THE night a Nimbin farmer gruesomely killed four people in cold blood could well have formed the plot of a Stephen King novel.
The year was 1928.
The murderer: a "religious maniac" farmer from Nimbin.
The attack took place in a two-story house named St Elme in Harrow St, Rockdale, a south Sydney suburb.
The family had not been seated long for lunch when Garnet Robb, who was a relative visiting on holiday, came into the room with a loaded .32 rifle.
He fired a shot at one of the women and was tackled by his uncle, 80-year-old Joseph Palmer, who had been lying on the couch.
Mr Palmer attempted to wrestle the rifle from his grasp but was shot and staggered back to the veranda where he collapsed.
Robb kept shooting before running upstairs and barricading himself in one of the rooms where he shot himself.
Miss Jessie Palmer, 22, and the housekeeper Mrs Elizabeth Ashley died at the scene.
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Mrs Edith Palmer, 42, died shortly after being admitted to hospital with two bullet wounds in the chest and Joseph Palmer was admitted to hospital with two bullet wounds to the abdomen.
John Palmer was also admitted to hospital unconscious and grave fears were held.
The grotesque scene was discovered by a Mrs Bagnall who had stopped by the house to pick up one of the women for an outing.
Instead she discovered the body of Joseph Palmer, sprawled in the doorway with a bullet wound in the head and murmuring "I have been murdered".
A search of the murderer's Nimbin bedroom uncovered two rifles, 100 rounds of ammunition, a long knife "sharpened to the keenness of a razor" and a book on spiritualism.
As news of the murders circulated, so too did tales of Robb's eccentricities.
He was said to have been "severely knocked about" during his war service. His main obsession was an almost fanatical study of spiritualism.
Robb was 42 and a bachelor when he died.
It was said that at one time he was engaged to be married to a 17-year-old girl, but the engagement was broken off.
He had inherited a farm at Blue Knob when his father died shortly before the massacre.
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