Newspaper articles – The West Australian – 19th February 1885

The West Australian

THURSDAY, 19TH FEBRUARY 1885

NOTES FROM ROEBOURNE.

You have heard by telegraph of the brutal murders committed in this town on the night of the 12th, or rather the morning of the 13th inst. I will now give you the details, as far as they are  known, of that dreadful event.

One of the victims, Mr. Anketell, had just returned from the Pyramid Station (Mr. Richardson’s), and was with Mr. Roderick McRae, who parted from him at the Bank at 11-30 p.m. The night being very close he carried his stretcher to the south corner of the front verandah. Mr. Burrup was at the Rev. Mr. Parker’s until midnight, and lights were seen in his room, at the back of the Bank, shortly after that time. It is thought that the crime was committed at about 2 a.m. of the 13th. Nothing was known of what had occurred until much later in the morning-7 o’clock when Mr. McRae, from his house, not far from the Bank and on the opposite side of the street, being surprised to find no one stirring at the Bank, looked through a glass and, seeing Anketell lying under the verandah his body all smeared with blood, gave the alarm.

Upon an examination of the place it was found that Mr. Anketell’s head was battered in and he was cut about dreadfully. He had four large cuts in the face, one being through the skull, while a sharp instrument had been thrust through one ear coming out at the other side. Poor Burrup had a blow apparently from a pick, which entering his forehead had passed out at the back of his head, leaving a part of his skull and brains on the pillow. He was also gashed with some sharp instrument. The doctor has expressed an opinion that Burrup never moved, but that Anketell struggled.

After the murders, the Bank was entered by kicking a pane of glass and opening the catch of the window. They only found one key, and could not, therefore, open the Bank safe. The key they got was under Anketell’s pillow, the other, which they did not get, was in Burrup’s waistcoat pocket. On examination, matches, which had been burnt as far as the brimstone extended, were found scattered in a line leading to the safe, and some papers were observed to be singed.

The police arrested two Chinamen and two white men, the latter named Bevan and Warburton, on suspicion, but one of the former gave a satisfactory account of himself and was discharged ; the others are on remand. I believe the murderers were concealed in the gully behind Mr. Law’s house; and from thence noticed the return of Anketell and Burrup and where they slept.

The morning before the arrest of the white men some one was hanging about the Bank premises, but was disturbed by the barking of Law’s dogs. Those in charge of the Bank heard the person run across the street but could not see anyone. The time was 3 a.m.

A reward of £200 has been offered for the discovery of the murderers, £50 by the Government and £150 by the settlers, but I do not think our police will do much, however willing. We want smarter men. People are in an awful fright, and scarcely dare to leave their houses after dark. Four special constables have been sworn in, who  patrol the streets all night. My belief is that the deed was done by Chinamen, and if the whites were concerned at all, it was in the capacity of thieves. But they had not an opportunity of exercising  their skill in this direction. I think the right men have been arrested.

A gloom has been cast over the place by this sad event. The men were both so loved. Poor little Burrup ; I was with him in the early part of the evening, and we were to have driven into the country the next day for a holiday, but when the day had come he had gone to a brighter country and for a longer holiday.

The funeral of the deceased was the largest we have had in the place. The Church was draped with black on the following Sunday. Mr. Parker delivered a special prayer on the occasion, and preached a funeral sermon. Several hymns were sung by the congregation. It was all very sad.

The Bank safe has been examined and found intact. The examiners are of opinion that no attempt was made, to use either of the keys.

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