Who Murdered Rosalinda Fox?
On Saturday 4 February 1899, 31-year-old Rosalinda Fox was brutally murdered; her last moments spent in terror. Chased by a madman she knew, she was likely raped either before or after her head was cleaved nearly in two with a blow from her husband’s axe.
With her murderer possibly part of the search party, she was found by a black tracker early the next morning under the low hanging branch of a tree on the Swan River foreshore at James Gallop’s estate in Nedlands.
Rosalinda’s husband, John Fox, was Gallop’s head gardener. When the bloodied axe was found leaning against the back door of their cottage, John Fox was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder.
...Yet his commitment of the vile act was impossible.
He and their two daughters, Violet (9) and Mary (8), had kissed and waved Rosalinda goodbye that Saturday morning and spent the better part of the day together in Perth, shopping. She was missing when they returned, signs pointing to her disappearance soon after they left.
A lengthy and harrowing inquest led by coroner Augustus Roe ensued, during which Rosalinda was laid to rest at East Perth. John, in gaol, was barred from attending his beloved wife’s funeral and, under immense strain and public scrutiny, he suffered a breakdown.
On 28 February 1899 he was committed to Fremantle Prison awaiting his trial for wilful murder.
The farcical trial, during which Rosalinda’s skull, boiled of all flesh, was presented as an exhibit, was conducted over several days in early April. Both daughters corroborated their father’s alibi. Three minutes after the jury was called to make their verdict, they returned a resounding finding of not guilty. John Fox, facing the prospect of the hangman just a few days before, was liberated into the cheering crowds outside.
John remarried twice and died forty years after Rosalinda met her gruesome end.
As to Rosalinda’s murderer, the most likely suspect is Gallop’s juvenile, ne’er-do-well son James junior, who was previously thought to have become fixated on Rosalinda when she nursed him through an illness.