Greenough Family Massacre

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Greenough Family Massacre
LocationGreenough, Western Australia
Coordinates-28.906949, 114.710593
Date21st[1][2]/22nd[3][4] February 1993
Attack type
Mass murder/Axe murder
Karen MacKenzie (31)
Daniel (16)
Amara (7)
Katrina (5)
PerpetratorWilliam Patrick Mitchell

The term Greenough Family Massacre refers to the axe murders of Karen MacKenzie (age 33) and her three children Daniel (16), Amara (7), and Katrina (5) at their remote rural property in Greenough, Western Australia, on February 21, 1993.[1] They were killed by William Patrick Mitchell (Bill Mitchell), a friend of Karen MacKenzie. The crime has been called, "One of the worst crimes in Western Australia" and details of the murders were withheld from the public as they were deemed too gruesome and horrific. The case was so heinous that "cries for the return of the death penalty could be heard echoing around the State".[2]


On the day of the crime, Mitchell had been spending the day getting high on a mixture of cannabis, alcohol, and amphetamines. The trouble began with the sound of a car arriving at the MacKenzie home. Daniel went out to see who it was and was confronted by Mitchell. Mitchell, wielding an axe, killed Daniel and headed for the house, where he found Karen asleep in the lounge room. After attacking her with the axe and killing her, he then raped her. Amara and Katrina were asleep in their bedrooms, when Mitchell turned his attention to them.[2]

Police and forensic investigators scoured the murder scene and collected evidence. In the meantime, the funeral for the four victims was held on March 5, 1993, attended by Mitchell. It was five weeks before farm hand Bill Mitchell, a friend of Karen MacKenzie, was arrested on either the 28th or the 29th of March.[5]


Mitchell pleaded guilty to four counts of willful murder and four counts of sexual assault.[1] A hand lotion used by the killer was a key piece of evidence. Mitchell was convicted of the murders in 1995 at the age of 24 and was sentenced to four concurrent terms of life imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 20 years. According to the television series Crime Investigation Australia, a judge ruled that the exact way in which Daniel, Amara, and Katrina were killed was to be sealed.[4] Due to a public outcry against the sentence, a Crown appeal ordered the non-parole period to be revoked. There followed a series of Supreme and High Court appeals, including a ruling that Mitchell would never be released.


Mitchell is currently incarcerated in Bunbury Regional Prison in Western Australia. An appeal overturned the non-release ruling and reinstated his 20-year non-parole period, and he consequently became eligible for parole in 2013, with a three-year review in 2016. In September 2013, Mitchell was refused parole. Attorney General Michael Mischin stated that his decision to refuse parole was based upon the gravity of the crime and the safety of the community.[6] He became eligible for parole again in October 2016, and was refused parole again.[7][8] As required by statute, his next review by the board is due in September 2019.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Nicole Cox (19 May 2007). "Throw away the prison keys". Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b c "Greenough Family Massacre", West Australian Vista - GlobeVista, Retrieved on 4 July 2009
  3. ^ The Australian, 24th February 1993
  4. ^ a b c CIA: The Greenough Family Massacre | Crime & Investigation Network Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ The Australian, March 30 1993
  6. ^ "Axe murderer William Mitchell refused parole over gravity of crime and risk to community". ABC Online. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Petition fights for axe murderer to stay behind bars". ABC News. 2016-04-07. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
  8. ^ a b "Greenough killer's parole bid denied". NewsComAu. Retrieved 2017-10-01.

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