Sadistic murderer ends life in cell

A SADISTIC two-time killer who murdered a mother-of-four has been identified as the prisoner found dead in a cell in Townsville's jail.

The Sunday Mail has been told John Edward Harris, 47, was found lifeless at the north Queensland jail on Thursday morning. He was in a single occupancy cell and is understood to have taken his own life.

Mother-of-four Tia Landers was brutally murdered by John Edward Harris.
Mother-of-four Tia Landers was brutally murdered by John Edward Harris.


Harris was jailed for life for killing mother-of-four Tia Landers.

Harris and his partner Linda Eileen Appleton tortured her for up to six hours at their Brighton home in 2014. Ms Landers, whose body was dumped in the Beerburrum State Forest (inset), had significant wounds from a machete and knife and she had been punched and stomped.

She was shot twice in the head. Appleton bragged she put a bag over her head to "finish her off".

The murder was described in court as heinous and sadistic.

The crime was so sickening Justice Jean Dalton said Appleton and Harris both deserved higher penalties than the statutory non-parole period of 20 years.

Appleton was sentenced to 23 years non-parole and Harris 27 years.

Murder scene where body of Tia Landers was found off Roys Road, near Beerwah in the Beerburrum East State Forest. Picture: Glenn Barnes
Murder scene where body of Tia Landers was found off Roys Road, near Beerwah in the Beerburrum East State Forest. Picture: Glenn Barnes


Harris had previously killed his flatmate in 1998, also shooting him and dumping him in the Beerburrum forest, and was convicted of manslaughter. He had been released on parole in 2011.

Appleton also has priors for choking two children, including a nine-year-old girl.

Appleton is understood to have been notified of her partner's death during the week.

The Sunday Mail understands when officers checked on Harris in his cell about 9pm on Wednesday he was fine, but during a later check he was found dead.

Police are preparing a ­report for the coroner.

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