EXCLUSIVE: A shocking family admission almost 70 years after a woman seemingly shot her abusive husband dead only makes Eleanor Rose Baldwin even more of a hero, writes Serkan Ozturk.
Almost two years ago, True Crime News Weekly brought you the devastatingly tragic and brutal tale of Eleanor Rose Baldwin – who after 40 years of domestic abuse at the hands of her deranged husband, Richard Valentine Baldwin, was said to have shot the violent b*stard straight through the heart.
The deadly incident occurred on Saturday, August 16, 1952 during a supposed duel between the pair on their farmland property near Amphitheatre, Victoria.
Eleanor had married Richard in 1910, when she was just 20-years-old. They would end up having 11 children together, all of whom were also witness and prey to Richard’s violent outbursts and what would now be recognised as coercive control during the couple’s 40-year-plus marriage.
It would later be revealed that Richard regularly bashed and assaulted his wife and children with the use of rifles, bits of wood, physical violence, and in one extreme case, fire.
During that particular incident, Richard repeatedly kicked one of his daughter’s until she lost consciousness. He proceeded to drag her into one of the paddocks on the farm, before burying her under a pile of leaves and setting them on fire. Eleanor quickly stepped in to rescue her daughter – even if it meant risking her own safety, not only in the face of fire, but also assault.
Eleanor was later herself severely attacked by Richard for this brave rescue of her child.
According to newspaper reports from the time as well as court records, on the morning of August 16, 1952 it was alleged that Richard began abusing Eleanor after she had failed to retrieve the newspaper for him the previous night. The two continued this ‘discussion’ outside, with one of their sons, Athol, accompanying his mother. Tensions then grew, with Richard telling Eleanor and Athol to either “pack up and leave” or be shot. Athol, who was only 17-years-old, challenged his father, but Richard was said to have continued with the threats – “I’ll get a rifle and drill you,” he said.
According to the court, it was at this time Eleanor left the scene to supposedly retrieve a bucket but came back soon enough with a rifle of her own. Richard is then said to have shot his rifle towards Eleanor and their son, Athol.
Mum and son then raced down to one of the paddocks and sought cover behind some trees.
As Richard gave chase, another son – Lawrence – was said to have pulled up in the driveway of the farm property.
Violent marriage: The couple in 1927 when Eleanor was aged 36. The couple had been married since 1910 and are pictured with their eldest child, Sylvia, who was 15-years-old at the time of the photograph (Image: Ancestry.com / Supplied)
A newspaper report from 1952 about the charging of Eleanor Rose Baldwin with murder (Image: Trove / Supplied)
Thinking the situation may have calmed down a little, Eleanor and Athol attempted to return to the house.
Now with only a fence standing between him and his wife, Richard once again “aimed a blow at his son”.
It was here and then, Eleanor is said to have taken the .22 rifle she had with her and fired a shot. Straight into Richard’s heart.
Richard only made it a few steps before collapsing. Upon muttering that he had been shot, Eleanor replied, “You have been looking for it for a long time.”
With that shot, years of abuse finally come to an end for the Baldwins. Just over a month after the shooting of Richard and Eleanor being charged with his murder, a judge allowed Eleanor to walk free as an innocent woman on the grounds that the shooting was justified in self defence.
Except, in a shocking twist almost 70 years later, according to one family member the story as reported by the newspapers of the time and as conveyed by the court reports was not true at all. Most of it had been made up.
“I am sorry to say that this story of Eleanor Rose Baldwin is very, very far from the truth,” the family source revealed.
It turns out Eleanor had never shot her violent husband. She only said that to police and then the courts to protect her family, for one last time.
Because Richard was shot dead that fateful day in 1952, not by his wife though, but by another family member.
“Eleanor, my grandmother didn’t shoot Richard,” the source further explained to True Crime News Weekly.
“One of their children did because you are right, Richard was a pig of a man.”
Eleanor would go onto live for another 20 years, to the age of 82, following the death of Richard.
“In God’s care”: The gravestone of Richard and Eleanor Baldwin (Image: Ancestry.com / Supplied)
Despite the abuse she suffered for decades at his hands, Eleanor can be found resting side-by-side with her former husband in a Victorian cemetery plot with a single gravestone marking both their resting places.
With the truth now out in the open almost seven decades later, True Crime News Weekly would like to pay the proper tribute to Eleanor Rose Baldwin: a true hero if ever there was one and an enduring symbol of the strength, courage and bravery of women everywhere.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, relationship or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT. org.au
If you need assistance or help with mental health issues, contact:
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
Blue Knot Foundation (for survivors of child sexual abuse) – 02 8920 3611