Anyone who grew up in Australia in the 1970s may remember the chilling and mysterious triple homicide case of Karen Edwards, Tim Thomson and Gordon Twaddle.
The three young friends – aged 23, 21 and 31 – were murdered when they were holidaying with their dog Tristie in Mount Isa in 1978. According to Queensland Police, the three friends planned on visiting family in Melbourne for Christmas but were all found with gunshot wounds in bushland at Spear Creek, 12km north of Mount Isa, in October of that year. Four decades later and the case is still not solved.
As such, Queensland Police on Saturday launched a fresh appeal to find out what happened to Edwards, Thomson and Twaddle and are confident the renewed focus could lead to a breakthrough in the case.
“Despite 40 years passing, we remain committed to solving this case, bringing those responsible to justice and ultimately providing closure to the victims’ families,” Detective Senior Sergeant Tara Kentwell said in a statement. “We have reviewed thousands of pieces of information provided to police over the years, however, today we are launching a fresh appeal to encourage new witnesses and those who have already spoken to police to make contact with us.”
Police are encouraging anyone who may have seen the group travelling through the Northern Territory and in the Mount Isa area to come forward.
“We are particularly interested in speaking with anyone who may have seen a male motorcyclist who befriended the group and joined them on their travels between Frewena and Mount Isa,” Kentwell explained.
The three friends were last seen alive leaving the Moondarra Caravan Park in Mount Isa in a brown and white Toyota Landcruiser long wheel drive with a man on the morning of October 5 in 1978. Police confirmed a $250,000 reward remains in place for information which leads to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for their murders.
And, while the triple homicide had been linked to other murders at the time, Police confirmed this was no longer the focus of the investigation.
“While we are keeping an open mind, we are no longer focusing on links to the murder of John Tzelaidis, who was found deceased near Karratha in Western Australia a few months earlier,” Kentwell said.
As part of the appeal, Queensland Police also released a timeline of events to hopefully trigger the memory of people who may know what happened.
On Monday October 2, 1978, Edwards, Thomson and Twaddle embarked on motorcycle trek from Alice Springs with Edwards and Thomson travelling with their dog on a distinctive red 1977 BMW 100S with a homemade side car carrying a Doberman. Meanwhile, Twaddle was riding a blue 1977 Suzuki GS750 with Victorian registration. The friends travelled to Aileron and camped at Ti Tree in the Northern Territory overnight.
The next day, on October 3, the trio stopped at Wauchope, Devils Marbles and The Three Ways. They also met a male described as a “motorcycle enthusiast” at Frewena and camped with him overnight at Barry Caves.
On October 4, Edwards, Thomson and Twaddle travelled with the man to Mt Isa, but the man failed to check into the Moondarra Caravan Park. Later that night, a man in a brown and white Toyota Landcruiser joined the friends.
On October 5, the last time the trio were seen alive, they left the caravan park with the man. Their motorcycles and dog were left behind. The man returned alone later in the day in search of the dog. The next day, all property except for the sidecar had been removed from the campsite. The dog was later discovered at Mount Isa Dump.
The bodies of Edwards, Thomson and Twaddle were discovered in bushland at Spear Creek later that month, while a 23-year=old man was arrested a month later when he was found with the red BMW motorcycle.
Twaddle’s brother John released a statement through Queensland Police, explaining finding the person responsible for the murder of his sibling would put his mind at ease.
“This horrible event has played on my mind for 40 years and I feel for the families of these three friends who were cold bloodily murdered,” he said. “I feel that a result and conviction of the person (persons) responsible for these murders would bring some peace of mind and form some closure but it will never take away the pain of knowing how their lives ended far too soon in such a horrible way.”
Thompson’s brother David added: “My parents were shattered by the murders and I still feel a numbness that I don’t think will ever disappear.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Policelink on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.