WHO KILLED SAM PIDGEON?
In my 2002 book Just another little Murder I wrote about
the death of a boarder at 31 McLachlan Street, the home of Peter
Keogh. Keogh murdered my sister in 1987.
The following is an excerpt:
I can find no police records in relation to the death of a boarder
in the bungalow at 31 McLachlan Street in the years immediately
after John Keogh's death.
'I killed him. It was an accident but he'd been bashing us,'
Keogh had told Lorna Cleary in 1984. As was always the case when
the killer needed sympathy, the trademark tears welled in those
dangerous eyes. Lorna Cleary had no idea of the history of systematic
violence that lay behind the feigned sorrow.
Connie Valente had moved in to 33 McLachlan Street only a year
before Keogh bit the dust at the hands of Frank Bellesini...........
In less than perfect English, Connie told Jacobs she remembered
someone dying in the bungalow next door not long after they moved
into 33 McLachlan Street.
Was the dead man the boarder about whom the Keogh boys told
stories? Was this the 'traumatic experience' about which Hobbs spoke?
After searching everywhere for someone who might offer me a glimpse
of life in the Keogh house the phone call two days before Anzac
Day 2002 was a bolt from the blue. Israel and Klara Rochwerger had
moved into number 33 McLachlan Street, Westgarth after the war.
I found their name in a Sands and McDougall directory and left a
message on an answering machine at an address in Caulfield. When
their son, Isaac Rochwerger, told me he'd gone to Merri Creek Primary
with Keogh and lived next door I was almost speechless.
All the hazy memories aside, there is one fact about which Isaac
is unequivocal. The man who lived in the bungalow was a bad man.
The Keogh boys called him 'uncle' and Isaac has a recollection that
he might have been friendly with Mrs Keogh. In his child's eye is
a picture of small, skinny, nasty man afflicted by drink. It matches
perfectly the man Keogh claimed to have killed one night in the
I've subsequently discovered that the man who lived in the bungalow
did die, on 24 May 1966 in fact, and that the circumstances of his
death were suspicious. A woman who knew the Keoghs told me that
Keogh had talked about the death - as had others in the family -
and that 18-year-old Keogh was sent to Sydney after the man died.
Two years later, Keogh and his 'wife' were living in the bungalow.
The family of the dead man, 66-year-old wharfie Sam Pidgeon, was
suspicious about the death, but nothing came of their concerns.
Pidgeon died of a cerebral haemorrhage......