Murder Fear on Lost Kids
Several former wards of state claim to know the identities of children whose deaths they suspect were hushed up
by Salvation Army officers and Catholic nuns and priests.
They have enlisted the support of lawyer Angela Sdrinis to try to get justice for wards of state who
disappeared in suspicious circumstances.
The former wards of state believe that in some cases those trusted to care for vulnerable Victorian
children may have literally got away with murder.
Ms Sdrinis is helping them to find out what happened to the lost children.
She is from law firm Ryan Carlisle Thomas, which is representing more than 700 former wards of state
who claim they were sexually or physically abused, or both, while in state care.
It has succeeded in getting compensation for hundreds of them and is still pursuing hundreds more cases.
Some of Ms Sdrinis' clients have provided the Herald Sun with the names of eight children they claim
disappeared from state institutions in suspicious circumstances.
They are urging authorities to investigate whether or not the eight children died in state care and if
the deaths were suspicious and hushed up by the various institutions, which include the Salvation Army and Catholic Church.
Those children are Graham Whitmore, Ray Dewar, Michael Paselcheck, Margaret Mahoney, Muriel Barnett, Marie Kelly, Brian Winks
and Marty O'Neill and they all allegedly disappeared from Victorian state institutions during the 1940s and '50s.
Rape victim and former ward of state Rod Braybon used a recent book on his life to raise his suspicions about missing boys
having met suspicious deaths.
Other former wards of state with similar fears have come forward since reading about Mr Braybon in the
book Salvation by Vikki Petraitis.
"I know of three boys who vanished off the face of the earth and I want to know what happened to them," Mr Braybon said yesterday.
"My suspicion is they were killed - or died through neglect after being beaten - and the deaths hushed up.
"There needs to be an investigation to find out what did happen to those three boys - and other missing wards
of state others have told me about since I raised the issue".
The three lost boys Mr Braybon knew are Whitmore, Dewar and Paselcheck, who were all at the Salvation Army-run
Bayswater Boys home with him in the 1950s.
Mr Braybon claims he was among about 100 boys who watched in horror as a Salvation Army captain attacked Paselcheck
after he was caught breaking into another boy's room.
"Afterwards, Paselcheck lay bleeding on the ground. I had never seen so much blood," he said. "He was carried off to
the sick bay and we never saw him again."
Mr Braybon said he also witnessed the same captain beat Dewar with a lump of wood after an incident.
"Sickening thwacks echoed around the yard as Dewar screamed and tried to shield himself. He too was carried away badly
injured and we never saw him again," he said.
Mr Braybon said the boys were told Whitmore died after jumping from a train in the presence of the same
captain who beat the other two boys.
"We always wondered if he had committed suicide or been thrown off the train by the captain, who was
prone to fits of rage," he said.
Ms Sdrinis represented Mr Braybon at his 2006 compensation case, where he succeeded in getting an apology and
$40,000 compensation from the Salvation Army for sexual and physical abuse.
"It is a common theme among my clients that they tell me about a child
they knew who was really badly bashed and then disappeared," she said yesterday.
"Police should get involved and make the institutions open their books."
Herald Sun (2-11-2009)