Helen Mary FEENEY

Mary was a 31 year old mother and teaching student who went missing on October 29, 1987. She was a petite woman with light, sandy hair.  Police believe Mrs Feeney was taken from the Carseldine College car park where her white Holden Gemini sedan was found abandoned, the driver's window smashed. Convicted murderer Barrie Watts was tried but acquitted of Mary's murder but it is believed her body may have been burned in a rubbish tip near Lowood, west of Brisbane and buried at another location between Lowood and Wivenhoe Dam.

Mrs Feeney was last seen alive at 6.30am on October 29 at a caravan park at Taigum in Brisbane's north. She had been studying to be a teacher at the North Brisbane College of Advanced Education at Carseldine.


Murderer takes her secrets to the grave

May 28, 2008 - SMH

THE notorious child killer Valmae Faye Beck, formerly known as Fay Cramb, has died in hospital, Queensland's Acting Police Minister, Robert Schwarten, said yesterday.

Beck was admitted to a Townsville hospital earlier this month suffering difficulty in breathing and chest pains.

She was placed in a medically induced coma following complications with heart surgery.

Beck and her former husband Barrie Watts were jailed for life in 1987 for the torture and murder of a Noosa schoolgirl, Sian Kingi.

Detectives, seeking deathbed confessions, were hoping to interview the 64-year-old high-security prisoner over more unsolved crimes.

Detectives believed the notorious criminal may have known the fate of several unsolved cases involving young girls and women across Australia, including the death of Helen Mary Feeney, a 31-year-old student, between October 29 and December 1, 1987.

Beck gave evidence that Watts had dumped Ms Feeney's body and burnt it at a rubbish tip near Lowood, west of Brisbane.

Watts was acquitted of the murder, but police believe Beck knew exactly where Ms Feeney's body was buried.

Today, Mr Schwarten, who is the acting Police Minister while Judy Spence is overseas, confirmed Beck had died in Townsville General Hospital without having regained consciousness.

"She got a life sentence and it turned out to be that," Mr Schwarten said.

"Right until the end, she was of no assistance to police. Harsh as it may sound, and people may judge me on that, I don't think there will be many Queenslanders who would shed a tear in her direction and there would be some who would cheer."

Beck and Watts moved from Western Australia to Queensland when they embarked on an eight-week crime rampage that ended with the abduction, torture, rape and murder of Sian. "There are a number of other unsolved cases that involve similarities to the well-planned killing of Sian," a police source said.

Queensland's Police Commissioner, Bob Atkinson, is expected to give a statement this week on Beck's death.


Kingi killer feels heat

Article from: The Sunday Mail (Qld)

Paula Doneman

June 10, 2007 12:00am

ON December 5, 2006, child killer Barrie John Watts was feeling nervous. He had left his cell to meet police but had no idea why.

Prison guards would tell Watts, now 53, only that he was being removed from the Rockhampton Correctional Centre for the day "in the interest of justice".

Brisbane police officer Ken Farmer was waiting for Watts when he arrived at the Rockhampton watchhouse.

The detective senior constable from Brisbane's Boondall police station criminal investigation branch wasn't about to show his hand, keeping Watts in the dark about why he and other detectives had come from Brisbane to speak with him.

"I didn't want Watts to have any advanced warning," he said.

Once they were settled inside the Rockhampton police station and tape recorders were switched on, Det Sen-Constable Farmer told Watts they were investigating the disappearance of Helen Mary Feeney.

Mrs Feeney, a 31-year-old Brisbane mother and teaching student, had disappeared from Carseldine in north Brisbane in October 1987 the same time Watts and his wife Valmae Beck, now 63, were on a murderous crime spree.

Mrs Feeney was last seen alive at 6.30am on October 29 at a caravan park at Taigum in Brisbane's north. She had been studying to be a teacher at the North Brisbane College of Advanced Education at Carseldine.

Her former husband, John, reported her missing on November 28 after she failed to show for an access visit with her six-year-old son, Shea.

Det Sen-Constable Farmer asked Watts if he remembered the missing woman.

Watts, who was tried and acquitted of Mrs Feeney's murder in 1995, replied he did, and said he had expected police would one day come back and question him.

The officer went on to tell Watts that investigators wanted to declare Mrs Feeney dead for the sake of her family, and could only do so if her remains were found or her death was declared through the coroner.

Det Sen-Constable Farmer, Det Sgt Howard Hickey and Det Sen-Constable Nick Crawford knew they had a difficult task, as Watts had never spoken to police of his crimes. Even when he was arrested for the 1987 brutal murder and rape of Noosa schoolgirl Sian Kingi, Watts had refused to state his name.

But that was about to change at this interview. Over the next 8 hours, Watts finally broke his 20-year silence and coldly spoke about the gruesome murder. As he outlined the horrific details of the 12-year-old's ordeal, Watts claimed Beck had far more involvement in the crime than she had ever admitted.

'I BELIEVE he opened up because he has been institutionalised for 20 years and has not been able to talk about these crimes without the fear of being physically beaten (by prisoners) or charged. Now someone was across the table listening to him without there being any obvious signs of judgment," Det Sen-Constable Farmer told The Sunday Mail. While serving his life sentence for Sian Kingi's murder, Watts has been bashed and sodomised with barbed wire. Watts told police of how he was attacked in his cell when other prisoners found him reading the court transcripts from the Kingi trial.

The detectives continued to press Watts for information about Mrs Feeney, saying they wanted to return her remains to her son, but the killer maintained he had nothing to do with her disappearance. They repeatedly reminded him he had nothing to lose by revealing the whereabouts of Mrs Feeney, because under Queensland's double jeopardy laws he could never be charged again with her murder.

Watts wasn't convinced.

"He refused to discuss Feeney because he does not want to be known as a serial killer. Watts doesn't want that on his prison file, because he believes it would damage his chances of getting parole," Det Sen-Constable Farmer said.

He and Alan Bourke, the then-detective senior sergeant who charged Watts with Mrs Feeney's murder after a seven-year investigation, both believe Watts murdered her. Both officers want to bring her home to her family.

Bourke, now an acting chief superintendent, was part of the investigation team into the Kingi murder and said the Feeney case first came to his attention after a prisoner at Brisbane's Boggo Road jail told police Watts had confessed to killing a woman at Zillmere prior to abducting the schoolgirl.

The then-detective senior sergeant Bourke reviewed files of women who disappeared between October 4 and December 12, 1987, when Beck and Watts were in Queensland. Before Mrs Feeney's disappearance and Sian Kingi's murder, the couple tried to abduct three women in Brisbane and Ipswich.

Their approach was always the same they would park behind an intended victim and Beck, holding a street directory, would ask for directions until Watts forced the woman into their car at knifepoint. Chief Supt Bourke said the pair always targeted the same type of victim petite women with light-coloured or blonde hair. Watts also liked his victims young he often made Beck dress in school uniforms and would spend hours perving on girls outside of schools and at sporting events.

Beck was always his accomplice.

The couple earned an income from Watts breaking into cars and stealing money and bank books. Beck would then withdraw cash from the accounts.

"Helen Mary Feeney was a petite woman with light-coloured hair. She was vulnerable in relation to her size, and they (Beck and Watts) were known to frequent school grounds," Chief Supt Bourke said. "These are two very evil people . . . and while I respect the decision of the jury (to acquit Watts of murder-manslaughter charges), I am still firmly of the belief he is responsible for (Mrs Feeney's) disappearance." Police believe Mrs Feeney was taken from the college car park where her white Holden Gemini sedan was found abandoned, the driver's window smashed.

Apart from evidence including several jail-yard confessions by Watts, Chief Supt Bourke said Beck witnessed Watts's removal of a body from the car park, where he'd been breaking into vehicles.

Beck, also serving a life sentence for the Kingi murder, testified against Watts in the 1995 trial over Mrs Feeney's murder. She told the court Watts had killed the young mum during a bungled car break-in at the Carseldine college.

The couple parked a couple of spaces from a small white car and, while acting as lookout for Watts, Beck said she heard the sound of glass smashing.

Watts then placed "something" wrapped in a red doona in their white station wagon.

Beck said she did not see a body, but "vaguely saw what looked like somebody's sandy-coloured hair". Beck testified that Watts had later told her he had dumped the body at the Lowood rubbish tip and watched it burn. (The couple lived at Lowood at the time).

The defence argued Mrs Feeney had split with her husband and had mental problems, and it was reasonable to infer she decided "to let go". The jury acquitted Watts. 

'I killed Sian Kingi'

Article from: The Sunday Mail (Qld)

Paula Doneman

June 10, 2007 12:00am

FOR the first time, Queensland's most notorious child killer Barrie John Watts has confessed to the rape and murder of Noosa schoolgirl Sian Kingi.

Watts, who would not even state his name at the time of his arrest for the brutal slaying, broke his 20-year silence in a chilling interview with a team of Queensland detectives.

"During the interview he was frank, to the point, and with little sign of emotion spoke openly about his crimes," said Brisbane's Detective Senior Constable Ken Farmer.

Watts, 53, also spoke to police about his relationship with his then-wife and accomplice Valmae Beck, whom he described as domineering and a "pushy woman". The now-divorced couple are both serving life sentences for the 1987 rape and murder of Sian, 12, on the Sunshine Coast.

Watts' confessions emerged during an interview with police re-investigating the evil pair over another murder. They have grilled Watts and Beck independently over the disappearance of Helen Mary Feeney, last seen in October 1987.

Mrs Feeney is classed as a missing person, as her body has never been found.

Watts has denied any involvement with her murder.

Mrs Feeney, a mother of a young boy, disappeared during the couple's eight-week crime spree in 1987.

Police believe Watts killed Mrs Feeney when she disturbed him breaking into her car in the grounds of the North Brisbane College of Advanced Education at Carseldine, where she was studying teaching.

Watts was put on trial for Mrs Feeney's murder in 1995, and Beck testified that he dumped her body and burned it at a rubbish tip near Lowood, where the couple rented a house.

A small amount of blood was found in Mrs Feeney's white Holden Gemini sedan, but there was not enough for police to retrieve a DNA profile.

However, detectives have taken a DNA sample from Mrs Feeney's son, Shea Feeney, in the event his mother's remains are found.

"We want to be able to declare Helen Feeney dead for her family's sake and to bring them some closure," Det Sen-Constable Farmer said.

Police suspect Mrs Feeney is buried in a shallow grave between Lowood and Wivenhoe Dam. In 1993, Beck took police to the same area and showed them a bush grave Watts had dug for a woman the couple tried to abduct from a shopping centre near Ipswich.

He said police hoped Beck, 63, would "do the right thing" and reveal the location of Mrs Feeney's body.

"We believe she knows where the body is. She may not have been present at the time Watts disposed of Mrs Feeney, but Beck knows where she is," he said. "Beck claims she regrets everything she did with Barrie Watts, yet she won't do the right thing in giving Helen's remains back to her son."

Detectives interviewed Beck, who legally changed her name to Fay Cramb, in April and May this year at the Townsville police station.

Beck, who is almost unrecognisable as her weight has ballooned to 150kg on her 160cm frame, ate Tim Tam biscuits as she spoke to detectives about her hate for Watts and their sordid life of crime together.

Beck, who is housed in the residential section of the Townsville Correctional Centre, is believed to be applying for parole a third time.

She has a sponsor who will provide her with accommodation and a job as a cleaner in Brisbane, and would ultimately like to work as a domestic violence counsellor.

  • Anyone with information about Helen Feeney's disappearance can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.