Twenty years ago, Geraldton and Greenough residents were stunned by a crime so horrifying it still beggars belief — the axe murders of a mother and her three children.
Karen MacKenzie, 31, and her children Danny, 16, Amara, 7, and Katrina, 5, had all died in a frenzied attack.
The man responsible was 24-year-old William Patrick Mitchell, and he is eligible for parole this year.
The gruesome discovery began when visitors to the rented property found the body of Danny a short distance from the house.
Arriving to discover the bodies of Ms MacKenzie and her daughters inside the house, police began calling for help from the public.
Within 48 hours the rumour mill had taken over, and The Guardian front page of February 25 said police were dismissing “revenge rumours” that named Ms MacKenzie as a possible informant in a recent drug case.
The horror was compounded on March 2 when police revealed Ms MacKenzie and one of her daughters had been sexually interfered with.
All seemed to go quiet, but then on Saturday, March 27 detectives charged farm labourer Mitchell with four counts of wilful murder and the sexual assault of Ms MacKenzie and Amara, 7.
More than 300 people gathered outside Geraldton Courthouse when Mitchell appeared on the Monday, screaming abuse as he was sped away in a police van.
Pleading guilty, he was sentenced in October 1993 to life imprisonment, in April 1994 the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that he never be released, but in March 1996 that ruling was overturned, making Mitchell eligible for parole this year.
His case is expected to go before the Prisoner Review Board in October, but relatives and friends of Karen, Danny, Amara and Katrina MacKenzie still agree with the 1994 ruling that Mitchell should never be released.