An interesting history of Australia's early serial killers. I used to have a theory that the increasing number of serial killers was somehow related to the metastisizing of material culture. Probably because I read too much Bret Easton Ellis.
Anyway, I was asked to look at a manuscript by Robert Cox, for A Compulsion to Kill. A history of early serial killers. I used to find these sort of books really useful when researching Leviathan. Often more useful than general historical texts.
In the meantime, armed parties were scouring the district for Haley. On Monday 18 February, the night after Wilson’s murder, he was seen at Fort William, on the east coast. The next night he went to the hut of a family named Power, with whom he had previously been friendly, on Steele’s estate at Falmouth, on the coast about ten kilometres from St Marys. Power was absent but his wife and children were at home. After assuring them he meant them no harm, Haley stole a double-barrel shotgun and left. Later he stole another firearm from the house of a man named Struchneide. On the afternoon of Thursday 21st he called at Sawyer’s hut on Steele’s estate and asked for food and ammunition, saying he had been sorely pressed by the police. He swore to Sawyer’s wife that rather than be captured, he would shoot everyone that came his way. Ten minutes after leaving the hut he was spotted by police constables Greenhalf and Livesay. He was about 300 metres from them and caught sight of them as they were crossing a brush fence to pursue him. He began to run. The police gave chase, calling on him to stop. He kept running, so Greenhalf fired at him from about seventy metres away. Haley appeared to stagger as if wounded but turned and fired back, his shot hitting Greenhalf’s finger. Livesay then fired at Haley without effect. Haley now jettisoned his coat, hat, and firearms and escaped into thick bush. Hearing the shots, Chief District Constable Smith and several volunteers rushed to the scene, but the bush was so thick they could not find the fugitive.
Next morning a woman saw Haley passing through a wheat field. When the field was examined, evidence was found that he had spent the night there. Blood traces showed he was wounded. That afternoon he held up another hut, taking clothes and enough food for a week. On Tuesday 26 February he robbed John Hyman’s hut.
Despite the number of armed men searching for Haley, three days passed without sight of him. Then, on the afternoon of Friday 1 March, eleven days after Wilson’s murder, the fugitive went to John Galty’s property at Cullenswood and approached a hut there. He identified himself to an old man working nearby and told him he was starving. The man offered Haley some tobacco and kept him talking until two men at work not far away noticed what was happening and rushed to raise the alarm at Galty’s. Supported by several reapers, Galty approached Haley and the old man, but, as they got close, Haley darted into some scrub and squatted under a honeysuckle log. As Galty and the reapers passed by without seeing him, he stood up and cried out ‘Here I am!’, whereupon Galty seized him. Haley was unarmed and had a gunshot wound in the arm, inflicted by Constable Greenhalf a few days before. The capture was at Mt Nicholas, between Fingal and St Marys.
Chief District Constable Smith, who had been nearby supervising police search parties, when told of Haley’s whereabouts, soon arrived. He took the fugitive into custody and conveyed him to the Fingal jail where Haley confessed to killing Thomas Wilson, blaming drunkenness, but denied killing Julia Mulholland. Hobart’s Mercury newspaper cryptically reported that ‘With reference to the murder of Mrs Mulholland there is some reason to believe that he had a felonious intent besides murder’.
As a result of the manhunt, the tragic widower Peter Mulholland’s woes were compounded. Sworn in as a special constable, he had armed himself with a shotgun and joined the search for Haley. On the morning after the fugitive’s capture, Mulholland sought to unload the gun by firing it but the overloaded weapon exploded, shattering his left hand. ‘So complete was the destruction,’ a newspaper noted, ‘that three of the fingers and other portions of the limb were scattered about the ground in different directions.’ A doctor was summoned, but at midnight the arm had to be amputated.
On 11 March Haley was examined before Police Magistrate J.P. Stuart at Fingal court house. He continued to deny all participation in the bloodbath at the Mulhollands’, although he professed to know who the culprit was. His attitude was defiant. The Mercury reported that although at first ‘his usual tiger like and murderous ferocity appeared somewhat subdued’, he soon ‘presented the same brazen defiance, the same cool indifference, as before. He passed the woman he has made a widow [who had survived his attack] and the child he has made an orphan without a blush or a bend of the head ... and as his examination proceeded he browbeat the witnesses and bullied the police magistrate.’
During testimony by John Evans, who had been working in a paddock only 100 metres from the Mulhollands’ on the Saturday of the first murder, Haley constantly interrupted and made threats against him. When Evans gave evidence that Julia Mulholland had later approached him and ‘asked if [Haley] was gone away from her place ... she seemed very sad and downhearted; I had never seen her so before’, Haley became so enraged that several constables were needed to restrain him. In a furious outburst that lasted more than ten minutes, he swore he would tear Evans open and eat his heart.
‘During the whole examination,’ the Cornwall Chronicle observed, ‘he exhibited the most demoniacal hatred to the witnesses, and on his removal gave further proof of what a reckless villain he is. He seemed to regret his inability to commit more murders.’
Haley faced the Supreme Court in Launceston on Tuesday 30 April 1861, with the Chief Justice, Sir Valentine Fleming, on the bench. The charge was murdering Thomas Wilson, to which the usually talkative Haley pleaded guilty in a low mumble, adding that he had nothing else to say. The Chief Justice did, however. He already knew Haley, having sentenced him at Oatlands in 1856 to six years’ jail for the assault and attempted robbery of William Humphries. Next day, when Haley was brought up into the crowded courtroom for sentence, Fleming observed that the prisoner’s record evidenced his ‘ungovernable passion which seems to have overpowered all reason and every sentiment of humanity’, noting that in 1856 Haley had been convicted of ‘unlawfully and maliciously wounding a fellow creature [Humphries]’. He said Haley had a ‘fearful history of merciless vengeance and reckless brutality’ and ‘had outraged all laws, human and divine’. After urging him to pray for divine mercy, Fleming sentenced him to be taken to the place ‘from whence he came’, there to be hanged and dissected.
The doomed man for the first time seemed bewildered, and turned to the left and then to the right, as if he did not know his way to the place ‘from whence he came.’
He was then escorted out.
On Haley’s removal from the Supreme Court to the Gaol ... on the officer in charge proceeding to handcuff him to another prisoner ... Haley offered the hand which had lost a thumb, and from which he could have easily slipped the handcuff. This, however, was refused, and the handcuff was placed upon the other wrist. On his arrival at the Gaol, Haley, according to custom, was put in irons, and he evinced considerable stubbornness at being subjected to such a proceeding.
Three weeks later, before he was taken from his cell for execution, Haley eased his conscience by admitting that he had indeed slain Julia Mulholland as well as Thomas Wilson. Then he shocked officials by confessing that he had also murdered a woman named Mary Stack near Cleveland nearly three years earlier—an unsolved crime he had never been suspected of.
She was his first known murder victim.