The suspect, a police detective, then had the finger pointed at him again when another woman's body was found. Again, he escaped prosecution.
Now that former detective, Denis Tanner, has spoken at length for the very first time.
It is a question that’s haunted Victoria for almost fifteen years - is former police detective Denis Tanner a murderer?More stories from Today Tonight
In 1985 a coroner delivered an open finding into the shooting death of 27-year-old Jennifer Tanner - thirteen years later a second coroner ruled her brother-in-law Dennis killed her.
Now the maligned ex-officer - who has never been charged - has broken his silence to veteran Herald Sun crime journalist, Keith Moor.
“The Coroner started off his investigation after an hysterical media campaign - stories that were in the papers for months before he even started - and I believe that he was led by that, and that the conclusion we got was his finding,” Denis said.
It's a case that has destroyed his livelihood and tormented the Victorian country town of Mansfield.
Jennifer was found dead inside her farmhouse, shot twice in the head; her husband's bolt action rifle was between her knees.
Her death was initially deemed a suicide, before the finger of blame shifted to Detective Tanner.
The case took a dramatic turn in 1995 when the skeleton of missing prostitute Adele Bailey was found in an old mine shaft behind the Tanner property.
Denis denies he murdered either woman.
“He is the only person that I'm aware of that has any connection with both those women. One of them was his sister-in-law and the other a transsexual prostitute that he had arrested in St Kilda - that is only circumstantial but most people will think there's enough there to suggest that he did it,” Moor said.
Denis's denials accompany what he claims is new evidence and new alibis for the night Jennifer died.
“I was in Melbourne all day. I went home and had a meal with my family and then I went to a bingo game,” he said.
It is the stuff of crime novels and now a supporter - retired police officer Ron Irwin - has penned his account.
“I hope they read it with an open mind and then analyse the evidence that Ron’s put for them in simple terms,” Denis said.
At the very least, Moor believes Denis deserves a third inquest. As for Jennifer and Bailey, he says “I suspect we'll never know one way or the other what happened to either of those women”.Contact details
- Keith Moor's Herald Sun story - www.heraldsun.com.au
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