The identity of the 'Pyjama Girl' and her murderer remained a mystery for 10 years and the case became known as Australia's biggest murder mystery, until a new set of detectives were charged with looking at it in 1944.
In This Fabulous Century, Episode 4 – Crime, veteran journalist Peter Luck delves into that 1944 investigation using a combination of Australia Today and Cinesound newsreel file footage, photographs, newspapers and an interview with Robert Coleman, author of The Pyjama Girl (1978).
Luck takes viewers back to the time of the investigation, detailing the lengths that police went in order to identify the 'Pyjama Girl'. In this excerpt, Luck recounts a breakthrough by the forensic team that leads them back to a woman named Linda Agostini, someone they had previously ruled out because of her dental records.
By today's standards, events surrounding this case seem bizarre, with the victim being kept in a formalin bath at the University of Sydney for years, so that members of the public could view the body in the hope that someone might know her. Drawings, facial reconstructions and dental records had failed to reveal who she was.
The excerpt makes very engaging use of archival footage, photographs, newspaper headlines and an interview. It's a good example of seamless editing that, coupled with Luck's narration, effectively brings the story to life and makes for compelling viewing. Luck skilfully weaves a fascinating tale in his retelling of the 'Pyjama Girl' investigation, while treating the victim with an appropriate level of respect and dignity.
This Fabulous Century (1979) was a documentary series consisting of 36 episodes, produced and presented by Peter Luck, which covered important historical events in Australia in the 20th Century.