Case 278

Alma Tirtschke

*** Content Warning: Child victim, sexual assault ***

[Part 1 of 2]

When 12-year-old Alma Tirtschke failed to return home after running an errand for her family, they were immediately concerned. Alma was a dutiful child who did what she was told and respected her elders.

Alma’s final movements were retraced to an infamous saloon in the heart of Melbourne and its problematic owner, a man named Colin Ross.



Casefile Presents



Research & writing – Milly Raso

Creative direction – Milly Raso

Narration – Anonymous Host



‘Flatline intro’ and ‘Come play with me’ intro and outro –

Audio production – Mike Migas 

Scoring – Mike Migas



Logo and website design – Paulina Szymanska



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The Gun Alley Tragedy – Thomas Brennan

Gun Alley: Murder, Lies and Failure of Justice – Kevin Morgan

Great Australian Mysteries – John Pinkney



Diabolical crime. Girl aged 12 murdered. Body found in city lane. No clue to perpetrator – The Age, Jan 2 1922

Victorian murder. Alma Tirtschke’s death. Problem for police – The Sun, Jan 3 1922

Funeral of the victim. Sympathy of schoolmates – The Argus, Jan 4 1922

Gun Alley murder. Dastardly Melbourne crime. Graphic story of arrest – The Daily News, Jan 13 1922

Alma Tirtschke. Gun Alley crime. Alleged admission by accused – The Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 26 1922

The city tragedy. Evidence at inquest. Further amazing testimony. Another witness alleges confession. A circumstantial story. How the child’s clothes were disposed of. Ross committed for murder – The Age, Jan 27 1922

Melbourne murder. Death of Alma Tirtschke. Further revolting evidence of doings in wine shop. Ross committed to trial – Daily Examiner, Jan 27 1922

Ross for trial. Gun Alley murder. More startling evidence. Alleged confession in gaol – The Daily Telegraph, Jan 27 1922

Gun-Alley murder. Fresh evidence. The cafe at midnight. Colin Ross on trial – The Daily Telegraph, Feb 21 1922

Gun-Alley murder. Evidence for the defence – The Sydney Morning Herald, Feb 24 1922

Gun-Alley murder. Ross’s fate in jury’s hands. Four hours deliberation. Agreement not reached. Jury kept overnight. Court resumes this morning – The Age, Feb 25 1922

Gun-Alley murder. New evidence for the defence – The Sydney Morning Herald, March 17 1922

Ross’s appeal. New evidence outlined. A woman’s story. Was it known before? – The Argus, March 17 1922

Colin Ross’s last desperate throw fails – The Sun, March 20 1922

Dismissed. Gun Alley murder. Colin Ross appeal – The Maitland Weekly Mercury, March 25 1922

Was it the awakening smile of innocence that wrought the doom of Alma Tirtschke? – Smith’s Weekly, April 1 1922

Ross dies. Alma Tirtschke’s death avenged. Scene at execution. Protests his innocence until the last – The Sun, April 24 1922

Strangler of the Eastern Arcade – The Mail, Dec 3 1949

How lynch-mob hysteria hanged the wrong man – The Age, March 5 2000

The girl in Gun Alley – The Sydney Morning Herald, April 5 2000



Wrong man hanged – The Age

Pardon not enough, murdered girl’s relative says – ABC

Ross cleared of murder nearly 90 years ago – The Age

Home-grown Holmes judged less than perfect – The Age

The curious case of the librarian and the detective – The Age

Executed man pardoned 86 years too late – 9News



Colin Cambell Ross [2007] VSC 572 (20 December 2007)



Who killed Alma Tirtschke? – Museum of Lost

Gun Alley Murder: Posthumous Pardon – Parliament of Victoria

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