The Hallett Deaths; a Very Quiet Exit.

Katoomba Street 1922

Early photo of Katoomba Street.

Mrs Eva  Hallett arrived in the Blue Mountains town of Katoomba by rail in the autumn of 1916, accompanied by her 16 year old daughter Violet.  The pair were from Brunswick in Victoria.  For a few days they stayed in a well known boarding house. However, Mrs Hallett then visited a local estate agent and enquired about renting a cottage. She requested that it be in a quiet location, and not overlooked by neighbours. Subsequently, she and Violet transferred to a furnished property  at Katoomba Street South.

The Blue Mountains was renowned for its fresh, clean air.  Sanatoriums had been established to cater for tuberculosis patients. Walks amid the spectacular scenery at Katoomba  were promoted as being of great benefit to the infirm, both physically and mentally;

 

Pomotion for Katoomb i the Blue Mountains Echo 1917

From the Blue Mountains Echo 1917.

 

TheThree Sisters at Katoomba

The Three Sisters at Katoomba.

However, from the moment mother and daughter moved to the cottage nothing was heard or seen of them. They were definitely not taking advantage of their surroundings.  As the days  slipped by the owner of the property became concerned and contacted the agent. On April 17  a member of the agent’s staff called to check on the tenants.  At the same time a post boy happened to call to deliver some mail.  When there was no response to their calls and  knocks on the door, they managed  to climb in through a front window.

All appeared to be in order and there were no signs of violence. The kitchen table  was set for a meal for two.  With a growing sense of disquiet they searched  the other rooms.

In the bedroom the men found Mrs Hallett lying in one of the beds.  Her daughter Violet was on  the other, fully dressed. Both women  were dead.  A bottle containing Veronal tablets was on a chair beside Violet’s bed. The police were called, and a local doctor  who judged that Mrs Hallett and her daughter had died several days earlier.  On a dressing table was a revolver, with bullets in four of the chambers.  At the foot of one of the beds was a dressing-case containing various medicines. There were four empty bottles marked Aconite, a potentially toxic preparation used for sedation and pain relief.  Two more were labelled Veronal.

 

Veronal

The cause  of the deaths.

From papers in the house it was revealed that the women were from Brunswick, Victoria.  The  pair  had been travelling together  since 1913, when Violet was only thirteen.  It seems the girl’s life had been sacrificed to that of her mother as  is unlikely Violet had much opportunity to attend school.  According to  Eva’s husband, book keeper Mr  Waldemar Hallet,  his wife and daughter had been on the long  pilgrimage  in search of better health for Eva.  He said he corresponded with them  regularly, although he had not seen either of  them for twelve months.  Insisting  they had previously lived happily together, he said he had always  contributed to their upkeep.  Eva Hallet also had a small private  income.  Whether there was more to this strange  story of family separation was never determined.

CORONIAL INQUIRY

The most distressing finding at the inquest was that Violet did not die until  at least two days after Eva . One can only imagine  what went through her mind during that time, with the body of her mother lying on the bed beside her own.  She was socially isolated, and had been emotionally and financially dependent on Eva.  Evidence was given that  Eva regularly took medication to help her sleep.

On May 13 the coroner, Mr Richards,  concluded the inquest. Oddly enough, when a post-mortem was performed on Violet there were clear  signs of tuberculosis. She may not have been aware of this. Veronal was found in both bodies.

It appeared that  in Eva Hallett’s  case, death was  premeditated. A note was found on the veranda reading, ‘Please leave no more bread, we bake our own.’  Money for what was already owed was found with it,  wrapped in paper. Clinical depression can lead people to take their lives in the belief that those left behind would be better off without them. However, it does seem strange that a mother would deliberately leave her vulnerable sixteen year old daughter alone in a strange town where she knew no-one.

Mother and daughter were buried  together in Katoomba Cemetery on April 16 1916.

 

Hallet Grave inscription at Katoomba Cemetery

 

Hallett Grave Katoomba Cemetery

The double grave in Katoomba Cemetery

Waldemar Hallett died in 1937.  He did not remarry and his death notice records him as the beloved husband of Eva May Hallett.

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2 Comments
  1. Rather poignant story. Depression can make people do strange things.

    • Pauline

      So true, Christine. I feel haunted by the young daughter being there on her own for two days after her mother died.

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