Joseph Schwab

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Joseph Schwab
Joseph Thomas Schwab[1]

Died19 June 1987[2] (age 25–27)
Cause of deathShot to death by Western Australia Police Tactical Response Group
Other namesThe Kimberley Killer
Span of crimes
9 June 1987[2]–14 June 1987[3]
State(s)Northern Territory, Western Australia

Joseph "Josef" Schwab (1961 – June 1987) was a German tourist and spree killer who murdered five people in the Top End region of the Northern Territory and Western Australia in June 1987. Schwab was dubbed The Kimberley Killer by the Australian press after the region in which he committed the murders.


The gunman’s first victims were Marcus and Lance Bullen, a father and son, who were shot dead with a high-powered rifle on June 9, while scouting for a fishing location on the banks of the Victoria River, and their bodies later found in shallow graves.[4][5] Police investigations failed to uncover any motive for the killings and roadblocks were set up across the area, but the killer escaped capture.[6]

Just five days later three more tourists – Phillip Charles Walkemeyer, his fiancée Julie Anne Warren, and their friend Terry Kent Bolt – were shot dead in similar circumstances at the Pentecost River Crossing near Wyndham, Western Australia.[7][3] Schwab drove their vehicle away from the scene and then set it on fire. A seven-member team of police officers from the Tactical Response Group and an officer from the forensic division were sent by chartered aircraft from Perth to Kununurra to assist Kimberley police with the investigation.[8][2] It was believed that the weapon used in the murders was a Ruger Mini-14 .223 semi-automatic rifle and that Schwab was driving a white Toyota 4Runner[9] with conspicuous red side stripes.

An outback helicopter pilot, Peter Leutenegger, from Napier Downs station,[10] raised the alarm after spotting a camouflaged vehicle in bushland near Fitzroy Crossing.[6][8] Police, unsure if the hidden vehicle belonged to the gunman they were looking for, approached it cautiously and decided to call on a police aircraft to fly over the site in an attempt to flush the occupant out into the open. A man armed with a semi-automatic weapon emerged from the bushes and fired at the police and the Cessna 182 police plane. Police returned fire, killing the gunman.[6]

Police later identified the gunman as Joseph Schwab, a 26-year-old German tourist. A security guard in his native country,[9] his motive for the killings is unknown.[6]


Names of victims:

  • Marcus Bullen
  • Lance Bullen
  • Phillip Walkemeyer
  • Julie Warren
  • Terry Bolt


The crime was featured in series 1 (2007), episode 10 of Crime Investigation Australia entitled The Kimberley Killer.[11]

The crime was also featured on podcast, Casefile, case 70


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-10. Retrieved 2013-10-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b c "Not our son, say parents of 'Top-End' gunman". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. 18 December 1987. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b Skehan, Peter. "Josef Schwab – The Kimberley Killer – 1987". Western Australia Police Historical Society Inc. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  4. ^ "The Kimberley Killer - Episode 10". Discovery Channel. Archived from the original on 29 September 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  5. ^ "Episodes in Western Australia's Policing History" (PDF). Western Australia Police – Media and Public Affairs. 2006. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d "The Kimberley Killer - Tuesday 11 September". PerthNow. 5 March 2007. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  7. ^ Morton, James; Lobez, Susanna (2009). Dangerous To Know: An Australasian Crime Compendium. Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 9780522859447. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  8. ^ a b "The Northern Territory Police Museum and Historical Society Inc". Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  9. ^ a b Dennis, Anthony; Perry, Michael (22 June 1987). "Outback terror ends in morgue". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  10. ^ McCorry, Sheryl (1 July 2008). Diamonds and Dust: A Sheryl McCorry Memoir 1. Pan Macmillan Australia. ISBN 9781741981087. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Film on killer finished". Kimberley Echo. 1 February 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2008.