THE work of the Leongatha Historical Society isn’t always about celebrating past glories and local heroes.
This month, in the society’s newsletter, we are reminded of one of the darkest days in the district’s history when notorious child killer, Arnold Soderman, was working in the area on road maintenance.
The historical group was presented with a new publication by author, Katherine Kovacic, who has written about the serial killer responsible for the murder of 12-year-old Ethel Belshaw of Tarwin Meadows, while out to buy an ice cream in Inverloch in January 1935, and six-year-old June Rushmere of Leongatha, his fourth victim some 11 months later. Soderman also murdered other girls in Melbourne but was actually caught here due to the quick thinking of a workmate.
Ms Kovacic presented the group with a copy of her new book in recognition of the assistance she received from the group, in particular from Lyn Skillern.
“Lyn Skillern at the Historical Society was incredibly helpful during the research, helping me to pinpoint routes and locations relevant to the murder of June Rushmere (where roads have been renamed or no longer exist),” Ms Kovacic told the Sentinel-Times.
A copy of ‘The Schoolgirl Strangler’ will go into the society’s collection.
In other news, the historical society has a working bee on Wednesday, April 14 to clear the way for a new exhibition and is planning an Anzac lunch at the Leongatha RSL at noon on Wednesday, April 21.
The meal will be followed by a talk by Lyn Skillern on the men and women of Woorayl Shire who lost their lives in WWII. If you wish to attend, contact Lyn on 0400 249 048. Friends of members are most welcome.