The image of a tall, muscular man wearing Speedos haunts the memory of a Tocumwal resident from that first Thursday of 1980 — the day Elaine Jones was murdered.
In a double tragedy for the family, Mrs Jones’ husband Alan died from a heart attack after pulling her body from the Murray River in the presence of their daughter, Jennifer. Her murder has never been solved.
The resident, who wished to remain anonymous, was in their early 20s at the time and recalled encountering a man they believed to be in his 30s.
‘‘My friend and I were at Town Beach, swimming and sunbaking,’’ the resident said.
‘‘We saw this guy who was quite tall, well-muscled and wearing Speedos.
‘‘He was about 10m away and walking past and staring at us — he just didn’t hide it, he made no attempt to hide his perving.’’
Feeling unsafe, the pair left the beach, but the Tocumwal resident saw the man later in the day in a Nissan Skyline sedan outside a local cafe.
Police said just after 10pm on January 4, 1980, Mrs Jones was bludgeoned to death while walking back to Town Beach after doing some shopping in town.
Her body was discovered the following morning by her husband and daughter, who were searching the river in a dinghy.
Mr Jones pulled his wife’s body from the water and into the dinghy before suffering his fatal heart attack.
The murder, described as the worst in the small town’s history by then Detective Sergeant Gary Mathews from Albury CID, caused a panic in the town with tourists and holidaymakers staging a mass exodus, leaving behind many on-edge locals.
The resident, along with a number of others, were interviewed by police about the man to help put together a facial composite sketch.
‘‘I always thought what a coincidence he was in town at the same time this tragedy occurred,’’ they said.
‘‘He had a big nose, he wasn’t my idea of handsome and I thought his hair was lighter than the picture (which was put together).
‘‘Police told us they checked him out, but they may have told us that to calm us down.’’
The resident said the cold case had left a lasting impression on the town, but they were sure convicted rapist and murderer Raymond ‘Mr Stinky’ Edmunds, who had been linked to the case, was not the man they saw earlier in the day.
‘‘Everyone was in shock and even now I am wary when I am out for a walk,’’ the resident said.
‘‘It made me more aware, it could have been us because this guy was a creep.
‘‘I wouldn’t have wanted to be there on my own, that’s why we left and when we saw him again we thought yuck.
‘‘One (Edmunds) is a notorious murderer, this person (we saw) certainly wasn’t him.”
In 2011, the NSW Government offered a $100000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her murder.
The Courier is keen to hear from anyone with information about the cold case as it continues its coverage leading into 40 years since the murder.
●Anyone with information which can help investigators is urged to phone CrimeStoppers on 1800333000.