The Story Behind Snowtown

True Crime Conversations

Mamamia Podcasts

The Story Behind Snowtown

True Crime Conversations explores the world's most notorious crimes by speaking to the people who know the most about them. This month we’re focusing on Australia’s most notorious crimes...

It’s the 20th of May, 1999, an autumn day in South Australia. 

For 12 months, there has been an inquiry into the disappearance of a woman named Elizabeth Haydon, a 37-year-old mother of eight. But it isn’t just her. Two other people from a similar area have been reported missing. And there has been no trace of them.

But today police will storm a disused bank vault in Snowtown, a disadvantaged bush town about 150 kilometres north of Adelaide. 

When they enter, they see six large plastic barrels. Inside are the remains of eight bodies that have been stored in acid. One is believed to be Elizabeth Haydon.

The smell from inside the vault is said to be so bad the police need breathing gear. Some will be traumatised from what they see that day. 

Following the discovery, police visit the former home of John Bunting. In his backyard, they find two more bodies buried. 

That brings the tally to 10 bodies - making the crimes that have taken place the worst serial killings in Australian history. 

They will come to be known as the “bodies in barrels murders” or the “Snowtown” murders, making the sadistic crimes perpetrated by a number of men forever synonymous with a small South Australian town. 

But the subsequent investigation would determine that while the bodies were found in Snowtown, that’s not where most of the murders had taken place. They’d been executed in suburban homes. And for years, no one had noticed.



Guest: Debi Marshall the author of 'Killing For Pleasure' and 'Banquet: The Untold Story of Adelaide's Family Murders'

Host: Jessie Stephens

Audio Producer: Ian Camilleri

Producer: Gia Moylan



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Mamamia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land we have recorded this podcast on, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

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