A “beautiful brick cottage” with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and polished jarrah floors is sure to be a hit with home buyers after it was listed at just $459,000 - but this house also has another feature - a very dark secret.
The listing for 3 Moorhouse Street, in Willagee, near Fremantle, Western Australia promises the property is “delectably presented” and the home is “restored, renewed, refreshed” and you would hope so given what David and Catherine Birnie did there 34 years ago.
The convicted couple murdered four women, and tried to kill a fifth in 1986.
The string of deaths became known as the Moorhouse murders, after the Birnies’ street address.
Author Paul B Kidd described 3 Moorhouse as “the untidiest house on the street” in his book Never to be Released, which detailed the Birnies in the chapter titled: The Couple Who Loved to Kill, where he says their crimes are the “most horrific” in Western Australia’s history.
The Birnies weren’t too concerned with who they killed, as long as they were female, Kidd wrote.
Posing as a friendly couple to gain the trust of their victims, the pair viciously killed 22-year-old Mary Neilson, 15-year-old Susannah Candy, 31-year-old Noellene Patterson and 21-year-old Denise Brown.
Ms Brown’s disappearance on November 5, 1986 marked the fourth woman to go missing in Perth in 27 days, yet there were no bodies.
There was nothing that could link the women, Kidd notes, all the victims came from good homes and had no drug problems or secret relationships which could explain their disappearances.
When the fifth victim, and only survivor, Kate Moir escaped the Birnies after they abducted her in November 1986, she led detectives straight to their Moorhouse home.
Ms Moir was abducted by the Birnies while she was walking near her home. The couple took her to their Moorhouse home, chained her hands and feet to the bed, David repeatedly raped her, while Catherine watched.
After some 24 hours in the house, Ms Moir was able to escape and alert police.
Of the four murdered victims, two of them were killed at the Moorhouse property, the Melville Times notes.
Catherine and David met when they were children, as they were both the same age and lived near each other.
“She sort of never really had a chance from the word go,” Paul Kidd said in the Nine documentary, Australian Families of Crime: David and Catherine Birnie.
Catherine would go on to marry her first husband, Donald McLachlin, who she had seven children with, but abandoned her family for her childhood friend a year before the murders.
The victims were found in shallow graves, which the murderous couple took police to after they confessed.
David killed himself in prison in 2005, he was serving four consecutive life sentences.
It is understood Catherine remains in prison, and she was working in a prison library, according to a 2007 Perth Now article.
Former Attorney-General for Western Australia, Jim McGinty, said he had no sympathy for Catherine, and she would remain behind bars for as long as he was in the role, which he held office until 2008.
“There are a small number of offenders whose crimes are at the worst imaginable end of the scale who should never be released and Birnie is one of them,” McGinty said.
Over the years, Catherine has argued she should be released, but her own son, Peter, teamed up with Kate Moir in 2017, and the two were fighting for killers like Catherine to never be released.
“I reckon it is an eye for an eye, anyone who takes someone’s life should not be allowed to live themselves,” Peter said in 2017.
He also said he wished Catherine would: “Hurry up and die"”.
History of 3 Moorhouse Street
This isn’t the first time the home has been listed for sale.
In August 1993, the home was sold for $105,000, according to Domain’s Property History.
The home has changed hands four times since 1998, the last time the house was sold was in 2012 and the three-bedroom house was sold for $380,000.
However, three years later in September 2015, the home was listed once again, this time for $579,000, but it was not sold. In January, 2019 the home was rented out for $390 per week.
The listing boast photos of the seemingly innocent home, with a modern kitchen and spacious bedrooms with built-in wardrobes.
The home was listed on January 10, 2020 for $459,000. The home is below the average for the Perth suburb of Willagee, which realestate.com.au notes is a sought-after area, with the average three-bedroom home selling for $525,000.
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