The Vampire Gigolo: Unexplained murder mystery still baffles
IT WAS on the morning of June 4, 2003 when a man named Shane Chartres-Abbott walked out of his Melbourne home with his girlfriend Kathleen Price and her father Jerry.
As they made it to the front fence, Jerry felt a blow to the back of his head and fell to the ground while Kathleen was forced to her knees.
Kathleen heard Shane utter a quiet "Oh my god", saw the flash of a handgun and heard two shots.
Shane had been executed by two bullets, one in his throat another in his arm, and was lying on the ground drowning in his own blood, dead before he hit the ground the coroner said.
The two men who had done it were sprinting away from the scene and to this day, still haven't been found.
Almost a decade and a half and $30 million dollars later, Shane's murder is still a mystery.
A mystery journalist Adam Shand set out to solve with his new podcast series The Trials of The Vampire.
Because, while you might not know the name Shane Chartres-Abbott, you've definitely heard of "the vampire gigolo", the man accused of raping and torturing a prostitute in 2002.
MINDS MADE UP
In August, 2002, a 27-year-old Shane was working as a male prostitute, specialising in sex involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission and masochism - better known as BDSM.
On August 17 of that year, Shane met up with another prostitute, a Thai woman given the pseudonym Penny for legal reasons, to have sex in a Melbourne hotel.
The podcast tells of how the night went - with everyone having a different tale to tell - but the fact of the matter was that when a worker entered room 307 of Hotel Saville the morning after, Penny had been the victim of a heinous crime.
Found in the hotel bath, Penny was barely conscious with blood dripping from her mouth.
She had been viciously raped, brutally assaulted and, the most harrowing part, her tongue had been nearly ripped from her mouth.
It didn't take police long to arrest Shane, he of course had been the only one to have spent the night with Penny, and swiftly charged him with numerous counts of assault and rape.
Everyone's minds were made up, Shane was an easy target and of course there was the "vampire" persona he assumed for his work.
The night of the assault, Penny claimed he had told her he was "a 200 year old vampire that needed blood to survive".
That's the narrative Australia has run with for years, something Adam Shand wasn't happy with.
"I felt it was important to present the evidence that brought that into doubt. It wasn't just one person it was everyone I spoke to. Psychologists, psychiatrists, old friends, none of it fit," he told news.com.au.
"We never asked the hard questions because it was all too convenient. He was dead now, he was the vampire gigolo," he added.
BUT WHY WAS SHANE MURDERED?
During Shane's rape trial, the former sex worker expressed on numerous times and to numerous people, his desire to blow the lid off Melbourne's entire corrupt network.
The early 2000s in Melbourne also happened to be the peak of the city's gangland war, where executions among opposing gangs were happening almost once a month.
And Shane promised names of judges, police anyone in positions of power that had a hand in the bloody war.
The day Shane was going to give that evidence as well as divulge a peculiar plot to kill him the night of Penny's rape in the witness box - evidence that would be disseminated to the whole of Australia - he was executed.
A 14 year and $30 million Victoria Police investigation later, the killers and accomplices still roam free.
The justice denied aspect of the case was mainly what inspired Shand to take on the mammoth case.
"I just want some proceeding in the court, be it the coroners or whatever, to round off things.
I think my faith in the court system is really shaken by this," he said.
"It's not really about truth, we as journalists want truth, this is about plausibility. It's about raising reasonable doubt.
You start thinking about our legal system, can we ever get perfect judgments? Or is it enough that we get most of them right?" he added.
WILL THERE EVER BE RESOLUTION?
The Trials of The Vampire extensively covers who might've been behind the rape and the murder and how everyone from police to drug dealers were dragged in as suspects but, as Shand impresses, the story isn't just about that.
"We tried to present the facts but it's not necessarily who we said did it. The story isn't about that and it's not necessarily over either," he said.
But just like any murder mystery, he wouldn't mind a bit of resolution.
"I'm hoping someone might go, I want to cleanse myself, I did it, I need to be punished.
That probably won't happen but it'd be nice. We get all emotionally involved in these things but everyone involved has to move on. I hope that we can have some resolution ultimately," Shand said.
Barely having a day off in six months, as Shand puts it, the team behind The Trials knuckled down, calling everyone that needed to be called and knocking on the doors of people that didn't answer their phones.
Delving into Victoria Police's most expensive investigation in history was always going to be an exhausting one, especially for Shand and his editor Matt Nikolic.
"It's a bit of a rollercoaster of a story and it tends to pull you in and it tests your judgment and your scepticism about things. We got to episode five or six and [Matt] turned to me and said, 'I'm feeling a little emotionally run out, what about you? And I said 'I'm glad you said that' because these rides are emotionally thrilling but imagine going to Luna Park to ride the big dipper for a week, you're going to get sick eventually and it's exhausting," Shand said.
All ten episodes of PodcastOne's original True Crime series The Trials of the Vampire created with journalist and writer Adam Shand are available exclusively on PodcastOne.com.au and the PodcastOne app.