Notorious Sydney Cases: John Wayne Glover aka “Granny Killer”

Source: Wikipedia

Over a 14 month period in ’89-’90, John Wayne Glover murdered six elderly women on the North Shore.

Glover was born in England in 1932 to a working-class family. He had an extremely turbulent childhood, leaving school at the age of 14 and already convicted with multiple petty crimes by the time he was 15.

In 1954, he emigrated to Australia where he met and married his wife Gay Rolls. Between 1954 – 1968 it seemed like he’d left his life of crime back in England, living a content life with two daughters and volunteering at the Senior Citizens Society whilst holding down as sales position at Four’N Twenty Meat Pie Co. His friends described him as a friendly, trustworthy man.

However, Glover began to have issues with the older female members of his family. His mother Freda’s list of husbands and boyfriends had contributed to the instability of his childhood; his mother-in-law became a nuisance once he and his wife moved in with her parents. In 1976, Glover’s mum emigrated to Sydney and passed away from breast cancer in 1989.

It’s in 1989, the same year his mother died, that Glover began his killing spree. He was 56, has been successfully married for 20 years and then, on the first day of March, he followed 82 year old Gwendoline Mitchellhil as she walked home from Mosman RSL along Military Road. Glover hid a hammer in his belt before he stalked her right up to the entrance of her apartment complex. That’s when he initially struck her over the head, and continued to inflict injuries to her head and body before fleeing the scene.

The next month, 84 year old Lady Ashton (widower of artist Will Ashton) was walking along Military Road when Glover passed by her. Wearing gloves, he followed her to her apartment foyer on Raglan Street and struck her over the head with his hammer. He then dragged her to a rubbish alcove and repeatedly smashed her head into the concrete. He removed her pantyhose and strangled her unconscious body.

On the 6th of June, 77 year old Marjorie Mosely reported to staff at the Wesley Gardens Retirement Home that a man had molested her, but was unable to recall his appearance. Later on that month, Glover visited the Lane Cove Caroline Chisholm Nursing Home and indecently assaulted two other elderly female patients. There were three more violent, sexual incidents against women of similar age and circumstances involving Glover from August – October that year.

It was November 2 when 85 year old Margaret Pahud walked home after doing her groceries in Lane Cove, and had the misfortune of walking past Glover. Her death had the same tell-tale style of the “Granny Killer”, the name that police had bestowed upon the still at large serial killer terrorising the North Shore. She had been struck with a blunt instrument, and repeatedly hit once she had been rendered unconscious. There were no witnesses, but a small schoolgirl came across her body moments after Glover had had time to rearrange Mrs Pahud’s belongings.

Glover couldn’t wait 24 hours before finding his fourth murder victim. Olive Cleveland was engaged in conversation with Glover, as she sat outside the Wesley Gardens Retirement Village in Belrose. She became uncomfortable and made a move for the main building of the complex, but was grabbed from behind and forced into a hidden lane. She was brutalised and strangled with her pantyhose. Without witnesses to the two murders, Police ramped up their investigation, issuing a $200 000 reward for any information from the public.

22 days later and Glover is sitting at the Buena Vista Hotel on Mosman’s Middle Head Road. 93 year old Muriel Falconer walked past, giving Glover another opportunity to kill. He grabbed his hammer and gloves and followed her to the front door of her house where he proceeded to bash and strangle Mrs Falconer until she died. Police were able to collect a bloody foot print and a description from a neighbour of a middle-aged, portly grey-haired male. The State Government increased the reward to $250 000 by Christmas.

Glover’s sixth and final victim was his friend Joan Sinclair from Beauty Point. Now, Glover was under suspicion and constant police surveillance after an incident involving another women being indecently touched at Greenwich Hospital. Police watched on as Glover entered Sinclair’s home around 10am, but waited until 5pm to act when they were concerned over the lack of movement inside the house.

Four detectives entered the home and found a hammer lying in a pool of blood near the back door. They found Mrs Sinclair with her bloodied head wrapped in towels, naked from the waist-down and strangled with her under garments. The discovered Glover comatose after ingesting a bottle of Valium and slashing his wrists in her bath tub.

John Wayne Glover's mug shot, 1990. Source: Sydney Morning Herald archives
John Wayne Glover’s mug shot, 1990.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald archives

Glover’s killing spree was over, and the residents of Sydney’s North Shore could begin to return to normal life. Joe Driver remembers growing up in the area as a student at North Sydney Boys High

 School kids travelling on transport were asked to walk elderly people to their door from the bus. I was in year 7 or 8 and the P&C at our school got involved with a scheme to look out for old people

The trial began in March 1990, where Glover plead not guilty due to “diminished responsibility”. A psychiatrist explained that Glover’s violence was due to a combined build-up of hostility against his mother-in-law and mother, both of whom he could not tolerate. Once they were both out of his life, he may have turned to murder to deal with his repressed aggression. Glover also profited off the murders, stealing up to $300 from each victim and squandering it all within Mosman RSL’s pokies den.

He was found guilty and imprisoned for life with Justice Wood stating

He is able to choose when to attack and when to stay his hand. He is cunning and able to cover his tracks. It is plain that he has chosen his moments carefully. Although the crimes have been opportunistic, he has not gone in where the risks were overwhelming.

On the 9th of September 2001, Glover was found hanged in his gaol cell at Lithgow Prison, investigators determined it to be suicide.



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