By Tim Latham

During this well-researched research of a real and unsolved crime, the enigma surrounding the loss of life of Janelle Patton—a 29-year-old Australian lady who disappeared whereas mountaineering on a well-liked Norfolk Island path and used to be later came across stabbed and dead—is investigated via own interviews and probing questions. A territory of Australia, Norfolk Island itself is as attention-grabbing and weird as Patton's homicide. Few humans during this secretive and protecting island group of below 2,000 voters will talk about the incident, additional shrouding Patton's dying with secret. This startlingly unique story is a portrait of an remoted group that holds a depressing and weird mystery that could by no means be printed.

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On Norfolk Island the link between an individual and an entire family is often dangerously blurred and locals aren’t immune from making the classic mistake that outsiders are prone to: bitching about a NORFOLK BY BUS 23 Norfolk Text Pgs 4/8/05 12:12 PM Page 24 third party only to discover, to their horror, that he or she is the brother, sister, aunt or uncle of someone closely related to the person they’re bitching to. These revelations can emerge at any time, regardless of how much they know about the island’s genetic jigsaw puzzle.

So too are some of the doctors who have worked at the island hospital. In 1994 the Australian Law Reform Commission went to the island to investigate the extent of domestic violence in the community. The commission found violence and intimidation through beatings, stalking, crank phone calls, burglary, trespassing and sexual harassment. For my original story on Norfolk Island I spoke with former commissioner, Chris Sidoti. He spoke of the fear women had of talking to the commission when it visited, but only during the day: ‘They were extremely busy at night, as women beat a path to their door during the evenings to talk to them under cover of darkness, where they couldn’t be recognised or seen by their neighbours.

Judy from Melbourne, still looking bouncy in her lime green linen suit, corners Maxine and asks the question I didn’t expect to hear. ’ Intrigued, with ears burning, a few people gather in a tight scrum to hear the reply. I do the same. Maxine says, ‘Everyone thought she had been killed in a car accident. ’ 30 NORFOLK : ISLAND OF SECRETS Norfolk Text Pgs 4/8/05 12:12 PM Page 31 Chapter 4 BACK FOOT FORWARD On the surface, Norfolk Island is an unlikely place for a crime as hateful as murder. But all communities have sinister undercurrents— there’s no reason why Norfolk shouldn’t.

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