Clue that caught ‘lesbian vampire killer’
It was 5am on October 21, 1989, when early morning rowers out on the Brisbane River came across a grisly sight - the body of 47-year-old Edward Baldock, who had been stabbed 27 times in the face and neck. His injuries were so severe that he was almost decapitated.
Days later, press interest reached fever pitch when Tracey Wigginton - dubbed "Brisbane's vampire lesbian killer" by tabloids who eagerly reported on her penchant for drinking blood - confessed to the crime.
But if not for one crucial clue, she might never have been caught at all.
HATCHING A MURDEROUS PLOT
Wigginton, then 25, wasn't alone on the night she killed Baldock. She'd spent the evening at a lesbian club called L'Amours in Fortitude Valley along with her new girlfriend of one week Lisa Ptaschinski, 24, Kim Jervis and another woman, both 23.
During her confession to police, Wigginton said that in the lead-up to that night, the women had hatched a plan to find a man, so Wigginton, who told the others she was a vampire who had been living on animal blood she bought from butchers, could "feed" on human blood.
A DEADLY OFFER
After leaving L'Amours at around 11.30pm, the women saw Baldock, a father-of-four and grandfather-of-two, outside The Caledonian Club in nearby suburb Kangaroo Point, where he had been drinking with friends. The women pulled over and offered him a lift, implying there might be sex on offer.
When the group arrived at Orleigh Park, an area Wigginton knew would be deserted at that hour, she lured Baldock to the riverbank with the promise of sex.
She removed her shirt and started to help him to take off his clothes, then left, saying she had to go to the toilet.
Baldock neatly placed his folded clothes in a pile on top of his shoes and shoved his wallet under the edge of a roller door at the nearby sailing club.
When Wigginton returned she had brought Lisa Ptaschinski with her.
"I walked around behind him, I took my knife out of my back pocket, he asked me what I was doing, I said nothing and stabbed him," Wigginton later told detectives.
Wigginton then ordered Ptaschinski back to the car with the others, and she stabbed Baldock 26 more times with a long-bladed hunting knife. She later described her actions to the police as being like a "shark in a feeding frenzy".
After the frenzy was over, Wigginton smoked a cigarette as Baldock lay dying, before throwing the knife into the river and washing her arms in the water.
It's not clear whether Wigginton actually drank Baldock's blood after she killed him - she later denied it through her lawyer - but the three other women reported to police they could smell blood on her breath when she returned to the car.
When Wigginton asked the other three women to come and see the body, Ptaschinski and Jervis followed, but the third woman stayed in the car.
A GRISLY SCENE
Baldock's body was discovered the next morning. His spinal cord was almost entirely severed, and the two main arteries in his neck were cut.
A police search revealed Baldock's wallet hidden under the sailing club roller door alongside another crucial clue - a bank card hidden in one of Baldock's shoes with the name "Miss T Wigginton".
A KILLER CAUGHT
Wigginton later told police that when she woke up the next morning and realised her bank card was missing, she returned to Orleigh Park to find police there. It was then that she understood what she'd done, reportedly saying, "Oh my God, it's real."
Three hours later, police knocked on her door. Wigginton at first denied being involved in the murder, but after police inspected her car and found traces of blood, and Ptaschinski confessed her involvement, they knew they had their killer.
Although theories abounded about how the bank card appeared in Baldock's shoe, with some believing one of Wigginton's friends planted it to ensure she'd be caught, police believe a much simpler version of events.
They think Wigginton dropped the card while helping Baldock to undress, and he found the card on the ground. Believing it to be his own, he put it into his shoe for safekeeping as Wigginton went to get the knife she was about to murder him with.
SOLVING HIS OWN MURDER
Without knowing it, Baldock concealed the clue that would help to solve his own murder.
For her part in the notorious crime, Lisa Ptaschinski was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. She was released in 2008. Kim Jervis was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 years, serving 12. Wigginton was sentenced to 22 years in prison and walked free in 2012.
LIFE AFTER PRISON
Wigginton has kept a low profile since being released from prison. Soon before her release, Wigginton wrote to Baldock's family:
"I have 19 years of a life sentence and not a day has gone by that I don't think about the terrible thing I have done and the pain I have caused you … I know that no amount of wishing or dreaming can bring Mr Balldock (sic) back but by God I do.
"I would give anything to change what happened and to save you all the heartache, pain, confusion and anger that I have caused."
Baldock's daughter Tracey told 9News earlier this year that the family wants him to be remembered for the man he was, not how he died.
"He loved playing with the grandchildren," she recalled. "He was always playing when you went over there. We had swings in the back.
"He was so playful. Mum would always be yelling at him: 'Edward, you're going to hurt yourself,'."
Carolyn Tate is a freelance writer @tatewords