The Truro serial killers’ seven victims (above) were all murdered on a 52 day killing spree.
The Truro serial killers’ seven victims (above) were all murdered on a 52 day killing spree.

Horror clue to killers’ mass grave

DETECTIVES in the "City of Evil" finally knew it for certain: they had a serial killer in their midst.

It was 1979 and four bodies had turned up in a remote stretch of rugged bushland near the town of Truro in the Mount Lofty Ranges, 90km northeast of Adelaide.

At the time, Adelaide was better known as the "City of Churches", but a series of twisted and appalling murders would give it a more sinister reputation.

The first body had turned up the year before, on Anzac Day, 1978, when locals from Truro were out mushrooming.

Bill and Valda Thomas found what they thought was the leg bone from a cow in bushland beside Swamp Road outside Truro.

Valda pondered on the find and two days later convinced her husband to take a closer look.

Upon return, they saw that the bone was attached to a shoe and inside was human skin and painted toenails.

Police went to the area, which was desolate and rarely visited. Nearby the discovery site, they found clothes, blood stains, and more bones.

The remains were identified as those of 18-year-old girl Veronica Knight, who had disappeared from an Adelaide street at Christmas in 1976.

Bodies in the bush: The scrub outside the tiny town of Truro where five of seven girls murdered in a serial killing spree were found.
Bodies in the bush: The scrub outside the tiny town of Truro where five of seven girls murdered in a serial killing spree were found.

 

Forensic policeman with human arm found with a woman's sandal and other bones at Truro.
Forensic policeman with human arm found with a woman's sandal and other bones at Truro.

No obvious cause of death led them to believe that Knight may have gone bushwalking in the area, become lost and died of thirst.

The death was deemed not suspicious.

Twelve months later, bushwalkers found more human remains in the same location.

This skeleton was identified as belonging to Sylvia Pittman, 16, who had gone missing around February 1977.

Was this a human burial ground?

A team of police returned to conduct an extensive search in a challenging area where there was no water, no electricity, and no communications.

Eleven days later, they discovered two more skeletons in a paddock on the opposite side of Swamp Road.

Detectives came to the conclusion: they had a serial killer and this was his dumping ground.

But other than that, they had very little in the way of clues.

It would be an unsolved murder from 12 months earlier and 80km away that would set them on the path to solving what would become known as the Truro murders.

At 6.40pm on March 1, 1978, a Wednesday, 19-year-old Lina Marciano had left her home at Wayville in Adelaide's inner southern suburbs on her Honda motorcycle.

Lina Marciano was brutally murdered but police still do not know why or who did it.
Lina Marciano was brutally murdered but police still do not know why or who did it.

 

Police at the Dry Creek rubbish dump where Lina Marciano was found bashed and stabbed to death.
Police at the Dry Creek rubbish dump where Lina Marciano was found bashed and stabbed to death.

She drove 10km to Nailsworth Primary School, where she was due to attend a Greek dancing class.

Lina never made the class, nor did she return home.

"A vibrant and enrgetic teenager, Lina was the sort of person who stuck up for people in bad situations or when she thought they were being treated unfairly.

"Her family would later wonder who could have taken advantage of her that night, and how she could have the terrible fate that she did," Lina's sister, Teresa Kellett, told news.com.au.

Four days later, Lina's body was found bound, gagged and wrapped in a brown curtain on a rubbish tip 8km away in the northern Adelaide industrial suburb of Dry Creek.

She had been strangled with a Hot Track Road Racing Set cord, bludgeoned with multiple blows to the head, strangled, stabbed in the heart and had several broken fingers.

Two curtains made from the same material, which was later sourced to manufacturers in West Germany or Belgium, were found amid rubbish at the same dump.

The curtains had blood and fibres on them and a third curtain was located several hundred metres away.

Police examining Lina's body ascertained she had died in a frenzied attack with stab wounds and blows which both would have been fatal.

As now retired detective Allen Arthur told Channel 9's City of Evil series, "it was a horrific scene simply because it was an overkill and she was sort of dumped like trash".

Lina's blue-and-white motorcycle was found in the KFC restaurant carpark opposite Nailsworth school, indicating she had at least arrived for the dancing class.

It was a particularly brutal murder, but as the months rolled by in 1978, investigating police came up with few new clues.

Mushroomers found bones in the bush near Truro and first thought they were a cow’s.
Mushroomers found bones in the bush near Truro and first thought they were a cow’s.

 

By May 1979, the Adelaide media and the public had become obsessed with the four bodies located at Truro.

Police decided to look for links to Lina Marciano's murder and major crime squad boss Ken Thorsen assigned Detective Sergeant Bob Giles to collate missing persons reports.

At that point in time, the files of the missing were on a card system and required methodic and patient sorting.

Giles came up with a connection.

He found nothing on Lina Marciano, but found that seven Adelaide girls aged between 15 and 25 years old had gone missing over a 52 day period.

All the girls came from stable homes, one of them was Veronica Knight, and another was Sylvia Pittman.

The list included two more girls who were matched to the other remains found at the Truro dump sit.

Vickie Howell, 26, had vanished the day after Sylvia Pittman, on February 7, 1977, and 16-year-old Connie Jordan, two days after that.

 

All the murdered girls were aged 15 to 25, and had vanished over a 52 day period.
All the murdered girls were aged 15 to 25, and had vanished over a 52 day period.

 

Police received a tip off that James William Miller and his jail cell lover Christopher Worrell were connected to the killing.
Police received a tip off that James William Miller and his jail cell lover Christopher Worrell were connected to the killing.

Homicide detectives were now in a unique and terrible position for the investigators of a killing spree.

The other three names on their missing persons list had to be out there in the forest.

One belonged to Juliet Mykyta, who had disappeared from a bus stop after finishing a part-time job in the city, on January 21, 1977.

As Juliet's mother, Anne-Marie Mykyta, would later tell TV reporter Ray Martin, her daughter could not have just left home and taken off.

"(Juliet) virtually had the next 10 years planned out. She was going to take her degree and she was going to travel about," Mrs Mykyta said.

"She was far too ambitions to have suddenly thrown that in on a whim."

By May 1979, Adelaide detectives were no longer clueless as to who they were investigating for the murders.

They received a tip-off, two names.

The names belonged to men who had met in prison and shared a prison cell and whose prison release had almost coincided with the start of the serial killing spree.

 

Miller leads detectives to the Port Gawler site where victim Deborah Lamb was buried alive.
Miller leads detectives to the Port Gawler site where victim Deborah Lamb was buried alive.

The body count was now five, but two more names were on the list, and both had disappeared in what was shaping up as a fatal January to February 1977 cluster.

Tania Ruth Kenny was just a 15-year-old and had arrived in Adelaide from her home 80km mouth at Victor Harbour.

She began hitchhiking and was picked up.

On February 12, 1977, Deborah Lamb was hitchhiking on West Terrace in Adelaide's CBD when a vehicle stopped and picked her up.

Neither girl was seen alive again, but their bodies would not be not unearthed at Truro.

On May 24, 1979, police uncovered the body of Juliet Mykyta, "curled up like at cat" in saltbush, and carried her from the Truro site.

On May 25, 1979, police cadets searching on their hands and knees located Tania Kenny's remains at Dean Rifle Range, Wingfield, just 12km north of the spot from which she had vanished.

Workmen searching with earth-digging equipment would later find Deborah Lamb's remains at Port Gawler beach, 45km north of Adelaide.

All the murder victims had been strangled, although there was a strong suspicion that the last of them, Lamb, had been alive when she was buried.

James Miller in the back of a police car leaving the crime scene at Port Gawler in 1979.
James Miller in the back of a police car leaving the crime scene at Port Gawler in 1979.

The men that detectives believed had carried out all seven murders was Christopher Worrell, a charismatic 23-year-old convicted rapist who was both handsome and a psychopath, and James Miller, 40, a burglar and drifter. The pair had entered into a sexual relationship in their prison cell.

Worrell preferred sex with females, and after his prison release, with Miller, went on a spree picking up girls and killing them.

The killings ended abruptly with Worrell's fatal car crash on February 19, 1977.

But for that, criminal profilers believe Worrell would have gone on to kill more women.

All the victims accepted rides with Worrell and Miller, only to be tied up, or subdued and murdered.

In May, 1979, police charged James Miller with the murders of Veronica Knight, Sylvia Pittman, Vickie Howell and Connie Jordan.

On the same day, he led police to Truro site where they found the body of Juliet Mykyta.

In July, 1979, Miller was charged with the murders of Ms Mykyta, Tania Kenny and Deborah Lamb.

He was convicted of six of the murders, excluding that of Veronica Knight, as part of a joint criminal exercise with Worrell.

Teresa Kellett at her murdered sister Lina Marciano’s funeral in 1978.
Teresa Kellett at her murdered sister Lina Marciano’s funeral in 1978.

Miller continued to plead his innocence, claiming Worrell was the instigator, and died of cancer in Yatala prison in 2008.

Lina Marciano's murder may have led to closure for the victims of the Truro killings, but no solace came to her family.

In 1991, a woman who had been working as a cleaner at Nailsworth Primary School at the time Lina vanished contacted police.

The new information did not lead to any arrests.

Ms Marciano's sister, Teresa Kellett, told news.com.au her family remained tortured by not knowing what happened but described her sister as "a gentle soul with a very strong sense of social justice".

"Unfortunately her life ended with no justice being served for a life that was brutally taken away from her," Ms Kellett said.

"You could not be treated more unfairly than she was for no reason at all.

"The police have tried very hard and I can't thank them enough and I hope they don't give up on her case. She was a fighter so my family and I will keep hoping that one day soon the killer will come forward.

"We have missed her so much."

The cold case remains open on SA Police files.

City of Evil airs Sunday 9.30PM, Nine Network and 9 NOW.

 

Today, Truro is haunted by the serial killings which put the tiny town on the map.
Today, Truro is haunted by the serial killings which put the tiny town on the map.

 

White Valiant in which Truro serial killer Christopher Robin Worrell, died in 1977.
White Valiant in which Truro serial killer Christopher Robin Worrell, died in 1977.

 

Charismatic psychopath Christopher Worrell.
Charismatic psychopath Christopher Worrell.
Aerial of Worrell’s body dumping ground.
Aerial of Worrell’s body dumping ground.
Bin (circled) where Lina’s body was wrapped in a curtain.
Bin (circled) where Lina’s body was wrapped in a curtain.
The 19-year-old loved music. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe.
The 19-year-old loved music. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe.
Police outside a classroom at Nailsworth Primary School where the murdered girl was to have attended Greek dance lessons.
Police outside a classroom at Nailsworth Primary School where the murdered girl was to have attended Greek dance lessons.
Veronica Knight’s remains were the first found.
Veronica Knight’s remains were the first found.
Bushwalkers found Sylvia Pittman’s skeleton a year later.
Bushwalkers found Sylvia Pittman’s skeleton a year later.
After the fourth body was found at Truro (above) police knew they had a serial killer on their hands.
After the fourth body was found at Truro (above) police knew they had a serial killer on their hands.
Miller (above) was in love with Worrell.
Miller (above) was in love with Worrell.
Out of jail, Worrell (above) wanted girls.
Out of jail, Worrell (above) wanted girls.
Christopher Worrell’s looks lured in girls and then he strangled them to death.
Christopher Worrell’s looks lured in girls and then he strangled them to death.
Deborah Lamb was buried at Port Gawler beach.
Deborah Lamb was buried at Port Gawler beach.
Detectives at Ms Lamb’s grave at Port Gawler.
Detectives at Ms Lamb’s grave at Port Gawler.
Juliet Mykyta had her life mapped out.
Juliet Mykyta had her life mapped out.
Tania Kenny, 15, was plucked from the street.
Tania Kenny, 15, was plucked from the street.
Police carrying bones in a plastic bag after Tania Ruth Kenny’s remains were found at Wingfield in 1979.
Police carrying bones in a plastic bag after Tania Ruth Kenny’s remains were found at Wingfield in 1979.
Suspect identikit in Lina Marciano murder.
Suspect identikit in Lina Marciano murder.
Lina’s killer has never been found.
Lina’s killer has never been found.
Re-enactment of Lina’s final moments riding her motorcycle shortly before she was abducted and killed.
Re-enactment of Lina’s final moments riding her motorcycle shortly before she was abducted and killed.


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