18-years-old, known as polite and mild-mannered to those close to him, yet he is the sole killer of three of his family members.
In March 1996, Matthew De Gruchy ran outside his home screaming for help, he was inconsolable.
When police arrived at his Albion Park Rail home on the New South Wales South Coast, he failed to tell them he had bludgeoned to death his mother, sister and brother.
His mother’s injuries were the worst. Jennifer De Gruchy was found in her bedroom, her injuries were so damaging her brain was almost forced out of her head. Police believed a sledge hammer may have been used while a pillow was held over her face. Blood-match samples were used to actually identify her.
De Gruchy’s 13-year-old sister Sarah was found in her bed with significant head and facial injuries. Again, a pillow had been held over her head during the murder. A Walkman was found lying next to her bed, with police stating they believe she didn’t hear what was happening in the mother’s room.
His brother Adrian, 15, was found outside in a shed where he had been doing woodwork. There was blood on the ceiling and some of his teeth on the floor, indicating the gruesome nature of his murder as he was hit 21 times. Adrian’s body had been doused in petrol.
Following the discovery, one police officer never went back to work. A pathologist later said the victims looked like plane crash victims. For former homicide investigator Belinda Neil, it was the worst murder in her four-year career and she had got the call on her first day on the job. The murders contributed to her early retirement.
A murder weapon, believed to be a car jack or a sledgehammer, was never found, but De Gruchy left incriminating evidence in the form of a sports bag, along with his own small blood stains. The bag had items from the house inside it, as well as carpet with evidence cut from his mother’s room, and a handwritten note that included to-do items like “knife 1”, “have shower”, “hit arm with pole” and “hit leg with pole”.
The note found in Matthew De Gruchy’s sports bag
From his “discovery” of the bodies in March ‘96, to his arrest three months later, to his release from Sydney’s Long Bay Jail on August 15 last year (yes, you read that correctly) Matthew De Gruchy has always denied the killings.
His father Wayne, away for work in Sydney at the time of the murders (and later revealed to be with his mistress), has maintained his son’s innocence.
De Gruchy insisted he was at the home of his girlfriend and found the bodies when he returned home. However, investigators believe the murder spree was sparked by an argument with his mother about taking the car to go to his girlfriend’s house.
De Gruchy had served 23 years behind bars when he was released last year. Now 41, it’s understood he is living with his father Wayne who lives in Tasmania.