26 year old Anita Cobby was a good soul, loved by all with reportedly not a single enemy on planet earth. She was a very successful beauty queen who’d passed on a job as a model to become a registered nurse, Anita had wanted nothing more than to help people.
On the evening of February second in 1986, Anita had finished her shift at the local hospital, then gone out to eat with a couple friends from work. They dropped her off at Central Station, and she boarded the train home just as she’d done every other night. Once at her stop, she walked her usual route down the street towards a pay phone; Anita always called her father for a lift back to her place. On this night a carload of men tried to steal her purse; Anita was a fighter, she didn’t peacefully surrender her bag. In turn, the men threw the beautiful young nurse in the vehicle with them.
18 year old John Tavers, 18 year old Mick Murdock, and brothers Michael Murphy, 33, Les Murphy, 22, Garry Murphy, 18, had all been drinking and getting high that night. As soon as they had Anita in their clutches they began to sexually assault her. The lady was driven out into the middle of nowhere and dragged through a barbed wire fence into a cow pasture where no one would report her screams.
The group of men took turns raping, beating, and stabbing the young nurse; they purposely broke her fingers, and she was assaulted her in ways I won’t dare even describe except to say that her open wounds were assaulted. Anita had attempted to fight them off, there were defense wounds, but she had been just one woman against five men. John Travers sliced her throat from ear to ear, autopsy report says she was almost decapitated. John was known for doing this type of thing to animals, so it had been easy for him.
Anita’s corpse had laid on that farm surrounded by animals for 2 days before the owner noticed she was there, she was found completely nude save her wedding ring. Attending officers say they can still see the horrific scene when they close their eyes. Anita’s fingers mangled from being purposely broken, snapped like twigs; her eyes were wide open when she was found, she’d stared in horror as her throat had been slit.
So, the Aussie people were upset when they heard about Anita’s murder, sure, but they didn’t know the horrific details. But then a radio personality somehow got his hands on a copy of the autopsy report and he read it while live on the air. This rightfully enraged the entire country, they were beyond pissed! Rallies were held, there were demonstrations in front of the police station. Many demanded the death penalty be reinstated just for the men who kidnapped and tortured the beautiful young nurse. They’d wanted blood, and thankfully witnesses began to come forward. Police finally did get a lead, and they arrested a couple of the suspects, but investigators hadn’t any solid evidence. This was 1986, there were no dna tests, and the crime scene had been surprisingly clean.
John Travers had been the ringleader of the group, and he was one of the first to be picked up. He’d asked to have a visitor while in holding: his trusted aunt. John had confessed all of the details of his horrific crimes to her in the past, including the rape of a teen girl; this aunt had never betrayed him. But what John hadn’t known was that his Aunt had been just as outraged as everyone else when she’d heard Anita’s autopsy report on the air. So, determined to do the right thing, Aunt had gone to the police with an offer to help; she’d known that she could easily get a confession.
This aunt did meet with her nephew while wearing a wire; she’d pretended to be on his side and John did confess all of his sins, the ringleader told her every little thing she had wanted to know – including the names of his fellow killers. Then, still wearing that wire, this aunt had gone to the home of the other killers who had yet to be implicated; she’d knocked on their door and she got a confession from them as well. Once she was satisfied, Aunt went back to police and she handed over the tape. She did solve the case, but she had to go into hiding where she remains to this day. They say her life is at risk if she comes out, therefore the public knows this hero only as Miss X.
Thanks to Miss X, all five of the men were found guilty and ordered never to be released. This is very rare in Australia, they do not hand out life sentences the way we do; a whole life sentence is reserved for the very worst of killers such as Ivan Milat. These killers have not lead easy lives behind bars, they’ve had everything you can imagine done to them including their share of beatings and it’s reported people have even urinated in their food. Just last year it was reported that Gary Murphy was attacked while taking a shower; he suffered “severe head and facial injuries”. Another of the killers, Michael Murphy, passed away of cancer in February of 2019.
This case had a huge impact on Australia, everyone I’ve asked instantly remembers the crime and speaks heatedly about the 5 convicts. Of course it’s been worse for those who loved the victim, Anita’s friends, and her family; no one suffered more than Anita’s husband, John Cobby. The couple had been separated briefly and had just reconciled when she was killed. John lives with survivor’s guilt, and since he was originally the main suspect (the person closest to the victim is always suspect) he’s faced plenty of hate as well. John has never gotten over his first love, but did change his name so he could live a normal life. John Cobby has just recently come out of hiding.