Lyle Reed, Gatton. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times
Lyle Reed, Gatton. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times Inga Williams

'I solved Gatton murders seven years ago'

IPSWICH historian Lyle Reed pinned the Gatton murders of 1898 on Thomas Day seven years ago.

Which is why he feels vindicated by a recent book called Oxley Gatton Murders by retired police officer Neil Bradford who also blamed the brutal murders of Michael, Norah and Ellen Murphy on Day.

Mr Reed said he was not interested in claiming the old thousand pound reward for solving the crimes, even though that reward is worth close to $400,000 today.

"I was the first person to name Thomas Day as the murderer of the Murphy siblings," Mr Reed said.

"Here we have a retired cop saying that he has the smoking gun to point the finger at the butcher Thomas Day…when I solved this murder seven years ago in the book 'As Plain as Day - the 1898 Gatton Murders'.

"I researched it thoroughly and there was no other man who could have done it. Thomas Day was seen at the sliprails (near the murder scene). He lived less than 500m from the murder scene, he'd just arrived in Gatton… he was questioned by police and let go. They had their man but it was a complete balls-up."

In Mr Reed's book he notes how "an in-memoriam notice for Edith May Cook was found 300 yards from the sliprails, between the murder site and the entrance to Moran's paddock".

The Ipswich historian explains in his book the significance of this and how it points to the motive behind the murders, which Reed said were revenge based.

Lyle Reed, Gatton. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times
Lyle Reed, Gatton. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times Inga Williams

"Day was in love with Edith May Cook, and he came back to Gatton in 1898 to take revenge on the (Murphy) girls because one of them told her mother that she was pregnant to this Thomas Day," Mr Reed told the QT.

"At the scene of the crime they found the memorial notice of Edith who had died of septicaemia."

To learn more about the revenge motive you will have to read Mr Reed's book. Day, also linked to a murder in Oxley, committed suicide in 1900.

Mr Reed told the QT in 2008 the murders had long been an obsession of his.

"In 1976 I was in Gatton playing football against the local side," he said.

"Two years later I signed on with Gatton. My interest in the Gatton murders was raised in December 1978 when I read an article in the Gatton Star concerning the 80th anniversary of the unsolved murder of the Murphy siblings."


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