Speargun killer John Sharpe’s elaborate deceit and murder of his pregnant wife and toddler Gracie shocked Melbourne
John Sharpe’s hands trembled violently.
Ambushed by journalists in the middle of a supermarket carpark, he begged for missing wife Anna and their little Gracie to come home.
The socially-inept Sharpe had been a notable absence from a press conference days earlier. Instead, two of his wife’s best friends
had pleaded for information to find her and her 20-month-old daughter.
Sharpe didn’t feel comfortable or able to face the media, Detective Senior-Sergeant Steve Waddell said at the time.
Friend Jenny Young said Anna would never leave her husband and keep something of such magnitude to herself.
"It just doesn’t add up, it’s just so totally unlike Anna to leave and not have any contact whatsoever.
I just wish she would get in touch," Ms Young said.
There was no question police suspected foul play — and John Sharpe’s account of events was under scrutiny.
As Sharpe came increasingly under the police microscope, there was no escape from the media.
And those trembling hands — the ones that pulled the trigger on his 20-month-old daughter and pregnant wife — were giving him away.
A tearful Sharpe later faced the media, maintaining his wife had left him for another man and taken daughter Gracie with him.
While police expressed fears of the potential for a “chilling outcome”, Sharpe held a
photograph of his daughter and told the world bold-faced lies.
Anna and Gracie were alive and well and living in the Chelsea area, he said.
And in another insult to his dead wife, he said the unborn child she was carrying was not his
“I haven’t harmed my wife or my daughter. I haven’t harmed either of them,” Sharpe said.
“Anna, our marriage may be over but I still love you and you are the mother of our beautiful
daughter Gracie, whom we both adore more than anyone else," he said.
“I know the current circumstances are very stressful for you and everyone concerned,
including all our families, and that we are very private people.
“We need to resolve this.
“My biggest fear is being denied a part of Gracie’s future."
His parents later invited the Herald Sun into their Mornington home.
Sharpe’s mother was left to do the talking while he repeatedly left the room.
"He’s now just getting more and more distressed. The anguish you can see in his eyes, just waiting for their return," mum Valerie Sharpe said.
"We have got him home for that reason, so we can nurture him a bit.
"We love Anna very much, and Gracie, and we are desperately hoping to see them.
"It’s important for Anna to know we would welcome her back, too. We don’t want her to feel she can’t come back to the family."
Sharpe said he and his wife had been in contact since their separation on March 23, 2004, but it had been several weeks since they last spoke.
"Initially she said she was in the Chelsea area but I don’t know if that’s still right or if it was ever totally right," he said.
"I’ve got no doubt that they’re still alive."
Photographer Ian Currie recalls Sharpe constantly going to look out the blinds and being comforted by his father Myles.
This was all part of an elaborate three-month charade Sharpe acted out.
It was a three-month hell for Anna’s family.
Sharpe sent his mother-in-law flowers for her birthday purporting to be from Anna,
wrote letters to Anna’s friends, withdrew money from her bank account in the Chelsea
area and made calls from her mobile phone to create the impression she was still alive.
Sharpe also created a false email using Anna’s name and email address and sent it to her
brother in New Zealand. The email reported that Anna and Gracie were happy and had gone to live with another man.
Anna’s mother Lilia Gebler became concerned when she tried repeatedly to get in touch with Anna. The pair
were very close and spoke daily on the phone. It was not like Anna to cut off contact.
Ms Gebler pleaded with Herald Sun readers to help find her daughter.
"Words cannot do justice to how I feel about her disappearance and to see the pain of my two
boys, who have been so brave, breaks my heart," Lilia said in an open letter.
Days after Anna was murdered, Lilia’s mothers’ intuition told her something was wrong.
She had been unable to get in contact with Anna and her phone discussions with Sharpe were only making her more concerned.
She spoke to a priest who put her on to Dunedin police.
Constable John Woodhouse, from Dunedin, prepared a file and it was forwarded to Interpol.
"She (Anna) was not answering phone calls, she had not discussed with friends that she may
have had another man in her life. I was running scenarios in my mind when looking at all the
facts, what most fitted, and nothing fitted other than foul play.
"Once I put the file through, I did feel a burden really ... my biggest
fear was it wasn’t going to be handled with the urgency it deserved."
Victoria Police began their investigation on May 20.
At Mornington, Sharpe deteriorated into a quivering mess and he began to avoid the media.
On June 20, his mother said he was on medication and his doctor had advised him not to make any more public statements.
Two days later, at 6.45am on Tuesday, June 22, police swooped, arresting Sharpe at his parent’s home.
He was grilled for 11 hours, confessing to the murders of his wife and child.
The remains of Anna Marie Kemp, 42, and 20-month-old Gracie Louise Sharpe were found
at a Mornington tip. The pair had been shot repeatedly with a spear gun.
And it was not long before the trembling husband earned the dubious nickname of the Mornington Monster.
Sharpe later told police he murdered his bubbly and strong-willed wife to end their loveless marriage.
He had been thinking about it for several months, complaining that his wife was controlling and moody.
He claimed Anna came between him and his large family, preventing him from seeing them as often as he would have liked.
But, as a judge said, Anna could not deny the claims and they provided no excuse anyway.
Sharpe even reported feeling threatened by his daughter.
Gracie — a gorgeous cherub of a child with her whole life ahead of her — became collateral damage in Sharpe’s callous plan.
"From the moment he killed (Anna), the accused began to have thoughts that he would have
to kill Gracie in order to support his account," a police summary tendered to Melbourne Magistrates’ Court said.
"The child belongs with the mother," he later told police.
The case was so horrific that even 10 years later detectives don’t want to talk about it.
John Myles Sharpe, now 47, was one of six children.
Forensic clinical psychologist Ian Joblin told the Supreme Court that his childhood was marked by social problems.
The eldest boy in the family, Sharpe was very dependant on his parents and Mr Joblin believed he lacked the
psychological resources to cope with the stressors in his life. He was withdrawn and had few appropriate social skills.
He was not happy at school and had few friends, a feature also of his adult life.
When he was 27, Sharpe met Anna, a New Zealander, at Commonwealth Bank, where they both worked. She was about 31 at the time.
Born in Dunedin on September 27, 1962, Anna was like a little doll. The middle child of three children, she was a deep,
thoughtful and affectionate child.
At school she did well at sport, studying hard to achieve academic success.
Eternally generous, Anna sponsored two children in Africa When she left
work "John Sharpe made her give them up", according to Ms Gebler.
"She would give you the shirt off her back," Ms Gebler said. "She
would take people out if there was any sadness in their life."
Anna moved to Australia when she was 26.
Sharpe and Anna were married in front of about 40 family and friends at St
Thomas More Church in Mt Eliza on October 30, 1994, celebrating afterwards at Sutton Grange in Mornington.
Anna was every bit the beautiful bride.
But it was the start of a marriage utterly lacking in passion.
"She had Gracie right on the eve of her 40th birthday. I was so proud of her — that she had this
little girl,” Gerald told the Herald Sun in 2004.
"She carried Gracie to term and it was like a miracle.
"We were all happy. I’m going, `My daughter has got a cousin. I’m an uncle’."
Gracie was born in August 2002. She had a congenital hip displacement, requiring
a harness for the first three months of her life.
“She cried often and had difficulty sleeping, which situation appeared to place
some strain on your relationship with your wife,” Justice Bernard Bongiorno said.
Anna had three admissions to Peninsula Health for respite with Gracie to try to
establish regular sleeping and eating patterns and to allay her own anxiety.
But Anna was a doting mum and little Gracie had everything a little girl could want for, and more.
When Anna discovered she was pregnant for a second time, Sharpe was not an
enthusiastic father-to-be, considering that she had got pregnant without his permission.
When Anna had an ultrasound in February, 2004, and discovered she was carrying a baby
boy, Sharpe did not go with her or even ask her what the result was, Anna’s brother Gerald told the Herald Sun.
"She came home and she wanted him to say, `What’s happened?’ and he didn’t," Gerald said.
"He was indifferent. He didn’t bat an eyelid about what the results were. She got annoyed.
He said, `You are going to tell me anyway’.
"It was then that she told him if he was going to be indifferent to this second child like
he was with Gracie, she was going to leave him because she was fed up with his indifference."
John Sharpe had always been cold, according to Ms Gebler.
"There was no affection. I have never seen him cuddle Gracie and I never saw him put his arms
around Anna," Ms Gebler told the Herald Sun at the time.
Ms Gebler said after Gracie was born Sharpe became indifferent "and when he carried Gracie it was like he carried a log".
“It was as if he resented that Gracie was around.
"She had a gorgeous personality, Gracie. It’s very strange really, quite strange."
More than six weeks before Anna was murdered, Sharpe bought a high-powered speargun
from a sports shop in Mornington. It was usually only sold with one spear, but Sharpe bought two, paying with cash.
He test-fired the weapon in his backyard at least once.
“You had never been interested in spear fishing and had no apparent use for this
powerful weapon,” Justice Bongiorno said in sentencing Sharpe.
“You later told investigators that you were having thoughts of killing your
wife at the time you purchased it, and that that was why you had done so.”
Two days before Anna was murdered, the family gathered to celebrate a nephew’s fourth birthday at a Moorooduc park.
Little Gracie laughed, played and posed for photos with her mum and dad.
"She had a marvellous day with her cousins," Valerie Sharpe said. "We had a picnic lunch there."
Sharpe said that on he night of March 23, he and his wife argued before going to bed.
He told police that Anna said she’d had a gut full and their marriage was a sham.
As Anna drifted off into sleep, Sharpe lay brooding.
“You had thoughts of killing her. After entertaining these thoughts for some indeterminate
time you went to the garage, retrieved the spear gun which you had earlier bought and loaded
it with one of the spears you bought with it,” Justice Bongiorno said.
Sharpe shot his wife twice while she slept before covering her body with towels
so he would not have to look at her. He then went downstairs to sleep on a fold-out sofa.
“During this whole dreadful episode Gracie was asleep in another room.”
He later buried Anna’s body in a shallow grave in the backyard.
Four days later he killed Gracie in what he says was an act of "irrational bloody madness".
After murdering his wife, Sharpe took the little girl with him to Sport Phillip Marine to buy another spear.
“There could have been only one reason for that purchase, which was carried out in circumstances of unspeakable
callousness,” Justice Bongiorno said.
On March 26 he told the childcare centre where Gracie went that she would not be back.
The little girl was last seen alive by the owner walking away holding her dad’s hand.
“On the evening of 27 March 2004, according to your own account, you put Gracie to sleep
in her cot and then drank a number of glasses of whisky and Coke to numb your senses to enable you
to carry out your intention of killing your own baby daughter,” Justice Bongiorno said.
Sharpe later told police: “The child belongs with the mother."
He shot Gracie four times with the speargun. The next day he wrapped her
body in garbage bags and a tarpaulin and bound her with black duct tape.
“You then disposed of her body at the Mornington refuse transfer station,
discarding at the same time the spear gun, the spears and some of her clothes and toys.
“Over the following week you systematically disposed of various items of property associated
with Gracie by taking them to the transfer station.
“Thus you continued the deception you had already begun and which you maintained over succeeding
weeks to create and maintain the impression that your wife had left and had subsequently taken Gracie with her.”
Sharpe also used a chainsaw to dismember Ms Kemp’s exhumed body and dumped her body at the Mornington refuse station.
When police later searched the Sharpes’ home, almost all of Anna’s clothes were missing and some of Gracie’s clothes.
But there were things that Anna and Gracie would have needed on a daily basis which were left behind at the house,
from a baby seat to a high chair.
Police trailing Sharpe saw him retrieving a credit card from a plastic bag hidden in bushes near a Mornington toilet block.
The remains of mother and daughter were later found at a landfill site.
"When they were pulling her out of the tip, every morning I was crying into my coffee," brother Gerald Kemp said.
"What he has done has hurt me to the very marrow of my bone. We would never have picked he would do what he’s done. How could you?"
Forensic psychiatrist Dr Lester Walton later told the Supreme Court that Sharpe was a dependant and passive
person who was unable to confront problems.
Dr Walton believed that Sharpe reached the conclusion that killing Anna and Gracie was
the only way to solve what he perceived were irresolvable difficulties in his family situation.
Sharpe gently rocked back and forward and was on the verge of breaking down when he pleaded guilty to the murders.
“Your killing your wife was no impulsive act of desperation,” Justice Bongiorno said.
“Secondly, there was the method of carrying out this crime. It was singular in its barbarity.
“Thirdly, there was the fact that your wife was pregnant. Your act effectively destroyed two lives, not one.
“Fourthly, there was the desecration of your wife’s body in the manner of its disposal as already described.
“Fifthly, there was the extensive charade in which you engaged to try to conceal your involvement in this crime. “
Sixthly, there is the effect that Anna’s death and the method of its occurrence has had on those closest to her.
“Finally, there was the enormous cost to the state of the investigation of the circumstances of Anna’s
disappearance and the ultimate search for her remains.
“Gracie was a defenceless child for whom you had a legal and, more importantly, a moral responsibility and
whatever your motive for killing Anna might have been, in Gracie’s case it was simply so that your first crime would not be discovered.”
Sharpe was sentenced to two life sentences with a minimum of 33 years.
Family Letters Reveal A History Of Sexual Abuse
John Sharpe may have killed his wife Anna Kemp because she discovered him abusing their daughter
Gracie, some of his relatives believe.
The claim comes as family letters reveal Sharpe had a history of abusing children.
Sharpe committed sex crimes on young members of a circle of family and friends two decades
before he killed his wife and daughter with a spear gun last year.
Police learned Sharpe was a child molester last March while investigating the disappearance from their
Mornington home of Ms Kemp, 41, and Gracie.
And they used the information to press Sharpe to confess. Ms Kemp, who married Sharpe in 1994, was not told her
husband was a pedophile by his family.
One relative said: "We reckon she caught him...We think that's why he killed her."
Sharpe is now serving a minimum of 33 years jail for murdering his wife and daughter, then
dismembering his wife's body with a chainsaw and dumping the remains at a tip.
Sharpe abused one of victims- a girl- for two years, ending when he 18, the relatives revealed.
During the attacks, he also compelled another child to molest the girl.
"I became his prey for two years. And he always kept that power," the victim said in a chilling letter
to several member's of Sharpe's family.
"His smells still haunts me."
The victim approached some of Sharpe's siblings five years ago to tell them she had been molested by him.
The victim, who told police about the crimes after Ms Kemp and Gracie went missing, is tormented by the abuse
and the knowledge that reporting the abuse earlier might have prevented the murders.
She also dreads the day that Sharpe, 38, is released from jail. He is eligble for parole in 2037.
"I fear the day he is released- I fear for my own life and for that of my children- he is a dangerous monster,"
she said in correspondence seen by the Sunday Herald Sun and sent to members of the Sharpe family.
"John Sharpe has robbed me of so much and it has not been easy living with the continued pain of lost innocence,
fear and guilt from his actions- and now his more recent and most hideous crime has truly added
to the mixture of fear, guilt and disgust that I have.
"John hasn't just snapped as of recent times. He has always been sick, manipulative and sly, but none of you were
ever privvy enough to see that side of him."
Sharpe's mother X and her husband XX were not told of their son's sex crimes until July last year, after he had
admitted to the murders.
When Sharpe's sex abuse victim became an adult, she confronted him about the molestation,
but he told her she was a "slut who deserved it", the relatives revealed.
But Sharpe tried to apologise to the woman when under police investigation over his family's disappearance.
Sunday Herald Sun (13-11-2005)
For Sale- 'Dream' Cottage... With A Nightmare History
Victoria's house of horror, where killer John Sahrpe butchered
his family, has been advertised for sale as a "charming seaside dream home".
The scene of one of Victoria's most gruesome crimes, 116 Prince street,
Mornington, is for sale and being marketed under the slogan
"seaside cottage charm".
"A beautiful cottage by the sea need not be just a romantic notion,"
real estate agency MPRE states in an internet advertisement.
"This adorable two-storey home lets you live the dream lifestyle every day."
It is also advertised as being "not too big for couples and not too small for families".
Sharpe used a spear gun to kill pregant wife Anna Kemp and their toddler
daughter Gracie in upstairs bedrooms of the home almost two years ago.
The horror continued in the back yard where Sharpe, 38, buried his wife's body
for several days before digigng it up and dismemberering it with a chainsaw.
All the remains were dumped at a tip.
Sharpe is serving a minimum 33 years in ajil for the March 2004 crimes.
It is believed rotting floorboards had to replaced before
the house could be sold and a spiritual cleansing was being
considered to rid the house of evil.
The killer and his wife bought the two-bedroom and two-bathroom house,
700m from the coast, for $390,000 weeks before the murder.
The agency has told potential buyers the home would fetch at least $340,000
and people had indicated they would pay towards $400,000.
Five couples including a pair with children, inspected the home at an
open day yesterday.
Lyn and Graham, of Canterbury, said they were turned off when
they realised it had belonged to Sharpe.
"It put me off. It is just so sad and so gruesome," Lyn said.
"When I saw the outline (in the carpet) of where the baby's
furniture had been I felt awful. You would think about
it every time you walk up the stairs."
One elderly woman said she was not worried by the home's history,
while another couple said they knew Sharpe's parents and had
decided not to buy the property.
Craig Whitten, the real estate agent in charge of the sale,
said he been ordered by solicitors not to talk to the media about the house.
But he revealed the grisly events had not turned off all prospective buyers.
"Legally we have got to divulge to buyers what has transpired
there," Mr Whitten said.
"A lot of people haven't been worried about it, but some have."
Tenders for the weatherboard home close on Friday.
It is expected proceeds will go to Ms Kemp's estate.
Sunday Herald Sun (5-2-2006)