It has been 40 years since the bodies of three travellers were found shot dead at Spear Creek near Mount Isa – and the murderer is still at large.
On the night of October 24 1978, Stan Harris made a grisly discovery in the bush while taking his greyhounds for a stroll.
Mr Harris and his fiance Kirsten Streicher happened upon a decomposing body sprawled against a tree in a dry river bed at Spear Creek, 12km from Mount Isa.
Police arrived the next morning to discover another two bodies slain in the long grass.
They were Karen Edwards (23), Tim Thompson (31) and Gordon Twaddle (21).
All three had been shot in the head at close range by a .22 calibre rifle, and were stripped of identification – with their pockets turned inside out.
They were all clothed, and had been left in the open to decompose.
Karen was a trainee medical psychologist from Dandenong in Victoria.
Gordon and Tim were both New Zealanders who had arrived in Australia less than two years before their murders.
Tim and Gordon had spent the months preceding their deaths, working around Alice Springs, Tim as a teacher in Hermannsburg and Gordon as a cook in Alice.
Tim’s girlfriend Karen had flown up to the Red Centre to meet the pair and embark on an outback motorcycle adventure to Mount Isa and on to the east coast.
The trio booked into the Moondarra Caravan Park on October 4 and the next morning they were seen leaving the site in a two tone “brown and white station wagon driven by another man”.
They had left their campsite intact with Karen’s Alsatian tied to a tree. The next day the gear and dog were gone.
Karen, Gordon and Tim were never seen alive again.
Police have never been able to find the car or driver – but believe he was a friend or acquaintance of Tim Thompson.
The man was described by police at the time as bearded, in his 20s with a medium build. A man of similar description had been seen visiting Tim at Hermannsburg.
He remains the prime suspect. Police have drawn links between the triple homicide and the unsolved murder of John Tzelaidis, 42, who was found dead a few months earlier near Karratha, Western Australia.
Mr Tzelaidis was also killed by a .22 calibre bullet to the head.
Others believe the crime is linked to the Hughenden disappearance of Tony Jones, presumed murdered, in November 1982.
There are as many as 11 unsolved murders in the remote outback that stretches from Mount Isa to Townsville.
There is still a $250,000 reward for information which leads to conviction of Karen, Tim and Gordon’s killer.
If you have information for police, contact Policelink on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.