true crime

Lynette White answered her front door and was stabbed to death in her home. 44 years on, her killer remains at large.

As a junior reporter for the ABC in the early 1970s, Bob Wurth had covered a litany of Sydney crime stories. Each morning he would call detectives at the Criminal Investigation Branch to learn the names of those unfortunate souls who had become victims the night before.

Yet nothing could quite prepare him for the morning he recognised one of those names.

Lynette White, age 26.

Speaking to Mamamia ahead of tonight’s Australian Story episode about the case, Wurth recalled the moment the Sergeant uttered the name of his friend’s wife, a kind, gentle woman he had come to know well.

“I reeled back and I said, ‘Lynette White of Beach St, Coogee?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, that’s correct, she’s deceased. Stabbed to death by an intruder in her home unit,'” Wurth said.

“That was a great shock for a young journalist… I just couldn’t get it out of my system. It just haunted me for quite a long time.”

lynette white murder
Lynette and her husband Paul on their wedding day. Image: supplied.

The mother of one was just 26 at the time of her death on June 8, 1973.

Home alone with her 11-week old son, she answered a knock at the door. Her killer burst in, threatening her at knife-point to undress in front of him.

The newlywed's clothes were later found in a neatly folded pile. Order amid the chilling chaos her husband, Paul, discovered when he returned from work that evening; the front door ajar, blood spattered throughout the unit within, his wife's lifeless body lying in the doorway of their second bedroom, stabbed multiple times, her throat cut.

Just a metre away, their baby lay tucked snugly in his cot, completely unharmed.

LISTEN: My sister, my killer. The latest episode of Australian True Crime with Meshel Laurie and Emily Webb.

Forty four years later, the man responsible is yet to be caught, and the case remains one of Sydney's most infamous unsolved murders.

There is hope that that may change. A new investigation is currently underway that's taking advantage of recent advances in forensic technology. Just last year investigators returned to the White's former home to recover DNA from blood stains that still lie beneath the carpet.

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According to Wurth, who is writing a book about the case, police are also working to close a number of holes left from the initial investigation, including interviewing neighbours who were never spoken to.

"They've discovered that a lot of errors were made in that investigation. [The original investigators] threw a lot of resources at it, but only for the first few weeks from what I can gather," he said.

Undoubtedly of interest, the fact that Lynette's murder was followed ten months later, on April 22, 1974, by that of 20-year-old Maria Smith who was raped, gagged and strangled after answering a knock at the door of her Randwick home.

lynette white murder
Bob Wurth (L) and Paul White. Image: supplied.

With the renewed investigation and the media attention that is coming with it, Bob says all involved are hopeful that good will follow; that someone out there has enough information to help police catch the person responsible.

But none are more hopeful than Paul White.

While it hurts the widower - now aged in his 70s - to be thrust back to that horrific June evening, Bob said, he remains "utterly determined" for a resolution.

"Here's a guy who's been living for 44 years with the death of his wife in the most brutal fashion - stabbed to death 15 times with baby Shane in the cot just behind her," he said.

"Paul's had to suffer this all his life, and just to have someone with the guts to come forward if they know anything at all... that's the bottom line."

If you have any information relating to the murder of Lynette White, please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Australian Story: Murder by the Sea airs 8pm tonight, Monday June 5, on ABC1 and ABC iview.

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