The Mystery Behind The Real Friday The 13th Killer

It was a typical day, just like any other. Perhaps it was just a horrible coincidence that the following events were to occur on such an inauspicious day.

Most Friday the 13th's come and go, but in the more innocent times of 1973, on this specific Friday the 13th, a monster was born. A crime without any seeming motivation now recalled as one of the most shocking crimes that the nation had ever witnessed.

The man forever afterward would come to be known by several names; The Real Friday the 13th Killer and sometimes as The Monster of Worcester. Before that, he operated under the much more familiar moniker of David McGreavy.

In 1973 David was just 20 years of age, and things were not going too well. He had suffered a string of job losses, a broken-off engagement, and found that he was no longer welcome to live with his parents.

He needed assistance, and it was his friend Clive that came to his rescue. Clive invited McGreavy to live with his family, which included his heavily pregnant wife Elsie and their two other children, 3-year-old Paul and 1-year-old Dawn.

McGreavy paid the weekly rent and sometimes cooked Sunday roast dinners and loved the children, frequently playing with them, and generally acted like a father. On occasions, he was even interested and involved with discussions about child discipline. It seemed a happy arrangement that worked for everyone.

Elsie soon gave birth to her third child Samantha and shortly afterward returned to the workforce. Both couples were working and earning money, and the need for McGreavy to perform regular babysitting duties increased.

On this Friday the 13th in 1973, McGreavy had been drinking heavily that evening at the local pub and had quickly downed 5-7 pints of beer and had even gotten himself involved in a minor flare-up. Clive collected him from the pub and drove him back home to act as a babysitter while he went to pick up his wife from work.

Between the timeframe of 10:15 pm and 11:15 pm, McGreavy became disturbed and aggravated by the constant crying of one of the children, and something about the baby's non-stop crying caused McGreavy to snap. The man who loved children vanished, and in his place stood the Monster of Worcester.

Clive and Elsie returned home late that evening only to discover that police were already present on the scene, with no sign of McGreavy. The couple was taken to the local police station and informed of the fate of their children.

All three children met their end in three different ways. 9-month-old Samantha was the first victim and succumbed to a skull fracture, 4-year-old Paul strangled with wire, and two-year-old Dawn had her throat slit.

As if the murders alone had not been tragic enough, what was to follow was even more baffling. McGreavy would desecrate the bodies. Firstly he mutilated the bodies via the use of a pick-ax, and in the final act of madness, he impaled the children on the wrought iron fence of a neighbor's house.

It was an act which reverberated around the country, and the neighborhood with the innocuous-sounding name of Rainbow Hill, Worcester, would never be the same.

McGreavy left the house, and the police found him walking the streets in the early hours of the next morning. His initial denials did not last long, and he began answering questions confessing that "It was me, but it wasn't me. All I could hear was kids, kids, f… kids".

The Real Friday the 13th Killer would go on to be sentenced to multiple life terms, with a minimum imprisonment of 20 years, and had to spend most of his time behind bars in protective custody. The earliest he could be released was 1993.

Repeated parole requests had been turned down, but after 46 years in custody, McGreavy's release was finally approved and took effect in June 2019. According to reports, he is a much-changed man who now accepts responsibility for all he has done. Nevertheless, the terms of his release mean he will be subject to exclusion zones for the rest of his days, and his acts on Friday the 13th ensure that he will go down in history for all the wrong reasons.

Stay tuned for further On This Day in Crime series articles coming soon. In the meantime, on this Friday the 13th, the Dark Stories True Crime Walking Tours will naturally be running throughout Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, and Maitland.  Stay safe today and be sure to avoid black cats, don't walk under ladders and be careful not to break any mirrors!

Recruiting a Hangman By The Numbers

Every country has had one but rarely does anyone stop to consider how a person gets hired for the position of national hangman. If you ever happen to come on a Dark Stories True Crime Walking Tour in Sydney, or elsewhere for that matter, there's a reasonably high chance that you will hear a story about a hanging.

But did you ever imagine yourself, back in your school days, dreaming of becoming the head executioner in your state? How would your career advisor help you reach that goal? What electives could you take? What university should you attend? Then, after graduation, where would you apply? Is there some hangman recruitment agency to whom you could email your resume? Or, conversely, what if you were looking to hire someone for the job; where would you even begin to search?

Governor Phillip faced this exact problem at the very beginning of Sydney's fledgling colony life. Precisely one month and one day after the First Fleet arrived in Australia, there was an execution – the first in Australian history (we'll even walk past the spot as we meander through on one of our walking tours in Sydney). However, the hangman was a last-minute recruit and not a permanent appointee; it was a one-off contract.

The position needed permanent filling, but no one wanted the job. The officers despised the role of hangman and refused to do it, and the convicts saw the position as the lowest of the low. So what was the Governor to do? Discipline at this early stage of the colony's life could have easily broken down, and so he needed to find an executioner, and he needed to do it quickly, to ensure that he wouldn't lose face nor control.

Then, in late February 1788, Governor Phillip found the solution to his problem.

The worst crime one could commit in the new colony concerned the government stores of food. The settlers had no way of knowing if or when resupplies might arrive, or whether the crops they were planting would even survive (spoiler alert, they didn't). They made it all around the world only to be immediately put on rations. Therefore, stealing food from the government stores was considered an offense worse than murder, and such crimes demanded severe repercussions. So when four convicts were found guilty of theft from the government stores they were condemned to die that very same day; justice was swift and severe.

But Governor Phillip still didn't have a hangman! Nevertheless, the execution ritual began, and the four men advanced under guard to the hanging tree. The first man was granted a reprieve and given lashes instead. Then the second man, James Freeman, was marched to the tree, and the hanging rope fastened around his neck. At the moment James expected to be launched into eternity, he received the offer of a full pardon, but only on the condition that he agree to take on the duty of executioner for as long as he remained in the country

James Freeman paused for a few moments, mustered his dignity, and agreed to accept the role. He was given a full pardon, on condition of taking the position for the remainder of his original 7-year sentence, and became a "free man" from that moment. Governor Phillip's strategy was successful, and he granted the remaining two men a reprieve, meaning James Freeman could take some time to get used to his new job. 

On May 2nd, 1788, James Freeman executed his first man without any complaint from the unwilling customer. His first performance was a killer, and Governor Phillip's innovative new HR Recruitment strategy had proven to be successful.

The Master Poisoner – Audio Production

The Master Poisoner - an audio dark story presented by the Online Stage, full of rich dialogue with creepy, sinister undertones and just happens to be one of our favourites.

To add to the macabre flavor of this production, co-author Maxwell Bodenheim was to become a murder victim himself in unusual circumstances that you can read about here.

Sobe, the master poisoner, and Maldor, his assistant, have spent their careers devising ever more elaborate and exquisite poisons. But Sobe's dreams of the ultimate poison that would give him mastery over death itself shock Maldor, who is even more troubled when he realizes that Sobe plans to experiment on his own wife, Fana. Fana, however, has her own ambitions, which may not coincide with her husband's agenda.

This baroque and grisly melodrama was devised by two of the most original dramatists of the early 20th century: Maxwell Bodenheim, known as "the King of Greenwich Village Bohemians" and Ben Hecht, who would go on to pen such classics as "The Front Page" and numerous Hollywood screenplays.

The Master Poisoner comes courtesy of The Online Stage – producers of numerous AudioBook and Theatre Productions, with a huge range that is free to enjoy!

The Master Poisoner - A Dark Story