Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Bridgewater Beauty Killing Pt 1: The Death of Miss Devina Schmidt

Bridgewater Beauty Killing Pt 1:
The Death of Miss Devina Schmidt

 Bridgewater, a small Adelaide Hills town popular for its scenic beauty, and up until 1987, the end of the Adelaide Hills railway line.
 In November 1927, Bridgewater would make national headlines for all the wrong reasons.
  Horace Clarke, who was holidaying in Adelaide from the town of Geranium (near Tailem Bend) had organised a picnic party for himself and group of friends in Bridgewater, all up the party consisted of 6 young women and 6 young men.
  The group boarded the train at the Adelaide Railway Station. A man, unknown to the rest of the party, approached Devina, she was heard to say to him “You had better not, or I will put the police on to you!” before turning away hastily and joining the rest of the picnic party.
 The group arrived in Bridgewater sometime around 11am and found the town full of people celebrating the warmer weather. Music was in the air with other picnickers bringing their gramophones and singing and dancing.

The small group found their place in the park and began their lunch, afterwards they began to play a game called “Paper chase”, which saw the girls leave the boys. The boys caught up to the girls not more than five minutes later, when the man from the train station, Mr William Haines, stepped out from the bushes and made towards Devina.
 Fear gripped the young ladies and they left Devina with the young men who had been playing paper chase with them and had managed to catch up. Haines asked Devina to take a walk with him, she refused.
 Haines went in to a fit of rage and grabbed Devina by the shoulder, shouting “You Wont!” he then pulled out a revolver and told the young men “All of you put your hands up!”
 Some of the young men ran off to the group of girls to move them out of harm’s way. Haines, looking straight at Devina, fired five shots from his revolver, in to her head. He calmly walked away, then reloaded his gun. He looked back at the young men, and stated “I have another six here”.
 This gave some of the young men the time to run and find a local police officer.
Another gunshot echoed through the park, and Haines, slumped to the ground.
 The first to attend Devina was her killer, Haines, who scooped her almost lifeless body up in his arms, he shouted for help, and with assistance got Devina into a motor car to take her to hospital.
 Mounted Constable Gumley was the first Police Officer on the scene, arriving he found Devina already in a motor car, with Haines holding her. After hearing the story, he detained Haines and found a .22 calibre revolver in his possession. Haines had a bullet wound to his right temple.

Devina Schmidt, the only daughter of Mr and Mrs Walter Schmidt, a Butcher at Brooklyn Park, was dead.
 She had been an active and popular young woman, working at a city insurance office. Haines, who  for some time, had been trying to date Devina, had not met the approval of her parents, and it was his jealousy that drove him to stalk her that day, and take her life, so tragically, in front of many of her co-workers, that she had invited to the picnic gathering.
Next Week: Bridgewater Beauty Killing Pt 2: The Trial of William Ephriam Peter Haines