The Towitta Tradgedy
This story recounts the inquest into the murder of Bertha Schippan on 1 January 1902. Her elder sister, Mary, was charged with the murder, but she was found not guilty. At the time, the news surrounding the murder and trial captivated the nation.
On New Year’s Night 1902, in a lonely farmhouse at Towitta, 13 year old Bertha Schippan was brutally murdered. She suffered over 40 stab wounds and the walls and floor of the house were covered in blood. She had fought her attacker ferociously before succumbing to deep cuts to her neck. Her 24 year old sister, Mary Schippan, went to trial for her murder two months later, but was found not guilty. The murder was a sensation at the time with unprecedented media coverage throughout Australia. Mary’s relationship with Gustav Nitschke provided the press with much to write about and the police with an apparent motive. The crime remains officially unsolved. Ron Nitschke, a nephew of Gustav Nitschke, researched the case for over 50 years. He spoke to many people who lived in the district and knew the family well, including his own family. Ron tells the story of the murder in great detail. We learn why the murder was committed and by whom. The vast majority of people in the Murray Flats and the Barossa Valley knew who murdered Bertha. It seems the only people who didn’t were the police…
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