It has been more than 40 years since the bodies of three friends were found in dried creek bed near the "tight-knit" mining town of Mount Isa in Queensland's Gulf Country.
Hundreds of binders filled with thousands of yellowing newspapers lay stacked in the back room of the local newspaper office in Mount Isa.
Most of the binders at The North West Star were wrapped in a thick plastic to help protect the town's first draft of history being destroyed by the harshness of time.
Reporters are absolutely forbidden from tearing the plastic to have a peek at the old papers inside - and anyone who even suggests unwrapping a binder is given a stern warning by the office manager to keep away.
But one afternoon last September, a chance discovery of some particularly gruesome crime scene photos with the words "October 1978" scrawled onto the back, meant the plastic would need to be cut open.
After stumbling across the photographs while working at the Star, this reporter decided to risk the wrath of the office manager and go ahead and unwrap the old papers to learn more about the pictures she had found.
The horrific fate of Karen Edwards, 23, Tim Thomson, 31, and Gordon Twaddle, 21 lay waiting inside.
Three young travellers who had embarked on the adventure of a lifetime to Mount Isa, only to be shot in the head in remote bushland outside of town within the first few days of their road-trip.
Newcomers to the remote mining town of Mount Isa in north-west Queensland are regaled with stories and urban myths, as is true of many outback towns of Australia.
Many knew Lindy Chamberlain, the woman wrongfully convicted of the murder of her daughter in one Australia's most publicised trials, was from Mount Isa.
But not many residents who moved to town after the 1980s had ever heard of the three travellers allegedly executed in the long grass.
Perhaps some horrors are just too brutal to be shared over a beer at the pub, no matter how many decades have passed.
No new leads had come to the local police station about how the trio came to be in the dried-up creek bed, 12 kilometres north of the town. And for years their story was mostly forgotten.
But after the discovery of the old newspaper clippings in the dark and dusty back room of the newspaper's office, it was hoped a feature story in the weekend edition of the local rag may help sharpen some memories.
After all, loyalties can change after almost half a century of time passes.
The anniversary feature in the paper pushed new witnesses to come forward to police and a review of the case was ordered.
On Friday, Bruce John Preston, 63, was charged with three counts of murder more than 40 years after his alleged victims' bodies were found at Spear Creek.
Local detectives told Brisbane Times new witness evidence from past and present Mount Isa locals was what led them to lay murder charges on Mr Preston.
Long-term resident Jenelle Robartson said the town's rumour mill had been flying since that first feature went to print.
"Having that 40-year anniversary story in the media brought it all up again for a lot of people," she said.
"I think a lot of people are surprised they have a potential result after all this time, but obviously it is all still alleged at this stage."
Another long-time local, Andrew (who did not wish to give his surname), said the Prestons were a well-known family in Mount Isa in the late 1970s.
Bruce's father, Arthur Preston worked as one of the chief trainers at Mount Isa Mines, at a time when most of the town was employed to work in the underground mine that sat at the city limit.
"A large chunk of the town knew who Bruce was because of his father. Arthur was like an army drill sergeant straight out of a movie," Andrew told Brisbane Times.
"Everyone who went underground had to do one of Arthur's inductions and he would ram the rules down people's throats."
Mount Isa mayor Joyce McCulloch commended the families of the three friends found dead at Spear Creek for never giving up hope and thanked local police for their dogged investigation of the case.
"People were curious as to whether the murder would be resolved so this is going to help close a very horrible chapter in Mount Isa," she said.
"Mount Isa is a very close-knit community so it would have definitely rocked the community at the time."
But it may have been the closeness of the town which prevented witnesses from coming forward sooner.
In an appeal to the public last month, Karen Edwards' brother Barry Edwards, felt confident there were people living in Mount Isa who knew more than they were letting on.
"A lot of people would have known what happened and who did it," he said.
"It is a long time to carry something like that around.
"The effects of Karen's murder never really left us and mum and dad died without a culprit being identified."
Mr Preston had his first court date on Saturday morning. He was not present and neither were his family or friends.
The 63-year-old, who was living in Goulburn in New South Wales, had not expected to be arrested when he got off a plane in Brisbane on Friday, cold case detective Tara Kentwell said.
"I think he was surprised as anybody would be after 41 years," she said.
The chance discovery of crime scene photos by a junior reporter at a regional paper makes one ponder how many other faces of cold case victims are yellowing in the pages of old newspapers - waiting to be stumbled across.
Courtesy of Brisbane Times