Greenough Family Massacre

One of the worst crimes in Western Australia

On February the 21st, 1993, the small community of Greenough was rocked by a horrific tragedy, which became known as the Greenough Family Massacre. Karen MacKenzie and her three children were hacked to death by an axe wielding murderer, William Patrick Mitchell. The crime was one of the worst ever seen in the state and has left a lasting scar on the community.
Even today the Greenough Massacre haunts the small community of Greenough and the City of Geraldton. It is hard to drive passed the small hamlet without thinking of the unbelievable tragedy that unfolded more than a decade ago. No one was prepared for the horrors that awaited the police on that February day in 1993. In fact the details of the murders were so gruesome that the evidence was withheld from the public as it was deemed far too horrific. The case was so heinous that cries for the return of the death penalty could be heard echoing around the State.

What Happened

The first sign of trouble began with the sound of a car arriving at Karen MacKenzie's house. It was William Patrick Mitchell, a one time friend of Karen MacKenzie whom she had recently rejected. Mitchell had been spending his day getting high on a mixture of cannabis, alcohol and amphetamines. Karen's sixteen year old son, Daniel, went out to see who it was and was confronted by Mitchell. Mitchell, wielding an axe, killed Daniel and headed for the house. There he found Karen asleep in the lounge room. After taking to her with an axe and killing her, he then raped her. Karen's two daughters, Amara (7)and Katrina (5), were fast asleep in their bedrooms oblivious to the mayhem outside, when Mitchell turned his attention on them. The details of the girls murders were deemed too horrific to be made public.

Catching the Killer

Police and forensics scoured the murder scene collecting evidence but it would be a frustrating five weeks before they finally arrested farm hand Bill Mitchell. When he was brought in for questioning he denied knowledge of the crime. It was only after he attempted to hurt himself and was taken to hospital did he finally confess. A key piece of evidence that linked Mitchell to the crime was the hand lotion used by the killer. Despite denials from the police and family, a psychic, known as Gabrielle, claims she assisted in the investigation and accurately profiled the killer and even gave his name and address. Gabrielle claims she met a leading detective involved in the case on at least 5 occasions in Victoria Park and gave him vital information, including info about a fingerprint that police had missed, leading to a return of forensics to the scene.


William Patrick Mitchell was originally sentenced to 20 years in jail but due to such a public outcry a Crown appeal saw him his sentence increased to the term of his natural life . Despite a series of Supreme and High Court appeals (including a ruling that Mitchell never be released) another appeal overturned that decision and reinstated his eligibility for parole. He shall be eligible for parole in 2013. In October of 2007 the mother of Karen Mackenzie, Barbara Marchant, received a threatening letter she believed came from an associate of William Patrick Mitchell. The letter read "Found you bitch. Had someone look for you. Got a photo of your little girl - short hair, white shirt and a little skirt. Nice. See you when I get out." Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk confirmed that the letter had not been sent from the maximum security Casuarina Prison where Mitchell was being held but could not rule out that he got someone else to write and send it.

Since the beginning of 2009, Mitchell has been held at Bunbury Prison under medium security.

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