Case summary

On 3rd May 2016 (anonymised), a young photographer, was found dead by the landlord. (anonymised) lived in a small, studio apartment in Claymore, a suburb of Sydney. He worked as a freelance photographer for "The True News Network" tabloid newspaper and also was trying to get a break as a "real photographer" with news agencies.

According to the landlord, (anonymised), the victim was behind on the rent for the past 3 months and the landlord was planning to evict him soon. He also told police that (anonymised) drove around the city all day and only returned home in the evenings, which made it even harder to get hold of him. His car, a worn-out Holden Commodore, was found parked in the street, outside the building.

At first glance, it looks like the victim was beaten to death using some sort of weapon, the first blow was most likely to the back of the head. Inside the victim’s apartment police found a damaged laptop and a camera smashed to pieces. The police lab was able to access part of the data from the computer, but the memory card from the camera was missing. The victim’s cell phone was found undamaged in the apartment.

Police found no signs of forced entry into the apartment, the building has a very basic lock on the front door, so anyone determined to get inside could have done that. Asked about it, the landlord explained that this is an old building with cheap apartments, he does not plan to invest in fancy security measures.

Later autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was brain damage as a result of heavy trauma to the head. The victim was hit on the head more than ten times using some hard and cylindrical blunt weapon (like a metal pipe) with great force. No other injuries were found on the body, toxicology showed no signs of alcohol or drugs in the victim’s system. The estimated time of death was given as between 8PM and 10PM of 2nd May 2016.

Case suspects

(anonymised), owner of several houses around Sydney, all of them contain apartment for rent. The crime scene is the only location belonging to (anonymised) in Claymore suburb, the rest of them are closer to the downtown area and in higher standard.

He was described by other tenants as rather harsh and intimidating, especially when it comes to money. He told police that the last time he saw the victim was a few weeks back, (anonymised) came to the building to talk to (anonymised) about the rent that was owed for the last two months, but (anonymised) locked the door and told the landlord that he will get the money soon. Since then, (anonymised) several times visited the building and called the tenant, but (anonymised) was always out and was not responding to the phones and messages. To this day, the rent due to landlord by (anonymised) is nearly 1,000 dollars.

(anonymised) lives 12 kilometres away from the crime scene, in a mansion-like house. When the crimes took place, he was home with his wife and daughter. The wife confirmed that (anonymised) was home the whole evening of 2nd May.

(anonymised), a 25-year-old tenant in the building where the crime took place. She works in downtown Sydney in a public school as a geography teacher. On the evening when (anonymised) was killed, she was in the movies with her friend. The film "The Boss" that they went to see started at 7PM, they left the cinema before 9PM and later went for a pizza. She returned home after 11PM, she did not notice anything unusual in the house and went to bed.

When asked about (anonymised) she told the police that he was, as she put this, "a bit creepy". Once he asked her out, but she refused and since then, she felt a bit awkward if they bumped into each other on the stairs. He seemed rather reclusive and awkward, she told the police that she was avoiding meeting him whenever she could. She cannot tell much about him, he was usually out all day, or he was staying in his apartment.

The last time she saw him was about 3 days earlier, she saw him returning home around 7PM.

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