Warning: This post contains graphic details that may be distressing.
“There’s a man in the fridge.”
These were the words notorious killer Richard Leonard said to his girlfriend, Denise Shipley, in August 1994.
Shipley was seemingly unfazed by the callous admission, choosing to do nothing with the information. She did not go to police, she did not look much further into it, she did not bat an eye.
The body of a dismembered man was in her boyfriend’s freezer and 19-year-old Shipley did nothing.
The man in the fridge was the corpse of Stephen Dempsey, who Leonard had shot through the heart with a bow and arrow, at Deep Creek Reserve in Sydney.
Twenty-three years later, another Sydney woman by the name of Diane Barrera would blame Shipley’s refusal to act on her boyfriend’s confession for her father’s death.
As Barrera told Channel 9’s Murder Calls this week, when Shipley did nothing with the knowledge her boyfriend was a murderer, she allowed him to roam free with the potential to kill once again.
And that’s exactly what Leonard did.
Three and a half months after that initial admission, Shipley sat next to her 22-year-old boyfriend as he stabbed taxi driver and father-of-six Exxedine Bahmad 37 times.
“He (Leonard) showed his girlfriend the body of Stephen and she didn’t run away, she stayed there and that was before my dad died,” Barrera told the program.