John Wayne Glover: The Granny Killer

The Killings Begin

Gwendoline Mitchelhill
Gwendoline Mitchelhill

Glover's next victim was not so fortunate. On 1 March, 1989, he had a few drinks at the Mosman RSL after work and mid-afternoon was heading for his car down busy Military Road when he spotted Gwendoline Mitchelhill going home from the shops at a slow pace with her walking stick.

Glover hurriedly returned to his car and tucked a hammer into his belt. Then he slowly followed the old woman to the seclusion of the entry foyer of her retirement village. As she turned the key in the lock, he brought the hammer down with a crashing blow to the back of her skull.

He then repeatedly bashed her so viciously about the head and body that he broke several ribs in her tiny jockey-weight frame. He fled the scene, taking her wallet containing $100. Incredibly, Mrs Mitchelhill was still alive when two schoolboys found her but she became the Granny Killer's first 'official' murder victim just a few minutes after the police and ambulance arrived.

As Mrs Mitchelhill drew her last breath Glover was sitting in his lounge room wondering out loud to his wife what the sirens in the distance were all about.

Again, the police were baffled. But there was nothing concrete to link the two attacks. There was a theory that they could be the work of the one person, but it was a long shot. Police finally assumed that it was yet another mugging that had gone disastrously wrong.

Ten weeks later, in the late afternoon of May 9, Glover was heading for the Mosman RSL Club in Military Road when he saw Lady Winifred Ashton walking slowly towards him in a red raincoat and with the aid of a walking stick. Lady Ashton had been playing bingo at the RSL and was heading toward her home in nearby Raglan Street. Glover pulled on a pair of gloves and followed her into the foyer of her apartment building, where he attacked her with his hammer and threw her to the ground in the rubbish-bin alcove.

Although suffering from lymph cancer, the tiny and frail Lady Ashton put up an incredible struggle and Glover later confessed: "At one stage she almost had me until I fell on top of her and repeatedly bashed her head against the concrete". Lady Winifred Ashton was 84 years old.

Lady Ashton was unconscious as John Glover removed her pantyhose and strangled her with them. Although no sexual act took place, this gruesome ritual would become Glover's calling card. And then, as if in respect for the dead woman, Glover laid her walking stick and shoes at her feet before he headed off with her purse, which contained $100.

Glover later commented to the bar staff at the Mosman RSL that he hoped that the sirens they could hear just around the corner weren't for another mugging. He said this as he calmly fed the contents of Lady Ashton's purse through the poker machines. Only now did police believe they had a maniacal killer on the loose. There were too many similarities. To date, all of the three victims were wealthy old ladies, all came from the same suburb, all were assaulted or killed in a similar manner and all were robbed of their handbags. This was no ordinary mugger.

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