Killer Instinct

An extract from “Killer Instinct”

Chapter 1 — The Smell of Blood

Forty-seven-year-old Edward Baldock sat naked on the grass on a cool October night in 1989. The popular Orleigh Park atWest End was empty at midnight, the Brisbane River reflecting the lights of the city nearby. Edward’s new acquaintance, Tracey, had just slipped off into the darkness to have a pee, having first taken off her shirt to reveal her breasts and offering to have sex when she came back. He had taken off his clothes, folded them in a pile, and pushed his wallet under the roller door of the rowing club a few metres away. He was fairly tipsy, having been out with mates at the Irish Club in Brisbane’s CBD. He had walked across the river towards his inner-city home when Tracey and her friends called him over to their car and offered him a lift. He now sat waiting for what must have been an unexpected treat — sex with a woman twenty-five years his junior.

Sensing Tracey coming out of the darkness behind him, Edward said, ‘What are you doing?’ She replied, ‘Nothing,’ as she removed a knife from her trouser pocket. A second later, she plunged the knife up to its hilt in Edward’s neck. He tried to grab her hand but she pushed his arm down. She withdrew the knife and stabbed him again, first in one side of the neck, then in the other. She continued stabbing him before grabbing his hair and slashing the knife across his throat. Despite his injuries, Edward was still alive. He made gurgling noises and rolled onto his side. Tracey again stabbed his neck, trying to get into the bones and cut the nerves. Blood welled from Edward’s mouth.Tracey sat and watched him until, finally, he was motionless. To make sure he was dead, she plunged the knife deep into his side.

Tracey went to the river and threw in the knife, then washed her hands and arms. She dressed and returned to the car where her three friends had been waiting for the past half-hour. They were convinced Tracey was a vampire and that she had killed the man to drink his blood — she had earlier told them she ‘needed to feed’. When she got back in the car, they were sure they could smell blood on her breath.

At 5 a.m. the following day, a jogger almost tripped over Edward’s body. The naked man with gaping stab wounds and covered in blood was a sight no-one would want to see. Police were quickly summoned and a forensic pathologist was brought in to see the crime scene and examine the body. The main wounds were to the back and front of the neck. Huge, gaping holes marked the two major injuries, with fourteen satellite stab wounds. The spine in the neck and the spinal cord were three-quarters cut through, an injury that would have required considerable sustained force.The two main arteries in the left side of the neck were completely severed. The adjacent jugular vein was partially severed. The chest showed three further stab wounds.

Edward’s family was stunned and extremely distressed by his violent death. He was a loved husband and father who liked a drink but had no history of violence or any other issues in his life that might have been expected to lead him to such a tragic end.

What police found at the scene of this murder made it one of their most easily solved cases, given that such a seemingly random killing could have been so difficult to untangle. The blue wallet under the clubhouse door contained a credit card in the name of ‘E Baldock’. A pair of men’s shoes lay next to the body, and in the toe of one was a bank key card in the name of ‘Miss T Wigginton’. By 10 a.m., police were at an address in a northern suburb of Brisbane, where Tracey answered the door.

How did Tracey Wigginton’s key card find its way into the toe of Edward Baldock’s shoe? In her first interview with police, the day after the murder, she said she’d lost it the night before when she was frolicking in Orleigh Park with her friends. Later, she recalled picking her card up when she and Edward moved their belongings but could not remember where she’d put it. She had no recollection of putting it into a shoe. Another suggestion produced at trial was that Edward might have picked it up in the dark and thought it was his, so he placed it in his shoe for safekeeping. The most intriguing proposition raised in Tracey’s defence was that the card had been deliberately placed in the shoe by one of the multiple personalities inhabiting Tracey’s mind — one that hated her violence and wanted to ensure she was caught.

The sequence of events on that October night was pieced together by police largely from accounts given by Tracey’s friends rather than by Tracey, as at first she claimed to recall little of what had happened. After leaving the riverside park, Tracey drove to her friends’ house and went to sleep. She awoke early and realised she had lost her key card. She and one friend went back to the park to find it, but they saw a man’s body, became alarmed, and left. Tracey went home to her own flat and shouted to her girlfriend Debbie, ‘I want you in the bedroom right now, I’ve just seen a dead body!’ Debbie drove her to Orleigh Park. By then, police were at the scene, attending to the body.

Tracey became distressed and said, ‘Oh my God, it’s real!’ before curling up in the foetal position in the car.The women returned to their flat and Tracey went to sleep after Debbie gave her two sleeping tablets.Three hours later, the police knocked on their door.Debbie was surprised to see how calmlyTracey spoke to them, as if it was all about some minor matter.

Tracey was interviewed three times by police before a charge of murder was laid. In the first interview, she denied knowledge of any murder but admitted having been at Orleigh Park the night before. The police took her there and she showed them the playground area where she said she’d been playing with two friends, and where she must have lost her key card. Police told her it was in that area that a man had just been murdered. She responded, ‘Oh, no!’ She then told police there had been a third girl present that night — Linda. Tracey hadn’t mentioned her before because she didn’t want Debbie to know she was seeing Linda.

A second interview was then conducted. Police told Tracey that her friends had told them she’d seen a body the previous night. Tracey became upset and confirmed she had seen the body. It was horrible, she said, and she and her friends hadn’t known what to do about it. They were ‘scared shitless’ and decided not to say anything and just forget about it.

Shortly after that, police interviewed Tracey a third time, telling her that her friends had confessed. She became distressed but, once she was convinced the confession was real, she said, ‘Put the tape back in, I’ll tell you what happened.’ She said her previous two accounts were all lies and then gave a detailed account of the events that resulted in the murder.

Tracey told police that she and her three friends had been at Club Lewmors in Brisbane’s nightclub district, drinking Riccadonna spumante. They decided to entice a man down to the river as a joke — Tracey was to turn him on and then leave him there. Then she gave police a detailed account of how she had killed Edward Baldock. Her motives were entirely unclear, but the police had their killer and Tracey was charged and detained in custody. Information was now gathered from friends and family to try to understand what led to the killing, with several people speaking of Tracey’s apparent interest in sadism and the occult.

Debbie had been with Tracey for almost two years, but for the six months prior to the killing the relationship was very strained and ‘open’. The pair had been planning to go away together to get close again, though Tracey had started an affair with Linda two weeks before the murder. Two days before Edward’s death, Tracey had been withdrawn and sullen and spent a lot of time sharpening a knife she owned.The night before the murder, she dyed her hair ‘midnight black’.

Her more recent friends reported that Tracey had told them she was a vampire. Linda said Tracey told her she would get pig and cow blood from the butcher to drink. Four times Tracey had persuaded Linda to cut her wrists so that she could suck her blood. Before the killing, she talked about her need to ‘feed’ and indicated she would drink the victim’s blood. However, the three friends who were with her that night did not witness her doing so. They were too scared to leave the car when Tracey took Baldock down to the riverbank — she threatened that if anyone touched her during the process, she was liable to rip their arm off. They had been reluctant to believe Tracey would murder but were convinced by the smell of blood on her breath after the event.

In the weeks before the killing, Tracey and her friends had picnicked at night in the old Toowong cemetery, just west of the city, and had taken home a fallen headstone.The friends felt controlled by Tracey. They believed she had some kind of supernatural power. She had told them to sit cross-legged in front of her and hold eye contact, with the light behind her. They saw Tracey’s body disappear, leaving just two cat’s eyes floating before them. In the week before the murder, Tracey and one friend had watched a vampire movie in which a couple was abducted and killed. They had also watched, over and over again, a video of someone having their head blown off by a shotgun.

Another friend, Katherine, reported that Tracey often drew faces that were half-animal, half-human. Many times she drew a star inside a circle, or a cross with a rounded top; she had jewellery with these designs. Tracey told Katherine she was fascinated by ‘the other side’. She seemed unfeeling and cruel to animals. Several times she had wondered out loud what it would feel like to kill somebody. She would replay many times the scenes in horror movies where people were killed or maimed. She would draw patterns in blood from defrosted meat or from cuts she had made to herself. She told Katherine that she had a ‘burning hatred’ for her birth mother, who would pay — she would get her.

Dianne, her adoptive sister, reported that when Tracey was in Grade 9 or 10, she read books about witchcraft. In her teens, she loved wearing black clothes, and she drew grotesque, tortured, twisted faces. Stepsister Miriam said that, as a child, Tracey would curl up in the foetal position in an apparent trance for hours when very upset, a behaviour others said persisted into her adult life. She had asked Miriam about black magic and persuaded her to take her to a séance. She asked about the devil and human sacrifices. But as far as Miriam knew, there was no interest in vampirism, and she thought Tracey used to feel sick at the sight of blood.

Another friend indicated that Tracey had spoken of her interest in witchcraft, including the contemporary Wicca movement. She had earlier been very involved in Christianity, but that part of her life was replaced by her darker fascinations. Tracey once cut a pentagon into the back of one of her hands but later covered it with a round tattoo.

Some of the accounts given by friends indicated Tracey’s tendency to present differently at certain times in her life. After school she went to TAFE, where she cut her hair very short and spiky and dressed in black. She began answering to the name of Bobby, a persona she took with her when she later moved north to Cairns to work as a bartender and bouncer at a club. Bobby was masculine and tough, even speaking in a deeper voice. She was said at times to wear a studded collar and wristbands, high boots, a black jacket with chrome chains, and gloves with studs on the knuckles. She carried a knife in one boot. To complete the tough image, she rode a motorcycle. Understandably, she developed a fearsome reputation among the nightclub’s clientele.

However, this persona did not manifest at home, where friends reported that Tracey was her ‘normal’ self. Indeed, the persona of Bobby came and went for short periods. (Tracey later insisted to me that this was simply a role she assumed to facilitate her work as a bouncer.) Debbie said that, at times, Tracey was positively childlike, that she would carry a tattered, dirty pillowcase that she called her ‘security blanket’. She could also be reclusive, barely emerging from her room for days on end.

There was at least one period in her life when Tracey took on a subservient masochistic role, in contrast to the tough man Bobby. This was when she was in a brief relationship with Billie, a female dominatrix. She wore a collar with a lock and chain attached, by which Billie led her around. Tracey told Debbie that she had allowed Billie to beat her with a strap. Given the nature of the murder of Edward Baldock, the defence solicitor decided to have Tracey assessed to see if she was mentally ill, anticipating a potential psychiatric defence to the charge. In the first few interviews with a psychiatrist, Tracey was adamant that she had no psychiatric problems, but it eventually became clear that Tracey had little recall of many aspects of her early life. She also had little memory of the night of the murder, despite having confessed in some detail to police. Because of these ‘significant amnesias’, and after six months of interviews, the psychiatrist began to suspect that he might be dealing with multiple personality disorder (MPD).

Amnesia involving large slabs of time or sequences of behaviour, occurring in the absence of a brain disorder or relevant medical condition, is usually the result of a psychological process called dissociation. The mind is capable of repressing traumatic memories and walling them off in the unconscious. In extreme cases, this can result in the splitting of the mind into distinct sections, which can take on the appearance of separate personalities, or ‘alters’. The defence psychiatrist suspected this when he encountered such large memory gaps in Tracey’s history and possible evidence of different personas. He recommended to Tracey’s lawyers that they gather collateral evidence from other sources and engage an expert — an academic psychologist — to explore the periods of amnesia through interviews under hypnosis. By inducing a hypnotic trance, it was hoped that Tracey would gain access to repressed memories or reveal the presence of other personality states. Tracey was initially reluctant to proceed down this path but eventually agreed. Together, the two professionals subsequently carried out some fifty hypnotic interviews, all of which were videotaped.

Tracey was found to be an excellent hypnotic subject. She went into a deep trance, with no sign of simulation or pretence. Under hypnosis, she was able to recall a great deal about the sexual abuse she had experienced as a child, as well as much more of the events and emotions associated with the murder. She also was able to recount a bizarre episode involving animal sacrifice on Mount Archer, which was near Rockhampton on the coast of central Queensland and apparently notorious for strange gatherings. Convinced that what they were seeing were ‘subtle manifestations of alters’, the interviewers began asking to speak to the alters during a number of hypnosis sessions. By asking such questions as ‘Is there anyone else there who would like to speak to us?’, they courted criticism from other expert witnesses in the trial that they might have encouraged the alters to develop in a person who was in a very suggestible state. Nonetheless, over the course of the hypnotic sessions, the assessors believed they had found evidence of six different alters:

  1. Big Tracey — possibly a confederation of alters.
  2. Bobby — said to be sixteen, and initially aggressive, contemptuous, cynical and callous. Later, it was thought Bobby might have been present after Tracey was sexually abused and then grew chronologically. Bobby described Big Tracey as ‘anxious, depressed, distressed by the murder, and a wimp’.
  3. The Observer — called herself ‘Me’ and watched what the other alters were up to.
  4. Little Tracey — a frightened child who was there after the sexual abuse but then did not appear anymore.
  5. April — a terrifying alter noted after a ‘dramatic disintegration’ of Bobby. She appeared to be in control of Bobby by causing screaming in her head. The assessors thought that April might have played an important part on the night of the murder.
  6. The Host Personality — the person met outside the hypnosis, regarded as a probable amalgam.

I had two long interviews withTracey at the Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre at Woolloongabba, assessing her at the request of the court. I was asked to make a diagnosis of any psychiatric disorder and give my opinion regarding any potential mental health defences relevant to the murder charge. By the time I saw her she had already undergone many months of hypnotic interviews — I had seen the videos of those sessions and also had access to all the police material.

Knowing all the details of the horrific offence, I was not sure what I would find when I met Tracey. She was a large young woman, by then twenty-five years old, wide about the hips and thighs. Her face was disarmingly pleasant and her gaze direct. She was polite and her language skills were good. She seemed intelligent. She knew exactly what she was charged with.

Tracey was initially suspicious of me, believing I was there for the prosecution and therefore biased against her, but once I explained my independent role, she cooperated. She concentrated well throughout our two sessions and her thoughts flowed normally, though she was a little anxious and smoked cigarettes. At no stage was there any suggestion of her switching into a different personality state, but there was a certain mechanical style to her account. She used identical phrases and sentences when describing the same incident on different occasions. This gave her account a rehearsed quality, as if she had given it many times before and was performing it yet again for me.

Despite the awful content of her history, Tracey showed virtually no emotion; she shed no tears. The only sign of what might have been beneath the calm facade was anger in her voice when describing her mistreatment by others, particularly her recent problems with Debbie. There was never any hint of psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations, either in the present or the past. I was intrigued, however, when she told me that she could not recall the name of the psychiatrist who had interviewed her at least sixty times, but described the fact that his glasses were always dirty. She knew other names, so what was it that caused her to suppress the psychiatrist’s name? Had he become identified in her mind with things he had uncovered that she wished to forget?

Tracey told me she had little recollection of the third police interview. When she watched the tape of the interview, she saw someone who did not seem like her, more like a stranger who had no emotion and spoke in a dead monotone. All she could now recall were ‘brief flashes, like one of those flicker books’. She reported being furious with her girlfriend Debbie in the period leading up to the murder. She felt she had given everything to Debbie, spoilt her with expensive gifts and bent to her every whim, only to be repaid by having to listen to Debbie having sex with other lovers in the room next to hers. Later, she was able to admit that she felt murderous. At first she could not vent that rage directly onto Debbie, or any female friends, but it got to the point where she couldn’t handle her anger towards her girlfriend any longer. She said, ‘If I’d stayed in the house that night, I think it would have been her that got killed.’

This is an extract from Killer Instinct: Having a Mind for Murder by Donald Grant.

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