We gather reasons why this couldn’t happen to us around us like a comforter – until there are no more.
There are some murders so chilling, so random, so devastating, that they come to define a generation.
The scars they leave on the psyche of those who remember them are indelible. For anyone over 40, Anita Cobby, Janine Balding, Sian Kingi and Samantha Knight are names we will never forget. Their stories are the stuff of our nightmares. During the 80s, all four were randomly abducted, raped and murdered in unrelated crimes. As a nation, we reeled.
Both Anita and Janine were young women in their 20s who were happily on their way home from work when they disappeared. They were each abducted by groups of men – and in the case of Janine a woman was also involved – who inflicted unimaginable torture, terror, indignity and finally death upon them. Samantha Knight was walking to the shops near her Bondi home one afternoon after school. She was snatched by a paedophile who sexually abused and murdered her. Her body has never been found. She was nine years old. Sian Kingi was lured to a brutal assault and murder by a man and a woman who asked her to help them look for their lost dog. She was 12.
For those of us who remember those crimes, the faces of Anita, Janine, Sian and Samantha appear instantly in our minds at the mention of their names. We vividly recall the missing posters, the media coverage of the crimes and then the trials of the murderers. Their deaths resonated in the same deeply affecting way that Jill Meagher’s brutal murder did in 2013.
Thousands of people are killed every year in Australia but only a handful penetrates the psyche of an entire country as resoundingly as these women have.
The members of this bleak club have three things in common: youth, randomness and relatability. These women looked like us, lived like us, could have been us. They were all just beginning their lives. They were all unlucky. The men who killed them were violent opportunists. There but for the grace of God went all of us.
One of my closest friends is 29. She and I agree on almost everything of consequence. Our ideals, our values, our worldview and our feminism are all closely aligned. But on the subject of women and safety, women and crime, women and danger, we strongly disagree.