Bruce Morcombe (left) and his brother Perry with author Caylie Jeffery at the launch of her book Under the Lino yesterday. Picture: John Gass/AAP
Bruce Morcombe (left) and his brother Perry with author Caylie Jeffery at the launch of her book Under the Lino yesterday. Picture: John Gass/AAP

Morcombes’ first brush with murder

IT SHOCKED a nation and devastated a family, but the abduction and murder of Daniel Morcombe wasn't his father Bruce's first brush with evil.

That came at the tender age of eight, when Bruce's parents owned a fruit shop at Rosalie in Brisbane's inner west.

The year was 1967, and Bruce and his siblings had discovered a blood trail out front of the shop early one Sunday morning in December.

They followed it to the nearby Milton State School, where they noticed the body of a young woman in the school grounds, and hotfooted it back home to tell their parents.

The fascinating case is retold in a chapter of the crowdfunded book Under the Lino - launched yesterday by Brisbane author Caylie Jeffery - about her attempts to find the owners of old banknotes found under the lino of her house at Milton in 1996.

While researching, Jeffery found a Courier-Mail article about the murder which featured the Morcombe family and a young Bruce, who resembled his Daniel.

But, knowing the trauma Bruce and his wife Denise had endured with Daniel's murder and the trial of his killer Brett Peter Cowan, she was torn over whether to pursue the story.

 

A young Bruce Morcombe (front) and family in a newspaper clipping from the time
A young Bruce Morcombe (front) and family in a newspaper clipping from the time

 

 

 

Bruce Morcombe’s late son Daniel
Bruce Morcombe’s late son Daniel

 

However Mr Morcombe was only too happy to recount the case, describing it in the book as a "blast from the past".

"There were lots of (blood) drops, and it went a long way along the footpath on Baroona Rd," he tells Jeffery in the book.

"We followed the blood, and then my oldest brother Perry said, 'There's a body over there!' pointing into the school grounds.

"Well, we couldn't run home fast enough!"

The bloody murder weapon - a bayonet - was later found wedged under the door of the fruit shop.

Because Mr Morcombe was only eight at the time, his recollection was limited. Brother Perry was 16, and provides a more detailed account in Under the Lino.

"Perry gave evidence in court during the trial, and I remember that the police picked him up from school in a police car to take him," Mr Morcombe tells Jeffery.

"It was a huge responsibility for a 16-year-old."

Mr Morcombe told The Sunday Mail yesterday: "I suppose as you get older you look back and think that's what shaped me.

"Truth is stranger than fiction, and who could believe that the Morcombe family would be touched by two terrible events within one lifetime?"

Digging deeper, Jeffery also discovered the killer was actually related to the people who lived in her house.

"So we reopened the investigation… just to find out a bit more about it and it turns out, yes, he is related by marriage to the people who used to live in this house," she said yesterday.

"After he committed the crime he got rid of the weapon at Rosalie Village, walked around the block of the school, walked back towards Milton train station, but hung a left on my street and the blood trail stopped at my house."

More information at the Under the Lino website



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