Murdered Gold Coast woman Linda Reed with husband Robert on her wedding day.
Murdered Gold Coast woman Linda Reed with husband Robert on her wedding day.

‘It was horrific’: Retired Detective on Linda Reed case

THERE was nothing to link the man who killed Gold Coast woman Linda Reed to her death when he was arrested for another murder two years later, a retired homicide Detective says.

The retired Detective also praised technology after DNA from samples taken at the time led to the arrest of Troy James O'Meara in 2018 in connection to the December 1983 killing.

Front pages from the 1980s, after Linda Reed was murdered.
Front pages from the 1980s, after Linda Reed was murdered.

O'Meara on Monday pleaded guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court to murdering Ms Reed, a 21-year-old retail assistant. It was also revealed that he had been convicted of murdering Vanessa Joy O'Brien, 22, of Kippa Ring in 1985.

Speaking in the wake of the guilty plea, retired homicide Detective Bob Pease, who led the Reed case, said he was "happy to see it solved" especially for husband Robert and her family.

"I'm greatly relieved," he said. "My sympathies are always with the families, when they lose somebody, particularly like that. She hadn't long been married, and they were getting a home together, and she was working … and then she just disappears in her lunch hour. It was pretty horrific."

Mr Pease, who retired in 2003 as a Detective Inspector, said he had heard that a man, O'Meara, was arrested in north Brisbane for a murder but there "was nothing significant, or his name wasn't significant to me".

Nor had the name come up in the Linda Reed investigation, he said.

He ultimately charged convicted murderer Craig Andrew McConnell with Ms Reed's death but he was found not guilty at trial and the "rest is history".

Mr Pease said "technology works wonders" and labelled DNA evidence as "absolutely critical".

"I don't take the credit for this, but the fact that they are able to go 30 years later and get a successful conviction says a lot about the ways the matters were investigated and the records that were kept."

 

Linda Reed.
Linda Reed.

Mr Pease revealed he provided a statement to investigators, who in the last week told him he wouldn't be required to give evidence.

"When a person pleads guilty (it takes) a lot of pressure off the family. They've got to live it all again, giving evidence, when they last saw her, and have allegations made against them."

Mr Pease praised the current investigators for pursuing the case.

Psychopath killer said he 'hated women'

A psychopath killer went on to murder another young female two years after killing Linda Reed almost 40 years ago - because he "hated women".

Troy James O'Meara was jailed for life for the 1985 murder of Vanessa Joy O'Brien, 22, of Kippa Ring.

She was abducted at knifepoint, raped, strangled, kicked, beaten with sticks and left to die at a refuse tip. The Supreme Court was told at the time that O'Meara chose her at random because he hated women.

On Monday, O'Meara admitted to murdering Linda Reed in bushland near Gaven in 1983.

Troy James O’Meara is driven by police to the Police Watch House in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 22, 2018 after being arrested for the 1983 murder of Linda Reed on the Gold Coast. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Troy James O’Meara is driven by police to the Police Watch House in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 22, 2018 after being arrested for the 1983 murder of Linda Reed on the Gold Coast. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

The Supreme Court in Brisbane was told in mid-1986 that Vanessa O'Brien had been shopping at Redcliffe when O'Meara had approached her with a knife and told her to get in her car.

O'Meara had not gone to work that day but had taken the knife intending "to select a woman at random and kill her''.

O'Meara had told police his hatred of women had resulted from his experiences with women and his mother and stepmother.

O'Meara had forced the woman to drive to Zillmere to an unofficial dump off Roghan Road.

O'Meara tied her hands together with underclothing he had bought that morning and raped her in the back of the car.

He also took money from her purse and wedding rings she had just bought.

O'Meara had told police later he had done these things to degrade her.

 

 

Front pages from the 1980s, after Linda Reed was murdered.
Front pages from the 1980s, after Linda Reed was murdered.

 

Front pages from the 1980s, after Linda Reed was murdered.
Front pages from the 1980s, after Linda Reed was murdered.

After the attack he "left her for dead". He drove her car back to Clontarf, left it and caught a taxi home.

Her car was found the following day and her body was found the day after.

O'Meara, wearing a short sleeved lemon shirt, blue jeans and white shoes with no socks, sat silently as the story was told to the court. He was 19.

Vanessa was to have been married six weeks after the horrifying crime.

In August 2018, a scrunched up packet of cigarettes and a fingerprint on a car window helped lead police to arrest O'Meara for Linda Reed's murder.

Police at the time hailed the work of forensic officers, both those who worked the crime scene in Gaven on December 16, 1983 and the scientists who helped bring the murder charge against O'Meara.

The empty cigarette packet found in the back of Ms Reed's car, metres from the scene of the crime, was part of an incredible investigation that led police to O'Meara, a man who hadn't even come on their radar 35 years ago.

 

 

Police and government medical officers at the scene in Gaven where the body of Linda Reed was discovered.
Police and government medical officers at the scene in Gaven where the body of Linda Reed was discovered.

 

 

Days later, a man driving a Toyota HiAce picked up a hitchhiker in the area. He was smoking the same brand of cigarettes found in Ms Reed's car, but didn't have the packet.

The driver contacted police who took a fingerprint from the passenger-side window.

Police said the fingerprint was O'Meara's.

Linda was a shop assistant at McDonnell and East, a former store inside Pacific Fair.

Married for two years to her husband Robert, they were planning on starting a family. Then just like that, Linda disappeared, and three days later her body was found in bushland at Gaven.

At the time of O'Meara's arrest in mid-2018, homicide detective Senior Sergeant Chris Knight said the forensic leap forward helped bring the case to a head.

"In the early '80s DNA was not being used. It simply wasn't available to investigators," Sen-Sgt Knight said.

 

 

Linda Reed’s car is displayed by police after her 1983 murder.
Linda Reed’s car is displayed by police after her 1983 murder.

"Conventional DNA became available in the mid-to-late '90s and started becoming important in criminal trials.

"Since then DNA testing has increased significantly in terms of the capacity and the ability to detect and find DNA profiles, that perhaps, even in the early DNA stages, were simply not available.

"We have explored a wide range of forensic opportunities, which has been a significant contribution to (the) arrest.

"There has been a fairly broad range of very contemporary forensic work done.

"Forensic officers have played a significant role in the advancement of this investigation."

A man under arrest is driven by police to the Police Watch House in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 22, 2018. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
A man under arrest is driven by police to the Police Watch House in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 22, 2018. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

He said the advancements in forensic technology had pointed police towards O'Meara, a man they hadn't even questioned in the 1980s in relation to Ms Reed's murder.

"His name did not come up in the early investigation and it's been in the relative recent past when it's come up.

"I'm not talking in the last six months or anything, I'm talking in recent years."

Ms Reed never returned from her lunch break at Pacific Fair and was never seen alive again.

"Her car was found a very short distance away from where Linda's body was found and I can only assume that something happened there and he took her under some circumstances to where she was ultimately found," Sen-Sgt Knight said.

"It was a particularly horrific attack."

Originally published as 'It was horrific': Retired Detective on Linda Reed case


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