|Number of victims||12|
|Span of killings||August 1992–May 1999|
|Date apprehended||21 May 1999|
The Snowtown murders (also known as the Bodies-in-Barrels murders) were a series of homicides that took place in South Australia between August 1992 and May 1999. The crimes were uncovered on 20 May 1999, when the remains of eight victims were found in barrels of hydrochloric acid in a rented former bank building. The bodies were found in Snowtown. The bodies had been moved there in the final months of the crime spree. Only one of the twelve victims was killed in Snowtown, and neither the victims nor the perpetrators were from the town.
The bodies were first held in several locations in South Australia. They were moved to Snowtown in early 1999 after the accused became aware that police were investigating. Eight bodies were found in six plastic barrels in a disused bank vault. Two bodies were found three days later, buried in a backyard in the Adelaide suburb of Salisbury North. By the end of June, nine of the 10 victims had been identified. The discoveries followed a lengthy, covert criminal investigation by South Australian Police. During the investigation, two deaths already known to authorities were determined to have been perpetrated by the same murderers. A twelfth charge relating to the death of Suzanne Allen was dropped due to lack of evidence.
Four men were arrested and charged. John Justin Bunting, Robert Joe Wagner and James Spyridon Vlassakis were convicted of murder; the fourth, Mark Haydon, was convicted of assisting with the disposal of the victim's bodies. The court decided that Bunting was the ringleader of the conspiracy. Bunting was sentenced to 11 consecutive terms of life imprisonment and Wagner 10 without the possibility of release on parole, Vlassakis was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences with a non-parole period of 26 years, and Haydon to 25 years with a non-parole period of 18.
More than 250 suppression orders prevented publication of the details of this case. In early 2011, a judge lifted the remaining orders in response to a request by the producers of the film Snowtown, a dramatisation of the murders.
- John Justin Bunting (b. 1966 in Inala, Queensland) was convicted of murdering all listed victims except Suzanne Allen. He was found to be the leader of the perpetrators. Forensic psychiatrist Professor Kevin Howells, who worked at Broadmoor High-Security Psychiatric Hospital in Berkshire, England, suggested that Bunting's behaviour lacked emotion and the capacity to empathise with his victims. Howells observed that Bunting fit the profile of a psychopathic killer who derived satisfaction from controlling his victims. When he was young, his favourite pastime was burning insects in acid. During his teenage years he began to associate with Neo-Nazi groups. In adulthood, Bunting developed a deep hatred of paedophiles and homosexuals, and drew no distinction between the two. According to records, Bunting was sexually assaulted by a friend's elder brother at the age of 8, and he therefore targeted those who reminded him of this abuse. Bunting began killing at the age of 25, and the men he chose to assist him were either mentally-challenged individuals he could easily manipulate, or relatives of those working with him (Heckle, Drum & Gravitt, n.d).
- Robert Joe Wagner was befriended by Bunting in 1991. Bunting encouraged him to assist him in the various murders, and Wagner complied.
- Mark Ray Haydon was not convicted of any of the murders, but pleaded guilty to helping the serial killers dispose of the bodies.
- James Spyridon Vlassakis, along with his mother and half-brother, Vlassakis lived with Bunting, and was gradually drawn into helping with the murders and torture. Vlassakis initially declined to co-operate as his mother was implicated, but he became the Crown's star witness following her death.
- Elizabeth Harvey, Vlassakis' mother, knew about the murders, and assisted in one of them with Bunting's encouragement. She died of cancer after the arrests of Bunting, Wagner, Vlassakis and Haydon.
- Thomas Trevilyan assisted in the murder of Barry Lane in 1997, but was murdered by the other gang members before police involvement.
- Jodie Elliott, sister of Elizabeth Haydon, wife of Mark Ray Haydon, had become besotted with Bunting. She impersonated a deceased former acquaintance of Bunting, Suzanne Allen, to collect Allen's social security payments. The gang later murdered Elliott’s son, Frederick Brooks.
Bunting moved into the Salisbury North home in 1991 and befriended Wagner along with his boyfriend, Barry Lane and Mark Haydon, who all lived nearby.
John Bunting seems to have chosen his victims for imagined infractions. He both hated and feared paedophiles, and some victims were murdered after Bunting was informed of their alleged sexual behaviour with children, often based on flimsy evidence or rumour. Others were killed due to his dislike of obese people, or drug users or because they were homosexual men. Most of the victims were friends or acquaintances of at least one of the group. Others were relatives, sometimes living in the same house as one of the killers. Others were befriended and drawn into the group, having been picked as easy targets. Usually victims' social security and bank details were obtained, and the murderers or their associates impersonated the victims to continue to collect their benefits after their deaths. Although a total of $97,200 was obtained in this manner, social security fraud was not judged to have been the primary motive for the killings.
The final murder was conducted in the bank building after the barrels had been moved there for storage. Describing the scene he encountered when entering the building, one Snowtown officer said: "It was a scene from the worst nightmare you've ever had; I don't think any of us was prepared for what we saw." The building was littered with tools used by the killers to torture and murder their victims, including:
- A bloodstained saw
- Double-barreled shotgun
- Coils of rope
- Rolls of tape
- Rubber gloves
- A Variac metallurgy tool that the killers used to administer electric shocks to the genitals and other sensitive parts of the victim's body
The pathologist's report later revealed that prolonged torture had taken place using everyday tools such as pincers, pliers and clamps. Examples of all of these implements were found in the vault. Wendy Abraham QC, the deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, reported at the Supreme Court of South Australia that the victims were forced to call their torturers 'God', 'Master', 'Chief Inspector' and 'Lord Sir'.
Ray Davies was bound, placed in a bath and repeatedly beaten about the penis and genitals with a club; he had a toe crushed with a pair of pliers before he was garrotted with a piece of rope and a tire lever. Frederick Brooks received electric shocks to his penis and genitals, then had a sparkler inserted into his urethra and lit; after his toes were crushed and his nose and ears burned with cigarettes, he was left to choke to death on his gag. A piece of the flesh of the eleventh and final victim, David Johnson, was fried and eaten by Bunting and Wagner.
The victims timeline
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- Clinton Trezise, 22 (d. August 1992): Nicknamed "Happy Pants", Trezise was involved in a sexual relationship with Barry Lane, which infuriated Bunting. He was visiting Bunting's housing trust home on Waterloo Corner Road in Salisbury North when Bunting bludgeoned him to death in his living room with a blunt object. Bunting then rang Wagner and Lane, who arrived to help dispose of the body. Tresize was found buried in a shallow grave alongside Middle Beach Road at Lower Light, South Australia in 1994, but his identity was to remain unknown for another five years.
- Ray Davies, 26 (d. December 1995): Davies was a mentally handicapped man who frequently accompanied Lane in picking up men at the local "beats" and was well known locally for exposing himself to school children. He began a relationship with Suzanne Allen and, following their break-up, moved into a caravan in Allen's backyard in Ghent Street, one street from Bunting's home. On December 26 1995, Allen's grandson told her that Davies had been sexually abusing him and Allen and her daughter Annette left home to report it at the local police station. While they were gone, Bunting and Wagner picked Davies up and drove 127 kilometres (79 mi) to a property Bunting was renting at Bakara in the Riverland near Nildottie, where they beat him, particularly around the genitals. They later drove Davies back to Bunting's home and invited Elizabeth Harvey to join them in torturing him. Harvey stabbed Davies in the legs several times, before she and Wagner strangled him while Bunting watched. The body was buried in a 3.5 metres (11 ft) deep hole in the backyard. Bunting later told Harvey's 15-year-old son James Vlassakis that his mother had killed Davies. Davies was never reported missing.
By 1996, Bunting, Harvey and her sons had moved to live in Bakara. Allen was infatuated with Bunting, and followed to spend a weekend at the Bakara house. After sleeping with her, he told her there was nothing between them and she returned home. She was devastated and started writing emotional letters to him. Bunting stayed in Bakara for several months before moving to live in Murray Bridge.
- Suzanne Allen, 47 (d. 1996): According to Vlassakis, Bunting had told him that he and Wagner had travelled to Adelaide to visit Allen and found her dead from a heart attack in her bathroom. They had then conducted what Bunting called a "slice and dice" operation. Her remains were later found wrapped in 11 plastic bags, buried 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) above Davies' remains in the garden of the house at Salisbury North. Her death was concealed and the group continued to collect her benefits. Based on the evidence presented at trial, the coroner could not rule out death by natural causes and the jury was unable to decide without doubt that she had been murdered.
- Michael Gardiner, 19 (d. September 1997): Gardiner was a cross-dressing, openly gay man who was a friend of Wagner's then-girlfriend's cousin. One day, Gardiner was babysitting Wagner's girlfriend's children when Wagner returned to find Gardiner with his hand over one of the children's mouths as part of a game they were playing. Wagner misinterpreted the situation and flew into a rage. Sometime later, the cousin went away for a holiday and Gardiner agreed to house sit, informing her that he intended to move to Goolwa when she returned. Bunting and Wagner picked him up and drove to Bunting's Murray Bridge home where they strangled him. Gardiner was not missed as everyone assumed he had moved to Goolwa and Bunting had Frederick Brooks call friends of Gardiner to impersonate him.
Vanessa was a "pre-op" transsexual who's given name was Barry Lane'. She was in a relationship with Wagner when Bunting first met them upon moving into their neighbourhood in 1991. Bunting had accepted Vanessa into his circle of friends because Vanessa kept him informed of the activities of local paedophiles. He put all this information on a chart on a wall in a spare room, with the names of actual or suspected paedophiles written on Post-it notes connected with bits of pink and blue wool. Bunting called this his "Wall of Spiders", rock spider being Australian slang for a paedophile. After Vanessa was accused of molesting a local boy, someone firebombed her and Wagner's Bingham Road house and Bunting warned Vanessa never to come around again. Wagner left Vanessa and acquired another girlfriend while Vanessa became engaged to a woman who had several children and moved into her Hectorville home. She also formed a relationship with Thomas Trevilyan who moved in with Vanessa in April 1997.
- Vanessa, 42 (d. October 1997): Vanessa had been badly traumatised by the 1992 killing of Clinton Tresize and had told her mother and Bunting's former girlfriend about it. The former girlfriend questioned Bunting about Vanessa's claims and she admitted they were true. At around the same time, Trevilyan told Bunting that Vanessa had been sexually abusing him. On October 17, Bunting, Wagner and Trevilyan picked up Vanessa. Early the following morning, Vanessa's mother received a phone call from her. On orders from Bunting, Vanessa verbally abused her mother, who could hear Trevilyan in the background instructing her on what to say. After telling her mother she was going to Queensland, she hung up. They now took Vanessa to her fiancée's home where they tortured her for details of her bank accounts. After crushing her toes with pliers, she was strangled. Returning home and finding Vanessa gone, her fiancée rang the police to report her missing. Vanessa's body had in fact been wrapped in a carpet and left in her home for four days; every time her fiancee fed her pets, she had to step over the roll of carpet, never suspecting what it contained, to reach their bowl. Bunting and Wagner later collected the body while she was out and disposed of it.
- Thomas Trevilyan, 18 (d. November 1997): Trevilyan was delusional and suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. He believed he was a soldier and always wore army fatigues, carried a knife and believed the Grim Reaper was going to kill him. He had moved in with Wagner after Lane's death but Wagner's girlfriend did not like him. On November 4 1997, Wagner's girlfriend's son was playing with a puppy when Trevilyan began chasing it in an attempt to kill the puppy with his knife. He was stopped, but that afternoon Bunting told Wagner and Vlassakis that Trevilyan had started to "fuck up" and "go mental", explaining that he was likely to become a risk. So Bunting, along with Wagner, took him for a drive. The next day, Trevilyan was found hanging from a tree in Humbug Scrub in the Adelaide Hills near Kersbrook. Given his history of past suicide attempts, the coroner found Trevilyan had committed suicide.
- Gavin Porter, 29 (d. April 1998): Porter was a diagnosed schizophrenic who had spent a number of years in mental institutions. He moved from Victoria to Adelaide following the death of his mother in 1997, and there he met the 17-year old Vlassakis and moved in with him. Both men were heroin addicts and, after Bunting, Elizabeth Harvey and her children, including Vlassakis, moved to Murray Bridge in late 1997, Porter also moved in. Bunting decided he should be the next victim after he was pricked by a discarded syringe Porter had left on the couch in the living room. Porter was attacked by Bunting and Wagner while sleeping in his car parked on the property, but he awoke and managed to stab Bunting in the hand with a screwdriver before being overpowered and strangled. Vlassakis was shown Porter's body before it was disposed of.
Police investigating the disappearance of Lane discovered that a withdrawal was being made from Lane's account at an automatic teller machine (ATM) at the same service station every day his state benefits were due. They installed surveillance cameras and got footage of Wagner making the withdrawals. Due to his links with Bunting, both were now put under surveillance and had their telephones tapped.
- Troy Youde, 21 (d. August 1998): Vlassakis' half-brother and son of Elizabeth Harvey, Youde had recently moved into Bunting's Murray Bridge home. Vlassakis had been sexually abused by Youde when he was younger, and had previously told Bunting about it. One night, Bunting, Wagner and Mark Haydon woke Vlassakis and told him they were going to get Youde. They attacked and beat Youde while he was asleep in bed, subduing him before Vlassakis handcuffed him while the others tied him up. They then dragged Youde out of bed and put him in a bath, where they beat him again and forced him to give up his financial details. Youde was told to address the four by the names of 'Sir', 'God', 'Master' and 'Chief Inspector', and had his toes crushed with pliers if he failed to use any of the correct titles for one of them. Bunting then got Youde to repeat a series of numbers, words and phrases, which he recorded before Youde was strangled.
With a computer programme called Sound Forge, Bunting used the recording to create messages from Youde, something he would later repeat with future victims, telling friends that they were going away. These recordings would become known as the Voices from the Dead, when Bunting put the messages together with a backing track called Selling the Drama, which appealed to him due to the anti-paedophila chorus of the song. By now, Bunting had developed a coded language around the killings. He referred to those he didn't like as 'wastes', paedophiles were 'rock spiders', while drug users and people who ate or drank too much were 'dirties'. Potential victims needed to go to 'the clinic', wanting to kill someone was 'wanting to play', while someone being 'made good' meant they had been killed. Bunting called his own actions 'making Smurfs'. As he later explained: "First they go blue, then they go poo".
- Fred Brooks, 18 (d. September 1998): The intellectually disabled son of Jodie Elliott, who was Elizabeth Haydon's sister. Elliot had moved to South Australia in late 1997 to be near her sister. Bunting became obsessed with the idea that Brooks was 'touching up' young girls, and repeatedly told the others that something 'had to happen' to him. One day in September 1998, Brooks was excited, as he had been notified that morning that he had been accepted into the Air Force Cadets. He was invited to a party that night, but was also invited to join Bunting, Wagner and Vlassakis in a break and enter; he accepted their offer instead. He went to Bunting's house, where he was asked to try on some handcuffs to see if he could get out of them if caught by the police. Once handcuffed, Brooks was beaten, tortured with electric shocks and had lit cigarettes stubbed out in his nose and ears. Wagner burnt a smiley face on his forehead with a lighter. Bunting repeated an earlier torture by inserting a sparkler into his urethra and lighting it; after this torture was repeated a second time, Brook's toes were crushed with pliers, and he was left to choke to death on his gag.
- Gary O'Dwyer, 29 (d. November 1998): O'Dwyer had been mentally and physically disabled in an car accident some five years earlier. In 1998, he left his foster home to live by himself in Murray Bridge; unfortunately, his house was within sight of Bunting's. O'Dwyer was a stranger to the area, and he was targeted simply because he bore a physical resemblance to Troy Youde. Vlassakis befriended O'Dwyer and encouraged him to invite Bunting and Wagner over for drinks. The killers struck during one of these invitations. O'Dwyer was bound and tortured in his home on Frances Street, Murray Bridge, by Bunting, Wagner and Vlassakis. The trio left in the afternoon, leaving O'Dwyer tied up, but returned later that night and strangled him. The body was taken to Mark Haydon's home where it was placed in a barrel.
By now, Bunting was tiring of Elizabeth Harvey, and had begun to spend a lot of time with Jodie Elliott. He told Vlassakis, Harvey's son, that he was only sleeping with Elliott to keep her from informing on them. Vlassakis accepted this, even driving Bunting back and forth between their home in Murray Bridge and Elliott's home in Adelaide. Bunting told Harvey that he had got a job as a truck driver to explain why he was spending so much time away from home. Behind her back, Bunting referred to Elliot as "the village idiot", and used her to help him steal money from their victim's bank accounts, and to later claim Elizabeth Haydon's Centrelink benefits.
- Elizabeth Haydon, 37 (d. November 1998): Mark Haydon's wife. Haydon informed Bunting that he had told his wife about the group's murderous history. Bunting had always despised Elizabeth, and now told Vlassakis that her knowledge of their activities was a serious problem. On November 20 1998, Elliott was asked to take Mark Haydon into the city to keep him out of the house for a few hours. Bunting and Wagner used this time to kill Elizabeth in her bath. When Haydon returned two hours later, Bunting told him that Elizabeth had made sexual advances towards him, and that when he rejected her, she had stormed out of the house.
Up to this point, the bodies had been stored in barrels in Haydon's shed. Bunting now decided there was a need to move them. He used Haydon's Toyota Land Cruiser to relocate the barrels from Haydon's shed to a friend's property on the Adelaide Plains near the Clare Valley. He told the friends that the barrels contained kangaroo carcasses.
Several days later, Elizabeth Haydon's brother filed a missing persons report. Her brother did not believe Haydon's oft-contradictory explanations for her disappearance, which varied depending to whom he spoke, and did not believe that she would leave without her two young sons. Police also had their suspicions, especially since her own husband had not reported her as missing. It was the investigation into Elizabeth Haydon's disappearance that linked her to Bunting, Wagner and the disappearance of Barry Lane. They searched the Haydon property, including the shed where the barrels had been stored, but found nothing. Noting, however, that Haydon's Land Cruiser was missing, they circulated its number plate and description.
Bunting still had the barrel containing Haydon's body in his car, and he took it to Vlassakis at the house in Murray Bridge, where they placed it in a car in the backyard. Not long after, Vlassakis moved to Strathalbyn. The barrel was forgotten about, and left behind in Murray Bridge. Several months later, Bunting's friends told him they were moving to Snowtown, and he asked them to take the barrels with them. They initially agreed, but by this point in time the barrels had begun to smell, and the friends asked Bunting to come and collect them. Bunting and Haydon travelled to Snowtown, where they signed a lease for a house and an adjoined, unused bank, and moved the barrels into the vault. Ironically, the bank building was right next door to the local police station. Checking the barrels, Bunting noticed that the one containing Elizabeth Haydon was missing. He contacted Vlassakis and became enraged when informed that it had been accidentally left behind in Murray Bridge. Bunting and Haydon collected the barrel and put it in the vault with the others.
In January 1999, Jodie Elliott was admitted to an Adelaide psychiatric facility after suffering a nervous breakdown. Currently, Elliott spends her days rocking back and forth, whilst holding a porcelain doll she has named "Jodie Bunting".
- David Johnson, 24 (d. May 1999): Johnson was Vlassakis' step-brother. Bunting didn't like him because he was fastidious with his cleanliness and appearance and, in Bunting's mind, a "yuppie". Bunting would often refer to him as a "faggot" and say that he needed to die. It had been almost six months since the last murder and Bunting began to talk about "getting" Johnson. He suggested that Vlassakis find a way to get him to the bank in Snowtown. On May 9 1999, Vlassakis told Johnson that there was a computer for sale cheap in Snowtown, and he agreed to go with Vlassakis to buy it. Bunting and Haydon seized him as soon as he entered the building, and the ritual of beating, torture and voice recording began. Bunting also played his Voices from the Dead mix tape. After getting his ATM details, Wagner and Vlassakis took Johnson's ATM card to a roadhouse in Port Wakefield to withdraw some cash, but the machine printed out a message saying "Not authorised. Cancelled", and they returned to Snowtown and informed Bunting, who assumed the account had no money in it. When the pair arrived back at the bank, Johnson was already dead, and Bunting explained that he had managed to free himself and threatened him with a knife, leaving him with no choice but to overpower and kill him. Wagner cut a piece of flesh from Johnson's body and the trio later returned to Adelaide, where Wagner and Bunting cooked and ate the flesh. Johnson was the only victim who died in Snowtown.
On 16 May 1999, a Snowtown police patrol saw a Land Cruiser parked in a driveway and during a registration number check, realised this was a "vehicle of interest" for a missing person case. The police knocked on the door of the house and were told that the owner had left the vehicle after bringing barrels to a bank on the other side of the Snowtown railway lines. The following morning, police officers let themselves into the bank and opened the vault. On 21 May, police arrested Haydon, Bunting and Wagner for the murder of Elizabeth Haydon.
The storage of bodies
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
The barrels containing the bodies were stored in several places before being moved to the bank vault in Snowtown. These places included a shed behind Bunting's house at Murray Bridge in April 1998. Three barrels were moved to Haydon's property at Smithfield Plains later in 1998. Five barrels were stored in a Toyota Land Cruiser at Hoyleton, a locality on the Adelaide Plains near the Clare Valley, with a sixth in a Mitsubishi Sigma back at Murray Bridge. Both of these vehicles were later moved to Snowtown and the barrels moved into the bank vault, which had been rented by Haydon using the name "Mark Lawrence", the name he had used before he married.
Of the Snowtown location, one local police source said, "From what I understand there was no person involved in those murders from within Snowtown or the surrounding district. They were murdered elsewhere and the drums were brought to Snowtown because it was a quiet little town and there was a premise ideal for the persons involved".
Examiners attempting to identify the remains found them to be mummified rather than dissolved. The killers had stored the bodies in acid with the apparent intention of dissolving the remains, but had chosen hydrochloric acid, which has the effect of mummification instead.
The discovery of the barrels in May 1999 in Snowtown was the culmination of two years of criminal investigation. Police involvement with the then unlinked crimes had begun with the disappearance of Barry Lane in 1997. After Elizabeth Haydon's disappearance, the police installed a listening device in Mark Haydon's house in Smithfield Plains, recordings which were later used as court evidence. The loading activity at the old bank led to the bank building being searched.
The remains found at Lower Light were later determined to have been those of Clinton Trezise, who had been murdered in Bunting's living room at Salisbury North. Ray Davies and Suzanne Allen were found buried in the backyard of that house.
After a series of pre-trial hearings, the first of the accused to be sentenced was Vlassakis, who was given four life sentences on 21 June 2001 after pleading guilty to four murders. Later that year, Bunting, Haydon and Wagner each pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of murder. Many of the charges against Haydon were later dropped due to insufficient evidence.
The Supreme Court trial for Wagner and Bunting began on 14 October 2002 and within a short period of time, the court experienced difficulties with the jury. At least one juror refused to continue due to the horror of the evidence and some sources report that a total of three jurors withdrew from the panel for this reason. Both Bunting and Wagner were found guilty on 8 September 2003. Bunting was convicted of 11 murders and Wagner, who had pleaded guilty to three murders, was convicted of seven; both appealed their convictions. They were each sentenced to imprisonment for life on each count to be served cumulatively; the presiding judge, Justice Brian Martin, stated that the men were "in the business of killing for pleasure" and were also "incapable of true rehabilitation", ordering them to spend the rest of their lives in jail.
The proceedings against Haydon continued into 2004, and on 2 August, a trial opened in which he was charged with two counts of murder and six counts of "assisting offenders". Haydon testified that he was not party to the crimes. However, on 19 December, the jury returned from four days of deliberations, convicting Haydon of five counts of assisting in the crimes and reaching no verdict on the two counts of murder and the remaining charge of assistance. Haydon was held in detention as of December 2004 awaiting a possible retrial.
In May 2005, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Bunting and Wagner, who had now exhausted their avenues of appeal in South Australia. In September 2005, the murder charges against Haydon were dropped in return for guilty pleas to two new charges of assisting in the killings of his wife, Elizabeth Haydon, and Troy Youde. Prosecutors also agreed to drop an additional charge of assisting offenders in relation to the murder of David Johnson.
The final outstanding murder charges against John Bunting and Robert Wagner, concerning Suzanne Allen, were dropped on 7 May 2007, when a jury was unable to reach a verdict. Several of the jury members have since undergone counselling to help cope with their experience.
At his sentencing, Wagner rose in the dock and stated:
"Paedophiles were doing terrible things to children. The authorities didn't do anything about it. I decided to take action. I took that action. Thank you."
Unlike most serial killings, where usually no more than two people are involved, six people were directly involved in this case and a number of people had suspicions or had been told of the murders – yet none of these associates had gone to police with any concerns. The most important aspect that allowed the murders to continue for almost seven years was the public's attitude towards paedophilia. Bunting was known to hate paedophiles and homosexuals. Following a rant by Bunting in court regarding what he thought should be done to paedophiles, the father of one of Bunting's victims was asked if this attitude had hinted that Bunting could be a murderer, he replied that many people had the same feelings and that during conversations with Bunting, he himself would talk about how he would kill the man who had abused his ex-wife’s children.
The details of the case, particularly the manner in which the victims were found, horrified and fascinated the public. The murders garnered Snowtown much unwanted attention, and the town is now best known for the murders. According to local residents, following the discovery in the disused bank vault, a steady stream of unwelcome visitors would stop to look at and photograph the building. This continues today with tourists regularly photographing themselves in front of the building, with one shop selling locally made souvenirs. Props used in the filming of the Snowtown movie, including barrels and black plastic sheeting, remain in the vault.
At the time, the local press reported a suggestion that the town's name be changed to avoid the stigma now associated with it, although this suggestion was rejected. One suggested new name, according to press reports, was "Rosetown". Locally, the murders are referred to as "the situation".
The bank, with a four bedroom attached house, was placed on the market in February 2012 but only reached half its reserve price of $200,000. After holding an open day which raised $700 for charity through charging an entrance fee, the property sold on 27 September for just over $185,000 with the new owners intending to live in the house while running a business from the bank. A plaque will be installed to commemorate the victims.
In media and popular culture
- "Snowtown suppression orders lifted for film". Australian Associated Press. 20 January 2011.
- "Gruesome trail of killing". The Age (Melbourne). 9 September 2003.
- "Gruesome trail of killing". The Age (Melbourne). 9 September 2003.
- "Snowtown killers 'cooked victim's flesh'". ABC News. 19 September 2005. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- "Final Snowtown murder charge dropped". ABC News. 8 May 2007.
- Snowtown murderers get life, Lateline, 29 October 2003
- Tourists snap up souvenirs of Snowtown's past The Advertiser 15 July 2012
- Snowtown: Living with a death penalty The Age 7 May 2011
- Gruesome trail of killing The Age 9 September 2003
- If walls could talk The Australian 30 June 2012
- THE infamous Snowtown Bank has sold The Advertiser 29 August 2012
- Snowtown bank sold The Age 29 September 2012
- "SA: Chronology of Events in the Bodies-in-Barrels Case". Australian Associated Press, 19 December 2004.
- "The victims". The Age (Melbourne). 9 September 2003.
- Debelle, Penelope (9 September 2003). "Sadists get life". The Age (Melbourne).
- "Chamber of horrors". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 September 2003.
- "Bodies-in-barrels trial not over". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 December 2004.
- "Serial murders macabre reminder of South Australia's past". The 7.30 Report. 24 May 1999.
- "Snowtown killers likely to die in jail". Lateline (news). 8 September 2003.
- "Snowtown killers 'cooked victim's flesh'". ABC (Australia). 19 September 2005.
- Snowtown Murders: The Real Story Behind the Bodies in the Barrels Killings, Andrew McGarry, ISBN 0-7333-1482-1
- Snowtown: The Bodies In Barrels Murders: The Grisly Story of Australia's Worst Serial Killings, Jeremy Pudney, ISBN 0-7322-6716-1
- All Things Bright And Beautiful: Murder In The City Of Light, Susan Mitchell, ISBN 1-4050-3610-9