Dirty, dirty perverts

oil-stainIn the early 1950s Melbourne was plagued by a pervert who enjoyed spraying people’s coats with some kind of disgusting heavy, greasy substance. He attacked on crowded trains, stations, buses and busy streets, but was never identified.

The creep had more than eighty victims! Every description of the offender was different. They were old. They were young. They were fat. They were thin. They were blonde. They had dark hair. They were a man. They were a woman.

Eventually it was thought they used a different disguise every time they went out on the prowl.

In Perth, there was one reported victim in May 1952. Jan Banachoski was a customer at the GPO in the city centre when he was attacked. However, nothing more seemed to come of it.

Suddenly in March 1953, the Melbourne sprayer appeared to have moved to Perth more permanently. Although no one really knew if it was just a copycat, or the original crank had actually relocated.

At one suburban hotel, four customers—who were who were unaware of anything amiss at the time, later found the backs of their coats daubed with something unidentifiable, but vile.

Even the cleaners who tried to repair the damage didn’t know if it would be possible to remove the oil.

All the victims were drinking at the bar when the sprayer struck, so quietly that he wasn’t spotted by anyone.

By August 1953, people in Adelaide were being attacked in a similar manner. And the media went hysterical over it.

As far as Dodgy Perth knows, no one was ever caught for this nationwide phenomenon, which makes it all the more mysterious.

The frogs were having a good time of it

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If you’ve not been keeping up, the story so far:

Henry Whittall Venn is a pompous oaf, and WA Commissioner of Railways, who has fallen in love with a young married actress, Eve. She doesn’t seem particularly keen on the old bugger, but who knows what might happen?

Venn has had Eve’s husband arrested on a trumped-up charge, so he can send a love letter, which he is convinced will forever win over his intended. Never mind that Venn also has a wife.

It is getting late in the evening, and Venn is coming towards the end of his letter.

Now read on:

Eve was travelling to Melbourne on the troopship Orient—the Boer War was still raging—and Venn was concerned she might mix with soldiers. He warned her that, as a man of the world, he understood these men, and she should not fall for their fake charms or she would suffer as a consequence.

Although inexperienced at courtship, Venn was no fool. He instructed her that letters were to be sent to the Weld Club, not his home or office. If they were sent to his home, his wife would find them; at the office, his secretary.

The letter repeatedly assured Eve that the stiff, pompous git she had met at the party was dead, and now he was but a man “who looked now and then into a pair of brown eyes and thought the frogs were having a good time of it, because they would sing on, and be near you while I was far away.”

Suddenly, Venn became anxious. Why was Eve keeping her Melbourne address from him? Was she just being careful? Or was she being untrue before their relationship had started?

No… he must not think like that. Instead, he decided to praise her brief note to him, describing it as being like “the fragrance of the roses.” What a charmer the old man was turning out to be.

With a final warning—Please destroy this letter after you have read it—Venn went to bed, ready to post the note in the morning.

To be continued