Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Snowtown Murders

Then There Were Four

On the 2nd of June, Taskforce Chart detectives made another arrest in the northern suburbs. James Spyridon Vlassakis, 19, became the fourth to be charged. His allegation read that on May 4th, he had committed murder — at Snowtown. Initially, however, details of this allegation were kept from the public.

Prosecutors obtained a suppression order on most details of Vlassakis' allegation, including the name of the alleged victim. After an application by the media to lift the order, Adelaide Magistrate David Swain held a bedside hearing on July 3rd in Glenside Psychiatric Hospital where Vlassakis had been placed after his arrest. Magistrate Swain imposed an interim suppression order, but agreed to hear legal argument on the issue the following day. Following that debate, part of the order was relaxed, enabling publication of Vlassakis' name and the date and place of the alleged offence. Reportedly, Vlassakis attempted suicide twice in his first week in custody. He was secured in James Nash House, the South Australian Department of Corrections' maximum security psychiatric clinic.

Fresh information — possibly supplied by Vlassakis — led investigators to conduct thorough searches of further properties. A house was visited at Burdekin Avenue in the river town of Murray Bridge, 70 kilometres to the southeast of Adelaide. It apparently yielded nothing helpful. Remaining under tight scrutiny in James Nash House, Vlassakis was remanded to join the other accused in court for the 2nd of July.

By the 3rd of June, Taskforce Chart police had identified 6 of the 8 bank vault bodies by age and gender. Fingerprint and dental records were being accessed to tie the victims to collated police information. No names of the deceased had been released to the public, and Chart's information suggested they would find at least one more body.

Old files on unidentified human remains were pulled and considered, including those found at Lower Light back in 1994. Some detectives suspected they were dealing with murders committed as early as 1992. The suggestion was also raised that a man missing from neighbouring Australian State Victoria, one Gavin Porter, might be among the dead. Chart detectives turned to recent science to confirm their leads and suspicions.


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