Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 4) –The Death of Johanne Elizabeth “Bertha” Schippan





The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 4) –The Death of Johanne Elizabeth “Bertha” Schippan


 Johanne Elizabeth Schippan, known to the family as “Bertha” was just two weeks shy of her 14th birthday when she was brutally attacked in her bedroom on the 1st of January 1902, sometime around 10pm.
 Bertha was her Fathers favourite child of the 7 kids he, and his wife Johanne had raised, she was outgoing, strong of body and strong of mind. A young girl, about to become a woman, Bertha was a hard worker, and had a job at the Yalumba canning factory, working with her sister Mary, but also tended to the farm and other chores around the house.

 The house had three rooms, the first, a large kitchen area, with a door into the second room, the parents’ bedroom – both these rooms also had doors that led outside.  The parents’ bedroom also had a door that led into the girl’s bedroom, it was the only way into the girl’s room, not having an external entrance. The girls shared the one bed, with Bertha sleeping up against the wall, and Mary closer to the door.


 Bertha awoke to her sister’s screams and the sound of her being thrown across the room, not too much after is really known, but much has been speculated on.
 In Mary’s witness account, the men called out to the two girls that he was going to kill them both if they didn’t stop screaming, but both girls yelled for their brother’s help. The two boys were asleep out in their shared room, an old shed.
 Mary was forced through the parents room, into the kitchen, where she made her escape to the boys room to wake them up and get help – from hear she heard one last blood curdling scream from Bertha before silence fell over the farm.

The assailant cut Bertha’s throat from ear to ear, severing her carotid artery. She struggled with the intruder through three different rooms, and suffered three slashes to the throat, and one under her chin that was around 90mm’s long. Her ears had been slashed, and one large cut was across the back of her neck. The intruder then stabbed her multiple times in the back of her neck.
 Her left and right cheeks had been slashed, as had her hands, Bertha was also covered in scratched from the struggle.
 In a later report, it was discovered she had not suffered any attempted rape or sexual molestation throughout the entire ordeal.
 Bertha passed away on her parents’ bedroom floor after bleeding out from her neck wounds.

NEXT WEEK: The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 5) –The Inquest Begins