As Albert Schmidt stepped onto the scaffold to meet his awaiting fate at the gallows, he took the time to shake the hands of his executioners.
Dubbed "the Wagga murderer" by The Argus in 1890, the Prussian-born killer had earlier requested that his last meal be only some eggs and a cup of tea.
"The doomed man slept well last night," the Express and Telegraph records on November 19, 1890, the morning he was to die for his brutal crimes.
According to the newspaper, he was hung by the neck at the Wagga jail.
Death was "almost instantaneous" with "no perceptible movement of the body" as soon as he dropped.
The hanging body was laid to rest in the Wagga prison cemetery after being left at the gallows for half an hour.
His was a fate that had been sealed from as early as 1881 when he met the man who was to become his victim, John Young Taylor.
Schmidt had immigrated to Australia from his native Potsdam around the same time, moving from Queensland through New Zealand and settling in Peak Hill near Parkes.
Around April 7, 1890, Schmidt and Taylor were seen together in Junee. Witnesses claimed Taylor was becoming increasingly inebriated as the pair made a tour of the town's watering holes.
They ended up at a hotel in Alfredtown before leaving together on a wagon. Reports indicated that Taylor had called Schmidt a liar, prompting him to retaliate.
The statement Schmidt would eventually provide to Inspector Harrison on Easter Monday April 22 was printed verbatim in the Goulburn Evening Penny Post on Saturday, May 3, 1890.
"I did away with my mate after passing Alfred Town Hotel. We had a great barney not far from Kings's," Schmidt had told the police.
"My mate was saying I was not a good driver, and that I did not know how to use a horse.
"He hit me several times and called me a liar, and said I was no good. I was going to hit him, but he guarded off and gave me another clout, and in a moment I got a tomahawk and hit him on the head."
Taylor fell from the wagon onto the road while Schmidt describes standing over him, "not knowing what to do and wondering if he was dead".
He lifted the body to find "the poor fellow was dead". Believing "someone might come", Schmidt hauled the body into the wagon and began to drive back to Wagga "intending to hide him".
Daybreak came and he headed back to Old Junee. Finding a creek beyond the railway line, he bought a shovel at a nearby store and began to bury his former friend's body when night fell.
"I took the clothes off him, and cut his throat, for I knew he was dead," he told to officer.
"I took the poor man's head off because I thought he would not be recognised when they should find him in the hole.
"I buried the body and went a little further up the gully to bury the head, so as they would not see the head in the same place as the body."
The clothes he burnt in a fire and the wagon he washed in the creek because it was "full of blood inside", a detail that would eventually lead to his downfall.
The deed done, Schmidt said he had planned to head back into Wagga to "confess my sin to a clergyman and afterwards shoot myself or cut my throat".
But his plans were thwarted by the passing of two police officers on the road. They had noticed some blood dripping from his wagon.
While handcuffed in the officers' custody, Schmidt took a razor and a pocketknife in an attempt to end his life.
The officers stopped him mid-act, so taking the revolver from his pocket, he tired again.
"I lifted it to my head and fired it, but it did not go off, so I put it to my mouth and pulled the trigger again, and it went off in my mouth, and I knew no more till I found myself in someplace where I heard people talking and saying I was dying," Schmidt recalled.
Though he confessed to only one crime, history records Schmidt as having been a serial killer. At the time of his arrest, he had been found with a watch that belonged to a man named Jacob Rick.
According to The Argus on May 17, 1890, Rick was last seen travelling with Schmidt on New Year's Eve 1889.
Schmidt was also linked to a cold case from two years before his arrest, by a hotelier who had seen him in the area shortly before a fisherman on the Murrumbidgee River made the grim discovery of a headless, naked body shoved into a log.
Believed to have been a foreigner, and likely a labourer, the identity of the man was never discovered.
But, the similarities of the case with Taylor's post-mortem decapitation and Schmidt's appearance in the area, led many to assume his culpability.
His lack of confession, though, is something Dr Rachel Franks finds perplexing. The honorary associate lecturer at Newcastle University is an expert in Australian colonial true crime and finds Schmidt's case particularly intriguing.
"He makes an interesting remake in his confession," Dr Franks said.
"It was really important in those days to get a complete confession - in the absence of forensics and evidence like we now have - the confession was tied everything up before they were 'sent off' or 'dispatched' as it's sometimes called.
"But he didn't really confess to all the murders it's assumed he committed. He said 'it was enough to die for that one man'. So, well, did he kill the others?"
Of course, the answer to that question has followed Schmidt to his grave, though it is that very question that propels the legacy of the case into the modern age.
"True crime is never as neat as fiction," Dr Franks said.
True crime researcher and podcast producer Michael Adams believes it is the "play along at home" quality of the story that provides its enduring power.
"Murder is the ultimate human drama, grisly crimes and retribution, Shakespeare's Macbeth is full of that too," Mr Adams said.
"We want to find out what happened, but sometimes finding out what happened is not satisfying enough and we become armchair detectives, looking through the clues to come up with our own theories."
The consequences of crimes continue to ripple out through history.
Since beginning his Forgotten Australia podcast in November 2018, there have been numerous occasions when Mr Adams has been contacted by a descendant of the deceased victims he has researched.
"That brings it home, these histories are brought back to life and they're very much still alive through the stories and the families," Mr Adams said.
Though on the surface it may seem paradoxical, Dr Franks' research of crimes through history has led her to see that society favours the grim details because strangely, it confirms our relative safety.
"True crime, I think, can make you feel more connected to other people," Dr Franks said.
"You could be surrounded by strangers, but everyone would have a similar reaction to what you're reading. Crime is disruptive to society, but it reiterates our shared values because we know we are surrounded by people who will not tolerate that kind of behaviour."
Many readers of true crime subconsciously see their fascination as an educational rubric for day-to-day life, Dr Franks explained, shining a light on "what evil looks like, and would we recognise it ourselves?"
"True crime is easy to identify with because there's so many what-if's, what if you'd been there, what if they'd caught another train, what if they turned up five minutes later, it's disconcerting," Dr Franks said.
Walking the line between discomfort and morbid curiosity, at least the genre's most die-hard enthusiasts can be comforted to know, so long as there are humans there will be tales of true crime to become fascinated with.
"Crime is universal and it's also timeless," Dr Franks said.
"The way it's committed and investigated are different, but the core emotions are the same. The motivations for crimes are the same throughout history."
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