Victoria Cafasso was born in England, but spent most of her time growing up in Italy. She was the daughter of a lawyer and was well on the way to following in her father's footsteps by age 20.
But like many young people, Victoria wanted to see what else was out there. So, she decided to put off her legal studies and went to visit her grandma in England.
Soon she decided to travel and what better place to start than Tasmania. Victoria set off to visit her cousin Simon de Salis, a writer and photographer, who was renting a cottage on the East Coast.
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Victoria flew into Launceston before making her way down to Beaumaris - a seaside shack town with a population of about 350 people. Five days later her body was found half naked on the beach.
She had been stabbed 17 times and repeatedly struck so hard, with a blunt object, her front three teeth were knocked out. When her body was found, her bikini top had been raised above her breasts and her bikini bottoms were removed. However, police found no signs of sexual assault.
In the five days preceding the gruesome discovery Victoria had little contact with locals. The only chances she had to interact with people were on short walks to and from the beach and at a birthday gathering for the daughter of the owner of Larby Cottage. She also visited the house of Hilda Jackson, who she had met on her first day in Beaumaris, for about half an hour.
On Wednesday October 11 about 1.30 pm Margaret McIntyre was walking her dog along Beaumaris Beach when she came across Victoria's body being lapped by waves at the water's edge.
McIntyre went to a nearby house to get help. She found two local men, Russell Harwood and Geoffrey Adams, who accompanied her back to the beach. Adams stayed with Victoria's body while McIntyre and Harwood went to raise the alarm.
Three police officers, Sergeant Galloway, Constable Ferguson and Senior Constable Pedder, arrived on the scene approximately 10 minutes later. The officers found some of Victoria's belongings about 50 metres up the beach. The area looked like it had been disturbed by a violent altercation.
The officers cordoned off a portion of the beach and took a mould of one footprint as part of their initial investigation.
Still to this day police don't know how Victoria's body got to its final resting place or how the killer, or killers, got off the beach.
Graham Hickey was the Detective Inspector in charge of the Northern District CIB at the time of Victoria's murder. He was in Adelaide when the body was discovered, but returned home to head the investigation.
"The mood around town was one of fear. Everybody around that area was talking about it, they were all looking at one another and wondering who it would be," Hickey said.
He said the case still remains with him even well into retirement.
"You don't forget things like that. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to hear that somebody has been arrested for it and put before the courts. Hopefully that happens one day," Hickey said.
Over the years three main suspects have emerged. Tasmanian author Melanie Calvert refers to them as the fisherman, the biker and the doctor in her book Tasmania's Beaumaris Beach Mystery: What Happened to Nancy and Victoria? The trio's real names are Tony Kirkland, Gary "Stretch" Holmes, and Dr Roman Hasil, respectively.
Kirkland was a local fisherman who had a history with police in the area. Three years after Victoria's death Kirkland was served with a restraining order from a 17-year-old girl who claimed he was stalking and threatening her.
In handing down a decision on the case Magistrate Peter Wilson suggested Kirkland relished in being a suspect in the Cafasso murder. The comments prompted Kirkland to profess his innocence and claim he was being victimised by the police.
"I haven't done anything wrong. I've been victimised all along: the police, the whole system. It [the Cafasso killing] was a terrible thing, but I'm pissed off that I got accused of it,'' he said in 1998.
Kirkland was spotted in a shop in St Helens at the time of the murder.
According to reports at the time of the 2003 inquest, Holmes, who lived in the area at the time of the murder, was said to have acted like a zombie on the day Victoria's body was found.
He gave conflicting statements to police about his movements on the day. He also had wounds on his face and arm which he said were the result of him punching a hole in his wife's door at her house at St Marys.
Hasil, who was a practising doctor in St Helens at the time, did not have an alibi for the time of the murder and came to police attention after being spotted in the area.
Hasil later moved to Hobart. Since then he has lost his medical licence and has been the subject of numerous malpractice and abuse allegations in both Australia and New Zealand.
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Despite the copious amounts of research and countless interviews Calvert conducted in the process of writing her book, she says she has no idea who killed Victoria.
"I had some idea that if I did enough research that I would be able to work out who was responsible for Victoria's murder, but of course I just ended up turning up more and more suspects," she said.
Calvert, whose father is a police officer in Tasmania, believes there is at least one person out there who knows what happened on that beach 25 years ago. "My father ... says 'everyone who does a crime like this will eventually tell at least one person'. So there is at least one person out there who knows exactly what happened and it might be time for them to come forward," she said.
Retired Coroner Don Jones, who chaired an inquest into the original investigation of Victoria's murder, believes he knows who killed Victoria. "I think there are two people who probably know what happened ... I think they were the ones involved," he said.
He still holds out hope the case will be solved, but doesn't think police will ever be able to get a conviction without a confession. Jones said there are some things about the case that he stills finds confusing.
"I still find it particularly incredible that on that particular morning that over 50 people visited that beach and not a single person saw or heard anything," he said.
"If you look at the scene, obviously there was a fight ... it wasn't just in with a knife and kill. It was quite clear on the evidence that she was beaten and then killed. The teeth were never located at the scene although they sifted through the sand. Issues like that I always found very strange and there are things that linger in my mind about it all the time."
The botched investigation
In 2003 a coronial inquest detailed police failings which tainted evidence and complicated the subsequent murder investigation. Jones chaired the inquest and his findings discussed how a focus on suspects who had alibis and poor handling of the crime scene hampered the investigation.
The inquest determined that Victoria died from exsanguination due to multiple stab wounds including wounds to the right atrium. Put simply, she bled out after being repeatedly stabbed on the right side of her body.
Never before seen photos of the crime scene were also uncovered by the inquest which showed Victoria's body covered in a blue tarp. Something which police officers had denied for years. Jones found a string of issues in relation to the management of the crime scene. Among which was the failure to take a cast of multiple footprints surrounding Victoria's body.
Officers only created a mould of one footprint which could have been Victoria's as no cast of the deceased foot was ever taken. Failure to cordon off the entire beach was also cited as a mistake in the inquest. Hickey, former Detective Inspector of Northern CIB, admits there were some failings in the way the case was originally handled. "I suppose the biggest mistake was that we don't know how the offender left the beach," he said.
The missing tourist
Another twist in the already complex case of Victoria's death is the desire by some to connect her case to that of missing German tourist Nancy Grunwaldt.
Grunwaldt was last seen riding her bike near the same stretch of beach where Victoria was murdered in 1993. Similar to Victoria's, case none of her personal belongings were ever found. Calvert believes there must be a connection.
"I don't see how you can not connect the two. To this day the police seem quite intent on claiming that the two are not connect which just seems crazy," she said.
"They were both young attractive women and they were both seen last on that stretch of beach two years apart. I just don't know how you can possibly contend that they weren't connected."
Hickey and Jones both believe the two cases aren't connected. Jones said that during the inquest information came forward which suggested Nancy had been hit by a car.
"It appears that she was knocked off her bike, from what I was told, that she was injured at that time and died at the scene and was then taken away," he said.
Launceston CIB Detective Inspector Kim Steven was a Detective Constable when Victoria was murdered. He had the job of picking her parents up from the airport and taking them to the murder scene. Now he is in charge of her case. Steven is hoping breakthroughs in DNA technology may help lead to Victoria's killer.
"We are now working with a forensic scientist at UTAS ... about a development in DNA technology. We have provided an exhibit from the case that may yield new evidence," he said.
A $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Victoria's killer is still available and Steven is urging anyone with information to come forward.
"For quarter of a century the murderer has lived with this on their conscience. That must consume them. They have the opportunity to provide closure to Victoria's family. It's not too late," he said.
"This isn't going away, it is an active investigation, and Victoria's family deserve some answers."
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