Making sense of the unfathomable: Q&A with Helen Thomas on her new book, Murder on Easey Street

Making sense of the unfathomable: Q&A with Helen Thomas on her new book, Murder on Easey Street

About the author 

Helen Thomas has been a journalist for more than forty years. In 2005, Thomas spent months researching the Easey Street murders for Radio National’s Background Briefing, shedding new light on the investigation. She is the manager of ABC News Radio and author of five books, including Moods: The Peter Moody Saga (2016).

Buy a copy of Murder on Easey Street here

Read our review of Murder on Easey Street here

Why did you want to write a book on the Easey Street case, specifically?

It has always been a compelling case and when the million-dollar reward was posted in 2017, it seemed to warrant new focus.

Where do you begin when researching a 40 year old cold case?

I started with the original news reports and other public records, and then went to Easey Street to talk to the locals and get first-hand accounts of the feeling in the community at the time.

What was your experience of getting information from the Victoria Police?

Frustrating.

The true-crime genre is having a ‘moment’ right now with television, book and podcast documentaries becoming hugely popular. Why do you think people are so interested in these kinds of cases?

I think we all try to make sense of the unfathomable, and genuinely want to find a way to justice; as well, advances in forensic science often provide fresh direction in cases that are decades old, so being able to revisit crimes and potentially find answers is always going to be of interest.

How mindful were you during the writing process that family and friends of the victims might read the book?

Very aware. I’ve been mindful throughout the entire process of researching, writing, and now promoting the book, that the family and friends of Sue and Susan are still looking for answers.

Do you think the Easey Street murders will ever be solved?

I truly hope so.

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                      Synopsis

                      1977, Collingwood. Two young women are brutally murdered. The killer has never been found. What happened in the house on Easey Street?On a warm night in January, Suzanne Armstrong and Susan Bartlett were savagely murdered in their house on Easey Street, Collingwood – stabbed multiple times while Suzanne’s sixteen-month-old baby slept in his cot. Although police established a list of more than 100 ‘persons of interest’, the case became one of the most infamous unsolved crimes in Melbourne.Journalist Helen Thomas was a cub reporter at The Age when the murders were committed and saw how deeply they affected the city. Now, forty-two years on, she has re-examined the cold case – chasing down new leads and talking to members of the Armstrong and Bartlett families, the women’s neighbours on Easey Street, detectives and journalists. What emerges is a portrait of a crime rife with ambiguities and contradictions, which took place at a fascinating time in the city’s history – when the countercultural bohemia of Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip brushed up against the grit of the underworld in one of Melbourne’s most notorious suburbs.Why has the Easey Street murderer never been found, despite the million-dollar reward for information leading to an arrest? Did the women know their killer, or were their deaths due to a random, frenzied attack? Could the murderer have killed again? This gripping account addresses these questions and more as it sheds new light on one of Australia’s most disturbing and compelling criminal mysteries.
                      Helen Thomas
                      About the author

                      Helen Thomas

                      Helen Thomas has been a journalist for more than forty years. In 2005, Thomas spent months researching the Easey Street murders for Radio National’s Background Briefing, shedding new light on the investigation. She is the manager of ABC News Radio and author of five books, including Moods: The Peter Moody Saga (2016).

                      Books by Helen Thomas

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                      1. A friend says:

                        She wrote the book based on already well known facts and against the families wishes. Profiteering off people’s pain.