Murder of Beth Barnard and strange disappearance of suspected killer Vivienne Cameron investigated on Crime Junkie

Beth Barnard smiling for a pic
Beth Barnard was brutally slashed to death nearly four decades ago. Pic credit: Family pic

Crime Junkie is examining the mysterious murder of Beth Barnard, followed by the disappearance of her suspected killer, Vivienne Cameron, in the tight-knit community of Phillip Island near Melbourne, Australia.

Beth and Vivienne were involved in a love triangle with Vivienne’s husband, Fergus Cameron, a wealthy man from a prominent family on Phillip Island.

In 1985, Fergus had hired Beth to work on their farm, and the pair soon began an illicit affair despite a 13-year age gap. The following year, in September, Fergus returned home after spending time with his young mistress and was confronted about his infidelity by Vivienne.

The couple argued, and Fergus later claimed his wife attacked him with a glass, cutting his ear and back. Vivienne drove her husband to a hospital and then took him to his sister’s house.

Fergus said their marriage was truly over at this stage, and he’d told her he could have sole custody of their children.

This was the last time anyone ever saw Vivienne. She called a friend at about 3 a.m., telling them she was going to the hospital. However, the cops suspect she may have made the call to create an alibi.

Beth Barnard murder shocked the Phillip Island community

In the early hours of September 23, 1986, 23-year-old Beth was brutally murdered. Her remains were discovered by relatives of Fergus lying under a blanket.

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Beth’s nightgown had been pulled up to her neck, and her throat and body had been repeatedly stabbed and slashed. There were defensive wounds on her wrists, meaning she had been conscious and fighting back during the attack.

The killer had carved a large “A” onto Beth’s torso, which the police suspected stood for adultress.

Later that morning, the cops discovered Vivienne’s abandoned Land Cruiser by the San Remo Bridge, which connects Phillip Island to the Australian mainland.

Police suspect Vivienne Cameron was behind Beth Barnard murder

The police concluded that Vivienne murdered Beth in a jealous rage before throwing herself off the bridge into the ocean. In 1988, an official inquest determined this was the likeliest scenario. The authorities searched for her body but found nothing.

The intrigue surrounding this disturbing case has continued today, with opinions divided on exactly what happened.

Australia’s Nine News reported that criminologist Kathryn Whiteley argued that the murder was not done by Vivienne as the manner of the killing indicated a male killer. She explained, “I’m seeing a very masculine, male killing as opposed to a female killing.”

However, forensic psychologist Dr Sarah Yule argued that the frenzied attack could have been done by Vivienne if she was totally consumed by jealous rage.

Another theory suggested Vivienne may have faked her death and gotten away with murder. We may never know for sure.

CONSPIRACY: Phillip Island Part 1 is available to download now on Crime Junkie.

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