From an extract from his unpublished book, Build-up To A Disquiet offered to The Tasmanian Times, in the deep public interest, following recent media attention to the mystery of the fate of Lucille Butterworth.
On May 30, 1998, we travelled to Margate to talk to the mother of Joe Gilewicz and she agreed with her daughter to be interviewed. In our presence was Christine Moles. I detected a slight estrangement between them, but dismissed it. Surely the tragic event would have welded them together. Never-the-less, there was an atmosphere. The atmosphere was awkward at first for I think she looked upon me as an interrogator and she rapid-talked the answers and I wanted to kill the interview to spare her distress.
“I will stop…”
“No,” she insisted and her eyes lost their fear and she shot her arm to mine as my hand reached to switch off the recorder. She wanted to have her say. She was not called to the Madison inquest. Now, as futile as it might have seemed, she was having her say.
“They always pick on Joe. Never leave alone. He pick his car up from being fix and then they pull him over and kick his lights. Smash them. I following in car and say, you leave Joe alone.”
Frances Gilewicz was a goldmine too. A wealth of emotion. She had survived the Holocaust and had chosen Australia to re-settle and had lost her only son to police. Frequently I turned the recorder off, signifying that it was too much for her to continue, but she gesticulated angrily.
“I talk to you and you listen. My Joe good boy. Good son. Not bad boy. They follow, follow, follow, all time. He ring me that night to come get him, but I too scared of little road and don’t go.”
Christine Moles, damp-eyed through the interview and consoling with a hug, the distressed old refugee from a Nazi horror camp, agreed to be interviewed, but on that day she wasn’t emotionally ready for me, so we made a date and parted.
“Jesus Christ,” I said to Stan, “the old girl’s been haunted by Nazis all her life.”
“I was born in a concentration camp,” said Stan.
“Jesus, I don’t know whether this story is getting better or worse.”
“Can only get worse if you take the Lord’s name in vain,” said the old fashioned-good Catholic.
For all he’s been through, Stan Hanuszewicz still throws a hearty laugh.
“You got enough for a McDonald’s? I’ve only for one.”
“Just about scrape it together.”
And so while we burgered at McDonald’s Kingston, we talked about his time with the police; that he had left the army and went straight into the police force and every noteworthy crime I could recollect as a crime reporter both with The Examiner and the ABC, Stan had been involved as the police ballistics officer. And then he said something that stunned me.
“Would you like me to show you where Lucille Butterworth is buried?”
“Butterworth, Lucille Butterworth?”
“But they never found her….”
Stan peered at me with an unmistakable expression which says that journalists think they know it all but only know what police tell them.
Lucille Butterworth was a dazzling young woman, who disappeared from a bus- stop north of Hobart in 1969 and became the most sensational missing-persons’ case on police records.
“It’s not far from here,” Stan said, as I steered the car to his directions, through the rapidly expanding suburbs of Kingston. We drove a long sealed road.
“Pull over ... about here. Lucille is buried about here. If she had a watch, a good detector these days would pick her up.”
Had I still been a journalist, it would have been lead story; the hair-raising revelations of a former police ballistics officer. And here it was, unfolding before my ears.
A Tasmanian man, he said, who had spent time in prison in Western Australia, had returned to his home State and straight away confessed to police for his part in her murder. There had been two of them. His partner in crime, now dead, and he no longer afraid of the pact, that would have visited him with a similar fate if ever he told of what they had done to Lucille.
They had offered her a lift from the bus stop, took her to a toilet block in Geilston Bay, where they both raped her. The car-jack was used by one to bludgeon Lucille’s life from her and they took her body to where we now stood, and buried her.
“Soft, loamy, soil. Easy to dig,” said Stan impassively.
“Why would police keep it a secret?”
“He brought us here, and said she would have been under the road.”
”Why didn’t they dig the road up?”
“Public humiliation if they couldn’t find a body,” Stan said.
It all seemed plausible. The instinct in me pressing at a feeling of helplessness of a long-retired crime reporter as we drove away.
I wondered how I could publicly reveal an anecdote from the mouth of a former police officer with an often-commended credible record of service with the Tasmanian police force. But from a police officer whose mates now referred to as a dog, for blowing the whistle at the Gilewicz inquest before coroner Madison, I wondered how much credibility his astounding story would have.
“The basic principle of journalism, Stan, is the public right to know,” I found myself pontificating.
“The basic principle of policing,” retorted Stan, “is that the public is told on a needs-to-know basis.”
“Stanley, in the police force, I’m rapidly losing my faith.”
“Bless you my son,” said the faithful catholic.
And so, should this manuscript ever get to be published, the public will know the alleged fate of a beautiful young woman, whose face can still be seen in police stations across the entirety of the continent. At least Stan’s version of it. And I have no reason to doubt it. And while it bears no relevance to the death of Joe Gilewicz, it raises those important questions as to the public’s right to know. In this case, the police department has exercised a discretion of silence that could have put an end to the pain of the family of Lucille Butterworth, if true. If false it may have added to the pain.