true crime

Sherele Moody was 19 when she found out her stepdad is a killer. Now she counts dead women.

Warning: This post discusses violence against women and children and may cause distress for some readers.

Sherele Moody was 19 when she found out the unthinkable. Her stepfather is a murderer.

Her mother had met Barry Hadlow when she was only 14. He told the family he went to prison for manslaughter after king-hitting a man who died. 

That was a lie. As they would later find out, he was in fact guilty of abducting, raping and murdering two little girls in Queensland.

His first victim, five-year-old Sandra Bacon, was killed in 1962 in Townsville long before he came into Sherele, her mother and her sibling's lives. He'd gone to prison for that crime and was released with the support of a Christian community who lobbied for his parole.  

He found his second victim in 1990, after noticing her at the block of units where he was living with Sherele's family in Roma. 

Nine-year-old Stacey Ann Tracey's half-naked body was found in a garbage bag about 5km from town. But before that she was missing for four days.

Stacy-Ann Tracy, nine (left) and Sandra Dorothy Bacon, five (right). Image: RED HEART Campaign.


As soon as the police turned up and declared they had a warrant, Sherele had a "sinking feeling". She knew a little girl had gone missing. In fact, her stepfather—who was an SES volunteer—had even attended a search for her.

"When the police knocked on the door, there was definitely the knowledge that something was amiss and someone in our household had done something to her, and that quickly became evident as police started searching the house," Sherele tells Mamamia's True Crime Conversations. 

Hadlow had enticed Stacey-Ann into his car as she headed to school. He took her into his home and raped and suffocated her, before driving her body around for hours looking for a suitable dumping ground. 


He'd also enticed Sharon. He'd tricked her to come inside his home 28 years prior by offering her some books. He raped and killed her, leaving her body in his car. 

Speaking to True Crime Conversations, Sherele says she has spent a lot of time feeling angry.

"You can't have something like that happen and not feel a real level of guilt, a real level of anger, a real level of sadness. It was something that sat with me for a very long time."

Listen to Sherele Moody's full interview on True Crime Conversations. Post continues.

Eight years ago, Sherele found a way to channel her pain. She started the RED HEART Campaign memorial to women and children killed as a result of murder, manslaughter or neglect in Australia, from white settlement to now. 

A journalist by trade, she noticed no one was keeping track. There was no real documentation or database online for lives lost in Australia. 

Stacey-Ann and Sandra were the first two names she added. Now, there are thousands. 

Sherele spends at least two-three hours a day (for free), adding to her memorial which also now includes an Australian femicide and child death map. Every morning she checks the news and when there are no current deaths for her to add, she has plenty of historical cases still to update. 


Over the years, Sherele has built up many relationships with the families of murdered women. They check in on each other intermittently. 

But while 95 per cent of the feedback to her work is positive, there is still a minority that criticise her for not tracking the deaths of men. Her response to that is that she simply doesn't have the resources, she's only one person after all.

But also violence against women is one of the most pronounced expressions of the unequal power relations between men and women. 


"Not all men - but almost always a man," is her pertinent response to the retort 'not all men.'

"If we can reduce violence against women, we automatically reduce violence against men because the main perpetrators in the country are male," she adds. 

"The main drivers and factors also underpin those deaths - especially the domestic violence deaths, that sense of ownership, control and toxicity - they're all still there in male deaths. If we can eliminate violence against women, we will save many, many male lives."

Already in 2024 Sherele has made 38 new hearts; 34 big ones representing women, and three little ones representing children. 

"Obviously these statistics are much higher this year due to Bondi Junction attack [which took five women's lives], but if we take those deaths out, we are still tracking higher than previous years," she says.


100,000 people marched the streets in April demanding change to the current epidemic of men's violence against women. Sherele was among those protesting, and said the anger and sadness in the air was palpable. 

Sherele's assessment of the current problem is that it's both complex and simple. Simple in that we know more services need funding, but complex in that many of the safety nets in place have holes in them that can't be plugged with just money. 

"Say you have a woman from a small ethnic community. She calls 1800 RESPECT and she can't speak English, so they get her a translator. That translator is from that community and knows her family," Sherele tells True Crime Conversations, as an example.

We also currently don't have many supports for women being killed outside of DV contexts. For victims of associate violence—like Celeste Manno, who was murdered by her colleague—"police did what they could but there were no other supports here, the government doesn't allow tracking of fixated offenders".


Of course, the undercurrent to all of this is the way men are socialised to think about women which is going to take years to fix. 

"We can't force them to think differently or behave differently. Nothing we do as women will influence that - we've tried being kind, we've tried using honey instead of vinegar, we've tried yelling, we've tried rallies, we've tried begging. It doesn't work. The only people who can fix it are men." 

Sherele was pleased to see a lot of men at the No More rallies last weekend. She thinks it's a great start. She certainly hasn't seen that many men at rallies of this kind in the past. 

"I don't think anyone should give up hope [of seeing real change, soon], but I think we need to be realistic and we need to work towards finding preventions and support services and funding to at least save some lives," she tells True Crime Conversations. 

As for the RED HEART campaign, it remains an ongoing project and Sherele has no plans of stopping it anytime soon.

You can find the memorial here, and support Sherele and her project, here.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Feature image: The RED HEART campaign.