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Cracked: The Case of Janelle Patton

: When a young woman named Janelle Patton moved to a tiny tropical island, she didn’t have to worry about the crime rate. This was a place so safe it had just two police officers. But soon they would be busy because she became the island’s first murder victim in more than a hundred years. And if a determined detective hadn’t stumbled across a forgotten old file, it might’ve taken that long to crack this case.
/ Source: Dateline NBC

SARA JAMES reporting: (Voiceover) Norfolk Island is a sliver of paradise in the South Pacific, a tiny island known for its stately pines and soaring cliffs. But its spectacular scenery belies a brutal past and dark secrets.

(Beach, inlet, sea; pines; cliffs by sea; inlet; gravestone)

Mr. TIM LATHAM: (Voiceover) When I went to Norfolk Island I realized this was an entirely different world.

(Gravestone; Norfolk Island)

Mr. LATHAM: It’s an island of contradictions and it’s an island of close relationships and family ties.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Which made what happened here all the more intriguing. It had the makings of an Agatha Christie mystery: a vicious crime carried out in broad daylight in a place where everyone knows everyone. At the center of it all was a beautiful young woman named Janelle Patton, a recent transplant from Australia. She’d captured the eye of a number of local men who were taken by her outgoing personality.

(Sun behind barn; sea; hillside; photos of Janelle Patton)

Mr. STEVE BORG: (Voiceover) Very joyful person, very physical person.

(Photo of Janelle with cat)

Mr. BORG: Liked outdoors activities, and just an all-round beautiful person.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Vivacious, exciting, a complex woman who brought along some secrets of her own. Janelle came to Norfolk Island fresh from a breakup, ready for a major change. She’d heard about the island from her parents, Ron and Carol Patton, who had honeymooned here more than 30 years before.

(Photo of Janelle; combers; beach; photo of Ron and Carol Patton)

Ms. CAROL PATTON: And I said, ‘Oh, I don’t think it’s really your scene, Janelle. It’s very quiet,’ you know. And she said, ‘Well, maybe that’s what I need.’

JAMES: (Voiceover) Perhaps in this quiet place she could regain her confidence, which she’d lost along the way in an abusive relationship. Her parents hoped she’d rediscover the determination she’d had as a child. The Pattons remember a note written on the bottom of Janelle’s report card.

(Photo of Janelle; photo of Carol and Janelle; photos of young Janelle)

Ms. PATTON: She tended to take over all of her friends’ work sessions and play sessions.

(Voiceover) And this dear, sweet lady who was her teacher said, ‘Unless this problem can be rectified, I fear her husband may be sorely henpecked.’

(Photo of young Janelle)

Ms. PATTON: That’s on a kindergarten school report. She was five, just five.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Now, at age 27, Janelle had left her finance job in Sydney, the security of her parents’ home and headed to Norfolk. She was on her own for the first time in her life. Janelle found work in a resort, which suited her outgoing, bubbly personality. Visitors loved her. She had an active social life. Her friend Nicole Christian says Janelle couldn’t wait for her parents to visit.

(Photo of Janelle; sun on sea; photo of Janelle; photo of Janelle and others; photo of Janelle; Sara James interviewing Nicole Christian)

Ms. NICOLE CHRISTIAN: She was really, really excited about her parents being here. She was skipping around. She was really, really happy about that.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Ron and Carol arrived on a picture-perfect Saturday in March 2002 and found their daughter looking happier and healthier than they’d ever seen her.

(Beach; photo of Ron and Janelle)

Mr. RON PATTON: I couldn’t want any more for my daughter.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Janelle was thrilled to show her parents around the island. It was a wonderful first day together.

(Photo of Carol and Janelle)

Ms. PATTON: So we said good night, you know, and I think she actually put her arms around us and said, you know, ‘Thanks for coming, I love you,’ and that was it.

JAMES: (Voiceover) As they hugged farewell, Janelle told her parents she’d pick them up between 1 and 2:00 the next afternoon, Easter Sunday. But the next day, 1:00 passed, then 2:00 came and went. Carol was growing annoyed.

(Photo of Carol and Janelle; beach; photo of Janelle; sun on sea)

Ms. PATTON: I said, ‘What on earth could she be doing? She knows we’re waiting here for us,’ you know.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Carol and Ron simply thought Janelle was running on island time. This is a place where people don’t wear watches, never lock doors. So they taped a note to their door and headed to the beach.

(People on hills; fence; apartment complex; beach)

Ms. PATTON: When she comes and sees the note, she can join us down there.

Because I thought, I’m not going to sit around here...

JAMES: Right.

Ms. PATTON: ...waiting for her to turn up when it suits her, you know, sort of thing.

JAMES: (Voiceover) But Janelle never showed. And when the Pattons returned to their apartment, their note was still there. They went to Janelle’s place.

(Photo of Janelle; apartment complex; house)

Ms. PATTON: (Voiceover) We just opened the door, looked in and, you know, saw that she’d been there, but she wasn’t there. A bag and everything were on the table. Some shopping was there on the table.

(House exterior; photos of interior of house)

JAMES: (Voiceover) They found ways to keep busy, tried in vain not to worry.  Hours passed. They drove around looking for her. As evening fell, the Pattons returned again to Janelle’s cottage just behind the home of her landlords, Ruth and Foxy McCoy.

(Carol and Ron; vehicles on road; strip mall; house exterior; Ruth and Foxy McCoy)

JAMES: Were you worried by this stage?

Mr. FOXY McCOY: Well, at this stage I was beginning to think that she may have had an accident.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Foxy called police.

(Foxy and Ruth)

Ms. PATTON: He got off the phone and he said, ‘They want us to go down to the police station.’ And Ruth said, ‘What, all of us?’ And he—and they said yes.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Police asked the Pattons for a description of Janelle, and then...

(Police vehicle; photo of Janelle)

Ms. PATTON: He said that a body of a young woman was found just, and said, ‘We need to identify the body before we go on any further.’ And once I heard that, I just—I just knew it was her because, I mean, Norfolk Island, two young women aren’t going to go missing in one day.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Carol’s instincts were right. The body that had been found in a picnic area just 90 minutes earlier was indeed Janelle’s.

(Trash containers; light on body bag)

Mr. PATTON: I think—I think we were in a state of shock.

JAMES: (Voiceover) The islanders were stunned.

(Photo of Janelle)

Ms. CHRISTIAN: I was just horrified. Absolutely horrified, as the whole island was.

JAMES: (Voiceover) There hadn’t been a murder here in their lifetimes. In fact, this was the first case in 150 years. Solving it would not be easy or quick. And before it was all over, reputations would be destroyed, relationships ended, and an island would live in fear.

(Body bag on beach; flashlight on body bag; Laurie “Bucket” Quintal; sunset by beach)

Ms. CHRISTIAN: You’re always looking over your shoulder, that’s for sure. I was, anyway. Having known Janelle, just think...

(Voiceover) ...well, maybe that same person who did it to her is stalking another victim.

(People carrying body bag)

Announcer: (Voiceover) Coming up, an island’s dark secrets and even darker history revealed...

(Sunset at beach; people carrying body bag; barn)

Mr. MAYNARD: (Voiceover) I think it was the worst kind of existence you could suffer.

(Houses exterior)

Announcer: ...when Cracked: The Case of Janelle Patton continues.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Ron and Carol Patton had been on Norfolk Island just one day when their only daughter, Janelle, was brutally murdered, her body dumped in a popular park.

(Photo of Janelle; Ron and Carol walking; photo of Janelle; body bag on ground)

JAMES: It seems especially cruel that this happened the next day.

Mr. PATTON: It was. It was. But it would’ve been worse if we hadn’t been.

At least we had that short time with...

Ms. PATTON: Mm, definitely.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Finding Janelle’s killer would prove more difficult than anyone imagined. There were just two police officers on the island at the time, and they were now dealing with the biggest case the island had ever seen. They needed help.

(Ron; crime scene; body bag on ground; police vehicle; Norfolk Island Police logo; body bag on ground)

JAMES: Here in Canberra, Australia, two detectives with the Australian Federal Police were about to learn of Janelle’s murder and about to travel a thousand miles east to Norfolk Island to take over the case. In many ways, it was like being dropped onto another planet.

Detective BOB PETERS: I felt like a fish out of water. It was just a totally foreign environment to us.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Detectives Bob Peters and Tony Edmondson were charged with finding Janelle’s killer, and two writers from Australia, Tim Latham and Roger Maynard, with covering the investigation. All four would discover that this is the land that time forgot, a place where traffic jams are caused by cows.  Norfolk is a self-governing territory of Australia, an island with a Technicolor past. In the 1700s, it was a penal colony, infamous for its cruelty.

(Bob Peters and Tony Edmondson; photo of Janelle; Tim Latham and Roger Maynard with their books beneath them; house exteriors; canoe; detritus; cows on road;

Inlet; flags flying; barns and sun; rooster)

Mr. MAYNARD: I think it was the worst kind of existence you could suffer, to be sent to Norfolk Island.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Norfolk’s rich history was just one of the things that intrigued Maynard.

(People walking by building at sunset)

Mr. MAYNARD: But it was really the classic mystery, the ultimate whodunit, if you like.

JAMES: (Voiceover) A whodunit where some who would come under investigation were descendants of sailors from the notorious “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Even today most of those who live on the island are related by blood or marriage.  There are so many people here with the same names, the phone book has listings by nickname. And like any small town, people talk.

(Graveyard; graves; phone book; graveyard)

JAMES: Gossip on this island has a unique name.

Mr. MAYNARD: “Dem tull.” That’s Norfolk Island for gossip and rumor. Works far faster than the radio or the e-mail, even. You can’t do anything without somebody else knowing about what you’re doing on this island.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Attractive, outspoken and single, it was no secret Janelle had been the topic of plenty of dem tull in her years on the island, stories not lost on writer Tim Latham.

(Photos of Janelle; Latham writing)

Mr. LATHAM: She was a forthright woman who spoke her mind, and that didn’t set well in the community where you have to get along with people.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Detectives Peters and Edmondson had to separate fact from dem tull. They started by working out a timeline of Janelle’s movements that Easter Sunday. They learned she’d worked in the dining room of the Castaway Hotel from 7 AM to 11 AM. Then a security camera snapped her image at the grocery store. Minutes later, at around 11:30, landlord Foxy McCoy saw Janelle leave her cottage for her daily walk to this scenic outlook. Along the way she was spotted by Jodie Williams, who was making a loop of the island trying to get her child to sleep.

(Men searching; photo of Janelle; forest; Castaway entrance; security camera footage of Janelle; road; view of village; Jodie Williams at fence)

Mr. MAYNARD: She made a circuit of this block around here, came back down Rooty Hill Road again five minutes later after seeing Janelle the first time, and this time there was no sign of Janelle whatsoever. So it—something happened in that five-minute period for her to disappear.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Here on the side of the road investigators found a clue, a pair of broken sunglasses. They looked like those Janelle was wearing in this photo taken the day before her murder. At the golf course below the lookout, two locals heard a bloodcurdling scream.

(Searchers; broken sunglasses; photo of Janelle; view of village; people golfing)

Mr. MAYNARD: It was a scream that lasted for about a minute, and it was so loud apparently that somebody thought it was the reverse thrust of an engine of a plane landing at Norfolk Island airport.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Just a few hours later, midafternoon, the sky opened up.  A few miles away from where Janelle disappeared, near a waterfall that’s a popular tourist attraction, the rain made this grassy slope excellent for boarding. It was 4:00. The gleeful teens were oblivious to the tarp in the distance and the body underneath.

(Clouds; people in waterfall; children boarding down slope)

Detective TONY EDMONDSON: Probably the frustrating part was not knowing what had happened to her from 11:40 AM until about 4 PM.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Two hours later, at about 6:15, tourists finally discovered her body. And when forensic pathologist Dr. Allan Cala examined it, he was shocked by what he found. He’d performed more than 2,000 autopsies, but had never seen such horrific wounds. Janelle had suffered a broken pelvis, fractured skull, 64 injuries in all.

(Flashlight on body bag; Allan Cala at work; people carrying body bag; autopsy report)

Dr. ALLAN CALA: There were cuts to the face, to the neck, to the front and back of the torso, to the arms and to the legs.

(Voiceover) She’s put up a quite a hell of a struggle in trying to disarm this attacker.

(Autopsy report)

JAMES: (Voiceover) On her body, Dr. Cala found clues: glass fragments, flecks of paint. Strangely, Janelle’s shorts and underwear had been sliced through as well as her shirt, though she hadn’t been sexually assaulted. Why?  And how much evidence had they lost in that massive downpour?

(Body bag; glass fragments; paint flecks; torn shorts; piece of shirt; crime scene photo; autopsy report; flashlight on body bag)

Det. EDMONDSON: On Norfolk Island when it rains, it rains.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Still, they sent the plastic sheet covering Janelle’s body to the lab for analysis, hoping to find any bits of forensic evidence that could lead to her killer.

(Body bag on grass; medical laboratory; small items on sheet)

JAMES: There were 2,271 people on Norfolk Island the day of Janelle’s murder.  Investigators knew the names of every one, which meant they knew the name of the killer. The challenge: figuring out which name it was.

(Voiceover) So determined to solve the case, they even went so far as to have the law changed on Norfolk in order to collect fingerprints and DNA from any willing islanders between the ages of 15 and 70. And if investigators could find out why she was killed, that could lead them to who had killed her.

(Folders and photos of Janelle on desk; flags flying; people near police vehicle; person being fingerprinted; body bag being loaded up)

JAMES: Did this look to you like a crime of passion?

Det. PETERS: I don’t know if I’d describe it as passion. It’s certainly extreme violence and anger.

JAMES: (Voiceover) It was during their search of Janelle’s cottage that police discovered a potential gold mine of clues: Janelle’s diary. In it she named names, and soon her secrets and those of a lot of unhappy islanders were about to be revealed.

(House exterior; photos of house interior; photo of Janelle)

Mr. GEOFF GARDNER: Nobody likes to have their private lives pulled apart in public without just cause.

Announcer: (Voiceover) Coming up, why Janelle’s life in this tropical paradise was not as sunny as it seemed.

(Photo of Janelle; sunset; pines; hillside; photo of Janelle)

Mr. MAYNARD: (Voiceover) A lot of Janelle’s relationships, they ended in acrimony.

(Photo of Janelle; diaries)

Announcer: (Voiceover) When Cracked: The Case of Janelle Patton continues.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Janelle Patton had come to Norfolk Island for a fresh start, a place where she knew no one and no one knew her. No ex-boyfriends to bump into, no reminders of her turbulent past.

(Sea; photo of Janelle; people on boat by beach)

Mr. LATHAM: Janelle was looking for herself in many ways, and what she found on Norfolk Island was her home.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Janelle thrived in the tourist industry and seemed happier than ever to her parents. But as the investigation unfolded it became clear her personal life was another story.

(Photo of Janelle and others; photo of Janelle, Ron and Carol; photo of Janelle)

JAMES: She was bubbly, she was outgoing, she was charming, but it was also true that she rubbed some people the wrong way.

Det. EDMONDSON: And I suppose we all do at some stage, but the penalty for rubbing someone up the wrong way isn’t murder.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Detectives Peters and Edmondson pored over Janelle’s diary. Page after page laid out her heartache.


Ms. PATTON: She was the type of person, I think, that just needed to be loved.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Investigators learned that, time and again, her relationships with local men started well, then went south. The determination which fueled Janelle also made it difficult for her to let go, a trait which worried her friend Steve Borg.

(Photos of Janelle; Steve Borg)

Mr. BORG: She was like a heat-seeking SCUD missile; once she locked onto something, that was it.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Janelle had written in her diary almost daily for years.  Curiously, in February, a month before her murder, she abruptly stopped. But her words would serve as Janelle’s voice, guiding Detectives Peters and Edmondson to possible suspects.

(Photo of Janelle on diaries; photo of Janelle)

Mr. LATHAM: Because she had moved through several relationships and some of those relationships had ended badly, by the time of her murder there was immediately men to look at and men to question.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Janelle’s words told investigators the vivid details of her contentious relationship with local widower Jap Menghetti, 20 years her senior. Menghetti was raising four grieving children who were none too happy when Janelle began dating their father, then moved in. Janelle wrote bluntly about loathing Jack’s 16-year-old daughter Donna. The feeling was mutual.

(Diaries; photo of Jack Menghetti; photo of Janelle; photo of Donna)

Mr. MAYNARD: She made no secret of her dislike for Janelle Patton.

JAMES: (Voiceover) After they broke up, Janelle wrote in her diary that Jap once spat on her and, quote, “told me he’s my first enemy on Norfolk.” But the father/daughter pair weren’t the only people police were investigating.

(Silhouette; diaries; quotes from Janelle’s diaries)

JAMES: Then there’s Bucket Quintal.

Mr. MAYNARD: Bucket Quintal is a—is an affable man, a tall bear of a man, if you like, and a real character.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Laurie “Bucket” Quintal was another ex-boyfriend. A descendant of one of the Bounty mutineers, he and Janelle had dated for several months. Janelle was looking for a long-term relationship; Bucket was not. Their breakup was rocky, and Bucket admitted to the detectives that a Valentine’s Day argument a month before Janelle’s murder had turned violent.  In Janelle’s cottage, Detectives Peters and Edmondson found a note Janelle had written to Bucket. “Look, Bucket, I’m sore, I’m bruised big time. I’m devastated by everything you said and did to me last night.” But they found no evidence he’d been involved in Janelle’s killing.

(Bucket; photos of Janelle and Quintal; Quintal; photos of interior of house; excepts from note)

Mr. LAURIE BUCKET QUINTAL: There’s nothing to point me towards the murder, you know. Like, I was not this—not the person, for a start. You know, I haven’t got the personality to do such a gruesome thing.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Janelle’s diary told investigators of her nasty feud with Susan Fieldes. The pair were friends until Janelle accused Fieldes, who was married, of having an affair. The ugliness escalated to a bar fight which ended with Fieldes facing an assault charge.

(Diaries; photo of Susan Fieldes; Norfolk Island Sports & Workers Club sign; bar interior)

Mr. MAYNARD: There was a row, there was anger. Like a lot of Janelle’s relationships, they ended in acrimony.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Acrimony, but no evidence. So far every lead led Detectives Peters and Edmondson right back to where they started. It seemed everyone on the island had an opinion.

(Photo of Janelle; autopsy report; security camera footage; men picking up body bag; notes; beach)

JAMES: Rumor and innuendo were spreading like a toxic cloud over the island.  In order to clear the air and hoping to get fresh tips, an inquest was held here in this tiny courtroom. Sixteen people would learn they’d been under investigation. Their private lives were about to become very public.

(Voiceover) Inside the stately Georgian courthouse overlooking the penal colony ruins on the island’s stunning shoreline, Peters laid out what he’d gathered in the investigation so far in unflinching, scandalous detail.  Janelle’s diary named names and revealed the islanders’ secrets.

(Courthouse exterior; Peters approaching courthouse; photo of Janelle; diaries)

Mr. MAYNARD: They were obviously very, very embarrassed by it, and none too happy with the police, you have to say, because they’d had their dirty washing exposed in this public way.

JAMES: (Voiceover) The inquest played out like an episode of “Peyton Place.” Islanders heard for the first time details of Janelle’s relationships, learned of courtships that ended badly, the bad blood between Janelle and some women on the island. Sixteen people were named as persons of interest, even Janelle’s parents. Family members are always investigated, and their arrival on Norfolk just 24 hours before the murder seemed, to some, suspicious.

(Quintal approaching courthouse; people gathered in courtroom; Carol and Ron approaching courthouse)

Det. PETERS: It’s an obvious place that we’d have to look to start with, and they were each other’s alibi for a fair bit of the day.

JAMES: (Voiceover) But Peters told the packed courtroom they quickly struck the Pattons from their list. For three days Peters laid out the investigation to a rapt audience. He read aloud the name of Greg Magri, a man who’d become Janelle’s confidante on the island. He’d been spotted driving down Rooty Hill Road near where Janelle was last seen. Magri wasn’t in court, but at work in the grocery store when he was approached by an islander who said...

(Ron and Carol in courtroom; Peters approaching courthouse; flowers; Greg Magri sitting; car in front of supermarket; interior of supermarket)

Mr. GREG MAGRI: ‘Ah, you’ve been a naughty boy, haven’t you?’ I said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. Why? What’s wrong?’

JAMES: (Voiceover) He’d had no idea he was a person of interest. While police had found a number of people with possible motives to kill Janelle, Peters told the crowd they had forensic evidence linking only one person to the crime. They discovered palm prints on the black plastic covering Janelle’s body, prints which belonged to a local builder named Steve Cochrane.

(Magri on stoop; Peters in courtroom; fingerprints; evidence sheet)

Mr. MAYNARD: How did they get there? It was a mystery for a while. Steve Cochrane couldn’t even explain it.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Cochrane often used plastic like that found covering the body, but authorities couldn’t tell whether the print was placed before or after the murder. And there was the possibility the plastic had been stolen from his work site.

(Black plastic bag; evidence)

Det. PETERS: We couldn’t find any connection between Steve, Janelle and the murder, and no reason whatsoever to suggest that they were sexually involved.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Sixteen people investigated, 16 alibis. And in the end, no proof of who’d killed Janelle and where or why, just a lot of bruised feelings and strained relationships. But Bob Peters was about to discover a vital clue hidden all along in a police file, one which would lead investigators to a treasure trove of evidence that was nearly lost for good.

(Quintal and Borg leaving court; Carol and Ron leaving court; Peters talking to woman; police vehicle; Norfolk Island Police logo; evidence)

Mr. MAYNARD: (Voiceover) He was all set to take it down to the local dump and burn it, destroy it.

(Evidence in bag)

Announcer: (Voiceover) Coming up, a thousand miles away, a man with a new life and a secret was about to get a visit.

(Photos of Glenn McNeill and Shelley Hooper; McNeill in handcuffs)

Ms. SHELLEY HOOPER: They said that they had a warrant for his arrest.

(Voiceover) And I just thought, for what?

(Photo of McNeill and Hooper)

Announcer: When Cracked: The Case of Janelle Patton continues.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Norfolk islanders had been living under a cloud of suspicion and fear since Janelle Patton was brutally murdered on Easter Sunday 2002. Could a killer be living among them? Geoff Gardner was head of the local government at the time of the killing.

(Sea; building exterior; house and clouds; house and sun; photo of Janelle; view of village; James investigating Geoff Gardner)

Mr. GARDNER: And everybody who was on the island at that time came under the microscope at some time or other as to maybe it was them, could it possibly have been this other family.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Weeks turned into months turned into years without answers. Detectives Tony Edmondson and Bob Peters weren’t about to give up.  Peters, a father himself, had delayed his retirement, determined to solve Janelle’s murder.

(Hillside with pines; cliffs by sea; Peters and Edmondson; Peters approaching courthouse; photo of Janelle)

Det. PETERS: If it had happened to my daughter, I wouldn’t like the coppers to walk away halfway through the job.

Mr. LATHAM: I always thought that was very admirable thing for him to do, because I thought he may never retire.

JAMES: By 2004, police seemed no closer to solving the murder of Janelle Patton than they had been when it occurred two years earlier. What would break the case wide open was a fingerprint, but it was not one of those that had been collected during that unprecedented mass fingerprinting operation.

(Voiceover) It was a print they’d had all along, tucked away in a police file.  Bob Peters had been combing through the old records looking for anything that might be connected to Janelle’s case. He stumbled upon a fingerprint card, the prints taken following a burglary around the time of Janelle’s murder.  Peters sent it off for comparison to the prints found on the tarp covering Janelle’s body, didn’t give it a second thought. And then, a match to Glenn McNeill, a chef who’d lived and worked on the island at the time of the killing. Peters and Edmondson were elated, but needed more for an arrest.

(Fingerprint card; Norfolk Island police sign; police vehicle; fingerprint card; flashlight on body bag; photos of McNeill)

Det. PETERS: It was run...(unintelligible). I—the print people couldn’t tell me and I couldn’t say which day or when he actually handled it.

JAMES: (Voiceover) By then, two years had passed since the murder. McNeill had moved off the island, but Peters and Edmondson were looking for evidence of his stay, particularly his car. They believed Janelle had been driven from wherever she was killed to the park where she’d been dumped. If she had been in McNeill’s car, a white Honda, there would still be trace evidence. Police searched for months, but had no luck.

(Flashlight on body bag; vehicle on road; Cockpit Waterfall sign; car on road; tire)

Det. EDMONDSON: My thought was that we weren’t going to find this motor vehicle, that it had either been burned up and gotten rid of or it was going to sit unknown in someone’s backyard.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Which is exactly what nearly happened. But then a phone call to police. A former neighbor of McNeill’s had heard on the radio they were looking for a white Honda. Could it be the one abandoned in front of his house, the one he’d tried to take to the dump?

(Police officers; house exterior; man on porch; photo of Honda)

Mr. MAYNARD: He got down to the location, found that the gates were locked.

JAMES: (Voiceover) So he took it back home, offered it to police.

(Photos of Honda)

Mr. MAYNARD: When police eventually got to this man’s backyard and they looked in the trunk of this white car and they found a cornucopia of evidence.

JAMES: (Voiceover) They found a speck of blood, flecks of paint, glass fragments similar to those found in Janelle’s hair. Finally, nearly four years since the murder, they had enough evidence for an arrest. They found McNeill nearly a thousand miles away at home in New Zealand, living with his partner Shelley Hooper and their two children.

(Honda in police lot; Honda trunk; evidence bag; photo of McNeill and Hooper; photo of McNeill, Hooper and children)

Ms. HOOPER: They said that they had a warrant for his arrest. And my heart dropped the floor, and I just thought, for what?

JAMES: (Voiceover) McNeill hadn’t been one of the persons of interest named in the inquest, was never even mentioned in Janelle’s diary; and detectives had found no indication he’d even so much as met Janelle. Yet the attack seemed so angry, so personal. Hoping for answers, Peters and Edmondson took McNeill to an interview room at the local police station, where McNeill told them a truly incredible story.

(Photo of McNeill and Hooper; McNeill in handcuffs; McNeill being interviewed by Peters and Edmondson)

Announcer: (Voiceover) A story which, if true, would make this one of the strangest murders of all time.

(Handwritten note; car on road; Honda trunk)

Mr. GLENN McNEILL: (Police interview) And that’s when I grabbed a knife and put it into her chest.

Announcer: (Voiceover) When Cracked: The Case of Janelle Patton continues.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Four years after Janelle Patton’s death, Detectives Peters and Edmondson were face-to-face with the man they believed had brutally killed her: Glenn McNeill, a chef who’d lived and worked on Norfolk Island for less than two years before returning home to New Zealand.

(Photo of Janelle; McNeill, Peters, Edmondson in police interview; photo of McNeill)

JAMES: When you heard the name Glenn McNeill, did it mean anything to you?

Ms. PATTON: Not a thing. I reread every letter I had just to see if there was anything there that, you know, would’ve perhaps connected up in any way, and there was not a mention. Absolutely not a mention.

JAMES: (Voiceover) The detectives hoped to finally get answers for the Pattons, themselves and the islanders. Who was this man who’d flown under their radar for years, and why would he have wanted Janelle dead?

(McNeill in custody)

Mr. MAYNARD: Glenn McNeill had led a very, very low profile in Norfolk island. Not many people knew him. When he was eventually arrested, people said, ‘Glenn McNeill? Glenn who?’

Det. PETERS: (Police interview) To start with, if you can tell me what happened that day.

JAMES: (Voiceover) They took McNeill to an interview room, told him they had his fingerprints, some DNA. It was as if they’d tapped a geyser. McNeill’s story started spilling out, a chilling account of what had happened that Easter Sunday.

(Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview)

Mr. McNEILL: (Police interview) And I was going for a drive down to the beach.

JAMES: (Voiceover) He coolly explained to Peters that the morning Janelle was killed he’d smoked marijuana before getting behind the wheel. He reached down to pick up his cigarettes, accidentally swerved and slammed into something.

(Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview; Rooty Hill Road sign; car on road)

Mr. McNEILL: (Police interview) So I thought I’d run over a cow or dog or something like that, and then as I got out of my car, I looked under the car, and she was under there, stuck under my car.

JAMES: (Voiceover) A stranger, he told Peters, a young woman who was very badly hurt.

(Photo of Janelle)

Mr. McNEILL: (Police interview) And I said, holy...(word censored by station)...I’ve killed someone.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Peters couldn’t believe his ears. This emotionless monologue was in fact a dramatic confession. McNeill told him he’d panicked, put Janelle’s body in the trunk of his car and driven home, then gone inside and sat down.

(Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview; Honda trunk; house exterior)

Mr. McNEILL: (Police interview) I thought...(word censored by station)...what have I done? You know? And then I went to see if she was all right. And I went to see if I could hear any—hear any or feel anything or, you know? Touched her pulse and I didn’t feel a pulse.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Peters listened carefully as McNeill’s story grew even more bizarre. McNeill told Peters he wanted to make sure she was dead, so he went to the kitchen, then came back to the car, opened the trunk lid...

(Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview; photo of Janelle; Honda trunk)

Mr. McNEILL: (Police interview) And that’s when I grabbed a knife and put it into her chest.

JAMES: As you sat there and listened to him confess, what were you thinking?

Det. EDMONDSON: My main thought at the time was, we are now going to be able to go to Ron and Carol Patton and say, ‘This is the person that has killed your daughter.’ Whether the fully correct version of what happened, at least it was some sort of answer for them.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Police now had what they needed, McNeill confessing on videotape to murdering Janelle. But so much of what he said didn’t match the other evidence. McNeill told Peters he stabbed Janelle just once, but remember, Janelle had 64 wounds, had fought for her life.

(Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview; autopsy report)

Det. PETERS: (Police interview) A lot more happened between you and Janelle Patton while she was still alive and conscious.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Peters pulled out photos of Janelle’s injuries and confronted McNeill.

(Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview)

Det. PETERS: (Police interview) This is a photograph depicting the right hand of Janelle Patton.

JAMES: (Voiceover) He calmly looked at the gruesome photos and promptly changed his story.

(Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview)

Mr. McNEILL: (Police interview) I was sitting inside and I just heard—I just heard something, a muffle in the boot.

JAMES: (Voiceover) When he opened the trunk, McNeill said, he realized Janelle was still alive. Rather than helping her, he said he grabbed a fish filleting knife, but this time said he plunged it into her body three or four times.

(Honda trunk; photo of Janelle)

Mr. McNEILL: (Police interview) It was just quick, it was just like that.

Det. PETERS: (Police interview) Mm-hmm. And did she show any resistance at that stage?

Mr. McNEILL: (Police interview) No. That’s why I don’t understand with her cut—you’re saying defensive wounds. She wasn’t holding her hands up or anything.

JAMES: (Voiceover) McNeill explained to Peters he then wrapped Janelle in a piece of plastic he found behind his house, then drove to that park where he alone dumped her body. McNeill told Peters he’d been overwhelmed by guilt since the murder, had tried to kill himself six times. After confessing, he wrote a statement saying, in part, “It makes me sick and sad what I have done and only wish to do what is right.” Janelle’s parents struggle to make sense of it all.

(Body bag at night; car driving to park; Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview; handwritten statement with excerpts; Ron and Carol)

Mr. PATTON: I just can’t understand how someone can strike someone with a car, and they end up being murdered.

Det. PETERS: (Police interview) Did you write this statement?

Mr. McNEILL: (Police interview) Yeah.

Det. PETERS: (Police interview) OK.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Despite the inconsistencies in McNeill’s story, investigators believed they’d finally caught Janelle’s killer. But according to his defense attorney, there was one major problem.

(McNeill escorted in handcuffs)

Mr. PETER GARLING: I defy anybody looking at that confession to say it was a confession to the killing of Miss Patton.

Announcer: (Voiceover) Coming up, did he confess or didn’t he? Glenn McNeill faces a jury. And a father remembers.

(Handwritten confession; McNeill escorted in handcuffs; empty juror seats;

Carol and Ron walking)

Mr. PATTON: He took my daughter.

(Voiceover) He took something that was very important and precious.

(Photo of Janelle)

Announcer: (Voiceover) When Cracked: The Case of Janelle Patton continues.

Unidentified Reporter: (Newscast) In breaking news, a 28-year-old Nelson man’s just been arrested in connection with the murder of an Australian woman on Norfolk Island four years ago.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Shelley Hooper says she couldn’t believe what she was seeing as she watched the local news the day her partner, Glenn McNeill, was arrested and then confessed to the horrific murder of Janelle Patton.

(Hooper on bench; McNeill escorted in handcuffs)

Ms. HOOPER: Shocked. Disbelief. And it was hard because I hadn’t talked to him, I couldn’t see him.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Hooper says it was incomprehensible that the father of her two children had been involved.

(Photos of McNeill, Hooper and children)

Ms. HOOPER: It’s just not him. No way.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Nearly six years after Janelle’s murder, Glenn McNeill was back on Norfolk Island, center stage in the biggest case the islanders had ever seen.

(McNeill being escorted in handcuffs)

Mr. McNEILL: (Outside courthouse) No comment.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Choosing an impartial jury on a small island would prove challenging.

(People looking through papers)

Mr. MAYNARD: (Voiceover) A lot of them told the judge when they went before him, they said, ‘I knew the defendant.

(Security outside courthouse; people exiting courthouse)

Mr. MAYNARD: ‘I knew the girl who was murdered. I knew who did it!’

JAMES: (Voiceover) Prosecutors were armed with what seemed very incriminating evidence, not the least of which was McNeill’s own admission of murder. They also had forensics, paint flecks, glass fragments, that drop of blood found in McNeill’s trunk and his fingerprints on the tarp covering Janelle’s body. But defense attorney Peter Garling told the jury, things aren’t always as they appear. For starters, he said, there was no way to tell when McNeill had touched the plastic, and:

(People with items in trunk; Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview; crime scene evidence; Honda trunk; fingerprint; flashlight on body bag; McNeill being escorted in handcuffs)

Mr. GARLING: There were, of course, 10 other fingerprints on the black plastic.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Garling said that of all those prints, police had only matched two suspects: Glenn McNeill and that local builder whom they’d ruled out as the murderer. But what about those other, unidentified prints?

(Flashlight on body bag; McNeill in handcuffs; flashlight on body bag)

Mr. GARLING: One then has to ask, well, how does 10 sets of fingerprints get on a sheet of black plastic? Not why is McNeill’s set of fingerprints on the black plastic?

JAMES: (Voiceover) But how could he explain that drop of blood found in McNeill’s trunk? Defense attorney Garling contended it was a weak sample and couldn’t be definitively linked to Janelle. Besides, Garling told the jury, no DNA of McNeill’s was found on Janelle’s body. But curiously, someone else’s was, the DNA of an unidentified woman. That DNA was found on Janelle’s clothing near where her shorts had been sliced through. Garling suggested that a woman had cut the clothing after Janelle’s death, trying to make the murder appear to be a sex crime. But Garling told the jury this crime seemed to have a different motivation.

(Honda trunk; photo of Janelle; flashlight on body bag; laboratory work; crime scene photos; flashlight on body bag)

Mr. GARLING: The anger and revenge struck me as being really something that one would see between bitter enemies, particularly females.

JAMES: (Voiceover) But what about McNeill’s confession? It was, by all accounts, the most damaging piece of evidence against McNeill. But defense attorney Garling argued it should have been thrown out completely. He said there was good reason McNeill’s story of the murder made so little sense; he’d made it all up as he went along.

(Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview; handwritten confession)

Mr. GARLING: There’s very little connection between the confession and what actually happened. And I think that’s a very troubling, very, very troubling business.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Garling pointed out that even the pathologist who examined Janelle’s body said her injuries did not match McNeill’s account of her death.

(Autopsy report)

Dr. CALA: I categorically reject that assertion that she was struck and ended up under the car.

JAMES: (Voiceover) It wouldn’t be first time someone made a false confession, and Garling said McNeill was just the sort of person to do so. He’d been battling drug addiction, had been in a mental hospital not long before he was arrested, and McNeill gave that confession in a tiny, windowless room to federal investigators who held all the cards.

(Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview; McNeill in court; (Peters, Edmondson and McNeill in police interview)

JAMES: Are you saying then that he was pressured into making this confession?

Mr. GARLING: There are different forms of pressure. I think he was.

JAMES: (Voiceover) A quirk of Norfolk law gave McNeill an extraordinary opportunity. He was allowed to make an unsworn statement at trial, and prosecutors would not be allowed to cross-examine him. McNeill told the court, “I am shocked by what I said. I did not kill Janelle Patton. I did not abduct her.” But would the jury believe him? With an overflow crowd waiting anxiously outside the tiny courthouse, the jury deliberated. Eleven hours later, a verdict: guilty.

(McNeill escorted in handcuffs; empty courtroom; excerpts from statement; empty juror chairs; crowd outside courthouse)

Mr. LATHAM: (Voiceover) That was the day that Norfolk Island started to live again.

(Carol hugging woman)

JAMES: (Voiceover) And McNeill began a 24-year prison sentence. Finally, those 16 persons of interest had been cleared and another dark chapter of Norfolk’s history closed. Or was it?

(McNeill escorted in handcuffs; Norfolk security personnel; crowd outside courthouse; sun; clouds; sea)

JAMES: (Voiceover) With his appeals exhausted, McNeill tells a new story, one he shared with his partner Shelley Hooper and now with us in the hope of having his case reopened.

(Photo of Hooper and McNeill)

Ms. HOOPER: The first time that he saw Janelle, she was already dead.

JAMES: (Voiceover) His partner, Shelley Hooper, says McNeill insists the real killers were a drug-dealing couple on the island who arrived at his home out of the blue with Janelle’s body in the back of their pickup truck. McNeill told Hooper they leaned on him because he’d stolen pot plants from them in the past. In an off-camera interview, McNeill told us that while he didn’t kill Patton, he did dump her body, which explains how his fingerprints wound up on the tarp. And he said he kept this secret for years out of fear.

(Hooper; car on road; beaten path by woods; house exterior; photo of McNeill; photo of Janelle; body bag on ground)

Ms. HOOPER: Could have quite easily been Glenn in Janelle’s position.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Hooper believes her partner is guilty only of disposing of Janelle’s body, in her mind a far lesser crime than murder.

(Photo of McNeill and Hooper)

Ms. HOOPER: There’s not a single day that I don’t go by thinking about this and wondering how on earth that Glenn is there for that. It’s just—he should be at home.

JAMES: (Voiceover) McNeill offered no proof of this extraordinary claim, nor would he name the couple. When we asked police Detectives Bob Peters and Tony Edmondson about what McNeill told us, it was the first time they’d heard McNeill’s claim. They were incredulous.

(Photo of McNeill; Peters; Edmondson)

Det. PETERS: And now you tell us today that he’s come up with a third version of events. It never had been raised, and I think it’s a desperate act from a desperate person.

JAMES: (Voiceover) But there is one piece of the puzzle that no one has ever understood. The attack on Janelle seemed so personal, yet Detectives Peters and Edmondson never found any evidence she and McNeill knew each other. But we heard an interesting story while on Norfolk Island. Janelle’s confidante Greg Magri told us the two weren’t strangers at all. He said they showed up together at his house one night.

(Photo of Janelle; fingerprint card; street sign; people carrying body bag; photo of Janelle; combers; James interviewing Magri)

Mr. MAGRI: They turned up at some ridiculous—about 11:00 at night and stayed till about 1 in the morning and just chatting and drinking and...

JAMES: (Voiceover) According to Greg, the two had been drinking in a bar and stopped by his place for last call. Greg says they appeared friendly, but not romantic.

(Magri; bar interior; Magri on stoop)

JAMES: Why haven’t you said this before?

Mr. MAGRI: Because I’d never been asked the question.

JAMES: Greg contends that they actually did know each other.

Det. PETERS: No good to me. Why didn’t he tell us that before we arrested Mr. McNeill? Why didn’t he tell it after?

JAMES: (Voiceover) Like many others on the one island, Greg feels McNeill is guilty, but believes Norfolk is still hiding a secret.

(Magri on stoop; cliffside beach)

Mr. MAGRI: There’s someone else that’s involved—I believe, anyway.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Eight years later and still so many questions linger.

(Ground at night)

Mr. MAYNARD: Did he genuinely accidentally hit her or, in some kind of a drug-induced psychotic rage, did he drive along that road that morning and think, ‘Oh, I like the look of this girl, I’ll try to get her into my car?’

(Voiceover) Did she put up a bit of a fight? Who knows?

(Photo of Janelle)

Ms. PATTON: I think we will always wonder, but I don’t think we’ll ever find out. I don’t think he’s likely to tell us and he’s probably the only one that knows.

Mr. PATTON: Yeah.

JAMES: (Voiceover) Why Janelle Patton was murdered may become another of Norfolk Island’s enduring mysteries. In addition of the reminders of the Bounty mutineers, the penal colony ruins, stands a small wooden bench to honor a lovely woman who came here to find herself and was taken away far too young.

(Sunset over sea and inlet; photo of Janelle; grave; penal colony ruins; bench; plaque; photo of Janelle)

Mr. PATTON: I’m going to miss Janelle for the rest of my life. I still talk to her. I still think of her.

(Voiceover) He took my daughter. He took something that was very important and precious.

(Photo of Janelle)