The Easey Street Murders occurred in January 1977 when Susan Bartlett and Suzanne Armstrong, “The Two Sues”, were killed in their home. The women went undiscovered for three day’s as did Suzanne’s sixteen-month-old son, who had survived the horrific event. Here Unsolved Casebook looks at the case which remains unsolved after over forty years.
“The Two Sues”
Susan Bartlett and Suzanne Armstrong had first become friends when they met at high school in Benalla when they were fourteen. By 1977 the two women, now aged twenty-eight and twenty-seven were living together at 147 Easey Street in the suburb of Collingwood, Melbourne, Australia.
Susan was a high school teacher who taught arts and crafts at Collingwood High School. Suzanne, however, wasn’t working as she spent her days looking after her sixteen-month-old son Gregory.
Gregory was the result of a relationship with a Greek man Suzanne had met whilst she was travelling. Although she had been tempted to stay in Greece with the boy’s father Suzanne instead returned to Australia when the child was three-month-old. Upon her return, she soon moved in with her old school friend.
On the night of January 10, 1977 “The Two Sues”, as they were affectionately known, had entertained Susan’s brother and his girlfriend. Susan’s brother helped her to set up some hi-fi equipment and the four sat in front of the TV and enjoyed an episode of The Sullivans. At the end of the evening, around 10 pm, they made plans to meet later in the week for dinner and parted company. Unfortunately, that dinner never happen.
No One Home
Barry Woodard rang 147 Easey Street hoping to speak to his girlfriend Suzanne Armstrong the next day. He got no reply but thought little of it at first. However, after repeated calls on the 11th and 12th remained unanswered Barry decided to call at the house in person.
Once at 147 Easey Street on January 12th, Barry, accompanied by his brother, visited the house. He found the rear door unlocked and entered the property. Barry called out but when no one replied he assumed the women were out. He made a quick note asking for Suzanne to give him a call and made his exit.
The Roaming Puppy
Susan and Suzanne had recently gotten a labrador puppy which was found by neighbours roaming the street later that same day (the 12th). The neighbours, Ilona Stevens and Janet Powell, collected the puppy and went to return it to the women. Again no reply was forthcoming from 147 Easey Street and so Ilona and Janet took the dog in and left a note on the door saying the dog was with them.
We have your dog which was wondering around the street. You are obviously not home so give us a yell and we will return home to you PROMPTLY
Ilona, JanetWhat was written by the neighbours and left on the door of 147 Easey Street
The Crying Baby Leads To An Horrific Discovery
By the 13th no one had heard from the two women. The neighbours, wondering why they hadn’t come to collect the dog made another visit to 147 Easey Street.
On this visit, the neighbours were given more cause for concern. Ilona and Janet could hear the sound of a baby crying. They decided they needed to investigate further.
Entering the back door which they discovered unlocked, as Barry had done, the neighbours edged further into the home. To their horror, they discovered the hallway awash with blood and the body of a woman lying on the floor.
One of the neighbours ran and collected little Gregory from his cot and they made quick haste from the scene, returning home to ring the police.
The Easey Steet Murders Crime Scene
Police discovered the bloody body lying face down in the hallway to be that of Susan Bartlett. Susan Bartlett had been stabbed a staggering fifty-five times.
As they made their way further into the property the police discovered the body of Suzanne Armstrong in the bedroom.
Suzanne Armstrong was naked from the waist down and had been raped. She had also been stabbed twenty-nine times.
The police believed that the killer entered the premises through an unlocked window in one of the women’s bedrooms (reports vary on whom the room belonged to). They surmised that Suzanne Armstrong had been the initial victim and that Susan Bartlett had then viscously set upon when she tried to come to the aid of her friend.
Although they couldn’t be 100% sure police believed that the women had been killed on the 10th. This meant the child, Gregory, had been without food or drink for 3 days.
Although severely dehydrated, miraculously, Gregory came away from the awful events physically unscathed.
At the crime scene, investigators found the bathroom to be covered in blood. It was seemingly from the killer trying to clean themselves. In the front room on the sofa, a bloodstained towel was also found.
Further Evidence Found
Further investigation of the surrounding area soon discovered other pieces of vital evidence.
A knife believed to be the murder weapon was found near Victoria Park Railway Station. Further testing proved it was indeed the instrument with which the two women had been killed.
Locating the murder weapon near to the train station tied in with an earlier theory. Investigators had believed the killer made his escape on the railway.
In a drain, just two blocks away from the scene of the Easey Street Murders, a bloody washcloth was located.
The Easey Street Murders Early Suspects
Police looked into the idea that the biological father of Gregory may have been responsible. This was soon ruled out as it quickly transpired that the man had never even stepped foot in Australia let alone 147 Easey Street.
Barry Woodard – Suzanne’s Boyfriend
Suzanne’s boyfriend Barry Woodard was also another early suspect.
He had admitted to visiting the house but stated he hadn’t gone far enough into the home to have seen the body of Susan Bartlett lying in the hallway.
His brother, who was waiting outside backed up his story.
Woodard would later be cleared by DNA results.
Susan’s Admirer – The Unnamed Salesman
Another suspect was an unnamed man who also admitted to entering the location of the Easey Street Murders between the 10th and the 13th of January.
The man, who was a salesman and had an interest in Susan Bartlett, told officers he entered the house through Susan Bartlett’s bedroom window with the intention of retrieving her phone number before leaving.
The man said he too didn’t see the bodies of the two women or spot the young child whilst he was in the house. Despite a somewhat bizarre tale, the man would also be cleared years later through DNA evidence.
The Artist Neighbour – Steve Cox
Another person of interest was artist Steve Cox, who was a neighbour of the Susan Bartlett and Suzanne Armstrong. Cox seemed to show a great interest in the Easey Street Murders and even produced a number of works around the case.
Police, however, could find nothing to link Steve Cox with the slayings and he too was later ruled out thanks to DNA evidence.
Crime Reporter John Grant And The Disappearance of Julie Garciacelay
John Grant, a journalist, was a suspect in the Easey Street Murders. He is also a suspect in the 1975 disappearance of American tourist Julie Garciacelay.
Julie Garciacelay, originally from California, was working as a library assistant when she reportedly became friends with John Grant and a couple of his associates. The associates were John Joseph Power, a known violent criminal, and a boxer named Rhys “Tommy” Collins, who was also a known criminal.
On the night of her disappearance, Grant, Power and Collins had been in Garciacelay’s flat and the last people to see her alive. They said she left to make a phone call and never returned.
Upon returning to the flat the following day Julie’s sister Gail said items including Julie’s underwear had been thrown around the flat. The only items missing were a kitchen knife, a black cape of Julie’s and $125. She also found a bloodstained cloth. The body of Julie Garciacelay has never been found.
John Grant had been sleeping in a house next door to where the Easey Street Murders took place. Despite John Grant been in such close proximity to one murder and the last person to see another woman who vanished no concrete evidence was able to link him to either crime.
Alas, in 2010 John Grant was cleared via DNA of any involvement in the Easey Street Murders. He remains a suspect in the disappearance of Julie Garciacelay.
The Aftermath Of The Easey Street Murders
After the horrific event that was the Easey Street Murders Suzanne Armstrong’s son, Gregory was adopted and raised by Suzanne’s sister Gayle.
In total it is believed that police had a total of eight prime suspect’s. All have supposedly been cleared with the use of DNA evidence.
The DNA that has been used to clear suspects has, however, been questioned. The sample was taken from semen found near the body of Suzanne Armstrong, not on it.
Journalist Andrew Rule makes a good point that although it is highly likely from the killer it is not impossible that it was in fact left by someone other than the murderer.
In January 2017, forty years after the Easey Street Murders occurred, a reward of $1 million has been offered for help in solving the crimes.
Anyone with fresh information about the murders is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.