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The mysterious murder of Clarence Greenwood

Posted on 04/03/2020

It is a 54-year old cold case which started on this day in 1966 when Clarence Greenwood was murdered after drinking beer laced with arsenic.

It was on 4 March 1966, when the 40-year old was found dead in bed at his mother’s Bowden home.

Investigators believe that Clarence’s nephew, Daniel, and brother, Peter – who both worked at W Foster and Co wool and skin merchants at Hindmarsh with Clarence – can help solve the murder mystery.

It is known that the trio used the chemical ‘Vallo’ to treat animal skins, which was found in the contaminated beer.

While Peter Greenwood was questioned extensively over his brother’s death – as late as 2004 – he maintained his innocence before dying in 2016 aged in his eighties.

Daniel has since vanished and cannot be found, although he may be living a vagrant lifestyle somewhere in Western Australia.

Investigators say a possible motive for the murder, arises from a “complex’’ family situation.

Clarence had been an alcoholic who suffered from a number of associated health problems that included a stomach ulcer.

He was involved in a testy relationship with his defacto, Annie Greenwood, also known as Gwen Smith, with whom he had 12 children. In February 1966 he was jailed after breaching a domestic violence order.

On the day before his death he was bailed after his mother, Lillian, and brother, Frank, paid his fine.

The trio went to various Adelaide hotels that afternoon before Frank bought four bottles of beer and two bottles of stout at the Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Hindmarsh.

They then walked the short distance to Lillian’s home on Drayton St, Bowden, where Peter had been staying.

Later that afternoon, Peter was told he would have to move out to make room for his brother Clarence. Two of Clarence’s children, Peter and Beryl, and his nephew, Daniel, were already living at the home.

Clarence and Frank then went to another friend’s house for more drinks and then returned to Bowden about 11pm, where they drank some of the purchased alcohol.

It is understood that Clarence went to bed with an upset stomach. He got out of bed at about 4.30am and vomited, as did Frank.

Clarence then opened another bottle of beer and drank it before returning to bed. Frank only drank a small amount of the beer, complaining it was flat.

A doctor was called at 8am the next morning, and at 11.30am Clarence was found dead in bed, with an autopsy confirming he had died from arsenic poisoning.

Clarence’s mother and his brother Frank also fell sick after consuming the contaminated alcohol but later recovered.

During the investigation, three of the bottles were found to contain traces of arsenic.

Investigators believe Daniel and Peter may be able to help explain how the Vallo came to be in the house or in the alcohol consumed by Clarence, Frank and Lillian.

Adding to the complicated background of this case is the fact that Peter had a history of sex offending against several of Clarence’s children. Several years after Clarence’s death, Peter was also convicted of a sexual assault involving Daniel.

A reward of up to $200,000 is on offer for information that leads to a conviction in this case.


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