One of Queensland’s most notorious cold cases has been solved with a Brisbane jury finding Vincent O’Dempsey guilty of the 1974 murders of Barbara McCulkin and her two daughters.
The 78-year-old was convicted on Friday of all three killings after a four-week trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court, a little over a day after the jury hearing his case retired to consider its verdict.
Mrs McCulkin and her children Vicki, 13, and Leanne, 11, were taken from their Highgate Hill home on the night of January 16, 1974.
The trio was tied up and driven to bushland near Warwick where O’Dempsey is believed to have strangled the 34-year-old mother before killing the girls and burying their bodies.
O’Dempsey is the second man to be convicted over their deaths. His accomplice Garry “Shorty” Dubois, now 70, was last year found guilty of raping and murdering the sisters as well as Mrs McCulkin’s manslaughter.
Both men’s downfall came from their confessions to people they thought they could trust.
O’Dempsey, an underworld figure known as the “Angel of Death”, first opened up to associate Warren McDonald, who he was working with on a large cannabis crop in Carrara.
Mr McDonald told the trial they were driving to Warwick in 1997 when O’Dempsey boasted he killed the McCulkins but would never be charged.
“They’ll never catch me because they’ll never find the bodies,” O’Dempsey told Mr McDonald.
In 2011, Kerri Scully was engaged to O’Dempsey when he told her to buy the true crime book Shotgun and Standover from the local Big W.
While in bed, O’Dempsey showed her a picture in the book of himself walking from court with a leather jacket slung over his shoulder and bragged about the McCulkin murders.
“I’m good for it but they’ll never get me for it,” O’Dempsey said.