True crime seems to titillate us but it can also illuminate our history
True crime – why is there such a hunger for it? I have no idea but I suspect tonight’s guests will. Dr Samantha Battams returns to the podcast to talk about her latest book, The Rhynie Poisoning Case, The true crimes of Alexander Newland Lee, and Alison Oborn from Adelaide Haunted Horizons will be here to lend her experience about all things Old Adelaide Gaol and ghosts.
When this episode goes live, you should be finding your show notes on our brand new website, which has been put together by Tom Bussenschutt from Talked About Marketing. Thank you, Tom.
The SA Drink Of The Week this week is a KI Spirits Gin.
And in the Musical Pilgrimage, we finish off with Leave A Letter by Kaurna Cronin.
You can navigate episodes using chapter markers in your podcast app. Not a fan of wine? You can click next to jump to the next chapter in the show. We’re here to serve!
The Adelaide Show Podcast: Awarded Silver for Best Interview Podcast at the 2021 Australian Podcast Awards and named as Finalist for News and Current Affairs in the 2018 Australian Podcast Awards.
And please consider becoming part of our podcast by joining our Inner Circle. It’s an email list. Join it and you might get an email on a Sunday or Monday seeking question ideas, guest ideas and requests for other bits of feedback about YOUR podcast, The Adelaide Show. Email us directly and we’ll add you to the list: [email protected]
And please talk about us and share our episodes on social media, it really helps build our community. Oh, and here’s our index of all episode in one concise page
Running Sheet: True Crime SA style
Introduction to the show.
00:04:17 SA Drink Of The Week
This week’s SA Drink Of The Week is a KI Spirits Gin.
00:09:48 Dr Samantha Battams and Alison Oborn
On the 15th of July 1920, Alexander Newland Lee was hanged by the neck until death at what is now called the Old Adelaide Gaol. It was South Australia’s 53rd execution and it promted calls to end capital punishment. Lee was 31 years of age and the poisonings he was accused of carrying out, bore an uncanny similarity to those carried out by his aunty, Martha Needle, in Melbourne, which we discussed with Dr Samantha Battams when she released her book, The Secret Art Of Poisoning, back in 2019 on episode 279. Tonight, we are focussing on Lee because Samantha has now released a book about his crimes and trial, The Rhynie Poisoning Case, The true crimes of Alexander Newland Lee. Welcome to the podcast for your third time. And we’re also joined by a former guest of the podcast, Alison Oborn from Adelaide Haunted Horizons, because not only has she read Samatha’s book, but she’s an author in her own right (Ghosts Of The Past – Adelaide Gaol Ghosts), conducts ghost tours in Old Adelaide Gaol, and is world renowned for her research and storytelling about dark crimes in South Australia. Welcome back, Alison.
Samantha, let’s start at the beginning and get an overview of the Alexander Newland Lee story. We know it took place in Rhynie, a small town about an hour north of Adelaide before you get to Auburn and Clare.
Alison, what are the striking passages that stood out for you?
How similar are the Lee poisonings to the Martha Needle poisonings – and do you think Martha inspired Alexander?
How much ambiguity was there at the time about his guilt? I ask this because reflecting on this story in 2022, we’re more aware than ever that every week in Australia, one woman is murdered by her parter or ex-partner. Without that knowledge, you’re tempted to say, maybe this was an accident.
How did you get so many slabs of narrative between characters, especially Lee and his love, Dolly, and the publican and his wife?
I want to turn to the focus on the trial and then his time in Adelaide Gaol.
What were the notable events of the trial?
Alison, what would life have been like in Adelaide Gaol for people like Lee?
Who are some of the characters who’ve also been on death row at Adelaide Gaol?
Did Lee’s hanging impact capital punishment in SA? If so, why, how?
What should the local tourism body in Rhynie do with a book like yours? Or, indeed, other towns? On one hand, it’s historical and people are drawn to “true crime” but on the other hand, is it disrespectful to the victims?
What other stories are yet to be told? And might you two collaborate?
01:04:36 Musical Pilgrimage
In the musical pilgrimage, we have Leave a Letter by Kaurna Cronin, from his Feathers album.
This is the perfect song to end this episode, particularly with the mournful lyrics about thinking of lost love after death:
When I die
Go leave a letter in my grave
That tells me all you never told me
And ill write back one day
Here’s this week’s preview video
This week, we are sharing the full interview recording, made via zoom. The sound quality is not as good as in the published podcast, but it is offered here if you prefer to watch interviews, rather than just listen to them.
SFX: Throughout the podcast we use free SFX from freesfx.co.uk for the harp, the visa stamp, the silent movie music, the stylus, the radio signal SFX, the wine pouring and cork pulling SFX, and the swooshes around Siri.