutable. More specifically, they govern the consequences of actions. These laws apply to such things as gravity, thermo and electro dynamics and they also apply to such things as human behaviour. If Natural Law did not govern the consequences of human behaviour, study in the field of psychology would yield no applicable results: the words of Jesus would contain no wisdom or guidance; and without a consistency of cause and effect, conscience could not be a guide nor could we have a consistent sense of right and wrong and therefore there could be no such thing as common sense.

    We have free will so each of us is autonomous and we have authority over ourselves, yet we are social beings. This is how we are designed. We have free will, autonomy, self-authority, yet are social.

    To preserve our self-authority and our social responsibility/dependence simultaneously, Natural Law says that all interactions need to be voluntary. Causing harm or imposing coercion on another is a transgression of Natural Law. The individual suffers and so does the social group because it is now dysfunctional and there will be adverse consequences.

    The remedy for a transgression against a person under Natural Law is Restitution. But our Legal System does not do that so our legal system also acts against Natural Law as do all institutions that employ coercion against the innocent and ride roughshod over people’s free will. This is the Corporate/Legal dysfunctional world we live in and that further harms our society.

  • No free will to do good
  • Animals have free will. Anyone who has been around animals knows this as you can watch them making choices. But they have no free will to act maliciously. They act always in accordance with Natural Law; in accordance with their design.

    Human beings have the free will to act in accordance with Natural Law and also to act against it. We can do good or we can be malicious causing harm deliberately and gratuitously. There will be consequences from going against Natural Law; that is its nature! It is also called the Law of Consequences. We can exercise our free will to jump off a cliff but we cannot exercise our free will over the consequences of that choice.

    Psychopaths are distinguished by their complete inability to do good for the sake of doing good. They always act directly or indirectly against Natural Law to cause gratuitous harm. They cannot do otherwise because that is their design. The consequences of their harmful actions cause further harm to the society.

    They are bereft of true creativity and revel in destruction instead. In the final analysis, they are anti-life.

    This is what we saw in Maria’s brutal death. She fostered and protected life. O’Keeffe and Bongiorno sought destruction and death to prove their superior power to themselves. Psychopaths are anti-life and this is what is at the core of their being. Those who sought to interfere with the investigation have brought further harm to Maria’s family and to society. The consequences continue onward.

  • Will always seek to do harm
  • Psychopaths are driven to cause harm at every opportunity. That is not to say they do not do things that appear good and may even be good initially but these acts of philanthropy and charity (in its original sense) are enacted only to foster a position from which greater harm can be done.

    Even common or garden variety bullies will engage in alternating good and bad behaviour but the good behaviour is only there to continue to ensnare and confuse the victim. Alternating behaviour, especially if it is grossly conflicting behaviour, is a major warning sign of psychopathy.

  • Psychopaths cannot experience joy
  • Joy is something that is shared with others or with the creation of others which may include God, as in Nature. Psychopaths cannot do this because they cannot emotionally share with another human, never mind God. In their own (superior) mind, they are set apart from everyone.

    They can experience pleasure, though, and that is what they focus on and what they try to get us to focus on. They are driven by sex, drugs, food and dominance over others; sensual and cerebral pleasures. Notice how teevee programming is dominated by food and sex?

  • Driven by the need for power
  • If you have no connection to others, you are necessarily the centre of your world. The world revolves around you. You are therefore the power at the centre of this world. And how do you know that? Because you can manipulate and have power over others; power to harm them. By doing so, you affirm your position in the centre of your world which is the only world to a psychopath.

    So you are God, effectively. Being affirmed in your own mind as being God is quite a rush. In the mind of a psychopath, harming someone is demonstrating their power. To stop exercising that power over others is to stop existing. This is just not going to happen. A king without entitlements is not a king.

  • Excellent at climbing hierarchies
  • Hierarchies concentrate power at the top and distribute it downwards. So, as a psychopath, you co-operate with those in power over you and you compete with those whom you are level with or can overtake easily and you dominate those under you; kiss up, kick down. All attention is focused on climbing the hierarchy because it offers more power.

    With no inhibitions and the ability to shamelessly lie and manipulate others, climbing the hierarchy over normal people becomes a relative doddle.

  • They promote each other
  • Psychopaths spend their days looking for suckers, the people with lower IQ and/or higher empathy. The people they avoid are those that are intelligent, compassionate and are ‘results based’ in their thinking. These high functioning people follow Jesus’ dictum, “By their fruits, ye shall know them”.

    These insightful people are based in reality, the objective world. They are looking for the contradictions, the inconsistencies, the lies in others’ words and behaviours. These are the people who can ‘put two and two together’. As such, they are a major threat to the psychopaths who deal in illusions constantly.

    Are the psychopaths going to promote someone with these abilities? Not if they can help it. Quite the opposite actually. The safest person for a psychopath to promote is a fellow psychopath. The radar they employ to seek out suckers and threats also identifies fellow psychopaths for them.

    So any hierarchy, given enough time, will become stacked with psychopaths at the top with a chain all the way down. They will form a hidden hierarchy of their own; a hidden chain of command with an entirely different and hidden agenda. This hierarchy will inevitably act against Natural Law, harming people both inside and outside the organisation and offering no restitution. Further harm will follow. This is the Corporate/Legal world we live in.

  • They promote incompetence (same thing)
  • A psychopathic candidate for promotion need only display a certain level of discreetness to qualify. Competence does not factor into the selection process. You can see this time and again when people survive investigations into corruption, found to be deficient, and promptly get promoted anyway. Therefore, a corrupt hierarchy will be incompetent by definition. And you can tell the level of corruption in an institution by the level of its incompetence.

    Many people do not overly concern themselves with the exploitation of children thinking it does not concern them. But it does, profoundly. This is because the corruption in ‘high places’ is controlled through paedophilia and these paedophiles that are in control of our society are not only corrupt but incompetent and it can only get worse.

    The Maria James Murder podcast series is beginning to shine a light for many listeners on the systemic corruption within the Catholic Church and Victoria Police. This systemic corruption could only persist with support from a corrupt government and a corrupt legal system. Once a society’s institutions are corrupted, that society is headed for the rocks in all sorts of ways.

  • Listening for truth
  • Psychopaths have no way of really understanding other people. When they are talking about someone else, they can only draw upon their own consciousness to describe them. So when a psychopath is describing someone else, they are (truthfully) describing themselves. They always ‘project’ their own state of mind.

    Whenever a psychopath is describing him or herself, they are lying. They live in a fantasy world where they are supremely competent and never make mistakes (it’s always someone else’s fault). So their words can only describe this fantasy world and they are driven to shore up the fantasy at every opportunity. ‘Every opportunity’ means every time they open their mouths. Reverse everything they say about themselves and you will be very close to the truth. ‘Virtue signalling’ is pretty constant, too.

    Those wishing to know more about this subject and how to identify most psychopaths can read more here –

    Here is a very good book on psychopathy that is free and in the public domain (generously donated by the family of the late author)-
    The Mask Of Sanity by Dr Hervey Cleckley M.D.

    Below is a long two and a half hour discussion related to a lot of the issues of psychopathy and systemic corruption globally. If you are short on time, the first 30 minutes are particularly worth listening to-

    View on YouTube


    The Maria James Murder: Two Murderers – Part 2 UPDATED with Epilogue and Addendum

    “The rules of logic are like the rules of mathematics. They are an inherent and immutable property of existence, not opinions.” The Rules of Logic


    That headline should read “Police Centimeters Away From Murderer

    Yes, that is one of the murderers talking to police within a couple of hours of murdering Maria James inside. He got away with it through a cover-up and an extraordinary run of luck.
    The article below from The Age June 18th 1980 accompanied the photograph above-

    In Part 1, we introduced the fact that Allan Hircoe’s testimony to Victoria Police in 2014 made 3 conclusions logically clear:

    1. Fr Anthony Bongiorno was guilty of the murder of Maria James.
    2. There were two murderers.
    3. Given the first two facts, Fr Thomas O’Keeffe was far and away Bongiorno’s most likely accomplice.

    The fact that Victoria Police since 2014 could not or would not put these conclusions together and present them to the public raises some important questions. We will be addressing these questions in the following instalments.

    This instalment will look further into the logistics of how the murder took place and the movements of the principal characters before and after the murder and what these movements mean. The logistics and the logic behind them will also shore up the case for the three conclusions listed immediately above and that were established in Part 1

    What is publicly known about the case is written in ordinary black text.
    Where the authors have inserted likely suppositions from the known facts, you will read this in italics.
    The italicised text in boxes are explanations using abductive, inductive and/or deductive logic.

    For those interested, it might be valuable to read the story through the first time without reading what is in the boxes. This will give you a fairly quick overview which will be helpful. Then go through it again reading it all. The story is quite simple but because there are multiple things happening at once, the choreography and their implications takes some time to master. So take your time!


  • 8:00-8:30 am Maria phones the Thornbury Presbytery
    We know that Maria phoned the Thornbury presbytery where Bongiorno and O’Keeffe were living that morning and it was probably around the time of 8:30am as it was before she put Adam on his school bus. She arranged to meet Bongiorno that morning to discuss his molestation of Adam. We know this from Adam’s testimony (Trace ep2).

    10:00 am Maria returns home
    Maria bought a cake on the way back from seeing Adam off to school saying to someone in the bakery that she was expecting a visitor that morning. Maria went to the bank and was seen returning home around 10 am.

    11:00 am Bongiorno is identified standing in front of the bookshop
    In the Trace Bonus episode, we hear witness (Louise) say that she saw Bongiorno lingering outside the bookshop at around 11am. Bongiorno walked off towards the city (and St Mary’s) to the south.

    Bongiorno was outside Maria’s bookshop waiting for O’Keeffe to show up.

    They had to go into the bookshop together because they needed to lock the door behind them as they would not want their conversation with Maria overheard by a customer. If Bongiorno went in and locked the door behind him, O’Keeffe would not be able to enter the bookshop. If Bongiorno went in and left the door open, a customer may have entered the shop before O’Keeffe arrived. So they needed to go into the shop together while the shop was empty of customers and lock the door behind them.

    11:55 am John James returns Maria’s call
    Maria phoned her ex-husband, John James, just before Bongiorno and O’Keeffe arrived. She hangs up after asking John’s secretary to ask him to call her back. The priests promptly arrive and by the time John James returns her call, she is engaged in conversation with Bongiorno.

    O’Keeffe had a long standing habit of sneaking around and ‘eaves-dropping’ on people. It is likely that he hid within the shop at first and then entered the residence without Maria’s awareness once Bongiorno had engaged Maria in conversation. O’Keeffe would have been keen to not remain in the shop as he might be seen from the street through the front door. He would also be keen to hear how the conversation was going. Remember he was very adept at moving around without people’s awareness.

    Maria asked her ex-husband to hold the line. She placed the telephone on the table and returned to her conversation. This is odd behaviour to leave a caller on the line unless she wanted John James to hear what was being said without Bongiorno knowing he was being listened to. Unfortunately, their conversation was too far away from the telephone receiver for John James to distinguish the words being spoken. John did, however, hear Maria, give a startled yelp.

    This could be explained by O’Keeffe startling her by sneaking up behind her, as was his habit. John shortly afterwards heard a second cry and then silence. He realised something was very wrong. So wrong, in fact, that he left his work immediately to drive to Maria’s shop.

  • Maria was found to have three injuries to her head. The second yelp then silence could be explained by Maria being struck from behind on the head.

    She was struck twice more, perhaps before she was then dragged down the hall to her bedroom away from the window at the rear of the residence. Or she may have ran down the hallway. The door into the shop, which opened inwards into the hallway, would likely to have been closed by O’Keeffe when he moved into the residence. (We know it was closed immediately after the murder because John James and the customer saw the curtains move on the closed door.) If this was the case then it is likely she was caught and was then struck twice more on the head rendering her unconscious or semi-conscious. A third option is that Maria, seeing the door into the shop was closed, opted to run into her bedroom hoping to lock the bedroom door behind her. This is Ron Iddles’ preferred option.

    Whichever way it happened, Maria ended up on her bedroom floor with her hands tied together in front of her and dead from 68 stab wounds. There were wounds to her back and from her upper chest to her groin area. There was blood on her bed and two pillows were on the floor; one by her head and one by her feet. They may have been used to cushion the killers’ knees as they knelt beside her systematically stabbing her front and back. While the number of stab wounds indicate a rage on the part of the killers, there is also a cold calculatedness about the scene, too; a familiarity with what they were doing.

    The killers would have been covered in blood. Indeed, Bongiorno was seen with blood on his hands, on an arm and on his face. But O’Keeffe was seen fleeing the shop by a few people and none of them noticed any blood on him. He was seen wearing a white shirt and as he was described as having hairy arms; his shirt sleeves were obviously rolled up. He did not have blood on his white shirt. How could he manage this? There is a possible explanation.


    Maria’s bedroom, where her body was found, is the (only) bedroom to the right of the central passage. The large room marked “living” nearest the street at the bottom of the diagram was the bookshop at the time of the murder. The door between the shop/living room and the passageway into the residence had a glass panel and a covering curtain over the glass.

    The french doors opening from the now ‘living’ room onto a walkway and the gate from the walkway to the street were not there when it was a shop. The front door opened directly from the center of the shop onto the street. The “Decking” at the rear of the shop was not there either. The window at the rear of the residence was much less in area than shown in the diagram. The smaller window at the time was roughly in line with the passageway. Otherwise, I am reliably informed, the layout of rooms is as it was at the time of the murder.

    Note: The toilet and the bath are separate rooms.The bathroom opens onto the hallway and the toilet opens onto the dining area towards the back of the residence.

  • NOTE: The following is speculative but it fits with the information that we have. Conclusions are arrived at logically and the reasoning is demonstrated. The authors are unaware of any evidence pointing to an alternative scenario but this is not to say there might be other possible scenarios. But what we propose fits logically with the confirmed information plus it is in accordance with what we know about the character and behaviour of the murderers.

    12:00 pm – 12:30 pm (est.) Bongiorno and O’Keeffe clean up after the murder and John James breaks in through the back window
    O’Keeffe and Bongiorno move from the bedroom to the bathroom to clean themselves up before leaving the premises. This may have occurred before or after John James first arrived. One of them, O’Keeffe, is cut and needs to dress his wound. O’Keeffe goes into the bathroom, removes his coat, rolls up his shirt sleeves and begins to clean himself up. Bongiorno, depending on whether John has arrived or not, either waits outside the bathroom door (it is a small room) or finds some place to stay out of sight of the back window.

    The Murder Weapon

    Ron Iddles says that it is most often the case in multiple stabbings that the killer will cut himself because his bloody hand will slip down the knife and onto the blade. If you look at the murder weapon, you can see how this is very likely to have happened. The knife is designed for slicing and not piercing so the point is not sharpened to easily facilitate this. Pushing this knife through clothing will take some force. There is no hilt or guard to prevent the hand from slipping down on to the blade

    We can deduce quite a bit from the fact that O’Keeffe was seen by witnesses as he fled the scene of the murder without having blood over him. And also the fact that Bongiorno was seen at the presbytery covered in blood.
    O’Keeffe must have cleaned himself up after the murder. To do that he would have had to go to the bathroom. Bongiorno was still covered in blood so we can say he did not go to the bathroom. He, of course, like O’Keeffe would have preferred not to go out into the street covered in blood and so attract attention to himself. It proved critical not to do so, in fact.
    The only reason he would not have cleaned himself up in the bathroom before John James arrived would be because O’Keeffe was still in there. So we now know where O’Keeffe was hiding when John James entered the residence.
    Why did O’Keeffe go first in the bathroom and not Bongiorno? The reason is because O’Keeffe had cut himself during the stabbing of Maria and so he had a bleeding wound which would take priority. It needed to be bandaged.
    Leaving aside the recent story from the police about the ‘bungled DNA sample’ because it is highly questionable and going back to the original and most probably correct story that they had the blood of a male from the murder scene, we can say that one of the murderers cut himself. That being the case, then the one with the bleeding wound would be the one to enter the bathroom first to clean himself up and bandage the cut.
    O’Keeffe left the shop without blood on him while Bongiorno left covered in blood.
    So we know that O’Keeffe was the one who used the bathroom. Therefore he is the one with the wound and therefore the blood sample the police have/had is O’Keeffe’s.

    It was only after the Trace Podcast’s Rachael Brown started looking for ways to secure a DNA sample of O’Keeffe and was then offered clothing items of O’Keeffe’s deceased twin brother that the police announced that the DNA sample that they had was from another case. Thus a match with O’Keeffe’s DNA was scuttled.
    We will return to the police’s strange utterances and behaviour surrounding the issue of DNA samples mysteriously appearing and disappearing in a later instalment.

    12:15 pm (est.) John James arrives at the bookshop
    Suddenly there is a banging and rattling at the front door of the shop. Bongiorno goes down the hall and peeks through the curtain covering the glass panel in the door from the residence. John James and another person see the curtain move. John then runs to the side street (Mansfield St), down the back walkway and into the backyard and up to the back door of the residence. The door is locked. Bongiorno obviously is hiding inside somewhere out of sight.

    John James runs back and forth between the front and back doors a few times. During this time, John makes a call to the shop from a neighbour’s phone. As he would have run past the Real Estate office on the corner and the shop in between that and Maria’s shop appears unoccupied, it is reasonable to assume John called from there. Maria’s phone was engaged as the receiver was still ‘off the hook’.

    Somewhere during this time Bongiorno hides in the toilet still covered in Maria’s blood. Presumably O’Keeffe did not want Bongiorno in the bathroom with him (it is a small room) and he hurriedly dresses his wound and continues to clean himself up.

    12:30 pm (est.) John James enters the residence
    Finally, John James breaks a window in the rear of the residence, climbs in and immediately goes to the back door to unlock it and leaves it open in case he needs to run out in a hurry. He moves slowly down the hall to Maria’s bedroom to find her dead on the floor.

    12:32 pm (est.) Bongiorno flees out the back door
    While John James is staring at Maria’s dead body, Bongiorno leaves his hiding place in the toilet and flees out the open back door which is opposite, through the back gate into the walkway, across Mansfield St, through the church property and around to the front of the presbytery to find himself covered in blood and facing Mr Allan Hircoe.

    Bongiorno would have been able to leave the residence without being seen because the toilet door faces the back door and both would be out of the line of sight of John James who is down the hallway. The rear gate would also be out of sight from the hallway.
    Bongiorno had to have left via the back door. The only way he could leave through the front door would be after John left via the back door. In which case Bongiorno would have run smack bang into John as he rounded the corner into Mansfield St. Besides, only one man was seen leaving the shop by the front door and that man did not have blood all over him. Further, a witness (Laura – Trace Bonus Ep) who knew Bongiorno, identified the man fleeing from the front of the shop as not being Bongiorno.
    Alternatively, if he followed John out the back door, Bongiorno would have been taking a huge risk that John James would not look behind him or stop and go back.
    To cut through the church property as he did, and for all of the above reasons, Bongiorno could only have left via the back door and the safest and obvious time to do that would have been while John James was still in the residence. The only room Bongiorno could do that from without being seen is from the toilet.
    The toilet door faced the open back door and out of the line of sight from the hallway.
    If Bongiorno was somehow hiding in another room, it would make much more sense for him to leave via the front door with O’Keeffe after John James had left the premises through the back door. But only one man left via the front door so he didn’t do that. We are then left with the only possibility being that Bongiorno was hiding in the toilet and left via the back door and while John was still in the premises.

    12:35 pm (est.) O’Keeffe flees out the front door
    We can also say with confidence that O’Keeffe was not in the toilet with him because he would have left at the same time with Bongiorno. But he didn’t. Instead, we know he left via the front door. So O’Keeffe and Bongiorno were hiding in different rooms. Indeed, we have already placed O’Keeffe in the bathroom. We can also say that O’Keeffe was still in the bathroom when John James entered the premises because if he wasn’t, Bongiorno would have availed himself of the opportunity to enter the bathroom and clean himself up even at that late time. So Bongiorno was in the toilet and O’Keeffe was in the bathroom. It is reasonable to assume that both the toilet and bathroom doors had locks on them.

    O’Keeffe could only have left the shop/residence through the front door after John James had left via the back door to go and phone the police otherwise he would have been seen by John. O’Keeffe would have had to walk past him.

    Bongiorno (in blue) leaves first out the back door after John James (in orange) has moved down the hallway to Maria’s bedroom. John James leaves next returning up the hallway and out the back door. O’Keeffe (in green) leaves last out the front door immediately after John James has left the residence.

    It has been suggested that O’Keeffe could have left while John is breaking through the back window but he would have had to emerge from his hiding place in the bathroom and move into the relatively well lit kitchen area and then into the hall and also into John James’ line of sight all the way. The window at the back of the house (incorrectly described as the kitchen window) was in a direct line with the hallway.
    The hallway would have been dark if he had managed to get into it without John seeing him somehow, but once the door into the shop was opened, light from the shop would have highlighted his figure and silhouetted it against that light. O’Keeffe would have been seen.
    We would also have to accept that O’Keeffe quietly closed the internal hall/shop door after himself but yet flung open the front door as he raced through it. That door either slammed open or shut, probably open. Either way, John James would have heard it.
    If the hall/shop internal door was open when John James came down the hall he would have noticed it because it was closed earlier. If the front door to the street was open when John James came down the hall, it is highly likely that John would have noticed it because of the street noise. John’s hearing would have been on high alert. High St is a very busy thoroughfare as it is a major traffic route. There are trams as well.
    People, especially women, tend to leave doors as they find them. When John James returned to the front of the shop from phoning the police, he found the front door open and a woman customer inside. It was a cold, showery, blustery day. It is far more likely that the woman customer found the front door open rather than closed. Not many people open a closed door on a day like that and leave it open.
    So O’Keeffe was still in the residence and specifically in the bathroom when John came down the hall.
    He could not have left the bathroom to follow Bongiorno out the back door because he would have had to step into John’s line of sight from the hallway. He could not even afford to poke his head out to see where John was. He was trapped in the bathroom and would have had to wait till he heard John walk past the bathroom and out the back door.

    Once John James leaves via the back door to phone for the police from a neighbours (probably the Real Estate agency again), O’Keeffe has a very short time to make his getaway. One wonders what would have happened if John had decided to ring the police from the phone in the residence.

    O’Keeffe would have been aware that John had gone from the front to the back a few times and he would not know if he was going to go around to High St in front of the shop again. If O’Keeffe hesitated, he could not know where John would be but if he left straight away he would know John was not out the front, at least. But he had a very limited time; seconds would count. So he raced from the front door and sprinted across the street without even looking for traffic and down Hutton street which was away from the safety of the presbytery but more importantly it was also away from the danger of running into John James.

    12:45 pm (est.) O’Keeffe ducks under boom gates at Hutton St. train station
    O’Keeffe could have circled back to the presbytery by running down the access lane behind the shops (unnamed street just visible in the photograph) or by going down Stott St further up Hutton St and back around to High St but further south and away from the shop. But he didn’t. We know this because a railway employee saw him duck under the operating boom gates past Stott St. He was going somewhere else. But where? Where would he find safety?

    Click on photograph for full resolution. North is to the left of the picture. The two parallel white lines either side of the tracks to the left of the roadway and the boom gates are the painted white edges of the railway platforms. They extend up to the roadway.

    First question is, “Why would he draw attention to himself (which he did) by ducking under a railway boom gate in operation? There was no one pursuing him on foot. There must have been a train approaching because the gates were in operation and Thornbury station is very close to the crossing.
    So the only reason to risk being noticed would be to catch that train. It must have been a north bound train as well. A south bound train could be caught without having to cross the tracks. (Note for North American readers – cars, trams and trains all travel on the left in Australia. So a north bound train would be to the west and on the far track from High St but closest to the camera.)
    So what is north of Thornbury station that might provide a place of safety?
    Well, the next station is Bell and not far across the road from Bell station is Immaculate Heart College. This school is now run by the Christian Brothers and is called Parade College but in 1980 it was run by the Marist Brothers and the principal was one Mr Gregory Coffey, a serial paedophile who offended from the early 70’s well into the ’90’s.
    I think it reasonable to assume that O’Keeffe knew Coffey and knew that he was a paedophile and perhaps was even a member of his satanic cult. This would be a place of safety and by far the closest safe (Catholic) haven.

    The map below is from 1982. Immaculate Heart College (a.k.a. Marist Brothers School/College or Marist Brothers Preston) is seen in the upper right and Maria’s shop and Thornbury station are seen in lower left of the map.

    Mid afternoon Sometime before school closure Bongiorno picks up Mark James at Immaculate Heart School
    Now it just so happened that this is the school that Maria’s elder son, Mark, was attending. And it just so happened that the police asked Bongiorno later that afternoon (instead of the father, John James, who was there and hardly a murder suspect) to go and collect Mark James from this same school and inform him of his mother’s death. Three policewomen were sent to pick up Adam James from his school. Why was Bongiorno asked to pick up Mark James? And who suggested it?

    Why not John James or even one or two of the three policewomen? Why didn’t one of the policewomen go with Bongiorno?

    We know that when Bongiorno collected Mark, he also went to see this paedophile principal. Coffey had a rap sheet a mile long!

    The smirking Gregory Coffey

    From an article in the Sydney Morning Herald Jan 13th 2013 we have this quote:-
    “Brother Gregory Vincent Coffey, who pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault against two students in 1976 and 1977 at Immaculate Heart College in Preston”

    So this guy is convicted of sexually assaulting two students under his care while employed by the Marist Brothers. What do you think his Marist Brothers bosses do? Fire him? No, you would be wrong if you thought that. They kept him on and promoted him to vice principal the next year in 1978. In 1980 they promoted him from vice principal to principal and he is now running the school. How is this not a paedophile organisation masquerading as an educational organisation?

    The usual excuse is that people didn’t understand the damage done to children ‘back then’. But that is simply not true. Up until 1954, it was a hangable offence in Victoria to rape a child. People knew exactly the gravity of the crime and the danger the paedophile posed to the community. So how should we view the magistrate that let repeat offender Coffey off with a slap on the wrist? How do we view the Marist Brothers?

    I think it is very likely that O’Keeffe was in this paedophile principal’s office and that Bongiorno took him a change of clothes and brought him up to speed as to what was happening with the police.
    It would have been a simple matter to arrange. A phone call to the Thornbury presbytery would be all it would take. O’Keeffe would have been busting to find out what was happening with Bongiorno and if the police suspected either of them. O’Keeffe likely made another phone call; to the cathedral.
    It is worth noting here that the police went to the presbytery to see the parish priest. They saw the assistant parish priest instead. Given that we know Bongiorno had just murdered Maria, don’t you think he would have preferred that O’Keeffe, as the senior priest, would have seen the policeman instead (if he was there)? But O’Keeffe wasn’t there, that’s why Bongiorno had to talk to the police.
    The cops were questioning Bongiorno about hearing Maria’s confession or maybe the killer’s confession without luck. But where is the senior parish priest and why aren’t the cops questioning him, too? Or, at least, you would think the police would be appealing to him about Bongiorno’s intransigence. He’s not there, that’s why. And no one seems to be asking where he is or remarking on his absence.


    We know that around this time in 1980, there existed a group of very corrupt policemen within Victoria Police that covered up the crimes of the Catholic priesthood. These crimes included multiple child rapes. This group has been called “The Catholic Mafia” and followed the dictates of the Catholic hierarchy. This has been admitted to by none other than the current Chief commissioner of Victoria Police, Graham Ashton.

    Denis Ryan, former policeman and a campaigner for priests to be charged with their crimes, told the Royal Commission into sexual abuse, “The common law of the police force was not to charge a priest, short of murder.” It would seem that this did not hold true in the case of Maria James. Why would it stop short of murder, anyway, considering the heinousness of the crimes that were routinely being covered up?

    The usual drill for a priest in trouble was to make a call to the cathedral offices and before too long the arresting police officer was told by his superior to release the priest. Often one or two priests would turn up at the police station to escort their brother priest away from the clutches of the law.

    From the above article linked in the box immediately above:-
    “When he was arrested (for sexually assaulting six boys – ed.) the priest rang a bishop and by the time the detectives had taken him to the watchhouse a senior policeman was waiting.
    He told the investigators he required a brief of evidence before the priest could be charged. They countered that they had enough to lock him up immediately. The senior man ordered they release him and complete the brief for review. When they did it was not authorised and the priest was never charged.”


    “When the priest was arrested on the day before Good Friday, he made one phone call – to Archbishop George Pell.
    ‘By the time we got the priest back to the station, a QC had already rung to say he was representing him and told him to make no comment,’ said one of the investigators.”

    It would be extraordinary if O’Keeffe and/or Bongiorno did not make that call to the cathedral office. And it would also be extraordinary if someone in the church hierarchy did not then telephone someone senior in the ranks of the police to put the fix in and send the message down the line. Where would that line end?

    An obvious choice would be the head of the Homicide squad as they were the squad that would be carrying out the investigation. At the time, the head of the homicide squad was Inspector Paul Delianis, known amongst his colleagues as “The Golden Greek”.

    Delianis had not long taken over the job from his previous post as head of the notorious Armed Robbery Squad. The ‘Armed Rob Squad’ was a household name in Victoria during the 1970’s. I know; I was there in the 70’s. It was so bad (there were many rumours of Squad members forcing criminals to carry out armed robberies on their behalf) that the squad was broken up and it’s members were dispersed throughout the force and throughout Victoria (reminiscent of the Catholic Church’s behavior); dispersed, that is, except for Paul Delianis “and one or two others”, which is very curious.

    We will hear more about Paul Delianis from McJ in the next instalment which will detail some of the endemic, even ubiquitous, corruption, including murder, throughout Victoria Police during the last half century and particularly during this time of the 70’s and 80’s. Corruption that let the Catholic Church get away with its own murder (metaphorically speaking, of course!)

    Epilogue and Authors’ Note

    For those who have had quite enough ‘darkness’, I suggest you do not continue reading. For those that have had quite enough darkness but are drawn like moths to a flame to understand this brutal murder and what it means, read on.

    (BTW, it is a natural desire to understand such catastrophic events for our own (and our children’s) future survival. It is an unconscious drive within most of us. Of course, this is then combated by our universal sense of revulsion and horror at someone, whom we might identify with, even as just another human being, being treated in this literally inhuman manner. This all sets up an inner conflict and stress. So you might be experiencing this.)

    We know why Maria was killed now and by whom but we don’t know why she was killed in this particularly brutal and bizarre manner. Dismissing it as an act of rage doesn’t quite explain it. Certainly rage was evident but there seems to be more to it. As was said earlier, there is a certain cold calculation involved.

    The spontaneous ‘rage’ does not explain why Maria’s hands were bound with her being either unconscious or dead. It does not explain why Maria was apparently in fear for her life. She twice said to her elder son, Mark, to look after Adam should anything happen to her; once a couple of days before her murder and again on the very morning of her murder.

    Maria’s murder was initially described as a ritual killing by the police and then later this was dismissed. The authors believe it was indeed a ritual killing; one that was not only satanic but had distinct Italian elements to it.

    Maria was born to Italian parents from Calabria, Italy. The Italian immigrant community was plagued by an organisation, also from Calabria, called the ‘Ndrangheta (pronounced with the emphasis on ‘drang’ as in – en-DRANG-geta) – the Italian Mafia, the largest criminal organisation in Australia (if you leave aside some prominent institutions).

    But first, let’s construct a possible scenario of the murder that accounts for all the puzzling aspects of the killing and then offer an historical explanation for the ritualistic elements of it.

    O’Keeffe surprises Maria with his sudden appearance but she is still not intimidated with now two priests trying to face her down. O’Keeffe sees the kitchen knife in its ‘stay-sharp’ scabbard on the bench and removes it from its scabbard. At this point, O’Keeffe has decided to kill Maria. We can say this because he has participated or been present at many killings involving knives and other blades (Trace Ep 3). He’s not messing around and has no inhibitions.

    But if O’Keeffe simply wanted her dead, why didn’t he stab Maria in the heart there and then, or more messily, slit her throat and quickly leave via the back door and down the walkway to the St Mary’s property? Simple . . . for a man of O’Keeffe’s abilities. From the beginning, though, it seems he had other plans.

    Maria runs down the hallway and seeing the door to the shop closed (it opens inwards) decides to go into her bedroom which has a lock on it (Trace Ep 1). O’Keeffe and Bongiorno are too close behind her though and enter the bedroom with her. Maria flings herself onto the bed followed by one of the priests and is stabbed multiple times in the back.

    Somewhere from Maria seeing the knife in O’Keeffe’s hand to being stabbed on the bed, she is struck three times on her head. Maria is now face down on the bed either dead or dying. There is blood all over her quilted bed cover (which mysteriously disappeared later from police custody – see video at 7:58).

    O’Keeffe and Bongiorno lift Maria’s body off the bed by grabbing her hands and feet (the easiest way to move her) and put her on the floor beside the bed placing two pillows at her head and feet to kneel on.

    They then proceed to stab her multiple times from her upper chest to her groin area. They now bind Maria’s hands in front of her (the police and the Coroner agreed she was bound while either unconscious or dead). It would make sense to tie her hands after they had finished stabbing her torso. Given that there are two of them, the priests would find it easiest to move her by grasping her by the wrists and ankles. Tying her hands before moving her would only make this more difficult. The only reason for tying her hands afterwards (or at all) would be for ritual reasons.

    If she was tied up to restrain her, either then or earlier, we would see evidence of bruising from struggling. She would also much more likely to be tied with her hands behind her. It would be easier and make more sense to do this with a conscious and struggling woman – pin her down on the floor while they tie her hands behind her. Maria was not the type of person to quietly submit. No bruising on Maria’s wrists tells us this didn’t happen. So she was tied up after she was dead. Therefore, again, Maria could only have been tied up for ritual reasons and not for reasons of restraint or for moving her.

    Maria was found with her right leg bent under her left leg which was straight out. From Trace Ep1, 15:15 – Maria James is described as lying face up with “her right leg tucked up behind her, her wrists are bound and rest on her stomach”

    If she was picked up from the bed by her feet, her feet would be put down beside each other. So this placement of her right leg behind her left leg was deliberately done. In the process of ‘staging’ Maria’s body, the murderers were probably interrupted by John James’ arrival given the time constraints.

    Bongiorno peeks through the internal door’s curtain to see John James at the front door, announces to O’Keefe that they have trouble and O’Keeffe bolts for the bathroom . . . and the rest is covered in the report above.

    The image of someone killed with their hands bound and one leg bent under the other is that of “The Hanged Man”. Usually, but not always, the hands are tied behind the back but this would be too awkward in Maria’s case. Also the leg is bent at a distinct angle to the straight leg. Usually, but not always, it is the left leg that is tucked behind the right. The other leg is straight because that is the one the whole body is being hung from.

    “The Hanged Man” is most often known as a Major Arcana card in the Tarot and it has a few meanings in that context. But it also has a lesser known and distinctly Italian criminal context and meaning. It is the sign of the traitor. In Italy, in days gone by, it was how a traitor was killed and whom you wanted to leave as a message to others. To terrorise them, in other words.

    From Wikipedia
    The Hanged Man (XII) is the twelfth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.
    It depicts a pittura infamante (pronounced [pitˈtuːra iɱfaˈmante]), an image of a man being hung upside-down by one ankle. This method of hanging was a common punishment at the time for traitors in Italy.

    So it is an act of vengeance against the victim and also a warning to others in the community.

    The Hanged Man was originally named The Traitor. It can also be read as a necessary sacrifice. Another interpretation is the devil or satan because it symbolizes reversal. It forms the outline of the reverse alchemical symbol for sulphur – a downward pointing triangle beneath a cross.

    So how do we get from the Italy of centuries ago to a Thornbury, Melbourne bookshop in 1980?
    “The Traitor” would be part of Italian folklore passed down through the generations. It would be unthinkable that modern day ‘Ndrangheta would be unaware of it.

    The ‘Ndrangheta came to Australia with the Italian immigrant influx after WW11 and set up shop in Melbourne at the wholesale fruit and vegetable market where is still exists to this day. Anthony Bongiorno worked at his father’s ‘fruit shop’ which seems to have consisted of a stall at the wholesale market before training to be a priest. The wholesale market and the produce farms were the main supply channel for marijuana from the swinging sixties onwards. All settlement for all business at the market was done in cash.

    ABC 4Corners show did an excellent two part TV report on the ‘Ndrangheta in 2015 – First part and Second part

    The Bongiorno family did get rather rich rather quickly in one generation. The Bongiorno family have not been connected to the ‘Ndrangheta, as far as I know. I’m sure they were remarkably good at buying and selling apples and oranges.

    But in any case, Anthony Bongiorno would very likely be aware of the killing method of “The Traitor” because he worked in the market amongst these criminals. The ‘Ndrangheta’s first victims are their own ethnic brethren through extortion and intimidation. So word would spread amongst the Italian community about this and many other practices of the Mafia.

    Maria, being of Italian immigrant parents and having lived in a community of many Italians would also have known a lot about the ‘Ndrangheta and their behaviour. It would be self preservation for this community to share what they knew about these predators between each other.

    Did she connect Bongiorno with the ‘Ndrangheta and was this the source of her fears for her life? It would seem the most logical reason and, in fact, there has been no other reason proffered to account for her fear; for how the body was staged and for why all the stab wounds and the manner that they were inflicted.

    Was the method of killing meant to be a message to others whom Maria might have talked to in the Italian community? From circumstantial evidence the authors have, it seems that Maria did talk to at least one person; apparently not an Italian. So why not others? Is this why others have not come forward in 37 years.

    There’s lots of possibilities connected in the above scenario. It is by no means anywhere near certain . . . but it is feasible. It fits with what we know about the circumstances of the murder and the character and thinking of the murderers. It is the only explanation that we have so far that accounts for all the known facts despite how bizarre it may sound. But this murder, and everything else surrounding it, is nothing if not bizarre.

    So, we shall finish up this investigation as we started it with a saying about logic. There is a principle in logic and philosophy known as “Occam’s Razor” and it is this; the simplest explanation (of all the explanations) that fits all the known facts is the most likely to be the truth.

    Note – “the simplest explanation” does not mean the most familiar one.


    The above Epilogue was published with Part 2 when it was first put up but no sooner had I published it, I came across extra information that was at first confusing and that may have contradicted the murder scenario that I had proposed. Just when you think this case can’t get more bizarre, it does!

    So I removed the Epilogue until I had sorted this issue out. I have now been better able to understand this new information and it does not, in my opinion, call into question my proposed murder scenario. I have now reinstated the original epilogue as it was and will simply add this new (to me) information.

    I came across this article written in 2014
    which briefly described how Maria had been held down using, of all things, a potato masher from her kitchen against the side of her face. There was a picture of the masher in another article from 2017 and also, I was later to realise, a picture of Maria’s face underneath the masher. It was obviously a Coroner’s picture that had been released by the police.

    The picture can be viewed at this page if you need to see it. There is no added information in this article regarding the potato masher, just the picture (which is quite strange to my mind).

    I am confident now that the masher was used on Maria, not so much to restrain her because the picture indicates that she was already dead, but to brand her for some symbolic or occultic reason.

    These satanists, and O’Keeffe at least was definitely a satanist, may be insane at some level but at another level they are highly rational. Whatever they do, they do for a reason. However mad it might be, there is always a reason. In that sense, they are more rational than most ordinary people who operate so much more randomly or unthinkingly in their daily lives. While we just live a lot of the time, they are constantly plotting and manoeuvring.

    I am no forensic pathologist but my reasoning for thinking Maria was dead before her face was pressed down with the potato masher is that the outline of the marking on her face from the masher is very sharp against her otherwise pasty looking skin. The implement has obviously been pressed down very hard and has broken the capillary veins forcing blood up to the surface layer of skin.

    Had her heart been pumping, blood would have flowed through the broken capillaries and into the surrounding skin causing bruising and discolouration and the sharp outline seen under the masher would be lost. So this, like the tying of her wrists which showed no bruising, was done after Maria was dead and for the same ritual or symbolic reasons.

    A possible reason for this deliberate marking, and it is only a guess, is that some women in these cults are actually branded with a hot iron. It is done as a mark of ownership either to the cult leader or to satan or to both. Perhaps our two mad satanic priests thought they were exerting ownership over Maria and her life for themselves or for satan. But who knows? (Be sure to read the added information in McJ’s comment below Speaking of ritualistic killing)

    To move on to a slightly less gruesome aspect of this appalling tragedy, a reader asked a very good question regarding O’Keeffe’s missing coat. McJ and I have both addressed this issue in the comments section and it may be of interest to read. This issue of the coat and other issues were not included in the article so as to try and keep the story manageable and comprehensible. But we are more than happy to address any issues if readers have queries regarding the many puzzling and bizarre details involved with this case.

    The next instalment, The Role of Psychopathy, can be read here

    The Maria James Murder: Two Murderers – Part 1

    THE MARIA JAMES MURDER: Two Murderers – Part 1

    This is the second in a series of articles. If you would like to read the background to this murder mystery and perhaps take up the challenge of working out the solution to the murder and read the source material linked to, go back to the first article here. There are resources including diagrams and ‘street scene’ photographs there.

    Regardless, this article is written on the presumption that you, the reader, have listened to the TRACE series of podcasts by the ABC. You can access them at this page or through iTunes. Search iTunes for “ABC Trace” and you should have no trouble finding the series. Additional articles can be found here. Spoiler alert ahead!

    The podcast series leaves the question, “Who killed Maria James?” unanswered though it implicates two Catholic priests, Anthony Bongiorno and Thomas O’Keeffe as suspects. I propose to show that it was indeed these two priests and it could not be anyone else based on all the information we have.

    While I will be referring to much of the material covered in the audio series, there is much that I won’t be and I will presume that you are aware of what I leave out as background and contextual information. You may find placing some of my text in this article difficult to contextualise if you haven’t absorbed the audio programmes first. It is an engaging series and you should have no trouble in following along, the nature of the content notwithstanding. So go have a listen if you haven’t already.

  • The Witness

    In 2014, Mr Allan Hircoe went to the Victoria Police to tell them he saw a man with blood on him approach the Thornbury presbytery of St Mary’s Parish shortly after midday on Tues 17th June 1980. This was the very time of the murder of Maria James three shops down High St. from the St Mary’s property which included a school, church and presbytery.

    Street map of the immediate area

    St. Mary’s property bounded by High St, the main thoroughfare through Thornbury, Mansfield St and Rossmoyne St which runs parallel to Mansfield St and the walkway shown behind Maria’s shop at 736 High St across Mansfield St from St Marys property. Click here for a larger, higher resolution picture. Click here for an aerial view of how the area looks today. Note: Building additions to the school in front of the Presbytery were not there in 1980 (See Allan Hircoe’s hand drawn map of the area in 1980 below.)

    Mr Hircoe identified that man as Catholic priest, Fr Anthony Bongiorno. From that moment on, Victoria Police should have realised that the cold case murder of Mrs James was carried out by two men and not one. At least three witnesses had seen another man flee from the shop by its front door on High St and run across High St, nearly being run over by a car in the process, and running off down Hutton St to the west; the opposite direction to the St Mary’s presbytery where Bongiorno was seen at the same time covered in blood.

    It is impossible for one man to be running away from the crime scene in two divergent directions at the same time. So it is beyond dispute that there were two murderers. That Anthony Bongiorno is one of them should also be beyond dispute. The following lays out why that is.

    The First Suspect – Anthony Bongiorno

  • Caught ‘Red Handed’

    Bongiorno had blood on one side of his face, blood on one forearm which was exposed by a rolled up shirt sleeve and blood on both hands. He had literally been “caught red-handed” coming from the direction of the scene of the murder less than 100 metres away and at the time of the murder.

    Mr Hircoe, an electrician, was working on the front veranda of the presbytery which faced onto Rossmoyne St. He testified that Bongiorno came around the corner of the building from the direction of a grassy walkway between two St Mary’s buildings, the church and the presbytery. The walkway was the continuation of one that was visible across Mansfield St and ran behind the High St shops. One of those shops was Maria James’ second-hand bookshop. There was a gateway from the bookshop backyard onto that walkway. (See maps)

    Bongiorno explained his bleeding by saying he had cut himself on some roses or on a wire fence near the roses (Hircoe could not remember which) at the rear of the presbytery building. Bongiorno was later to tell police he was in Coburg at the time of the murder and till late into the afternoon with the Coburg parish priest, Fr Sean O’Connell, a long time personal friend. The immediate problem with this is that Bongiorno was on hand to take Mark James out of class and bring him home earlier in the afternoon. But, of course, there is a much larger problem with the alibi.

    Never-the-less, it’s nice to have friends; friends that will lie to the police for you. After receiving Mr Hircoe’s statement, the police should then have known that the alibi furnished by O’Connell years previously was a complete lie.

    Allan Hircoe’s Map
    IMG 1188
    Allan Hircoe’s map showing the bookshop, St Mary’s property and the walkway (lane) behind Maria’s bookshop. ‘North’ is to the left of the drawing. Note: The building marked “Mance” is the Presbytery.

    Anthony Bongiorno went through the Corpus Christi Seminary in the same class year as Sean O’Connell, Denis Hart, the current Archbishop of Melbourne and the now world famous Cardinal George Pell. O’Connell provided Bongiorno with his alibi but clearly Bongiorno could not have been in Coburg and at the Thornbury presbytery covered in blood at the same time. Both Bongiorno and O’Connell lied to police and in 2014 police would have been aware of this. Sean O’Connell did not die until Dec 2016. Did Victoria Police question O’Connell regarding his lying to them by giving Bongiorno a false alibi? If not, why not?

    Years earlier, had Victoria Police consulted their files after taking O’Connell’s word for Bongiorno’s whereabouts, they would have seen that they were dealing with a man with a record of lying to police. In 1977, just three years before the murder, O’Connell was convicted of harbouring an escaped criminal, armed robber and close friend of Mark “Chopper” Read, James (Jimmy) Loughnan.

    Victorian Police Detective Sgt Ron Iddles (R) with Chopper Read (M) and Iddle’s daughter Shae (L).

    It’s a small world, after all! Mark “Chopper” Read was a famous, even legendary, criminal figure in Melbourne. His targets were drug dealers and fellow criminals. He was regarded as a modern day bushranger. More on him below in the epilogue to this article.

    O’Connell later had his conviction quashed by virtue of a technicality through the judge tightly redefining the meaning of “harbouring”. Clearly the police had O’Connell ‘caught to rights’ and O’Connell, because he pleaded ‘not guilty’, had lied to them. The company you keep!

    Back to the presbytery. Mr Hircoe went to fetch a first-aid kit from his truck to attend to Bongiorno, whom he described as somewhat distressed, but when the electrician turned around, Bongiorno had disappeared. Presumably, he had disappeared inside the presbytery. Allan Hircoe then heard a very heated argument in Italian coming from inside the presbytery with a woman’s shrieking voice being the dominant one. He thought it a very odd reaction over some blood on a shirt.

    Indeed, it would have been an odd reaction for any woman to be shrieking at a Catholic priest for any reason, especially in 1980. One can only imagine a family member talking to a priest in such a manner. What could spark an outburst of anger instead of care and concern at the sight of a priest covered in blood?

    What could it be about? Surely something of major significance. News of a confrontation gone wrong? A needless murder, perhaps? Whoever it was behaved as if she knew quickly what had happened and that it wasn’t good or, more likely, unbelievably stupid! I hope to return to this very odd behaviour in a later instalment.

    So far we have an agitated Anthony Bongiorno identified as running from the direction of the very brutal and bloody murder of Maria James with blood on his face, arm and both hands at the time of the murder and later lying to police by giving a false alibi. Plus, we have someone who apparently knew him very well abusing him in no uncertain terms. Added to this, we have in episode 4 of TRACE a woman positively identify Bongiorno lingering outside Maria’s shop that morning around 11am. So that leaves motive.

  • The Motive

    Did Bongiorno have a reason to kill Mrs James? While apparently nobody thought so at the time in 1980, a motive has since emerged. In 2013 it was revealed that days before Maria James was killed, her second son, Adam, informed her that Bongiorno had molested him.

    On the morning of the murder, she asked her elder son, Mark, for the second time in almost as many days, to make sure he looked after Adam should anything happen to her. Mark left for school puzzled that Tuesday morning. Why was Maria afraid something might happen to her? This still remains a puzzle to this day. Clearly, she knew more concerning the context than her sons did – ‘Ndrangheta, perhaps?

    Maria then told Adam she was going to phone the presbytery regarding his abuse. Adam said that his mother was agitated while talking on the phone and then took him to his school bus stop and telling him that she was going to see Bongiorno that day.

    Now in 2017, it is beyond any doubt that Anthony Bongiorno was a serial paedophile and this view of him has been held for many years. We accept these days that Catholic priests have many paedophiles amongst their number. Indeed, they are protected from within the church and are even given grand funerals by this same protective clerical hierarchy.

    But in 1980, the idea of paedophile priests did not enter the news cycle at all. It went on, of course, and was known by a few police but certainly not all. The average person in the street had no idea of the criminal nature of many priests and the nature of many of their bishops who protected them from the police, the law and the public.

    So keeping Bongiorno’s paedophilia quiet was of paramount importance not only to Bongiorno but to other paedophile priests and to the Catholic hierarchy. They all relied on the public’s ignorance of their criminal behaviour to maintain their position of power and privilege, to continue unimpeded in their appalling destruction of the lives of the children in their charge and, very importantly, to stay out of jail.

    There was a lot at stake for a lot of privileged people in keeping Maria James quiet. But she was not to be bullied into silence. She was made of sterner stuff and this problem for Bongiorno and his partner in crime must have seemed at the time to have only one logical solution; silence her permanently.

  • The ‘Form’

    Did Bongiorno have the ability or temperament to kill and to kill in this brutal manner?

    Paedophiles are often psychopaths. If you look at the television interview of Bongiorno in 1980 in the month after Maria’s death and if you are familiar with some of the signs of personality disorders, you will notice a certain ‘social tone-deafness’ in Bongiorno’s replies to the reporter’s questions. This ‘social tone-deafness’ is most often associated with psychopaths. They have no emotional connection with other people and their comments can betray this disturbing lack of empathy and connection.

    Mark James said in the above program when remarking on Bongiorno’s manner when he informed Mark of his mother’s death, “He was just cold. There was no compassion, there was no empathy, there was nothing in his voice. He was just going through the motions of doing something and it just didn’t feel right.”

    All this means that Bongiorno was very unlikely to feel any empathy at all for Maria’s plight and to be totally consumed with his own protection instead. It is reasonable to expect him to have gone along with the murder but would he have initiated it? I think a lot would have depended on his influences; the company he kept.

    The Second Suspect – Thomas O’Keeffe

  • Motivation

    Which brings us to the other priest resident at the Thornbury presbytery at the time, Fr Thomas O’Keeffe. Very recently, Adam James has identified O’Keeffe as also molesting him though he had not previously told anyone including his mother. But at the time O’Keeffe could not presume that Adam would remain quiet regarding his own abuse of Adam. O’Keeffe, as well as Bongiorno, had a very personal reason for ensuring Maria James’ silence and permanently if necessary.

  • Thomas O’Keeffe’s ‘Form’

    This man was certainly a psychopath. He was certainly a violent paedophile and he certainly had ‘form’, as they say. A witness had told police in 1997 that he and O’Keeffe had been present at at least four murders during satanic rituals. O’Keeffe in a previous assault had threatened the witness at knife point in exactly the same way that led to Maria James’ death. O’Keeffe was also seen to emotionally explode at the time of this previous assault in a rage described as “demonic”. He engaged in torture of his victims. And Victoria Police had been informed of this as far back as 1997. It was in their files.

    Fr Anthony Bongiorno had been regarded as a suspect possibly as early as ’98 and certainly by 2007, and if police had looked at their own files regarding his boss and housemate, Fr Thomas O’Keeffe, he would have surely been included as a suspect. It would seem that Victoria Police did not consult their files in the case of O’Keeffe just as they did not consult their files regarding Fr Sean O’Connell either at that time or at any time since. This is doubly strange as retired homicide detective, Ron Iddles, has himself said many times, regarding cold cases, “The answer is in the file”.

    The murder of Maria James has been officially described as ritualistic and involved torturing the victim before death. All these behaviours were attributed to O’Keeffe by other victims at other times. All this is detailed in episode 3 of the Trace podcast series. The man had ‘form’. He certainly had the ability to carry out the murder of Maria James in exactly the way it unfolded.

    In the interests of full disclosure, Thomas O’Keeffe was known to me, the writer, and I feature in Episode 3 of Trace. I am James Shanahan. I am not to be confused with other writers at this site, specifically Winter Patriot a.k.a. Winter or WP, or McJ or newjesustimes a.k.a. NJT or Admin.

  • Identifying Thomas O’Keeffe

    In my view, O’Keeffe is very likely the man seen running from the front door of the shop and across High St and then to the west down Hutton St. While no positive identification has been made yet, the police identikit drawn from descriptions by witnesses could easily be Thomas O’Keeffe, to my eyes, at least. I knew the man when he would have been in his early 30’s.

    The circumstantial evidence against O’Keeffe is in one sense weaker than the case for Bongiorno in that he has not been positively identified in the area of the crime at the time of the crime. One witness to the ‘running man’ seen outside the shop described him as 40 to 50 years old. Another witness said he was definitely not Bongiorno as she knew Bongiorno. These two witnesses can be heard on the TRACE series episode 4. The next two witness descriptions do not come from any published material and unfortunately I am not at liberty to identify the source(s ). So take it as you will.

    Jeanette Hodson/Hodgson, the driver who nearly ran over the running man, identified him from a photograph twenty years later as Peter Keogh a local criminal and who was later found guilty of a similarly brutal murder with a knife of a young woman, Vicki Cleary, in 1987. Keogh would have been 31 or 32 in 1980 though.

    The railway employee who saw ‘the running man’ at the railway crossing down Hutton St when shown a photograph of Keogh said it definitely was not Keogh. The man he saw was older 45-50 and stouter than Keogh. Keogh at that time was quite lean and muscular. The railway man got a good look at the running man while Jeanette Hodson got a very brief look at him. O’Keeffe was 49 at the time.

    Added to this is my own opinion. I knew O’Keeffe in the early 1960’s. There are three photos of him that I have seen, one from an earlier period and two taken much later. None of them capture the man that I knew. Oddly enough, the police drawing does. The hairline is clearly too low and the eyebrows aren’t quite right but the intensity that I knew has been captured. Take that for what it is worth!

    So we don’t have a positive identification of O’Keeffe in the vicinity of the shop immediately before of after the murder but we do know he was in the general area that morning because he lived around the corner 100 metres away. He most probably was at home when the call came from Maria James for Bongiorno early that morning and therefore would have had knowledge of what was wrong. So, while we cannot place O’Keeffe at the shop, we can place him nearby that morning.

    Fr Thomas O’Keeffe (L) Police Identikit Drawing of suspect seen fleeing the bookshop (R)

    The photograph on the left (courtesy of ABC Trace) was taken when O’Keeffe was approx 25yo and he was approx 50yo at the time of the murder when this drawing on the right was made.

    As was pointed out at the beginning of this essay, two murderers were present. It could not be the work of a solitary murderer because two men were seen fleeing the murder scene at the time of the murder and running in opposite directions.

  • The Panicked Friend

    A possible alternative was suggested at the end of TRACE episode 4 to explain the man seen running across High St. This speculative suggestion, made without any basis, was that the running man might have been a friend or someone else who entered the shop, walked through it to the residence behind looking for Maria and stumbled upon her dead body and then fled in panic.

    While this is highly implausible given the time frame, it is not impossible. But ‘the panicked friend’ would have had to be in addition to the murderer fleeing from the front door i.e. there would have had to have been two men fleeing via the front door, one after the other as well as Bongiorno fleeing out the back door. (The logistics of this will be further explained in the next article). Somebody, after all, would have had to open the front door from the inside to allow ‘the panicked friend’ to enter the shop in the first place before he could run out again.

    The front door had to have been opened from inside the shop and the person who did this had to have been in the shop before John James entered it through a rear window. This was so because Mr James had checked the front and back doors a number of times and both were locked at each time.

    The ‘panicked friend’ possibility does not take away the necessity of two murderers but merely adds to the number of characters involved and without any basis or evidence to support the idea of introducing a new character.

    Connecting the dots

  • Motive, opportunity, ability and a shared interest in the outcome

    So, we have an overwhelming case against Bongiorno as one of the two murderers involving very damning circumstantial evidence.

    He had motive (to keep his paedophilia quiet)

    He had opportunity (Maria James had arranged to meet him that morning).

    He was seen outside the shop earlier at 11:00am approximately.

    He was seen covered in blood arriving at the presbytery from the direction of the murder scene at the time the murder took place less than 100 metres away.

    He gave a false alibi to police as to his whereabouts at the time of the murder.

    And he had observably psychopathic behaviours.

    Bongiorno was literally ‘caught red-handed’. Fr Anthony Bongiorno had participated in the murder of Maria James. There are no alternative plausible explanations for the evidence against him.

    If there was a plausible alternative explanation, why did Bongiorno find it necessary to lie to the police as to where he was at the time of the murder?

    Common sense and the evidence itself tells us that Bongiorno was one of the murderers and I find it hard to accept that there would be a jury in the land who would not convict him on that overwhelming circumstantial evidence. People have been convicted for murder on far less evidence.

    Despite the relative weakness of the lack of a positive identification, the case for O’Keeffe is stronger than for Bongiorno in one crucial manner:-

    He had been witnessed at other bloody and brutal murders involving knives.

    He had a history of this behaviour and it had been acknowledged by no less an authority than the Catholic Church in the person of Mr Peter O’Callaghan QC, the church’s legal representative in these matters.

    It was also acknowledged subsequently by then Archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell (TRACE episode 3).

    O’Keeffe also had motivation. In 2015, Adam James revealed that he had been abused by O’Keeffe as well as by Bongiorno.

    While Adam had not mentioned his abuse by O’Keeffe to his mother, O’Keeffe could not assume that he would not do so in the near future. So he had just as much reason as Bongiorno to keep Maria quiet and permanently quiet if necessary.

    We have already described his ability to carry out such a murder and he very probably had the opportunity as well. After all, he lived with Bongiorno just around the corner from the James’ shop/residence .

    It would seem highly likely that he knew of the problem of Maria James accusing Bongiorno that morning of paedophilia. He was ‘Jonny-on-the-spot’ as an accomplice that morning.

    Where else would Bongiorno find an accomplice with motive and ability at such short notice?

    There are simply no other suspects that come anywhere near these two acknowledged paedophiles and there are simply no other pairs of suspects as there would need to be to give any alternative version any credence at all. No other two suspects have shared motivation, ability and opportunity and a shared interest in the outcome of silencing Maria James.

    Bongiorno could not have been reasonably ruled out as one of the murderers in 2015. There was far too much evidence against him and there still is. The case is overwhelming. O’Keeffe may possibly be ruled out but only by replacing him with a man of similar motivation and interest in the outcome: similar character and history; similar connection to Bongiorno and been on hand that morning. That doesn’t leave a lot of people.

    Allan Hircoe, the electrician, has suggested O’Keeffe may have been another man he saw at the presbytery shortly before noon that day and therefore not at the murder scene. But there are two major problems with that identification. Mr Hircoe described the man at the door of the presbytery as a priest because he had a priest’s black trousers on and was wearing a flannelette shirt and braces over the top. He also described him as looking somewhat like the then Premier of Victoria, John Cain.

    I knew O’Keeffe and he was meticulous in his grooming and dress. It would have been completely out of character for him to be seen dressed in a flannelette shirt and braces. He also had a full head of jet black hair whereas John Cain had a thinning head of sandy brown hair. Hair colour is a strong identifying characteristic. It is very unlikely that the man Mr Hircoe saw was Thomas O’Keeffe. Fr. Sean O’Connell, the man who gave Bongiorno his false alibi for that day is a much more likely candidate.

    Fr Thomas O’Keefee Circa 1980
    (Courtesy of ABC Trace)

    Fr Sean O’Connell 2011

    John Cain Circa 1980

    Who looks more like John Cain? O’Keefe or O’Connell? Unfortunately, there are no better photographs of O’Connell available. (During the research for this article, we came across evidence that information regarding Sean O’Connell was being scrubbed from the net).

  • The Solution and Some Final Thoughts

    Police have now thrown a few old suspects or ‘persons of interest’ back into the new investigation because their having been ruled out on DNA evidence is no longer valid, they say. But none of these men can be said to have had a co-conspirator. They are all presumed to have been loners as far as this murder investigation is concerned. Looked at critically, none of these persons of interest have had any evidence brought forward linking them to the murder of Maria James that day.

    So if you, the reader, took up the challenge laid down in the previous instalment and picked Bongiorno as the murderer, give yourself one point-

    Or if you picked O’Keeffe as the murderer, give yourself one point –

    And if you picked both Bongiorno and O’Keeffe, give yourself two points –

    Plus a bonus third point for realising that there had to be two murderers.

    Though the police should have known there were two murderers since 2014, the public have only been introduced to that possibility now in 2017 by Rachael Brown’s TRACE podcast. It is only through her investigation that we know of Allan Hircoe’s eye witness evidence. Police, on the other hand, have known about it from 2014 and have seemingly done nothing with this crucial information since then. And they persist in this to this day.

    Bongiorno should not have been ruled out as a suspect by the police in 2015. There is just too much evidence against him and nothing exculpatory in his favour.
    Though the DNA ‘evidence’ has never ruled against him, it can not be said to have ever been in his favour, either.

    – We (and this includes former detective, Ron Iddles) do not know how the police could have obtained a sample of Bongiorno’s DNA to clear him without digging him up (which should have been done long ago – certainly by 2014 if not 2013 or even in 2007).

    – We know and the police know, or absolutely should know, that there were two murderers. So if Bongiorno’s sample did not match the (pre-bungled) DNA sample the police had, this did not prove he was not THE murderer but only not THAT murderer. He could still have been the OTHER murderer.

    Then (between TRACE episodes 3 & 4) when there is pressure to have O’Keeffe’s DNA tested (and why don’t we dig up Fat Tony while we’re at it), Victoria Police confess that the sample of DNA that they have is from another case. You can’t help bad luck, I s’pose.

    Because of this ‘bungled DNA evidence’, Victoria Police are now proposing to go back and reconsider all the old individual suspects as noted above. Go back to ‘square one’ , in other words, and perhaps we can look forward to waiting another 37 years. But, again, we now know, and the police should now know, that there were two murderers and the only two suspects who could possibly be linked together are Bongiorno and O’Keeffe. All the other ‘persons of interest’ need an accomplice to be considered a suspect.

    So ruling out Bongiorno through DNA evidence in 2015 should not have been possible because police should have known since 2014 that there were two murderers and therefore the DNA sample could have been of the other murderer. This is not rocket science. Someone has some ‘splainin’ to do!

    The fact that police now claim the sample they had all along came from another case doesn’t change the logic in the preceding paragraphs and does not excuse them for ruling out a man who should clearly have not been ruled out whether or not the DNA sample was subsequently the correct one.

    But in some respects, the issue of “the DNA sample” is a red herring. Victoria Police have ‘hijacked’ the TRACE story at the last minute with their ‘mea culpa’ concerning their incompetence in keeping track of historical exhibits. Plenty of murder cases have been solved without DNA evidence. Talk of the bungled DNA sample seems to be distracting everyone from the rest of the substantial amount of incriminating prima facie evidence against Bongiorno and O’Keeffe. And perhaps that is its purpose.

    The cases against Bongiorno and O’Keeffe are circumstantial but they present a complete picture. Legally speaking, a circumstantial case needs to be rebutted rather than dismissed by a possibility here or a possibility there. A rebuttal requires an alternative and convincing case to be made that accounts for the known facts. This ‘alternative case’ is conspicuous by its absence. Therefore, the case against Anthony Bongiorno and Thomas O’Keeffe stands and does not need any DNA evidence to do so.

    Should Victoria Police, sometime in the future, produce DNA evidence that clears both O’Keeffe and Bongiorno, then I think the first issue to address will not be the priests’ innocence or guilt but the issue of the credibility of Victoria Police.

    In the next instalment, we will reconstruct the likely logistics of the murder accounting for the facts that we know surrounding the brutal death of Maria James.

    To be continued –

    Epilogue and Authors’ Note

    This investigation into the murder of Maria James is far more than a “whodunnit”. Her murder provides the starting point for a whole network of connections between what would, at first, appear very unlikely people. We found a cast of priests, satanists, criminals, judges, politicians and police connected in ways you would not expect.

    Let us start from the outer edges with the innocent but remarkable picture seen above of former detective Ron Iddles with Mark “Chopper” Read. Read was a colourful figure, to say the least. He was sentenced to 14 yrs in prison for mounting a judicial bench while court was in session and holding a shotgun to the head of the presiding judge in an effort to have his friend Jimmy Loughnan released. The judge, Bill Martin, was heard to utter, “Won’t someone get this bastard off me?” Loughnan repaid the gesture later by stabbing Read. Nice.

    Loughnan leapt over the wall of Pentridge Prison in 1977 and into the yard of Catholic priest, Sean O’Connell, who helped him to escape. This is the same priest who gave Anthony Bongiorno a false alibi and had personal connections to current church leaders.

    Loughnan moved in the same milieu as Peter Keogh, another local criminal. Keogh was found guilty of stabbing to death another woman in 1987. He was also a suspect in the murder of Maria James at one point and was being questioned again about his alibi when he died apparently of suicide (unusual for a psychopath) in 2001 on Mansfield St; the street between where Maria lived and where Bongiorno and O’Keeffe lived.

    The link goes from Keogh to judges and their criminal offspring, to a coroner and then on to another policeman uttering strange platitudes that circles back to Maria’s murder. Two of the judges have links to Bongiorno’s court cases in 1995 and one of these also has a connection to his funeral.

    There are connections to two currently alive and very public priests – one very much loved and one very much hated.
    There is a connection to a priest and satanist currently sitting in jail. Victoria Police know all about him. He and his history are in their files, too.

    There are connections to some very dead priests. As well as Thomas O’Keeffe and Anthony Bongiorno, we have convicted paedophiles, Kevin O’Donnell, Victor Rubeo and Peter Searson for starters. These men were also satanists and police have received statements attesting to their violent behaviour and satanic practices. It’s all in the files.

    O’Keeffe and Rubeo have connections to a satanic cult in Ballarat. And it circles back again. Before his death in 2011 on the eve of another court appearance, Victor Rubeo worked part-time (unofficially after having been convicted of paedophilia) at St Paul’s parish in Coburg . Sean O’Connell (close friend of Church figures in high places, Bongiorno and other criminals) was still the parish priest at St Paul’s in Coburg and officiated at Rubeo’s funeral there.

    There are connections with Monsignor Day (serial paedophile) in Mildura and Bishop Mulkearns in Ballarat and the persecution of former policeman, Denis Ryan. Ryan was hounded out of the police force by a group within the Victoria Police back in the 1970’s that he called, “The Catholic Mafia”. All this was officially recognised by former Police Commissioner, Mick Miller, and current Police Commissioner Graham Ashton in 2016.

    Denis Ryan wrote a book detailing corruption surrounding the paedophilia within the Catholic Church and the roles of the police and the legal system in allowing it to continue. His book is called, “Unholy Trinity”.

    If this “Catholic Mafia” was still in existence in 1980 and is still in existence in 2017 (and why wouldn’t it be?), wouldn’t it be a fair question to ask, “Did they compromise the original Maria James investigation and would they have an interest in continuing to compromise the investigation now?”

    (I wish to stress that I have had NO indication that former homicide detective, Ron Iddles, has done or said anything improper at any time over the years of this investigation. Rather, it is other police officers that have come to our attention).

    There are also senior Victorian politicians, past and present, who have inserted themselves in odd ways into this murder investigation of Maria James.

    The connections seem to spread out forever and then repeatedly circle back again. Not all the connections involve illegal behaviour, of course, but much of it is very odd and often very questionable.

    And at the centre of this extensive and complex maze of corruption is Maria James, a mother who wanted nothing more than to protect her sons and had the courage to do so in the face of great danger.

    By asking her elder son, Mark, to look after his younger brother, Adam, should anything happen to her, did Maria sense that she was up against much more than one short, fat paedophile priest? That she was up against something far larger and far more sinister?

    At the beginning of the TRACE series, journalist Rachael Brown said she had found the case involved far more than police realised. That was certainly true for some police but it seems that this case involves far more than Rachael realised, even then. And much of it was already “in the files” of Victoria Police and had been for many years.

    Part 2 of The Maria James Murder – Two Murderers can be accessed here.

  • The Maria James Murder: the case of the unsolved murder that has been solved

    Maria James was murdered in her residence at the back of her second-hand bookshop in Melbourne, Australia, in 1980: Tuesday, the 17th of June around noon to be exact. She had been stabbed 68 times with a knife from her own kitchen.

    Her murder has shocked and puzzled Melbourne for 37 years and counting. Still counting because, officially, the case remains unsolved. However, in a recent media investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) investigative journalist, Rachael Brown, evidence has been presented, including new evidence, which points convincingly to the resolution of this long standing mystery.

    Maria James’ Bookshop circa 1980

    Before we get any further into this article, a few notes regarding sources, credits and responsibilities. This article and others that will follow in this series were compiled with the invaluable assistance of a fellow blogger here at Winter Patriot Community, McJ. McJ has sourced most of the photographs and most of the documents (yet to be published) and has been of great help regarding ideas and reasoning. However, all writing and publishing decisions are my responsibility entirely.

    All material published here has been published previously and available on the web and/or can be reasonably and logically assumed from the published material. If a source is not cited, you need only ask and this will be provided. While I am personally in possession of information that has not been published anywhere, none of it has been used and will not be used in future unless it is specifically identified and a source cited (with their permission, of course).

    At the link below, you, the reader, will find all the information you need to solve this case. There are five audio presentations and five articles which accompanied the release of each audio episode over the last few weeks. There is also a sixth article, an epilogue, Trace: what happens next at the link.

    It’s an intriguing case, to be sure, and it is very engagingly presented. Everything has been done very professionally leaving only the final ‘dot-joining’ for you, dear reader, to bring this saga to a close.

    A close, that is, unless of course you want to do some more dot-joining afterwards as to why it has taken police 37 years to not solve this brutal murder. And why and how Victoria Police hijacked the investigation by the ABC in the last audio episode with their story at the last minute of the “Bungled DNA Evidence”. But, for now, that is another saga!

    Will you take up the challenge that has befuddled, and continues to intrigue, the population of Melbourne, Australia, and has been Australia’s most popular podcast for weeks now?

    The investigation standard is simple truth using simple logic and not legal procedure which too often has no need for truth or logic. This is not a court case nor a prosecution brief but simply a search for the truth and for an answer for Mark and Adam James, Maria’s sons.

    The link to all the information you need- TRACE: The Maria James Murder

    A short ABC television report was done three years ago which is useful as an overview. Pay particular attention to Fr Anthony Bongiorno’s responses to questions from the reporter and Mark James’ description of Bongiorno’s manner when informing him of his mother’s death.

    The author/investigator of the Trace podcast, Rachael Brown, will be answering questions regarding the investigation live on Facebook on Thursday 3rd August at 4pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (Wednesday 2nd Aug 11pm North America West Coast Time, Thursday 2am North America East Coast Time and at Thurs 3rd Aug 7am London time) at this address-
    Twitter updates are available here-
    Or here-

    There are pictures, diagrams and maps after the jump which will be helpful in reconstructing the scene.

    There is further information, should you want it, available on the net as this case has been the subject of many articles over many years. But, as I said, there is sufficient information at the links above to arrive at the answer to ‘who killed Maria James?’

    And some diagrams-
    The floorplan of the shop

    Maria’s bedroom, where her body was found, is the (only) bedroom to the right of the central passage. The large room marked “living” nearest the street at the bottom of the diagram was the bookshop at the time of the murder. The door between the shop/living room and the passageway into the residence had a glass panel and a covering curtain over the glass. The french doors opening from the now ‘living’ room onto a walkway and the gate from the walkway to the street were not there when it was a shop. The front door opened directly from the shop/living onto the street. The “Decking” at the rear of the shop was not there either. Otherwise, I am reliably informed, the layout of rooms is as it was at the time of the murder.

    Street map of the immediate area

    Maria’s shop can be seen as ‘736’ in the map facing High St. North is to the top of the map. Hutton St. is opposite to the West. The walkway is to the East directly behind the shop and St Mary’s is to the South as is ‘the city’.

    The street map shows the walkway at the rear of the shop (736 High St.) leading onto Mansfield St with St Mary’s School and Presbytery across Mansfield St. and bounded by High St and Rossmoyne St. There is a gap between the buildings of St Mary’s directly opposite the walkway that runs behind the shops and opens out onto Mansfield St. This gap between the buildings is not shown on the map. The map presents the property as one large building but, in fact, it is several buildings and there were large gaps between them in 1980. The plot “726” represents St Mary’s Church and the plot marked “1” is the presbytery or Manse.

    The drawing immediately below is a map sourced from the ABC website and was drawn recently by Allan Hircoe whom you will meet in Trace episode 2 and also in the following instalment by your writer here. This was drawn from his memory of how the buildings were at the time of the murder. More buildings and additions have been constructed since then. “North” is to the left of the drawing. And “Mance” is ‘Anglican-speak’ for “Presbytery”

    Allan Hircoe’s Map

    Further photographs of the area are available below-

    Google Street View Collage – Bookshop and St. Mary’s #1
    The top left pic (taken in 1980) shows the bookshop on the left (clipped) taken from across High St. Next to it are the two adjoining shops then a gap which is Mansfield St and then the red brick building which is St Mary’s school on the opposite corner of Mansfield St and High St.

    The top right pic is again taken from across High St with the bookshop on the far left of the picture (clipped) and showing the view down Mansfield St.

    The bottom left picture shows Mansfield St. There is a high metal fence on the left which is the far wall of the walkway that runs behind the shops including Maria’s bookshop. There is a man sitting down on a low foundation wall that constitutes the near boundary wall of the walkway. The walkway is quite narrow.

    The bottom Right picture is taken from across Mansfield St looking down the walkway in a northerly direction. You can see the same man sitting on the low wall mentioned before. The school is directly behind the photographer.
    Google Street View Collage – Bookshop and St. Mary’s #2

    The top left pic is taken roughly outside the bookshop and looking across High St to the west down Hutton St.

    The top right pic is taken from down Hutton street looking east back at the bookshop. The bookshop is behind the blue parked truck.

    The bottom left pic shows St Mary’s church looking northwards at the other side of the school and the bookshop further up the High St out of sight. The presbytery can be seen to the right of the church and facing onto Rossmoyne St. Bongiorno would have come from behind this building and around to the front on Rossmoyne St.

    The bottom right pic is looking directly across Rossmoyne St with the church on the left and the presbytery on the right. There is quite a gap between these buildings.
    Google Satellite View Collage – Bookshop and St. Mary’s #3

    The top left picture is an aerial view looking south (and towards the city). Maria’s shop can be seen as the third roof from Mansfield St on the far left. The walkway is visible as a dark line. Across Mansfield St is the red brick school building. Note the change in colour of the roofing tiles. The brighter red roofing tiles denote the school extension which was not there in 1980. That area was open. The building on the far side of the school extension away from the viewer with the flat square roof was not there either. You can imagine someone running down the walkway, across Mansfield St, through the then open area and between the church on the right with the gabled slate roof and the presbytery with the hipped red tiled roof.

    The picture on the top right shows the same view from a slightly different angle

    The lower picture shows the same thing but looking northward rather than southward. The presbytery with its elaborate hipped roof is in the lower left corner and the back of the church is just visible next to it.

    St. Mary’s Presbytery

    This is a good view of the presbytery (marked ‘Manse’ on Allan Hircoe’s hand drawn map) with the gap between it and the church clearly visible. Imagine the building to the immediate rear of the presbytery with the flat roof not being there and the school extension behind it likewise not being there. One can readily visualise someone running down the walkway (black line visible across Mansfield St) across Mansfield St and straight across open ground and then between the church and the presbytery. i think it would take less than 30 seconds to do that!

    Please feel free to leave your comments, questions or conclusions in the comments section below. Comments are subject to moderation. I will endeavour to answer any questions. Please allow for time zone differences. An “honourable mention in despatches” awaits those with correct answers! The answers are fairly straight forward though perhaps a little difficult to accept; it is more a case of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, sort of thing. There are no sleights-of-hand involved.

    I will give you good folks a few days to solve this 37 year old mystery that has made a mess of the lives of Maria’s sons, Mark and Adam. After this I will lay out my solution and we’ll see if we agree!

    The second instalment is now published and can be read here

    The third instalment is now published and can be read here

    TRACE – an ABC investigation into the 1980 murder of Maria James

    From the ABC website-

    “On a winter morning in June 1980, Maria James turned to her son Mark and looked him in the eyes. “If anything happens to me, look after your brother.” Later that day she was found stabbed to death at the back of her suburban Melbourne bookshop.”

    The four episodes plus a mini bonus episode can be listened to here-

    There are also five written articles available at the above linked page. They contain additional information to the audio episodes for those keen to understand what happened.

    James Shanahan ABC interview July 2017

    As the focus over Maria James’ murder narrows onto the church, Adam reveals new information about a second abusive priest within the family’s local parish.

    Rachael Brown investigates the priest’s past and discovers a dark and disturbing history.

    Warning: this episode contains material that may be confronting for some listeners.

    Correction: This episode was republished on 6/7/2017 to correct a line of script that referred to Father O’Keefe as K, rather than by his full name.


    Government Agents Infiltrate Survivor Forums and Online Groups

    By Felicity Lee, MA


    Anyone familiar with operating internet forums, sites, and chat rooms recognize trouble-making ‘trolls’ as mere irritants attempting to access, control, and recruit members for their own purposes.

    If you are unfamiliar with the term ‘troll’:

    “An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.”1

    2014 study of internet trolls revealed:

    “Strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures. Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism. Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism”2

    Although, trolls have been around for decades, a new generation of ‘troll’ began to emerge some six years ago.  Owners and operators of online forums began calling them ‘infiltrators’ realizing the sophistication of their techniques, musing whether they were government operatives or hired agents of some kind.  This notion, seemingly a bit paranoid and without evidence, was not taken seriously until now.  The reality of the new generation of ‘trolls’ came to life recently when Glenn Greenwald leaked documents and evidence that covert government agents were infiltrating the internet.

    Glenn Greenwald, a journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, and author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, has been working with NBC News in publishing a series of articles on how covert government agents infiltrate the Internet to “manipulate, deceive, and destroy reputations.”3

    Greenwald published a copy of a spy training manual: “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.” Greenwald wrote that agencies like the NSA are “attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.” Greenwald writes:

    “Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.”3

    “According to these latest documents, there are paid government agent/contractor persons on social media posing as someone they are not, whilst on the payroll of the government. Their job is to befriend members of the alternative media, embed themselves in the ebb and flow of day-to-day communications, and then to engage in elaborate subterfuge – by any means necessary. The training exercise terms like “befriend”, “infiltrate”, “mask/mimic”, “ruse”, “set-up”, “disrupt”, “create cognitive stress”, “use deception”, “ruin business relationships”, and “post negative information on appropriate forums” – all of which is not only illegal and morally bankrupt, but also runs completely contrary to the very fundamental ‘values’ and indeed founding principles, of a modern free democratic society or constitutional republic.

    Government targets in this malicious operation appear to be bloggers, activists, journalists, social event organizers and anyone else deemed to be an ’emerging leader’ or voice in the public sphere, or alternative media online.”

    “Greenwald at Firstlook reveals the powerpoint slides used by British intelligence (GCHQ) to train its operatives in how to deceive Western publics.  The powerpoint slides instruct cyber-spies to write deceptive emails to their friends and colleagues (did anyone you know suddenly stop talking to you and wouldn’t explain why?), to change their photos on social media, and to create a blog in which the individual posed as a purported victim of some alleged dastardly deeds falsely attributed to the target.  Where the target is a company, the slides advise “post negative information on appropriate forums,” “ruin business relationships”.

    The mantra of these dirty tricks units is the “4 D’s”:  deny, disrupt, degrade, deceive.

    The slides, in short, exhibit signs of sadism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism, the Dark Tetrad.  The “d’s” in “four d’s” are best understood as standing for “Darknesses.”4

    This obviously extends way beyond the practice of employing paid ‘trolls’ to pollute comment sections and redirect forum threads – which still exists under both government and corporate umbrellas.” 5

    Felicity article2

    For many survivors of abuse, these tactics are so common as to be part of our understanding of how the world works.  Of course, ‘they’ are on the internet, and of course, they will attempt to take down forums that support survivors, and of course, they will use all the programming methods they always have, and of course, we will laugh in their faces, because we are totally aware and have been hurt enough.  To my surprise, that is not at all what happened when an agent under the fake personae of “Menagerie” joined our forum – Ivory Garden DID Support Forum – some three years ago.  Within an hour of being a member of IGDID, Menagerie had already befriended the Administrator (Shadow).   Unbelievably, Menagerie was able to collect personal information, including Shadow’s credit card number, address, email address and personal cell number.  In fact, they were already on the phone making plans to meet in person within the first week.

    Several members were immediately aware that Menagerie was a troll – but, we were not aware that she was more than the garden variety troll until shortly after her/his arrival when Shadow and the other administrators began threatening that if Menagerie was not put in an administrator position, they would be leaving the group and taking some 100 members with them.  That Menagerie could manage to control so many members seemed impossible, but it was a reality.  Myself, having degrees in psychology and operating online forums for some eight years, I realized that the tactics she used were similar to government ‘programming’ – too sophisticated to be what trolls would generally use.

    First, she called members on the phone to befriend and talked to them for literally up to twelve hours a day influencing them.  She accessed them during chat discussions or through personal mail.  It was not long until Menagerie didn’t need to influence anymore.  The members were doing her dirty work – spreading gossip and turning each other against the forum and staff.  Within weeks, members were following her/him without thought.  Menagerie’s purpose was ‘not’ to cause trouble, but to take over the forum as the owner.  That was also new to me.  Trolls do not try to push the owner out in order to take complete control.  At the time, the appropriate choice would have been to ban her, but by then, she had taken control of the forum members.  As staff tried to decide what should be done, Menagerie had also taken control of the Board of Directors who attempted to vote me off as President in order to elect Menagerie to replace me.

    Finally, Menagerie was removed from the forum, but the damage she did to members and the forum was phenomenal.  Most of our staff and some 300 members followed her or left our forum out of fear or distrust.  She also took a list of our members’ personal information and is still, three years later, calling our members or emailing them pretending to be me, etc.  I have heard from past members that they have been threatened if they mention coming back to our forum.  Though Menagerie influenced our members to believe blatant lies about me, Shadow and I kept contact.  In fact, she wrote to me six months ago afraid of Menagerie, and two days later was found dead in a hotel some two states away from her home.  According to witness reports, Menagerie had come to her home and, Shadow – afraid to say ‘no’ – had gotten into Menagerie’s car and left with her.  Her death was not and will not be investigated.

    Today, Menagerie (who uses several aliases) continues to influence past members from our group as well as new members who join.  Her followers are loyal and have no idea that they are being programmed by one or more government troll who infiltrated our forum one day.

    These ‘agents’ use many different tactics.  Another common and easily believed technique is to spread the ‘censorship’ rumor – that the forum staff ‘bans’ everyone.  This gives those banned for good reason more credibility creating the illusion that safe forums that inforce guidelines to protect members are actually ‘unsafe’ and not to be trusted.

    It is important to remember that members of forums that support survivors are by definition vulnerable and easily influenced using the tactics explained in recently leaked documents.

    “Ed Snowden’s latest leaked documents open the lid on what is perhaps the most vindictive and disgusting aspect of the government-corporate joint surveillance state seen yet…

    “GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets. Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the use of what GCHQ itself calls “false flag operations” and emails to people’s families and friends. Who would possibly trust a government to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal framework?

    Mostly, there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, but shape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”6

    Clearly, these leaked documents and what we are witnessing on the internet are not paranoid conspiracy theories – these are real documents with reams of evidence that you can check out yourself.  I did not want to overwhelm you with the facts or documents, but simply copied from various places so that you could read the articles and view the documents yourself.

    Within these documents were many instructions for agents to follow on ‘how to’ including:

    “How to Gain Control of a Targeted Forum

    Felicity article1

    It is important to continuously maneuver for a forum moderator position. Once this position is obtained, the forum can then be effectively and quietly controlled by deleting unfavorable postings — and one can eventually steer the forum into complete failure and lack of interest by the general public. This is the ‘ultimate victory.’

    Depending on the level of control you obtain, you can deliberately steer a forum into defeat by censoring postings, deleting memberships, flooding, or “accidentally” taking the forum offline. By this method the forum can be killed.

    However it is not always in the interest to kill a forum as it can be converted into a “honey pot” gathering center to collect and misdirect newcomers and, from this point, be completely used for controlling agenda purposes.

    Remember: these techniques are only effective if the forum participants do not know about them.

    Once they are aware of these techniques the operation can completely fail, and the forum can become uncontrolled. At this point other avenues must be considered such as initiating a false legal precedence to simply have the forum shut down and taken offline.

    This is not desirable as it then leaves the enforcement agencies unable to track the percentage of those in the population who always resist attempts for control against them.

    Many other techniques can be utilized and developed by the individual and as you develop further techniques of infiltration and control it is imperative to share them with HQ.” 7

    As far as the Ivory Garden DID Forum, they were unsuccessful at their efforts to ‘take it down’.  It is true that the remaining members are strong and unable to be controlled.  New members should recognize some of these tactics in order to avoid being accessed.  There have been many attempts to falsely report our forum through legal precedence in hopes that it would be removed from the internet, but these attempts have been unsuccessful as Ivory Garden is careful to follow all legal guidelines concerning privacy policy, copyright laws, and disclaimers.  The staff and members at Ivory Garden will ensure that the forum will be there for anyone who needs support in the future.

    “No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption.”3

    What has happened to me on the internet because of these people is horrifying.  I have endured everything and more and have the emails, the forwarded emails that I never wrote, death-threats, friends who have disappeared, and more – so much more.  I don’t want to worry or scare anyone away from the internet.  I do know the tactics government agents use to program and influence people – they can’t touch anyone as long as people remain aware and don’t fall for their phony lies and psychological ploys.  Yes, it is difficult to break from them once they have control, but not impossible.  Keep in mind that you are anonymous on the internet.  You can change you identity anytime, change your email address, and phone number if need be.  Do not isolate, but seek out safe people and tell them about your dealings with these people especially if you have become a victim and fear them.  Remain on the internet where you are known and able to gain support.  Realize how they work and know that they are not really ‘scary’ – but, are using very clearly recognized tactics that are not commonly known or used by safe people.

    For instance members of Ivory Garden do not judge or put blame on victims who fell into this scam Menagerie and others set up.  I don’t blame anyone for what has happened to me.  I was hurt for many years that those I cared for so much are gone – either through deceit or death.  It is difficult for me to see myself as a victim, but I was as much as everyone else.  I wanted to walk away, take the forum down myself – I trusted those who I cared about, but felt rejected and betrayed.  That hurts me deeply, but I realize that these government operatives are highly trained to create scenarios that produce these very results and reactions in targeted victims.

    For instance, today, I went on the internet to plan for our conference and found derogatory comments everywhere about Ivory Garden and me.  The tactics we are talking about in this article are lethal to a group or company, but cannot be carried out without victims’ help – spreading gossip is another successful and common tactic used to ruin the reputation of targeted groups and leaders.  And, why would we be targeted?  All we do is create a safe place where survivors can go privately and feel the support of others with similar experiences, backgrounds, and empathy.  No government agency wants survivors talking to each other or sharing our past abuse.  Why would they leave Menagerie and others free to do so and target us?  Those groups are not a threat to government agencies, because the members who belong, most likely the owners, and staff are controlled by them.

    I write this with great sadness in my heart.  Within the past several months, I have read several similar suicide posts written by our/past members explaining that they have recently discovered memories of government type programming that created ‘parts’ that are evil.  Evidently, these folks have come to realize that their ‘evil parts’ must be killed.  Not only are these posts similar, but the information each is sharing is incorrect – which tells me that someone is influencing survivors on the internet with what is known as ‘suicide programming’.  Most survivors believe that only children can be programmed.  This is not true, and these survivors, mostly with DID, can easily be programmed on the internet by government operatives who are practicing what they call “Human Science Operations Cell.”  So, the danger to victims isn’t just getting into a car and being murdered in a hotel room (meeting in person).  The same objective can be successful attained through programming on the internet.  People don’t question or investigate death by suicide, especially when people are writing their ideation on open forums and all over facebook, rather than on safe forums where they can actually get help.

    Within the past couple years, I have spoken to a few members and questioned why they are following these people and their answer is, “Well, I am suicidal anyhow – who cares?” and “I want to be with all my friends – I go where they go.”  Reality – no one is already ‘suicidal’.  We all have a basic need to live.  And – another reality check – those people are not all ‘friends’ – no one has that many friends – many are out to hurt you.

    We at IGDID are there for everyone.  It is a safe place where you are accepted and cared about – as it always has been.  Your therapist is a safe person.  There are many crisis centers that you can call.  Do not make the mistake of isolating and remaining loyal by staying silent – speak out and tell everyone.  I know it is difficult to go against programming, but do it anyhow.  You are not a ‘victim’ – you are a strong survivor who ‘can’ break away from this horrible mess that survivors did not create.   Remember mostly that people who bash others are ‘bad’ people.  If you are not a ‘bad’ person, don’t spread gossip or bash others – do not trust those who are out to hurt people.  If they are ‘programmed’ and can’t find their way, they are lost and prisoners of internet predators.  Pray for them and mourn them – they are not ‘friends’ if they are not supportive to all survivors.

    A note to those who have always supported Ivory Garden DID Support Forum:
    “Thank you from the bottom of our heart  – you rock!”    

    In loving memory of:

    Lori King (Shadow)
    Co-Founder – Ivory Garden Nonprofit Corporation

    Christina Blount (CoziBear)
    Ivory Garden DID Support Group Co-Founder


      2.    Buckels, Erin E., Paul D. Trapnell, and Delroy L. Paulhus. “Trolls just want to have fun.” Personality and Individual Differences67 (2014): 97-102