Between March 23-27 2004, the man dubbed the Mornington Monster, John Myles Sharpe, did the unthinkable. The apparently doting husband and father took the lives of the ones he was supposed to protect. This is the story of the Sharpe Family Murders.
Mornington, Victoria, Australia. February 28, 1967.
John Myles Sharpe was born to shopkeepers Valerie and Myles Sharpe. The couple raised their son in the semi-rural town of Mornington in the state of Victoria along with their four older daughters. The Sharpe’s later welcomed another boy into the family.
Sharpe’s early life was mostly unremarkable. He had social issues and relied heavily on his parents. He was said to have a low emotional intelligence and lacked the ability to handle stressors in his life. Sharpe completed year 12, however he didn’t pass his exams. Apart from his lack of emotional intelligence and reluctance to face his own problems, there was no indication of what would come.
After leaving behind an average school experience, Sharpe acquired a job at State Bank and then went on to work at Commonwealth Bank, where he met New Zealand born Anna Kemp.
Anna was 31 at the time, four years Sharpe’s senior. In October 1994, the two were married. Eight years into their marriage they welcomed their daughter Gracie Louise Sharpe into the world in August 2002. The little girl had a rough start to life, being born with hip dysplasia and requiring a brace to keep her joints in place throughout the first few months of her life. This condition was not expected to create a long term issue for Gracie, however as an infant she was unsettled, uncomfortable and had difficulty sleeping.
This stress began to strain the relationship between the now Mrs Anna Sharpe and her husband John. Even after the braces were removed, Gracie still struggled with her sleeping and Anna sought out professional assistance, attending respite one three occasions with Gracie to help establish sleeping patterns and help alleviate Anna’s own anxiety.
116 Prince Street, Mornington, Victoria, Australia. September 2003.
Shortly after the family of three moved into the new home on Prince Street, Anna surprised Sharpe with the news of her second pregnancy.
On the evening of March 19 of the following year, a female friend of Anna’s had stayed the night in their new home. She felt nothing out of place between the couple and despite the stress of the previous years, they seemed happy.
116 Prince Street, Mornington, Victoria, Australia. March 23, 2004.
That Tuesday evening, the couple fought, though it’s unclear what about. Between 9-10pm, Anna went to sleep while her husband did not. John Myles Sharpe stayed up. He wallowed in what he regarded to be an unhappy marriage and made the choice to retrieve his spear-gun, which he had bought previous to the couple moving into their new home, from the garage.
The circumstances around Sharpe’s purchase of the high powered speargun remain suspicious. Sharpe had never expressed any interest in spear-fishing or any other sport that would require such a weapon. He purchased two spears, instead of the usual one to accompany the gun, and used cash to do so, leaving no paper trail. The exact date of the purchase is unknown, but it is confirmed to be in Sharpe’s possession on February 6, 2004.
As his wife slept, Sharpe loaded the spear-gun and returned to their shared bedroom. He positioned the gun only centimetres from her left temple and fired it into her skull. This shot had failed to stop Anna’s breathing, so Sharpe took the second spear and fired it closed to the first blow. He then covered his now dead wife in towels so he did not have to face the body, went downstairs and unfolded the sofa bed where he then spent the night.
The next day Sharpe awoke to take his daughter Gracie to her childcare centre and retrieved her later as normal. At some point a TV repairman came to the home, Anna’s body still in bed upstairs. After the repairman had left, Sharpe made an attempt to remove the spears lodged in his pregnant wife’s head. This was a difficult task so Sharpe decided to unscrew the shafts and left the spearheads inside Anna’s skull. He then dug a shallow grave in their backyard and buried her in the dirt.
Then the deception began.
Sharpe concocted an elaborate tale of his wife leaving him for another man and told this story to his mother-in-law in New Zealand who came calling after her daughter. Sharpe claimed he expected Anna to return on the Sunday to pick up baby Gracie.
116 Prince Street, Mornington, Victoria, Australia. March 27, 2004.
Sharpe places his baby daughter into her cot and begins to down multiple glasses of whiskey and coke. Now inebriated, Sharpe made his way to the garage and loaded his speargun with a newly acquired spear, as the other two spearhead were buried in his backyard with his wife. He then approached Gracie’s cot and aimed the weapon at his baby’s head. Either Sharpe had closed his eyes or the alcohol had weakened his aim but the first shot penetrated Gracie’s skull but did not kill her. The little girl screamed in agony with the spear lodged in her head as Sharpe panicked and retrieved the two metal shafts he had fired into his wife. He then loaded the speargun with the headless spears and shot Gracie twice. These two also failed to kill her. Eventually, Sharpe pulled the first spear out of the 20-month-olds skull and took the fatal shot.
Sharpe would later admit he knew at the moment of murdering his wife that his daughter would have to be killed too. He had even taken Gracie with him to the sporting goods store to purchase more spears.
The next day Sharpe covered his face with a towel, as he could not bare to look upon the face of his slain daughter, and retrieved the spears from Gracie’s head. He then wrapped her in garbage bags, secured the body with duct tape and disposed of his baby girl at a dump along with some of her toys and the weapons used to end her life.
Throughout this time, Sharpe kept up the lies surrounding his wife’s disappearance. He sent emails from her account to her family, claiming she was happy, safe and pregnant by a new man in order to alleviate the stress they had. But this email had the opposite effect on Anna’s family. Her mother reported her missing to Police in Dunedin, New Zealand on March 29, 2004.
That same day Sharpe went to a Bunnings Hardware store in Frankston, Victoria and acquired “roll of duct tape, two poly tarps and an 1800w Homelite electric chain saw.”. Over the following days Sharpe exhumed his wife from her shallow grave, sawed her body into three parts and disposed of her in the same manner he did their daughter.
As the clean-up continued, as did the charade. Sharpe disposed of bloodied mattresses and sent fake emails from Anna. He dumped Gracie’s belongings and gave his mother-in-law flowers for Mother’s Day. Sharpe appeared on television pleading for his wife to get in contact with him and her family so they knew she was safe, stating; “Anna, our marriage may be over but I still love you and you are the mother of our beautiful daughter Gracie, whom we both adore more than anyone else”. He signed a written declaration to the police saying he had nothing to do with her disappearance.
On June 10, he was interviewed once again by police. Sticking to his story, Sharpe walked free.
St. Kilda Police Station, Victoria, Australia. June 22, 2004.
After covert surveillance had captured Sharpe disposing of incriminating evidence in a garbage bin at Mount Martha, and retrieving a credit card hidden in a plastic bag behind a toilet block in Mornington, John Myles Sharpe was arrested for murder.
Sharpe initially stuck to his story but eventually admitted to the speargun slaying of pregnant 41-year-old Anna Marie Kemp Sharpe and 20-month-old Gracie Louise Sharpe.
It took three weeks for a large scale search of the Mornington landfill site for police to find the bodies.
He claimed his wife was controlling and moody, that she came between him and his family and that their marriage was an unhappy one. The prosecution later said about these claims; “Anna cannot deny them. They provide neither justification nor excuse for anything that you have done.”
Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia. August 5, 2005.
The court sentences John Myles Sharpe to serve two consecutive life sentences for the murder of his pregnant wife and child, with no chance of parole for 33 years. Sharpe remains in protective custody due to threats on his life from fellow inmates.
Final Resting Place.
Both Anna and Gracie were buried in Green Park Cemetery, Dunedin, New Zealand as Anna and Gracie Kemp. Gracie’s birth and death certificate have both been altered to list the father as “unknown”.
Crime Investigation Australia, Season 1 episode: “The Mornington Monster”