Homes for All
Juanita’s killer — or killers — have still not been officially identified. However, two courageous journalists collected evidence on one of Australia’s few political murders. After years of investigation, Barry Ward and Tony Reeves assembled material on those suspected of the crime.
In his book A Requiem for Juanita, Ward quotes Ted Middleton, accountant to underworld figure Abe Saffron. Middleton had no doubt who was to blame for the infamous murder:
Fred Krahe organized it and there were two others in on it, plus Saffron, Anderson, and Trigg, and certain coppers, of course.
Eddie Trigg, another of Theeman’s enforces, already had criminal convictions in several states.
Ward and Reeves also revealed how police officers undermined the investigation. They pointed to discrepancies in the police version of Juanita’s last hours, as well as the inaccurate depiction of Juanita’s clothes and hairstyle that the police used in her missing person’s photo. They also noted Krahe’s influence over a number of serving Sydney police officers.
Some contend that Juanita was killed because of an exposé she was about to publish in NOW, revealing connections and illegal funding networks between Sydney’s big gamblers, high society, senior NSW bureaucrats, MPs, and police. For obvious reasons, Saffron and others wanted to suppress these revelations.
Within twenty-four hours of Juanita’s disappearance, her home and office were ransacked. Many of Juanita’s research papers vanished, as did the copy for the planned edition of NOW bearing her exposé.
In 1976, Labor came to power in NSW. After viewing the evidence complied by Ward and Reeves, then ALP attorney general Frank Walker ordered the crime squad to provide details of the police investigation. Walker wasn’t naive about the challenges he would face in dealing with the police. As he said to Ward and Reeves: “Don’t say too much on the phone, I’m certain the cops are bugging me.”
Partly as a result of Walker’s efforts, a submission calling for a judicial inquiry into the murder, conspiracy, and police collusion was compiled and presented to the then NSW premier, Neville Wran. But Wran denied the request. Ward wrote in 2008 that although he was “sympathetic,” Wran “was also cautious about authorizing a step which could have such wide-ranging political implications.”
In 1983, a coronial jury inquiry found that Nielsen had probably been murdered. She was declared deceased — but there was insufficient evidence to determine those responsible or how she had been murdered. The inquiry noted that police corruption had probably limited the investigation.