Author unearths suspect in hunt for Victoria’s killer
AUTHOR Melanie Calvert didn't intend to get caught up in the twin mysteries of what happened to Nancy Grunwaldt and Victoria Cafasso.
And she certainly didn't expect to dig up details about a potential new suspect.
It happened by chance while she was researching material for a novel, when she unearthed enough compelling facts to pen a book of nonfiction in its own right.
Six years after the publication of Tasmania's Beaumaris Beach Mystery, Ms Calvert is now something of an expert in the wide range of theories behind the two cold cases.
Readers now regularly feed her clues, which range from eyewitness accounts to historical evidence and even fantastical stories of seances and ghostly visions.
But sometimes her readers bring her information she takes straight to the police - such as the man who told her that on the same day as Victoria's death, he saw someone wiping down a knife on the side of the road.
Then there was the former policeman who told her about a possible suspect who'd never been completely ruled out - a man with a psycho-sexual disorder who was known for performing lewd acts on Beaumaris Beach.
"I think he was certainly known as somewhat strange and also known to be on the beach doing somewhat peculiar things," Ms Calvert said.
"I suppose it has to be a really strong lead for police to follow it through. But I think, sometimes police might get in their head who they think is guilty, and then they tend not to follow up those things that are not going to support their case."
Ms Calvert doesn't claim she has all the answers, but she hopes her work as a "sounding board" might one day help solve what has for two-and-a-half decades remained unsolvable.
Growing up in the forestry township of Scottsdale, some 100km from where Nancy and Victoria were last seen alive, Ms Calvert was about the same age as the two women when they went missing.
Their disappearance and murder struck her as being incredibly strange, "because that sort of thing just never happens in Tassie".
"So when it came to writing a novel … I thought I'd look more closely at these cold cases to see if there was something that would help my fictional story," she said.
"That's when I went down the rabbit hole of trying to work out what had happened to these two young women."
Ms Calvert, who visited the seaside town of Beaumaris while researching her novel Freycinet, said the cold cases had "fractured that community".
"I really did have a sense that something had happened there," she said.
She said the township no doubt wanted to move on from its past.
"They don't want people thinking they've got some sort of psychopathic murderer in the area," she said.
"There are people there I've heard say 'how dare you write this about our beautiful lovely home, our beautiful beach?'"
But Ms Calvert said her worries ran deeper than
"My concern is it might be a local person (who killed Victoria) and they may still be there," she said.
"For me, until someone is charged and the mystery solved, the town of Beaumaris will always hang under a cloud."
SNEAK PEEK: GONE GIRLS EPISODE 5
Victoria's father had a heart attack the day after her memorial service and died. Nancy's "heartbroken" father died in 2005 never knowing what happened to his daughter. Detective Inspector Kim Steven, who currently has carriage over both cold cases, explains how nothing would make him happier than being able to give both families the closure they've waited so long for.
Visit www.themercury.com.au tomorrow to read and listen to the fifth and final instalment of the Gone Girls Beaumaris Beach mystery.
Originally published as Author unearths suspect in hunt for Victoria's killer