The case of

Anita Lorraine Cobby

Victim

Anita Lorraine Cobby

Victim Race

Caucasian

Victim Date of Birth

1959-11-02

Victim Age

26

Date Reported

1986-02-03

Date of Death

1986-02-02

Case Status

Closed

Incident Location

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Body Location

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Date of Conviction

June, 1987

Body Discovered Date

1986-02-04

Murderer

John Travers, Michael Murphy, Leslie Murphy, Gary Murphy and Michael Murdoch

Anita Cobby, A Young Beauty Queen

Anita Lynch, who later took the name Anita Cobby, was born in New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Anita’s birth on November 2, 1959, was a long-awaited day for her parents Garry and Grace Lynch.

Garry Lynch, Anita Cobby’s father, was a graphic artist and worked for the Royal Australian Air Force. Grace Lynch was employed as a registered nurse.

Anita was the older of two sisters and from the time she was a teenager, her beauty was noticed by all. She was a very pretty young girl, which allowed her to enter a beauty pageant, which she won, and then began a career as a beauty queen.

Anita was crowned Miss Western Suburbs in November 1979 and began a successful modeling career. However, she found in nursing her true vocation, as her mother had done, so she began her nursing studies at the Sydney Hospital.

While pursuing her degree, she met John Cobby when she was 20 years old and he was 23. Anita’s beauty was very noticeable and he was dazzled by her, and although he thought she would not pay attention to him, Anita was also interested in him and they started dating.

They dated for a year, got engaged, and soon after, Anita became pregnant. The couple was very happy, but a few weeks after announcing it, she had a miscarriage.

Despite the painful loss they stayed together and married on March 27, 1982, and rented a house to live together. They had a very quiet life, going out for walks and spending a lot of time together.

Once they went on vacation to the United States, when they returned to Australia, John Cobby told her that he was ready to start a family; however, Anita confessed that, for now, she preferred to continue traveling before getting to that point.

They both realized they wanted different things, separated for a month but then got back together and started making plans for the future, including moving to another apartment and having children. They never imagined that any of those plans would come true.

On February 2, 1989, Anita went to work as she did every day; after finishing her shift, she met some friends for dinner. After that she went to the Blacktown station to be picked up by her father, however she disappeared.

The next day, Anita Cobby’s naked body was found lifeless.

The Night of The Kidnapping

Early in the morning on February 2, 1989, Anita ate breakfast while telling her mother that after work, she would go to dinner with some coworkers from the hospital. Anita was living at her parents’ house because of her husband’s separation, although they had already reconciled.

At about 3 pm, she finished her shift at work and met two friends for dinner in Redfern, an area within downtown Sydney. When the evening was over, one of her friends took her to Central Railway Station, where she caught a train at about 9 pm.

Her dad was going to pick her up, and usually, Anita would call him from the train station to let him know. However, that day the pay phones were out of order, and there were no cabs available either.

Given this situation, Anita decided to walk to her parents’ house. While walking down Newton Road, she was intercepted at approximately 10:00 p.m. by several men in a vehicle, two of whom forced her into the car and abducted her.

Anita’s screams were so loud that they were heard by some neighbors in the area, who called the police. A young teenager tried to approach to help; however, the van sped away.

The boy went home to call the police, and his older brother decided to drive around to see if they could spot the van in which Anita had been taken. They managed to approach a car with the same characteristics; however, no one was inside.

Anita Cobby did not return home that night, so his parents assumed that she had spent the night at one of the friends he had gone to dinner with. The next day, February 3, they found out that Anita did not show up at the hospital for work, so they reported her missing.

On the morning of February 4, 1986, two days after Anita’s disappearance, a farmer found the naked body of a woman in the pasture. It was identified as the body of Anita Cobby, which was quickly recognized by the wedding ring she was still wearing when found.

It was obvious that this was a brutal murder.

Investigation Details

After finding the naked body in the meadow, one of the detectives, Ian Kennedy, noticed that she was wearing a ring, which he took as evidence. The detective, who was aware of Anita’s disappearance, went to her parents’ house to show them the ring, John Cobby immediately recognized it and knew it was his wife.

When they realized that it was indeed the 26-year-old nurse, police deployed an entire investigative team to the area where the body had been found in an attempt to find the murder weapon or any clues.

Although they searched the area, they could not find her clothes or any other evidence that might give them a clue to the killers. While this search was underway, police attention turned to John Cobby, who became the prime suspect in the murder of Anita Cobby.

After several interrogations, the police ruled out the possibility that the crime was committed by him. The nature of the crime scene indicated that several people must have been involved.

The police search for clues and those responsible spread across the country and lasted more than three weeks. The New South Wales government even offered a substantial reward to anyone who could provide information that would help them find Anita Cobby’s killers.

Officers at the police station went through all of Anita Cobby’s movements the night she disappeared. One day, an informant gave some details about a stolen Holden, the same type of car the young boy saw that night Anita was abducted.

It was John Travers’ vehicle, and then they came across 4 more men who were with John that night. They were identified as Michael Murphy, Leslie Murphy, Gary Murphy and Michael Murdoch.

First John Raymond Travers and Michael Murdoch were arrested, then the Murphy brothers. All pleaded not guilty.

In their statements they gave different testimonies, however, Travis asked to speak to a woman to bring him cigarettes. This woman was called Miss X, who by order of the detectives agreed to hide a microphone in her clothes to get a confession.

It was in this way that they were able to record several of those involved confessing that they had kidnapped Anita Cobby on the night of February 2, 1989, and that they had murdered her.

It took 22 days from Anita’s disappearance to the capture of the murderers.

The Agonizing Death of Anita Cobby

On Sunday, February 2, 1986 Anita Cobby decided to walk home from dinner with some co-workers.

A car pulled up next to her with the 5 men, two of them got out of the vehicle, attacked Anita and forcibly dragged her away, while she screamed and struggled to defend herself.

After kidnapping her the men ordered her to undress, while Anita refused and begged them to let her go. She tried to talk to them and persuade them by telling them she was married and menstruating.

The men ignored Anita’s pleas and brutally beat her in the face, breaking her nose and cheekbones. After beating her, they forced her to perform oral sex on everyone.

The men drove to a gas station to buy gasoline. While some of them got out of the vehicle to buy cigarettes, the others stayed with her in the car and raped her repeatedly.

After leaving the gas station, they drove to Reen Road and parked the car in a secluded meadow. They dragged her out of the car and into the deepest part of the paddock, dragged her through a barbed wire fence and then beat and raped her several times.

According to the recorded confession of one of the attackers, they decided to kill her because Anita had seen their faces and could recognize them. It was then that John Travers slit her throat, practically decapitating her.

Forensic doctors found bruises on Anita’s body on her shoulders, breasts, groin, thighs and legs. They also found several cuts on her hands and fingers, which they assume she made trying to defend herself.

A Gang of Criminals

The first suspect was John Cobby, Anita’s husband. Usually in these cases the victim’s partner is the focus of attention for investigators. He was subjected to several interrogations but was noticeably affected by his wife’s horrific murder.

Although the questions became increasingly incisive, police ruled out John Cobby as a possible suspect in his wife’s death.

John Travers was identified as the gang leader; what little is known about him is that he grew up in Blacktown in a family of 8 children. As a teenager he was already an alcoholic and had been involved in several criminal acts, such as food theft and some cases of sexual assault.

Michael Murdoch had known Travers since they were children and on several occasions had been charged with sexual assault and spent time in juvenile prisons.

Gary, Les and Michael Murphy are brothers and also had criminal records at the time they were arrested. They grew up in a family of nine siblings and had many financial problems.

Trial

The trial began on March 16, 1987 and was held in Sydney. During the testimonies of the nurse’s killers, they changed their stories several times.

The Australian community was shocked by the brutal crime these men had committed. During the trial, several people gathered outside the courthouse to demonstrate their rejection of what had been a horrendous crime and even beat up the van in which the defendants were being transported, saying they expected them to spend their lives behind bars.

The five men were convicted on June 10, 1987 of sexual assault and murder.

Verdict

After an hour of deliberation, the 5 men were sentenced to life imprisonment on June 16, 1987.

Although the lawyers had hoped for a possibility of parole, the sentence did not include it, so all 5 defendants were facing life in prison.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened to Anita Cobby?

Anita Cobby was kidnapped, raped and murdered on February 2, 1989.

What happened to the Murphy Brothers?

Michael Murphy served part of his sentence at Goulburn Correctional Center and then was transferred to Long Bay Hospital where he died in February 2019 at age 66. The rest of the brothers are still serving their sentences according to NSW Corrective Service.

Is there a series about the murder of Anita Cobby?

The Anita Cobby case has been made into several true crime television series, including Crime Investigation Australia in 2004.

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