“WHAT ARE THEY HIDING”? Coroner still won’t hand over documents to family almost 50 YEARS AFTER murder of Elaine Beverley King

EXCLUSIVE: It was the crime that should have shocked a nation. Instead, the tragic and brutal 1974 murder of Elaine Beverley King in a Sydney city hotel room was largely ignored by the local media and police force alike – a fact Elaine’s surviving family attributes to society’s stigma against sex workers. Now almost 50 years on from the crime, her family are still fighting for the justice and closure they’ve been long denied. Joanna Psaros reports.

On 11 July 1974, police investigators called to Sydney’s Burlington Hotel were greeted by an unusually vicious and disturbing crime scene. Sydney local Elaine Beverley King, aged 45, had been raped, beaten, and strangled to death in the room she had checked into the evening before. Police established the woman had been strangled with her own pantyhose. Eleven dollars in notes was found stuffed down her throat.

Despite the offer of a $100,000 reward in 2011, the case has never been solved. And while Elaine’s surviving family continue to push for progress in what’s now a cold-case investigation, it’s proved the ultimate uphill battle.

“All I want is a little closure,” Elaine Beverley King’s granddaughter Kerry Jacques told True Crime News Weekly.

“It should not take this long for a family to get some answers.”

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With the assistance of TCNW journalists, Ms Jacques lodged an official request for Queensland and New South Wales Coroners Court documents relating to the case in September 2021.

More than 12 months on and she’s still waiting.

Under NSW law, the next of kin to the deceased who has a credible interest in coronial findings must be provided with all documents held upon request. Initially warned there may be a wait of “several months” in processing this request, TCNW waited a further five months before a spokesperson for the court finally advised that historic cases could take up to twelve months.

To date, Kerry Jacques has been waiting for over 14 months with no sign of the files to which she’s entitled. TCNW’s multiple emails requesting an update from the Court did not receive a response.

“I really am starting to wonder if there is something they are hiding,” Ms Jacques told TCNW.  

“I’m also concerned that if I do get the records that they are going to be heavily redacted.”

Unlike their NSW counterparts, the Public Record Office Victoria – which is the archive of the state and local government in Victoria – has happily assisted True Crime News Weekly with previous investigations involving cold cases from the same era and even had staff digitise all relevant files in their possession within a fortnight during a Covid lockdown in Melbourne last year following a request from this publication.

Coroner Denying Access to Family: Elaine Beverley King’s granddaughter, Kerry Jacques, with her son (Image: Supplied)

Meanwhile, a report released in May this year suggests that Ms King’s family are not the only ones to face this form of frustration.

The Select Committee on Coronial Jurisdiction in NSW identified a number of serious flaws in the court’s operation, which was called “complicated and confusing.”

It was further found that dire under resourcing contributed to lengthy delays throughout the entire coronial process.  

“Evidence to the inquiry showed that delays can cause uncertainty, stress and anxiety for families, prolonging the mourning and healing process,” the report concluded.

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Earlier this year, Ms Jacques revealed that her own investigation into her grandmother’s murder had forced police to admit that several key pieces of DNA evidence, including a bloodied stocking and semen samples, had been lost.

Ms Jacques has theorised that infamous “backpacker killer” Ivan Milat may have been responsible for her grandmother’s death. Police refused to comment, having never identified a suspect for the murder.

Investigations are ongoing.

If you have any information that could assist Elaine Beverley King’s family in bringing her killer to justice and providing closure, please contact editor@truecrimenewsweekly.com or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

– Additional reporting and research by Serkan Ozturk

About Joanna Psaros 15 Articles
Joanna Psaros is a Sydney-based freelance writer with a background in law. She has a master’s degree in law and international development and has written articles on everything from politics to pop culture for publications including Independent Australia, Green Left, and her own feminist blog Girls’ Locker Room Talk.

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