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Biographical Dictionary - Coorow, Carnamah, Three Springs


"Snowy" John Thomas William SMITH / ROWLES

Born 1905 in North Perth, Western Australia [15]
Son of "Dick" Ernest Charles Henry SMITH and Catherine Eliza Frances CHEESEMAN [15]
He worked in Carnamah during one of the wheat carting seasons, believed to have been during the 1920s [P27]
In 1928 he and Thomas W. WILSON were arrested for breaking into and stealing from a general store in Dalwallinu [39: 26-Jul-1928]
They overpowered a police officer and escaped from the lock-up in Dalwallinu on Wednesday evening 25 July 1928 [39: 26-Jul-1928]
He stole a horse, bridle and saddle from a farm near the Dalwallinu townsite and abandoned the horse near Pithara [39: 27-Jul-1928]
Uncaptured, he appears to have headed up north into the Murchison and then gone by the name of Snowy ROWLES [81: 22-Mar-1931]
It's possible that his alias surname of 'Rowles' was taken from his aunt Mrs "Cis" Edith I. M. ROWLES or uncle Harry ROWLES [15]
In the Murchsion he worked as a stockman on stations and was said to have been a skilled bushman and buckjumper [310: 23-Jan-1932]
One night in 1929 he was part of a discussion with a criminal author about how one could completely dispose of a body [81: 14-Feb-1932]
In 1931 while police were looking for Snowy ROWLES in connection with a murder they arrested John Thomas SMITH [81: 22-Mar-1931]
Under his real name he was sentenced to three months imprisonment for stealing and escaping custody three years earlier [81: 22-Mar-1931]
Ironically his defence claimed he'd "kept straight for three years... and... he might become a decent citizen" [310: 11-Apr-1931]
It was later ascertained that he was also Snowy ROWLES and after an eight day trial in 1932 he was sentenced to death [39: 21-Mar-1932]
He was convicted over the murder of Leslie G. BROWN, burning his body and crushing his bones [39: 21-Mar-1932]
He'd used the method of body disposal from the discussion in 1929, which had subsequently been featured in a novel [39-23-Jan-1932]
The novel was The Sands of Windee by Arthur W. UPFIELD, which also appeared as a serial in The Western Mail paper [39: 23-Jan-1932]
It was estimated that his trial "in the Murchison tragedy case" cost the State of Western Australia £2,000 [39: 2-Apr-1932]
Died 13 June 1932; buried at the Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth, Western Australia (Congregational, EA, 162) [2]
His father who died in 1941 and his mother who died in 1944 were also buried in the same plot at the Karrakatta Cemetery [2]

Reference:  Carnamah Historical Society & Museum and North Midlands Project, 'John Thomas William Smith / Rowles' in Biographical Dictionary of Coorow, Carnamah and Three Springs, retrieved 29 June 2022 from [reference list]

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