IPSWICH author Lyle Reed is set to name a former police officer as being responsible for the death of Betty Shanks on September 19, 1952 in Wilston.

Mr Reed also claims to have solved the mystery of what caused the distinctive imprint on Ms Shanks' forehead, which he insists was caused by a rubber knee pad on the fuel tank of a motorcycle.

Mr Reed will reveal in his book - called 'The Thomas St Affair' - that the police officer struck 22-year-old Ms Shanks while riding the motorcycle, threw her badly injured body over a nearby fence and then returned to kill her an hour later.

The QT has covered aspects of Mr Reed's theory before but since then he has been paid a visit by a cold case detective from Brisbane to hear his theory.

The officer Mr Reed will name died at the age of 85 in 2012.

There has been much speculation in the past about what caused the unusual pattern on Ms Shanks' forehead.

At one stage it was believed a soldier's gaiter was responsible and that she had been kicked hard in the head, because of the regular speckled pattern.


Betty Shanks
Betty Shanks

Mr Reed came into the QT offices this week to explain how the imprint got there.

"Many crime buffs over the years could never solve how the imprint appeared," Mr Reed said.

"I have worked hard on trying to discover what caused the imprint and I am sure I have discovered it. I have narrowed it down to one item, the rubber knee pad situated on the fuel tank of a motorcycle."

Mr Reed demonstrated his theory with some black shoe polish, a shoe brush and a knee pad from a 1952 motorcycle.

"These pads were very similar when they were all made together in production," he said

"On the inner border of this knee pad there are hundreds of little pins or rubber needles."

Mr Reed applied the polish to the knee pad and then placed it on an A4 piece of paper to produce what he said was "an identical" reproduction of the imprint on Ms Shanks' forehead.

"As you can see, the pins are about 1.38mm apart…and replicates the imprint (on Betty Shanks forehead) precisely," he said while showing the QT.


Brisbane police investigate the murder of Betty Shanks.
Brisbane police investigate the murder of Betty Shanks. Photo: State Library of Queensla

Mr Reed has previously had other theories of what could have caused the injury including the lapel of a traffic policeman's glove that he said had "in-line dots that also matches the imprint I have just discussed."

Mr Reed did the same experiment with a left side hand grip from a 1952 BSA motorcycle by applying the polish to the high raised dots on it.

A similar pattern emerged to the knee pad, but Mr Reed favours his knee pad theory.

He also held up a 1952 BSA 650cc Lightning clutch lever.

"I firmly believe that this lever penetrated the right side of Betty's mandible, or jaw," he said.

"It penetrated through the fleshy part of the mandible, dislodged her molar tooth…then went further down and shockingly lacerated the fleshy part of her tongue. It spiralled down and the tip of the lever lodged just above the larynx."

Mr Reed then examined the graphic photos of Ms Shanks' injuries and said his theory "matched up perfectly" with those injuries.

"I also have another lever called an advance retard lever.

"On the left hand side of Betty's lower lip there is a 30mm laceration and I do belive that this lever did cause that laceration.

"I feel that after all this research I have done over the last three years that Betty Shanks was struck by a police motorbike on the corner of Thomas and Carberry St in Wilston."


Lyle Reed has solved what caused the imprint on Betty Shanks’ forehead.
Lyle Reed has solved what caused the imprint on Betty Shanks’ forehead. Contributed

The QT queried Mr Reed on his theory and whether it had a 'magic bullet' aspect to it, like one of the alleged shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963.

"Not at all," he said. "These injuries occurred in the roll of the collision where Betty has impacted severely into the handlebar region.

"There was black shoe polish found on both of her outer legs.

"I think that came off the saddle bags of the motorcycle and the tonneau cover. I spoke to an 88-year-old former traffic constable who said that they used black shoe polish to highlight the sheen on the saddlebags, both left and right, the tonneau cover on the side of the sidecar and their riding boots.

"I have shown these photos of Betty to a general practitioner and the parts of the motorcycle, and he said Betty Shanks' injuries were consistent with being struck down by a large motorcycle."

Mr Reed will name the police officer in his book but not in this story.

"I feel to do that would take away the impact of the book by naming a person in a newspaper feature," he said.

"That would take away from the highlights of the book."

Mr Reed's culprit has a family connection.

"He was my uncle, up until 1955 when he divorced my auntie who is also deceased.

"I interviewed my father's only living sibling, my auntie, who is very fragile but I have on a CD disc the session I spent with her.

"She has no doubt in the world and says on the tape 'He did it Lyle. He did it'.

"In my book I will produce the evidence. The man was a brute and a rogue police officer."

Ms Shanks got off a tram at The Grange terminus at 9.32pm on that fateful September, 1952 evening and was walking home to Montepelier St, but she never made it.

The next morning at 5:39am an off-duty policeman, Alex Stewart, discovered her battered body in the front garden of his neighbour's house on the corner of Thomas and Carberry St.

Mr Reed asserts that an hour after striking her with his bike, the panicked motorcyclist returned to make sure she was dead. He tampered with her clothing to make the crime appear to be sexual in nature and was then startled when she let out a loud moan.

"He instantly placed both of his enormous hands around Betty's throat and proceeded to strangle the remaining life from Betty's battered body," Reed writes in his book.

A Brisbane based cold case detective visited Mr Reed last month to review his theory.

"I had a visit from a female detective who came out and interviewed me from Brisbane's cold case unit," he said.

Mr Reed said he has informed police that he intends to publish his book.

"I showed her the tests I have done with the knee pad regarding the imprint on Betty's forehead and the injuries I believe were caused by the motorcycle levers," he said.

"I have a whole wall at home on Betty Shanks' history and she took a photo of that. She has said to me that she would get back to me.

"I am after an agent and publisher to help me get this book out there for the sake of the surviving family and Australian public who I believe have a right to know the truth behind the conspiracy and death of Betty Shanks."

*Mr Reed is seeking a publisher and can be contacted on 0432 539092.

Man faces historic child sex charges allegedly groomed boys

premium_icon Man faces historic child sex charges allegedly groomed boys

An man will face court next month on more than 50 child sex offences

Dating apps only reinforce bad relationship habits

premium_icon Dating apps only reinforce bad relationship habits

But a relationship expert says successful, long-term relationships can easily be...

Community is key for Div 2 council candidate

premium_icon Community is key for Div 2 council candidate

A commitment to community and skills in business management and governance ethics...