Friday night in suburban Melbourne, 1984 and 41-year-old Nanette Ellis was planning to go out after work with the girls from the office.
Nanette was the advertising manager of Free Press Leader, a Belgrave-based newspaper that was, and still is, part of the Leader Community Newspapers group in Melbourne. The team was a small and tight-knit group, made up of editorial and advertising, who produced the paper for the residents of villages in the region known as the Dandenongs – one of the most picturesque areas in Australia. Nanette was a hard worker and well respected and loved by her colleagues.
A strikingly beautiful woman, Nanette had been a single mum to her two sons Greg, 16, and Craig, 18 for several years. She was paying off her modest house in Manuka Drive, Boronia (an outer east suburb not far from her workplace) and had devoted herself to raising her boys. Apart from a regular aerobics class she did with a friend and a few drinks out with her workmates, Nanette lived a very quiet, modest life. Her looks were so striking that Nanette was often asked to model for advertisers and had appeared in several fashion and lifestyle photo shoots for newspaper features.
But things had been quite unsettling for Nanette in recent weeks. On four consecutive mornings her car had been pelted with rocks as she drove along Monbulk Rd on her way to work. The first time it happened on January 31, Nanette wasn’t even fully aware that a rock had been thrown at her 1976 Corolla sedan but it lodged under the bonnet, piercing the radiator, which caused the engine to boil. She called Craig who met her then organised a tow truck to the service station.