Otherwise called ‘The Snowtown Murders’ – was the most gruesome serial killing spree in Australian history. On May 20, 1999, the mummified remains of eight victims were found in barrels of hydrochloric acid inside a former bank in Snowtown, a tiny village in South Australia about 150 kilometers north of Adelaide with a population of around 500. When the bank vault was opened, a stomach-turning stench was released.
“As a police officer, I’ve smelt death before,” said Snowtown policeman Ian Young. “You didn’t have to get close to this to know what this was.”
Inside the bank vault, police found a collection of torture instruments, including knives, a bloodstained saw, pliers, a double-barreled shotgun, rope, tape, rubber gloves, and a Variac metallurgy device that was used to administer electronic shocks to the victims’ genitals. Several of the bodies were dismembered.
A thorough police investigation revealed something even more sinister at work: a vast conspiracy involving as many as seven perpetrators and 12 victims who were murdered between August 1992 and May 1999. The ringleader was John Bunting, a former neo-Nazi who harbored a deep hatred of pedophiles and homosexuals and targeted those he suspected of being such. The case, which was like a cross between the West Memphis Three murders and the Manson Family, became a media sensation in its native Australia due to a years-long trial. Three jurors withdrew because of the horror of the evidence and the case came to be known as the “Bodies in Barrels Murders.”