Determining a motive for murder can help lead to the killer/killers by providing a direction for enquiries. Whilst it is possible to have a number of motives, an investigation can go awry when only one motive is followed up on to the exclusion of all others.
I believe it is not the location of where the murders of Anketell and Burrup occurred, the Union bank premises, that determined the motive, that of robbery, but rather the very nature of the murders themselves.
Thomas Anketell suffered shocking head injuries. The injuries indicated that he was struck not only by a cutting tool but also by something that could pierce his skull. At the time it was believed the murder weapon could have been a tomahawk or similar tool. I think it unlikely two different murder weapons were used, so the use of a tool such as a tomahawk, morticing axe, or poleaxe seems logical. This is because any of those tools have not only an axe at one end but may also have a spike on the other. It would have been a common enough tool in the township.
Thomas was struck no less than seven times with this instrument. It was Dr O’Meehan’s opinion that Thomas was almost certainly killed instantly with the first blow yet the unfortunate man was struck again and again. There were some marks on the verandah floor and wall that could indicate that the blows continued even after he had fallen off his stretcher.
Therefore, the way in which the murders were committed changes the whole question of motive from that of bank robbery to that of some personal nature.
This is because rage was involved. The rage could be borne through the time honoured reasons of hate, jealously, love or money; love, hate and jealousy often being closely intertwined.
I delve further into the psychology behind the murders in another section as I find it very interesting and I don’t believe any before has ever looked into this aspect of the murders.
Henry had not long been in Roebourne, only just over 6 months and Thomas was about to leave. The ferocity of both the murders indicates that the murderer was in a rage with both the men. So, what link did the victims share? This is something that has long puzzled me. The only obvious reason that comes to my mind is that Henry and Thomas were both involved in some matter or affair together, either business or personal that involved the murderer.
Mr F.C. Broadhurst who was witness to the crime scene noted that there were two cuts upon the back of Henry’s right hand and bruising to his arm. Dr O’Meehan’s testimonies also refer to “skin marks” on Henry’s right hand but curiously no mention is made of the bruising on the arm. Former police constable William Thomas also mentions two wounds on the back of Henry’s hand. Did these injuries occur during the night of the murder? Possibly. The reports do not indicate if they were recent enough to have occurred that evening. That these marks were mentioned at all leads me to believe that they were recent. They could have arisen if Henry had had some kind of physical altercation earlier in the evening that involved Thomas Anketell and another person? (Though it should be kept in mind that they may have been received innocently. Henry may have fallen in the street the day before or had some other minor mishap.)