COLD CASE: Who killed Amanda Byrnes?
In the early hours of Sunday morning on 7th April 1991, Amanda Byrnes was working in St Kilda when she was abducted, savagely beaten and her naked body left near the Elwood Life Saving Club.
Despite witnesses and the appearance of a number of leads her murder has remained unsolved.
Perhaps there wasn’t enough information and/or evidence to identify her killer/s.
Perhaps not enough time and resources were given to her case because of her occupation as a sex worker. These were different times.
Whatever the reasons, it is difficult to look at the black and white image of the beautiful 23 year old woman and wonder why no-one has ever been brought to justice for such a disturbing crime.
Was Amanda’s murder by the hands of a one time killer/s or was it linked to a number of other serious assaults, rapes and murders towards sex workers during the 1990’s?
Editors note: Information shared in this article have been gleaned from open source records and our company has not been instructed to work on this matter privately. This is a case which simply needs to be solved and the more attention we can bring to it may help bring answers.
SPECIFICS OF CASE
- Amanda was last seen alive just after midnight on 7 April 1991.
- She had been working as a sex worker in St Kilda and was standing near the intersection of Carlisle and Foster Streets.
- A Morris Minor 850 panel van, either White or off-White in colour pulled up nearby and the driver spoke with another worker, Wendy. Wendy felt he was a time waster and went back to her spot to tell Amanda about him.
- Amanda then approached the van, spoke with the driver and returned briefly to Wendy to tell her she was going with him and would not be long.
- Amanda got into the van and it drove away slowly, but erratically. It was not long after this several witnesses saw a woman’s legs coming out of the open passenger door of the van. The witnesses said it looked whoever was inside was trying to escape.
- Witnesses chased the van in their own cars but lost sight of it.
- Eight hours later, Amanda’s body was found near the Elwood life saving Club.
- She had been ferociously beaten and reports state she had 16 separate injuries, including skull fractures, a broken jaw and broken ribs.
- Other reports suggest she had also been stabbed.
Key Clues To The Case
- The Morris Minor panel van (either White or off-White). About 1800 of these vehicles were registered in Victoria at the time
- The driver of a similar van seen in the area was described as: Approx 30, Caucasian, Brown hair about collar length, and of a medium build and height. He was also described by a witness as “rough-looking”
- A security guard who witnessed the panel van claims to have seen a large dog in the rear window, possibly a Rottweiler.
- The murder weapon has been described as a “wad cutter”
- Amanda Byrnes was 23 years old in 1991.
- Originally from Sydney, she had moved to Melbourne only two months prior.
- She had been staying at the Esquire Hotel with her partner Carol. Amanda and Carol also worked together on the Streets of St Kilda but on this night Carol had been unwell and remained in their room.
Notable Crimes In The Area
- By 1991 there had been 59 rapes in St Kilda over a three year period, more than in any other municipality.
- In February 1991 there had been four reported rapes in nine days. Two of these were St Kilda sex workers.
- Sex workers in the area had complained of a dramatic rise in rip-offs, bashings and muggings.
- 7 September 1992: Tome Srbinovski, 49, offered a lift home to a sex worker he picked up in Carlisle Street, St Kilda. Instead he drove her to a paddock in Altona, where he bashed and raped her.
- 1 February 1994: Three years after Amanda’s death, St Kilda sex worker Michelle Copping (26) was murdered. She had been strangled and dumped face down in a laneway off Blessington Street. Her killer has never been found.
- 29 March 1994: St Kilda sex worker Samantha Louise Mizzi, 23 was found naked and beaten in bushes on the corner of Brighton Rd and Blanche Street, St Kilda. She later died from her injuries – multiple skull fractures possibly caused by a blunt instrument. Her killer has never been found.
- 1 April 1994 – A St Kilda sex worker raped by two men. She had initially got in to their car, a Sedan, on Barkly Street, before they drove her around Melbourne for two hours while assaulting her.
- 26 May 1994: Steven Richard Smith, 31 and Craig Robert Douglas, 27 were remanded to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with the rape and abduction of a sex worker in Melbourne. Smith was later sentenced to 15 1/2 years of jail.
- 21 July 2013: Tracey Connelly was murdered in her van which had been parked in Greeves Street, St Kilda. She had been working as a sex worker and died from multiple injuries. Her killer has never been found.
- Between 2000 – 2001: Adrian Ernest Bayley brutally raped at least 15 St Kilda sex workers, with only five prepared to give evidence. He would later commit further sex offences and in 2015 would make worldwide headlines for the rape and murder of Melbourne based Irish woman Jill Meagher.
“Police work work on the wild side”- The Age Monday 15 July 1991
“Tip on killer to win aware”- the Age 5 June 1994
“Street girl death linked to thugs”- The Sydney Morning Herald 9 April 1991
“Police look for link in prostitute killings”- The Age 2 February 1994
“Violent End to A Brutual Life”- Herald Sun 8th April 1991
Someone out there knows something. Can you help solve the murder of Amanda Byrnes or can you assist in any of the unsolved cases mentioned? You can make an anonymous phone call to CrimeStoppers at 1800 333 000 or via their website at https://www.crimestoppersvic.com.au/