MASS KILLING: The night Gympie lost its innocence
IT WAS a horror story, an insane multiple killing of the innocent.
It shocked Australia, shook Gympie to its core and destroyed Gympie's trusting rural innocence forever.
Drug addled parents Peter William Lamb and Irene Mavis Lamb, both in their 30s, were literally out of their minds on the night of February 20-21, when they murdered three of their own offspring and a visiting friend.
"Four young members of a hippie-type commune were brutally slaughtered at a decrepit farmhouse in the Wolvi area in the early hours of yesterday morning,” The Gympie Times reported on Tuesday, February 22.
For Australia's "alternative society” it was our own version of the Charles Manson murders in California.
The victims were the Lambs' son, 17, his sisters, 13 and three, and a New Zealand woman, 26.
There was and could be no reason for the killings, noted still as one of the worst crimes in Australian history, one that could only be explained by the worst kind of insanity.
The softly spoken lifestylers flipped out, killed everyone in sight and turned their own lives into a nightmare that would never go away.
Investigating police probably still suffer the after-effects of the trauma they experienced.
Crime scene investigators said it was "one of the worst sights in their experience.”
Homicide detective Keith Smith said he arrived on the scene at first light.
He later said the victims had been shot and bludgeoned to death with garden tools.
The scene was horrific. "It would have been the worst thing I saw in my career.
"We knew there'd been a mass murder. We knew what to expect," hesaid in an interview. "But it was still a shock and the thing that stuck in my mind was the violence.”
One teenager escaped the scene on the night of the killings, raising the alarm with residents in a nearby farmhouse.
Gympie uniformed police and detectives were joined by forensic experts and Brisbane Homicide Squad officers. The paper reported that "the injuries to the victims shocked even hardened policemen at the scene.”
Police took possession of a rifle and garden tools they believed were used.
Gympie ambulance chief Ron Lawrence was deeply affected, according to his wife, Julia, who said the wife of one police officer said her husband had needed three weeks off to deal with the horrific images in his mind.
"I spoke to Ron,” Mrs Lawrence said recently. "He said the only white thing in the cot of the little child was her white teeth - she had been hacked so much.”
Peter Lamb wandered away after the slaughter and, when located by police on a nearby road several hours later, said God had motivated the murders.
He told officers he was "walking to the Lord.”
His wife wandered for about a week in bushland between the horror house and Boreen Point.
A breakthrough occurred when footprints were found near Lake Cootharaba.
Police set up road blocks at Pomona, Cooroy, Noosa, Eumundi and Nambour.Mrs Lamb was found on April 29, still wandering, and taken to Gymnpie Hospital.
After a couple of magistrates court remands, the court was told Peter Lamb was confined to the psychiatric section of Wacol Prison and Irene Lamb was in Wolston Park Special Hospital.
Neither were ever punished, at least not by the authorities.
The Gympie Times editor at the time, Ron Donald said recently he may have taken a legal risk by publishing a front page photo of Peter Lamb on the front steps of the Gympie courthouse.
"Peter Lamb committed suicide in jail and a Supreme Court jury found his wife not guilty on the grounds of unsound mind at the time of the murders,” he said.
Mrs Lamb later told of the incident in a letter in which she also outlined her "New Age” spiritual beliefs.
The couple, who were known multiple drug users were heavily involved in a spiritual belief system and met their New Zealand guest, Lynette Gail Oakley, at the Brisbane western rural suburb of Brookfield.
The New Zealand woman was invited to the Wolvi home, but during the night, Peter Lamb became convinced she was an "evil force” and began tying her up in an attempt to prevent her "evil” from spreading” according to the letter, which was read to a Supreme Court jury the following year.
"In the moments that followed, Miss Oakley was bludgeoned to death, Thomas Lamb, 17, was shot and beaten with garden tools and Laurelle, 13 and Brenda Lamb, 3, were chased down and also killed,” Det Smith said.