Transcript: 141. The Murder of Monika Zumsteg-Telling

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Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Some parts are graphic in nature and listener discretion is advised. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones.

Today’s case was researched in collaboration with our podcasting friends from True Crime Investigators UK. John and Sally are retired law enforcement officers who use their investigative experience to bring you a top-notch podcast. If you’d like to hear interviews with pivotal people mentioned in this case, as well as John and Sally’s valuable input, make sure to listen to their episode. You can find the link to True Crime Investigators UK in the show notes.

On Saturday 3 September 1983, a passing motorist went into the woods at Telegraph Hill, Exeter to relieve himself when he saw something curious in the undergrowth. The man, a local plumber called Colin Marshall, was intrigued by the object. At first he thought it was a ‘soggy mattress’. But as he walked closer, he noticed a discoloured human foot. This was no mattress – but a headless human body.

Colin rushed back to his car and drove to the nearest phone to call nine-nine-nine. When police arrived, they uncovered the grisly scene of a decapitated female body, riddled with bullet wounds. It was clear that she had been dead for some time. The first forensic investigators said that she was probably killed at least 16 days before.

The investigation would lead police to uncover dark secrets within one of Britain’s wealthiest families. This is a scandal that rocked the upper class to its very core.

>> Intro Music

Michael Henry Maxwell Telling, the only child of Joyce and Maxwell Telling, was born on the 17th of May 1950. Maxwell who used to be an Airforce pilot, was a violent drunk. So, when the marriage collapsed, it was no surprise. After only four years, with Michael only three years old, Joyce and Maxwell went their separate ways.

Joyce was financially secure and could easily walk away. In fact, she hailed from the Vestey family, believed to be the second wealthiest in all of Britain – that is after the Queen. The Vestey’s started the iconic butcher franchise Dewhurst. In the early 20th century, most high streets in the UK had one! The Vestey brothers also pioneered cold-storage food shipping, which enabled them to dominate the market of international meat import and export. When Joyce’s grandfather, William Vestey saw the waste at a meat plant in Chicago, he and his brother Edmund devised a way of preserving it. Canned beef became a popular war-time essential, and the Vestey’s saw their fortune grow.

Despite having all the money in the world, young Michael Telling had a very lonely and unhappy childhood. His alcoholic father was hot-tempered, and his mother was disengaged. His parents had their own lives and there was not much love to spare for their awkward little boy.

At the young age of six, Michael showed the first signs of anti-social behaviour when he started a fire at his exclusive boarding school. When he was nine, he set another fire, this time destroying a staircase inside the school building. There were also reports of him skipping class, stealing money from his friends and vandalising property. He even ran around naked in the schoolyard on one occasion. Michael had become such a problem, his family name and the fortune that came with it, was not enough to keep him at school and he was expelled.

When he went home from boarding school, he was confined to a wing of the family mansion, away from the rest of his family. Michael had his own nannies, and hardly had contact with his mother. During one summer vacation, he caused havoc. He bit his aunt’s hand and, on another occasion, attacked his own mother with a carving knife he kept in his room. All of this happened before his tenth birthday.

After being expelled from a second boarding school, Joyce Vestey agreed that her son should be admitted to Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital in South London. In his late teens it became evident that he was a fantasist, and a liar. He romanticised his life, claiming to be a spy. He fancied himself to be a James Bond-like character, who travelled the world in luxury, drove fast cars and motorbikes, and lived on the edge. However, behind the façade was an insecure man-child, who never felt loved. If he made friends, he was always suspicious that they were only around because he had money.

In 1966, Michael’s mother married surgeon Thomas Strong. Joyce and 16-year-old Michael moved to Australia with his new stepfather to set up home in the exclusive Sydney harbourside suburb, Kirribilli – a stone’s throw away from the Prime Minister’s residence.

Four years later, when Michael was 20, he moved to the other side of the country and settled in Perth. At the time he was doing odd jobs, but never committed to anything, as he knew he’d be able to live comfortably, thanks to his family’s wealth.

His mother Joyce’s family had strong business ties to Australia, as they had in most countries at the time. Before selling five of their seven cattle farms in 1984, the Vestey family was the largest private landowner in the whole of Australia. During the First World War they purchased six million acres of land across the country. By 1925, Vestey Holdings had more that 450,000 cattle on ranches in the land Downunder.

But the 1966 protest at Wave Hill caused irreparable damage to their image. 200 Aboriginal workers ‘walked-off’ Vesey-owned land in protest, stating that they were only paid a quarter of what their European counterparts earned. The Gurindji people petitioned the government and the dispute carried on over the next decade. Eventually Lord Vestey offered to surrender 90 square kilometres back to the Gurindji people.

So, when Michael Telling arrived in Perth in 1970, the Vestey name wouldn’t necessarily be something to be too proud of. And in a country of migrants, people typically didn’t ask too many questions about his background. Telling’s closest friends probably knew who he was. He was not actively involved in the day-to-day business of Vestey Holdings, so to people he didn’t know that well, he played down the extent of his wealth, and simply said he was an importer/exporter.

It was in Perth where Michael Telling met British-born waitress, Alison Ruth Webber in 1976. Two years later they married and relocated to England. The Vestey Trust bought them a house in the seaside town of Torquay, Devon. After they settled in, in March 1979, Michael and Alison’s son, Matthew James Maxwell Telling was born.

Michael struggled sharing his wife’s attention with their baby, and their marriage became strained. Michael pulled away and preferred to pursue his own hobbies. One of his interests took him to California Bay Area in the fall of 1980. Michael went to San Francisco with the sole purpose of buying himself a new, special edition Harley Davidson.

On one of his first motorbike runs with his new bike, he met the Zumsteg family. Lou, Elsa and their 18-year-old daughter Erika were out on a bike run of their own in Sausalito when Michael pulled up next to them at a traffic light. It was hard NOT to notice his limited edition, dual belt-drive Harley Davidson Sturgis – and the Zumstegs struck up a conversation with him.

Lou invited Michael to visit them at their home in Santa Rosa, and Michael, with a keen eye on Erika, gladly accepted the invitation. He was quite open about his intentions with Erika and she felt he came on a bit strong, especially when he gave her an opal necklace. Erika made it clear that she didn’t have romantic feelings for him, but she liked him and wanted to be friends. Michael backed off, but for the following week, he still spent a lot of time at the Zumsteg residence.

He came to know the family quite well: Lou was married to Swiss-national, Elsa and they had three children. Monika was the eldest by six years and 18-year-old Erika had a twin brother Mark. When Michael Telling met the family, Erika and Mark still lived at home, and Monika, a career-driven young woman, was living by herself. Michael stayed with the Zumstegs for a bit, and they suggested he went to Sacramento to meet Monika. The instant they met, sparks flew.

Monika, closer in age to Michael than Erika, was evidently a better match than her sister. And it looked like Michael’s feelings were reciprocated, Monika fell for him pretty quickly too. Monika held a degree in journalism from the College of San Mateo, as also studied industrial studies and business at Holy Names College in Belmont. When she met Michael, she was working at an IT firm. She had recently been promoted and was taking a new position in Burbank, Los Angeles.

Michael Telling had a lot of knowledge of firearms and told Lou that he owned many guns. When Lou asked him why, he confided in him and Monika. He said that he worked for British Intelligence and could not go into much detail about his job. Monika was intrigued by this quiet, well-mannered, international man of mystery on his motorcycle. He was refined and charming, but there was something unsettling about him at the same time. Monika found it rather exciting and threw herself into the relationship.

It was a whirlwind romance and Michael did not want to leave America without Monika. He impressed her father, Lou, by visiting Monika’s family home in Santa Rosa to ask for her hand in marriage before he proposed to her. He assured the Zumstegs that he was in a good position to provide for Monika, and she would never have to worry about money. This is when Michael revealed the fact that he did not actually have a job. However, he had a monthly income of about £30,000, which covered credit cards, homes, cars and other bills. All of this was provided to him by the Vestey Trust. Michael had the means to do whatever he pleased, and he was all too happy to share his fortune with the beautiful Monika.

Monika was surprised when she learnt that her husband-to-be came from one of the wealthiest families in England. She had fallen for him without knowing the good financial fortune she had stepped into. Perhaps, blinded by the gold, she forgave him for lying about being a spy. She put it down to the possibility that he just wanted to impress her. Michael also explained that he wanted to make sure she loved him for who he was, and not for his money, that is why he did not tell her from the start. He did not tell her that he was a married father, however.

Michael Telling was eager to marry his Californian beauty but had to end his marriage to Alison first. He returned to England to tell her he had met someone else. Alison was dumbfounded but realised he had made up his mind. They decided to travel to Sydney together, to inform his mother about their divorce, but once they were at the airport, Michael got in a plane to Los Angeles instead – he needed to see Monika.

In the months that followed, he pushed for his divorce from Alison to be finalised as soon as possible. The initial wedding date had to be moved, while proceedings were being wrapped up in England. While Monika waited, Michael put her up in a luxurious apartment in Los Angeles. Only when Monika went to England did she learn about Michael’s wife and son. She called her family and was very upset that he never told her about them.

The wedding day came in November 1981, seven months after they first met. It was a small, civil ceremony in Wycombe, England, with only a handful of guests. Their honeymoon kicked off at a hotel in Hyde Park, London, followed by multiple overseas trips, to Austria, Morocco and Australia.

The plan was always for Michael and Monika to live in Michael’s native England after the wedding. They rented a place in Royal Tunbridge Wells before they found the perfect place in Buckinghamshire – a sprawling estate on Radnage Lane, High Wycombe called Lambourn House. Their house was a lavishly renovated stone barn, with only the best trimmings – and multiple garages to house all of Michael’s cars.

Michael and Monika lapped up their life of luxury – all of it, courtesy of the Vestey Trust. Monika embraced her new lifestyle in High Wycombe, west from London and learnt to ride, joined neighbours for fox hunts and entertained guests at their home. Friends envied the Tellings – they seemed to have everything anyone could ever dream of: fast cars, exotic travels and splendid parties.

As a hobby, Monika collected and sold antiques at a local market. From time to time, she posed as a model, as she had done in her early twenties in California. But her life as an educated, independent working woman was a distant memory. She lived in a gilded cage and was always looking for something to do. One of her friends said that Monika was ‘wealthy, lovely and bored.’

Also, behind closed doors, things between Michael and Monika were not all that rosy and sweet. One night, police were called to Lambourn House because of a domestic dispute. The officer said that the 26-year-old Monika was polite, but visibly shaken. An aggressive Michael reportedly drew his firearm on the responding officer. He was charged with firearm offences, and fined £10,000. The Vestey Trust fund paid the fine, yet again bailing out the 33-year-old Michael, who did not feel the consequences of his actions.

In 1983, the Tellings had been married for a year and a half. Monika’s family knew her life with Michael was no walk in the park. They pleaded with her to return to California, but she insisted that she wanted to help her husband. It was around March or April that Monika fell out of contact with her family. They felt they had pushed too hard for her to leave Michael and gave her some space. But when she still had not been in touch after five months, they grew concerned.

Meanwhile, back in Buckinghamshire, Monika’s friends heard that she had walked out on Michael. She had left suddenly and Michael told friends and neighbours that things between them didn’t work out, and that she had gone back to America. Michael, furious that his wife had left him, hired a private investigator to track her down. Bank records showed that she was still using her ATM card all around England, but the investigator had no luck in locating her whereabouts.

On Saturday the 3rd of September 1983, police were called to the woods at Haldon Hills, Devon. Local plumber, Colin Marshall had stumbled across the headless body of a female shooting victim. The body was badly decomposed and they were not able to identify the victim. Investigators went to the media and distributed a photo of her clothing, hoping someone somewhere would be able to help.

The public appeal resulted in no less than 107 suggestions for persons fitting the description of the deceased. One of those was a woman from West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire – 180 miles away from where the body was found. She was friends with Monika Zumsteg-Telling and had recognised a picture when she saw it in the newspaper. It was a recognisable beige T-shirt with the picture of a camel and the words ‘Souvenir of Morocco’ written in Arabic. The friend told police that she had not seen Monika for several months, when she left her husband in early spring.

The pink shorts worn by the victim could be traced to a shop in San Francisco. So when investigators learnt about Monika’s background, they decided it was time to pay a visit to her marital home. A week after her body was discovered, police searched Lambourn House and made a ghastly discovery. One of Michael Telling’s favourite cars, a Mini Cooper was parked inside the garage. When police opened the trunk, they found Monika’s head in a plastic bag. When confronted with the evidence, Telling had to admit that he had been driving around with his wife’s severed head in his car for a week.

He admitted that he shot her with his 30-30 hunting rifle on the morning of the 29th of March. When police asked him why, he reportedly said there were ‘101 reasons’ for killing his wife. But on that particular morning, the couple had an argument in the sitting room of their home. Michael claimed that he threatened to shoot Monika. He said:

“She kept taunting me. She came charging towards me. I thought she was going to attack me, so I picked up the rifle and shot her.”

The shots struck Monika twice in the chest and once in the neck, killing her instantly. Michael Telling did not know what to do. In a state of panic and denial he kept her body in the house for a week, moving her from room to room. In his recount to police, he painted a macabre picture of himself who sat by his dead wife’s side, talked to her, and kissed her before he left the room. After a week, he decided to move her to an outbuilding, into a partly built sauna where she remained for five months.

At the beginning of September, he told his friends and neighbours he was going on a camping trip. He rented a van, loaded Monika’s remains and drove three hours to Devon – a county he knew well, because he had lived there with his first wife, Alison. Initially Michael planned to bury Monika’s body in a cemetery but could not find a suitable spot. In the end he settled on a location near Telegraph Hill, Exeter. At the secluded wooded location, a lover’s lane, he chopped off her head with an axe, and wrapped it up in a plastic bag. He left her body and returned to Lambourn House, where he placed the head in the trunk of his Mini Cooper.

Telling claimed that he took Monika’s head off, in part so it would complicate identification. But ultimately, he did not want to leave all of her. He told police:

“I always loved Monika. Even after she had died, I wanted her to be with me.”

Psychologist Robert Bluglass later testified that he believed this is actually why he kept her head, because he ‘wanted to take some part of her back with him”.

Monika’s family was informed of her murder by Exeter Police on Sunday morning the 11th of September. They could not believe it. They knew things were not going too well between their daughter and her husband, but never in their wildest dreams would they have thought Michael Telling was capable of killing Monika. Monika’s sister Erika was not surprised… Five months before, she had a sudden moment of angst. She was scared and angry all at the same time. To this day, Erika believes that was the moment her sister died – and that she had sensed it.

It is rumoured that, while on remand in Exeter, Telling was not the average prisoner. An anonymous person who claimed to have been a fellow inmate posted on an online forum years later, that Telling catered meals delivered to his prison cell. He shared his steak, oysters and other fine foods with everyone to win their favour.

Michael Telling’s first court appearance came on September 12th, 1983 at Winsford Magistrate’s Court, Exeter. His trial was scheduled for June the following year, and eventually lasted nine days. Telling had the best legal representation money could buy. Barrister George Carmen, a charismatic legal personality, approached the case with confidence and flair.

Newspapers all over the UK gave the trial extensive coverage. The horrific story also made waves in America and Australia – reports of the ‘headless corpse trial’ were everywhere. As details emerged inside the courtroom, people watched in awe.

33-year-old Linda Blackstock, a neighbour who had met Michael Telling over the local CB Radio, said that she had a four-week affair with Telling after Monika’s murder. During that time, he attempted sexual intercourse with her more than once, but never managed to do so. She said:

“I think he felt humiliated. He tried more than once but we never had sex fully.”

According to Linda, Michael told her his wife had left him. In their conversations about his wife, Linda assumed that Monika was still alive. Meanwhile, the spot where he tried to make love to Linda, was right next to the sauna where he had hidden Monika’s body. By this time, Michael had installed an electric air freshener and sealed the sauna off, so the smell of Monika’s decomposing body was contained.

Linda ended things between them when Michael overplayed his hand. As he did with Monika, he tried to convince Linda that he worked for Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) and said that his job had something to do with Special Branch. He alluded to his time in the Falklands in Special Operations and when his own lies tripped him up, she broke off their relationship.

While Monika’s body was wasting away in the sauna that summer, Michael’s ex-wife Alison, who worked as a flight instructor by this time, came to visit so he could see their son. Alison and Matthew also came for a brief visit in September, after Telling had disposed of Monika’s body. During that visit, Michael gave Alison Monika’s Rolex and some jewellery. Alison refused to take it, but Michael assured her that Alison had left him and she wasn’t coming back. He asked Alison for a favour though… He requested she sent him the front page of her local newspaper, when she returned to Devon. This was clearly an attempt to keep an eye on the news, to see if anyone had discovered Monika’s body.

Telling’s defence revealed what was going on inside the marriage from Michael’s perspective. He claimed that Monika, a heavy drinker, taunted him with affairs with other men and women. She berated his competency in the bedroom and made it clear that she had only married him for his money. The defence painted a picture of a bohemian life together, with drugs, parties and bisexual dalliances.

Telling told of an incident before they were married: he allegedly walked into their living room and found Monika making love to the neighbour’s wife. Telling also claimed that Monika was too drunk on their wedding night to consummate the marriage. She also denied him sex for the last seven months of her life – and on the morning he shot her, he just snapped.  

Richard Richardson, a neighbour of the Tellings confirmed in his testimony that Monika was bisexual and that all she ever wanted from Michael was money. Richardson felt Michael was terrified of his wife who belittled him and revelled in her promiscuity.

Other witnesses also came forward with similar stories. They claimed that Michael was made to watch his wife make love to other men and women, right in his own house. One witness recalled Monika revealing that she had reconnected with a former boyfriend during a trip to America. Another story was that Monika even taught their pet cockatoo to say:

“Piss of Michael.”

Everyone said that Michael never reacted to her taunts – he only looked on, passively. Richard Richardson went so far as to say:

“I wanted to take Michael into the garden and knock some sense into him and tell him not to take it… He used to lift her hand up and kiss it and kiss the top of her head. That used to rile me.”

Expert psychologists testified that the constant taunting would have been deeply humiliating for someone like Michael Telling, who was still rather childlike. He was insecure in himself and sexually, and having his wife make a mockery of his innermost vulnerability distressed him to a large extent.

Most of the witnesses were neighbours from High Wycombe, who had a conservative view of how one should behave. They were of the opinion that Monika had brought her ‘unconventional Californian habits’ into their world. Everyone felt that she was already a heavy drinker by the time she moved in to Lambourn House and that swinging came naturally to her.

A gay couple came forward and claimed they had an ongoing relationship with Monika. Karin Mayers and her girlfriend Julie Chamberlain met Monika at the pizzeria where Karin worked. Karin and Monika became friends, who shared the occasional joint. Their friendship soon developed into something more, and most of their trysts happened at the Telling home.

Another witness, home decorator Joe Stennings also claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Monika. He said he would visit Monika at her house, as she did not seem to worry about being caught. He recalled a conversation in which Monika allegedly said:

“When Michael blows my head off one day, you’ll be able to tell it to the newspapers.”

However, no one who knew Monika in California believed these allegations to be true. If anything, Monika was reserved and polite. She was focused on her career and was close to her family. None of her friends or family members ever knew Monika to have taken drugs or to have been bisexual.

During the trial, Lou Zumsteg lashed out about the way the defence portrayed his daughter, calling the claims of her taunting sexual habits ‘untrue smears’. Because Prosecution’s job is to only state the facts of the crime, they felt that no one was defending Monika and her character.

Her family described her relationship with Michael Telling to the press. They said it was like a fairy tale romance at first… But soon cracks began to show. Michael was volatile and his moods were unpredictable. On more than one occasion, he flew into a jealous rage, wrecking their furniture, and threatening violence.

He was a diabetic and would use his illness to gain sympathy from his wife. When she threatened to leave him, he’d send himself into insulin shock. Monika, ready to walk out on him, uncovered details about her husband’s past. She learnt that he had mental health issues and told her family she wanted to stay and help him through it. His family did not want a scandal surrounding a mentally unstable heir, so most of his actions were swept under the rug. Because of the fact that she was left alone to deal with the unstable Michael, Monika turned to alcohol.

A clerk who worked at a removal company in London said that Monika called on the 14th of March to enquire about moving some personal items to California. She asked him not to send a written quote to Lambourn House, as she wanted to keep her plans confidential. According to the clerk, Monika hinted at the fact that she had had enough of England and that her marriage was ‘disappointing’. She reportedly also told neighbour Richard Richardson about her plans and said that she was going to ask for a £50,000 settlement from her husband. Two weeks later, Monika was dead.

One of three psychiatrists who was called as an expert witness, Medical Director at Broadmoor Dr John Hamilton, said that he did not think the killing was an impulsive one. Dr Hamilton had interviewed Telling while he was on remand in Exeter on several occasions. According to Dr Hamilton, Telling told him that he had decided to kill Monika while the couple stayed at the Hyde Park Hotel – a trip to try and save their marriage. When things did not go well, Telling decided there and then that he would kill her – he did not know how, but he knew he would.

In March, Monika had a short stint in hospital following dental surgery. When she arrived home at Lambourn House, Telling decided that he would shoot her the following day. In court, Dr Hamilton said:

“If it had been an impulsive, heat-of-the-moment action, the firing of the first shot might well have brought him to his senses, as it were. But this cocking of the rifle twice and the firing of three shots again underlines to me the cold-blooded calculated way in which he killed her.”

Dr Hamilton also pointed out that Telling went through great trouble to cover up his crime. He cleaned the carpet in the sitting room, then had an electric air-freshener installed in the sauna before he moved her body there. He was the one who used Monika’s ATM card and then hired the PI to look for his missing wife, all the while knowing exactly where she was.

On 29 June 1984, after two hours of deliberation, Michael Telling was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to life in prison. He was NOT found guilty of murder, due to diminished responsibility. Solicitor Maxlow-Tomlinson explained to international media that diminished responsibility meant Telling’s mind was…

“…substantially disordered at the time of the killing. It could also be considered the same thing as temporary insanity.”

The press took pity on Michael – the man who never grew up – whose own mother spoke openly about his childhood challenges in court.

The jury agreed with the defence that he had suffered from mental impairment at the time of the murder. This is what Telling told his barrister, he said:

“I am so pleased for my son’s sake that I am not branded a murderer.”

The tabloids loved this story – it had all the elements: a member of the aristocracy and his beautiful American wife embroiled in a scandal involving sex, drugs and ultimately murder. An article in the London Standard was captioned ‘Not evil, but mad’. Another headline read ‘I loved her, but I shot her.’

Monika’s body was returned to Santa Rosa where her family laid her to rest at Calvary Cemetery, in December 1983.

Monika’s father said he felt “half crazy” after what was said about his daughter during the trial. He was guilt-ridden about the fact that he was the one who had introduced Monika to her killer back in Santa Rosa. Lou Zumsteg said:

“[Michael] inspires me both with anger and compassion. Obviously, you need a lot of help from psychiatrists. When I think of him, I can’t forget that nice young man who asked me for my daughter’s hand. But sometimes I wake up at night and wonder, ‘How, my God, could I have allowed such a thing to happen?”

Michael Telling served eleven years in prison and was released in January 1994. He had decided to go back to the most isolated city on the planet: Perth. It was evident that he had planned his next chapter while still in prison. Because of his extended stay in Australia between 1966 and 1981, it is fair to assume he had dual citizenship. Therefore, he would not have to apply for a visa and disclose his crime. He could enter Australia and restart his life on a clean page, no questions asked.

While he was in prison his wealth accumulated and he was granted the privileges of the Vestey Trust once he was free. Within three months of his release, the 44-year-old heir was living in Perth and bought a house for $750,000 in Rossmoyne. He soon purchased the neighbouring home as well, for $300,000.

Telling could easily blend in with the understated wealthy socialites of Perth, without ever disclosing too much about his past. Rossmoyne is a desirable riverside suburb, good for families with big blocks of land. This is also good for someone who would not like to be too close to their neighbours. He was somewhat of a recluse and kept to himself.

People who knew him in Perth described Telling as an ‘English Gentleman’. He continued fuelling his passion for motor vehicles and was an active member of the Jaguar Club. He was also a cricket enthusiast and held a Western Australian Cricket Association (or WACA) membership. He enjoyed watching matches and everything about him seemed cool, calm and collected, and always ate alone.

Michael Telling died on the 16th of December 2009, at hospice, because of complications due to diabetes, at the age of 59. Only when he died did Paul Murray, editor of the West Australian, receive a tip about Telling’s past. One of Paul’s readers informed him about Telling’s sordid past. The exposé article in ‘The West Australian’ was titled: Killer’s Secret Life in Perth.

Jaguar dealer Wilf Chambers was Telling’s best friend in Perth and said he knew Michael was an aristocrat but would never have guessed that he had killed his wife. When he died, none of his close friends knew anything about his murder conviction back in England. On his death certificate, his ex-wife Alison and his son Matthew are noted, but there is no mention of his second marriage. He clearly never told anyone in Perth that he was married to Monika, let alone that he murdered her and had served time for it. To his friends and neighbours, this killer was nothing more than an unassuming man. But then again, killers often are simply ‘the person next door’, hiding in plain sight.

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