On September 1, 1934, just outside Albury on the NSW boarder with Victoria, the burnt copse of a young woman was found stuffed into a culvert under the road.
Photo: Representation of where the body was found.
The medical examiner found that the body had been placed into a hessian bag, a towel had been wrapped around her head – which had been savagely beaten in – and only a few fabrics of her clothing remained. Although a bullet was found lodged in her throat it was concluded that the injuries to her skull and brain were the cause of death.
Photo: Police circulated this modified image of the body to help identify the victim.
With no way to identify the body it was initially preserved in ice at the Albury morgue. A sketch was put out in the newspapers, and a modified photograph of the corpse circulated. The body was then moved to be put on public display in Sydney with hopes of being identified. The woman was dubbed ‘Pyjama Girl’ by the media in reference to the remnants of the yellow and white exotic silk pyjamas that were found – and thus began one of Australia’s longest and most sensational murder mysteries.
Photo: A mask was made to help identification. This mask and towel is now on display in the Sydney Justice Museum.
In 1944 Antonio Agostini confessed to Commissioner of the New South Wales police, William McKay – whom he had known before the war – that he had killed his wife in Melbourne 10 years earlier. Agostini described how he had accidentally shot his wife, and in a panic had driven her over the state line to Albury, where he had poured petrol on her and set her alight to hide the evidence. The ‘Pyjama Girl’ had finally been identified as Linda Agostini. The husband was found guilty of manslaughter and received a six-year sentence. He was released in 1948 and was deported back to Italy where he died in 1969.
Photo: A side-by-side comparison of Linda Agostini and the body.
While that seem may seem clear cut, there are some details about this case that don’t quite sit right. Agostini’s statement was inconsistent with existing evidence:
- He mentioned the bullet wound – but said nothing of the extensive trauma to her skull and brain. Mentioning later that he may have accidentally dropped the body.
- He referred to the gun as a revolver when it should have been a pistol – something he would have known with his history of military service.
- He stated that he had turned off the road before he got to Albury, but to get to where the body was discovered from Melbourne he would have had to have driven straight through town.
- He described pouring petrol over the body, when it was kerosene that had been discovered at the crime scene.
- His timings were not consistent with the crime and,
- He was vague about key details.
The physical evidence identifying the body as Linda Agostini also contained discrepancies. The victim had blue eyes whereas Linda’s were brown, and the body proportions caused concern with nose and bust sizes between women not matching.
Photos: The remains have now been laid to rest as belonging to Linda Agostini.
Did this body really belong to Linda Agostini, or was Antonio Agostini used to force closed a high-profile case that, after 10 years, was beginning to make the police look incompetent? What do you think?